The Good Relatively compact for its class, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 delivers excellent performance and good-to-great photo quality.
The Bad The Power Zoom lens isn't great and there are some image-quality flaws in the JPEGs that might bother some people.
The Bottom Line With capable, speedy performance, and a friendly but powerful interface, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 is a good choice for people looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5
While the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 isn't perfect, it's still among my favorite choices for snapshooters looking for a faster, better camera but one that's similar enough to a point-and-shoot -- or phone -- that they're not forced out of their comfort zone. The GF3's small size, well-designed touch-screen interface, fast performance, and solid photo quality -- and, for its type, a more-or-less reasonable price -- make it a compelling option. With the DMC-GF5, Panasonic makes some subtle updates and enhancements that improve on the GF3 for that same snapshooter.
Though it's the same resolution as the GF3, the GF5 incorporates a new version of the 12-megapixel sensor with an updated version of its image-processing engine. It shows some improvement in its noise profile and JPEG processing over the GF3, especially at low ISO sensitivities. That seems partly because the image coming off the sensor looks less noisy, an expected advancement from one generation to the next.
While there's a noticeable jump in noise-reduction artifacts between ISO 400 and ISO 800 in the JPEGs -- most notably smearing -- Panasonic has improved the processing of high-contrast areas. The lens you use makes a big difference as well: while I wouldn't suggest shooting JPEGs past ISO 400 with the 14-42mm HD kit lens, for a good prime lens I think I'd bump that to ISO 800.
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