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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 (with

The replacement for the G3, the G5, brings its autofocus system up to the latest generation.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
5 min read
Lori Grunin/CNET

Panasonic's replacement for the Lumix DMC-G3 doesn't look like a game-changer for the series, but the G5 certainly seems to address the older model's problem areas: relatively sluggish performance and a short battery life. It incorporates the company's Light Speed autofocus system, which we've seen deliver excellent performance in models like the GX1 and the GF3, and ups the rated battery life to 320 shots. I wouldn't call the latter a big leap forward, but at least it brings the camera into parity with the other lame battery-lifers. (The battery of a $1,200 camera should really get you through at least a day of enthusiast-volume shooting.)

As you'd expect, Panasonic also revved the imaging engine, which brings with it the usual set of enhancements. These include a bump in top sensitivity to ISO 12800, thanks to improved noise-reduction algorithms; translated from marketing-speak, this means that since ISO 800 was my top recommended shooting sensitivity in the G3 it's likely going to be ISO 1600 in the G5. Better color accuracy, more special-effects filters, faster updating of the viewfinder and LCD, and improvements to its automatic operation with more guidance for newbies also benefit from the updated firmware.

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Among the changes to the hardware are welcome usability enhancements, like a larger grip -- yay! -- a more pronounced thumb rest area and an AE/AF lock button, an eye sensor for automatically toggling between EVF and LCD viewing, an on-camera zoom lever for use with the Power Zoom (PZ) lenses, and an electronic shutter for silent operation.

Here's a partial competitive lineup for interchangeable-lens cameras with built-in electronic viewfinders:

Nikon 1 V1 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 Samsung NX20 Sony Alpha NEX-7
Sensor (effective resolution) 10mp CMOS 16.1mp Live MOS
12 bit
16mp Live MOS
16.1mp Live MOS
20.3mp CMOS
24.3mp Exmor HD CMOS
12 bit
13.2 x 8.8 mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3 x 13mm 17.3 x 13mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x 2.0x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 3200/ 6400 (expanded) ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 6400 ISO 160 - ISO 12800 ISO 100 - ISO 12,800 ISO 100 - ISO 16000
Continuous shooting 5fps
(60fps with fixed AF and electronic shutter)
17 JPEG/11 raw
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
unlimited JPEG/9 raw
11 JPEG/8 raw
unlimited JPEG/6 raw
(10fps with fixed exposure)
mag/ effective mag
1.44 million dots
100% coverage
1.44-million dots
100% coverage
1.4 million dots
100% coverage
1.4 million dots
100% coverage
480,000 dots
100% coverage
2.4-million dots
100% coverage
Autofocus 73-point
phase detection, 135-area contrast AF
35-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 15-point contrast AF 25-area contrast AF
Shutter speed 30 - 1/16,000; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 60 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb to 8 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (flash dependent) 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 2 minutes 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 2 minutes 30-1/8000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering n/a 324 area 144 zone 144 zone 221 segment 1,200 zones
Metering sensitivity n/a 0 - 20 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 20 EV
Flash Included optional Included add-on Yes Yes Yes Yes
Image stabilization Optical Sensor shift Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video 1080/60i/ 30p; 720/60p H.264 MPEG-4 QuickTime MOV 1080/60i QuickTime MOV @ 20, 17 Mbps AVCHD 1080/ 60i/50i @ 17 Mbps; 720/60p/ 50p @ 17 Mbps or Motion JPEG QuickTime MOV AVCHD 1080/60p/60i/ 50p/50i/ 30p/25p @ 28, 17 Mbps; 1080/60p/ 50p/50i/ 30p/25p @ 28, 17 Mbps or Motion JPEG QuickTime MOV 1080/30p; 1080 x 810/24p; 720/30p H.264 MPEG-4 AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/ 24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1440x1080/ 30p @ 12Mbps
Audio Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen OLED
614,000 dots
3 inches articulated
460,000 dots
3 inches articulated
920,000 dots
3-inch articulated AMOLED
921,000 dots
3-inch tilting
921,600 dots
Wireless file upload None Optional Bluetooth None None Wi-Fi None
Battery life (CIPA rating) 350 shots n/a 250 shots 320 shots 330 shots 350 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.7 4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 4.5 x 3.3 x 1.8 4.7 x 3.3 x 2.8 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.7
Body operating weight (ounces) 12 (est) 15.1 13.4 13.9 (est) 14 (est) 12.4
Mfr. price n/a $999.99 (body only) $599.99 (body only) tbd n/a $1,199.99 (body only)
$899.95 (with 10-30mm lens) $1,299.99 (with 12-50mm lens) $699.99 (with 14-42mm lens) tbd (with 14-42mm lens) $1,099.99 (with 18-55mm i-Function lens) $1,349.00 (with 18-55mm lens)
$1,149.95 (dual lens kit) $1,099.99 (with 14-42mm lens) n/a tbd n/a n/a
Ship date October 2011 April 2012 June 2011 tbd May 2012 November 2011

As usual, Panasonic refuses to announce the pricing until 30 days before shipping, and the ship date also remains a secret (but will probably happen during August sometime). I'm going to assume the 14-42mm kit will cost the same as the G3, since it's replacing that model in the lineup. It's not clear what other kits will be offered, though I'd bet a 14-42mm PZ kit is on the table, as is a body-only version. Though it wasn't mentioned as a kit option during our briefing with Panasonic, the new 45-150mm f4-5.6 optically stabilized lens seems an awfully good candidate for a dual-lens kit in conjunction with the 14-42mm. The lens uses internal focus for quiet operation during video capture. Since it has a seven-bladed aperture (the minimum for decent bokeh) and lacks high-end coatings, it's quite likely to be inexpensive.

I think the camera really needs to be priced like the G3; it doesn't offer any notable advantages over any of the competing models otherwise. The V1 is the smallest camera with an EVF, the E-M5 offers a measure of weather resistance and great burst performance, the NEX-7 has a beautifully designed body and image quality I suspect the G5 can't match, and the NX20 boasts built-in Wi-Fi and potentially excellent photo quality for the money (I haven't yet tested it but it's got similar innards as the NX200). I just don't see anything about the G5 that raises it above the crowd if not price. Hopefully, that opinion will change once I've gotten a chance to test it.