A new sensor and revised user interface underpin the new Lumix DMC-GF5
There have been many rumours about a Lumix GF5 (and some other imagined new Lumix G-series models which appear to have been April Fools jokes), so it's a relief to finally reveal the GF5, which arrives well under a year since its predecessor, the remarkably tiny GF3. There is no 'GF4' because the Japanese for the number '4' sounds like another word that is considered unpleasant or unlucky and so is often skipped. The GF5 assumes the distinction of being the smallest Micro Four Thirds compact system camera, a remarkable feat considering it incorporates a pop-up flash. Combined with the collapsing power zoom and power focus 14-42mm X-series kit lens, which is an extra cost option, the GF5 is market leadin in terms of pocketability in its category.
Hands-on with the GF5 plus sample images for you to download
We've had some hands-on time with the GF5 and we have a gallery of sample images taken using the GF5 at the Four Thirds User version of this article, although as a pre-production camera was used these sample images have been reduced in size at the request of Panasonic. Final production GF5s will go on sale in June and will be available with the 14-42mm X collapsible power zoom lens for £579, or with the standard 14-42mm kit zoom for £449.
Subtle design changes and higher resolution screen
Outwardly, the GF5 is very similar in appearance to the GF3, which is now discontinued. However there are some subtle changes, including a larger hand-grip, apparently inspired by the design of the Lumix GX1. There is also a new aluminium surround to the lens mount, and some exterior buttons are now metal instead of plastic. The LCD screen is now double the resolution at just under a million pixels. The screen is, as before, touch-sensitive and remains a resistive type rather than smartphone-style capacitive touch sensitive.
Internally, the GF5 sports a brand new sensor and an enhanced Venus Engine 7+ HD image processor. Although the sensor resolution remains unchanged at 12 megapixels, performance has been slightly improved. ISO sensitivity has been raised to ISO 12800 and we're told that noise and dynamic range should be on a par with the 16 megapixel Lumix G3 and GX1 models. The Venus Engine 7+ HD processor has three cores and an a graphics processor that drives the new partially animated user interface.
MP4 video mode added
Functionally, the GF5 gets Full HD AVCHD video recording and so that you don't need to convert your video for use on smartphones and tablets the GF5 adds MP4 video capability. There are now 14 different art filter effect modes, including mono high contrast, cross process, and an interesting single colour filter that lets you use the touch screen to sample a colour in the live preview in order preserve that colour and make everything else black and white.
Revised user interface
As previously mentioned the GF5's user interface, which is heavily weighted in favour of the camera's touch screen, has been almost completely redesigned. An icon-based graphical home page is the starting point for many option selections and camera configurations. You can also use one of your photos as a graphical background to the homes screen, just like you can with your PC and smart phone. Aspects of the user interface are now animated in a smooth and slick manner courtesy of the new graphical GPU in the Venus Engine 7+ HD. Scene mode selection is also enhanced with tutorial-like advice that includes before and after example images plus interchangeable lens recommendations, although this is not lens model specific but more general, describing the attributes if a lens that are recommended, like brightness, for example.
Easier and more slick to use
In use the GF3 is not very different from the previous GF3,just easier for less experienced photographers with copious context-sensitive help. Panasonic says that AF speed and accuracy is better than ever, although it was already very good with the GF3. The extra creativity options are certainly welcome, making the GF5 experience more fun. So the GF3 incorporates a lot if under-the-skin technical updates but the end-user experience is improved in a subtle rather than revolutionary manner.
The GF5 design in favour of extreme compact dimensions remains, so there is still no flash hot shoe and no electronic viewfinder option, but the camera is aimed at a younger audience who are more used to smartphones and compact digital cameras, so the lack of an EVF option or extended flash capabilities shouldn't be a problem. It will be interesting to gauge the improvement in sensor quality when final production samples arrive.
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Hands-on preview of the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5
DPNow Hands-on preview of the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5
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