Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

A fast, light and perfectly formed CSC

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Initial impressions of the Panasonic GF5 when using a pre-production model were very pleasing, and we're pleased to say we have continued to be pleased with the results from the final production version.

Panasonic claims that even though the Lumix GF5 has 4 million fewer pixels than the Lumix G3, it can produce the same image quality. This is a fairly bold claim, but initial indications were good.

When comparing the Panasonic Lumix GF5 with the G3 in our carefully controlled lab environment, we found that to be the case, which is good news for those looking for high image quality in a compact camera body.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

Panasonic is understandably quite keen to push the Micro Four Thirds sensor format, with one of the key cruxes of its argument being that edge to edge sharpness is better than its APS-C rivals.

Looking at the sample images from the Panasonic GF5 (on the next page), we're pleased to say that it seems to live up to its claims. The amount of detail captured by the sensor is impressive, while out of focus areas are rendered very nicely.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

Colours are also represented well, being punchy and vibrant without being over the top. Auto white balance does a reasonable job of keeping colours in check under natural light conditions, but we noticed it struggles under artificial lighting conditions, producing images with overly warm tones.

However, switching to a more appropriate white balance is very easy to do via the touchscreen, where you will immediately see the differences between the options. It's also very easy to set the Custom WB value.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

Performance at high sensitivities is pretty impressive, with well controlled noise towards the higher end of the range (ISO 1600). There is a noticeable drop-off in quality from this point onwards, but it's certainly preferable to not capturing an image at all.

Generally we found metering to be pretty consistent when shooting on evaluative, although in darker situations it did have the tendency to underexpose slightly.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

Altering the metering is slightly hidden away in the menu system, as opposed to other controls that can be found in the Quick Menu, which can be a little frustrating if you find yourself in a mixed lighting situation.

Overall however, we think it's likely that evaluative will be used the majority of the time.

Images can be captured in a raw format, as well as JPEG, and we found files contain a lot of detail that can be worked with in post-production via Panasonic's own software - SilkyPix - or third-party software such as Photoshop when the appropriate updates become available.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

As usual with raw files, the Panasonic Lumix GF5 raw captures allow for when the camera struggles to capture the correct exposure, or white balance was slightly off.

This is relatively easy to correct using the raw files, which is a bonus for novice photographers who may find they can rescue an otherwise wasted opportunity.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

In a bid to compete with the prevalence of popular iPhone apps such as Hipstamatic and Instagram, extra filters have been installed to the Panasonic Lumix GF5 under Creative Control, with 14 different variations now available.

Each of the filters can be further customised via sliders on the touchscreen to produce different effects, with the LCD screen giving a preview of how the final image will turn out.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

The filters are a fun addition to the camera, and are great to experiment with, although some are better than others (as you'd expect).

Some of the filters, such as the Cross Process filter, can be directly compared with those found on Olympus' Micro Four Thirds models, including the Olympus PEN E-P3. On the Panasonic Lumix GF5 this is more subtle than that found on the Olympus PEN E-P3, but offers more customisable control.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

One of the downsides of shooting in Creative Control Mode, however, is that you lose control over parameters such as aperture and shutter speed, which is a shame considering that this is an option Olympus was able to include on its most recent PEN range of CSCs.

Fortunately, however, the Panasonic GF5 can shoot in raw while using filters, meaning that these can be taken off in post-production if you change your mind after all.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

Unfortunately, unlike the Olympus Viewer software that enables filters to be swapped around or adjusted in post-production, the supplied SilkyPix software offers no such functionality.

One slight niggle we found is that images shot with the Creative Control are named differently, so when loading the photos on the computer, these pictures appear out of sync to the rest of the images. It's hardly a massive problem, and one that can be worked around, but it has the potential for confusion.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

Although there seems to be some conflicting opinion between Olympus and Panasonic about which has got the faster autofocus, there seems to be little point quibbling over microseconds. Whether it's technically the fastest in the world or not, the Panasonic GF5's AF is lightning quick, and perhaps more importantly, accurate, as is claimed - especially in good lighting conditions.

During our test, it was able to lock onto subjects incredibly quickly and easily almost every time, only starting to struggle slightly when the light was pretty dim.

Panasonic Lumix GF5 review

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Wireless LANNo
Effective Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
Product FamilyLumix G
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationNo
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NamePanasonic
FeaturesFace Detection, Live View, Orientation Sensor, Self-timer, Continuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MP4
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)225 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Image Sensor Size17.30 mm x 13 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4000 x 3000
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height66.5 mm
Width107.7 mm
Depth36.8 mm
Product SeriesG
Image FormatsMPO, JPEG, RAW
External FlashNo
Focus ModesManual, Auto
Product ModelDMC-GF5
Product NameDMC-GF5 Compact System Camera
Product LineLumix
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberDMC-GF5EB-K
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

A combination of the 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor and the Venus Engine achieves higher image quality. With the dedicated circuit, which reads out signals with minimum noise, the level of noise is significantly suppressed and S/N (Signal-to-Noise) value is improved in shooting at high ISO setting. The Multi-step Noise Reduction applies optimum noise reduction according to the brightness of the part of the image. Images recorded in low-lit situations are now dramatically clear.

The DMC-GF5 features outstanding compactness and ease of operation while pursuing high image quality. Panasonic did not compromise in the equipment of camera such as built-in flash. It embraces beautiful stylish round-form body design featuring buttons with glossy finish, ergonomically studied grip and high-resolution 920K-dot LCD. The DMC-GF5 is based on the Micro Four Thirds System that lets you use the versatile lineup of Micro Four Thirds System standard lenses, including the LUMIX G / LEICA DG lenses.

Package Contents
  • DMC-GF5 Compact System Camera
  • Battery Charger
  • Battery Pack
  • USB Connection Cable
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Software CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year