In 2012, Panasonic celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Lumix series. That is why Panasonic introduces the Panasonic G5 among others: a new mirrorless digital SLR. In our Panasonic G3 test, we have been excited about several characteristics of this forerunner of the Panasonic G5. According to the press release, the Panasonic G5 achieves an even higher resolution using an advanced image processor, which uses a new algorithm and a faster response. The Panasonic G5 has a suggested retail price of € 649 (body only) and is available in black, silver, and white. Could the Panasonic G5 be better than the Panasonic G3?
Design Panasonic G5In terms of design, the Panasonic G5 resembles an SLR. Also seen from above, it looks like you are dealing with an SLR. Nevertheless, under the bump in which the pentaprism is in SLR’s, the Panasonic G5 has a flash hidden. Between the release buttons for photo and video is now a slider, with which the focal length of Panasonic Power Zoom lenses can be varied. I think this is a welcome addition, because I find the zooming of a Panasonic 14-42 X lens on a G3 using the slider on the lens cumbersome. I had to hold the camera in a different way than I am used to for that; I let the camera rest in my left palm. In our Panasonic G3 review, we were excited about the grip of this camera. Now we are even more positive about it, because Panasonic has succeeded in noticeably improving the grip by making the resin and elastomer molded handle of the Panasonic G5 slightly larger than of the G3 and by making a ‘dent’ in the handle. In addition, the shutter is moved forward and there is extra support for the thumb at the back of the camera. Such dent might not look neat, but it is particularly effective. A large round knob / 4-way controller replaces the four central buttons to the right of the screen. In terms of functionality, it makes no difference; it does work better than individual buttons. The only flaw in the design of the Panasonic G5 is the video button, which is placed on top of the camera and less easily accessible.
Panasonic G5 versus Panasonic G3, Panasonic GX1, Panasonic GF5 & Panasonic GH3In terms of price, the Panasonic G5 is positioned above the Panasonic GF5 and below the Panasonic GH3. The Panasonic GF5 is much more compact than the G5 and has no built-in viewfinder. The Panasonic GH3 features a more robust semi-professional body that is dust and splash proof, and has more extensive video capabilities. One can argue over the position of the Panasonic G5 vs. the Panasonic GX1. The Panasonic GX1 is seen as the camera for the photography aficionado and is slightly more expensive than the Panasonic G5, but has no built-in viewfinder. An aficionado who likes to shoot through a viewfinder, seems to me to be better off with a Panasonic G5, which is also cheaper. Compared to the Panasonic G3, the G5 has a wider ISO range (up to 12800 instead of 6400 ISO), a screen with a higher resolution (not 460,000 but 920,000 dots) and you can get more shots per second (6 vs. 4). The Panasonic G5 has an automatic sensor, which switches from LCD screen to electronic viewfinder as soon as you bring the camera to your face. The Panasonic G3 does not offer that possibility. We have not checked it, but according to Panasonic, the Panasonic G5’s battery has a longer useful life (320 shots vs. 270). Nevertheless, I would buy a second battery when buying a Panasonic G3 or G5.
Panasonic G5 versus Canon 650D, Nikon D3200 & Olympus OM-D E-M5
- The Panasonic G5 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 have an electronic viewfinder, the Nikon D3200 and Canon 650D a traditional optical viewfinder
- The Panasonic G5 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 have a smaller micro-43 sensor; the Nikon D3200 and the Canon 650D have an APS-C sensor
- The Panasonic G5 and Canon 650D have a touch screen; the Nikon D3200 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 do not
- The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is dust and splash proof, has built-in image stabilization, and can shoot more shots per second at full resolution than the Panasonic G5.
Completely silentWith the introduction of the Canon 5D Mk3, many photographers have responded positively to the silent shutter mode of that camera. However, the Canon 5D Mk3 is noisy compared to the Panasonic G5. If you use the electronic shutter on the Panasonic – and you switch off the fake sound of a mechanical shutter -, the Panasonic G5 is completely silent when taking a picture. If you hold your ear very close to the camera, you can hear the aperture jump when taking a picture with some lenses.Nevertheless, that sound is a thousand times softer I think than the silent shutter mode of an SLR. Compact system cameras like the Panasonic G5 are the ideal companion for occasions when you want to take pictures without disturbing, such as home scenes, classical music concerts or formal occasions, such as weddings.
Sharpness: resolution Panasonic G5The Panasonic G5 delivers, in combination with the Panasonic 14-42 X lens, sharp RAW and JPG files in our test. The resolution of the Panasonic G5 is just as good as that of the Panasonic G3 and has a slightly – measurable, but not visible to the naked eye – lower resolution than the Panasonic GX1 or the Canon 650D. See the Panasonic G5 test report for Panasonic G5 Imatest results. Here is a practice shot to illustrate.
Dynamic range Panasonic G5Modern SLR cameras, especially cameras with a full frame sensor, have such a high dynamic range that in practice, it rarely happens that you see both overexposure (clipping of the highlights) and underexposure (clipping of the shadows) in one shot. Until now, the dynamic range has been the Achilles heel of micro-43 cameras. However, the Panasonic G5 has reaped high praise in our Imatest measurements, in terms of dynamic range. Despite the good results of the Panasonic G5 in our dynamic range measurements, the dynamic range of the Panasonic G5 is not always large enough in practice. Here you see a practice shot in which clipping of the highlights (in red) and in the shadows (blue) occurs simultaneously. The total dynamic range of the Panasonic G5 RAW files is as good as that of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 or that of SLR cameras with an APS-C sensor as the Nikon D3200 . At high ISO settings, the dynamic range of the Panasonic G5 jpg files is larger than that of the competition. That is because Panasonic G5 applies relatively much noise reduction at the high ISO values, which in turn is at the expense of the impression of sharpness. The test results are in the Panasonic G5 test report.
In-camera HDR Panasonic G5The Panasonic G5 has an HDR option installed; the camera takes three differently exposed images (quickly) in succession after pressing the button once and puts them together into one image with a higher dynamic range. Above, the difference is illustrated with a practice shot. The corresponding histograms are shown here. The effect is subtle and I believe it has more influence on the highlights than on the shadows. The in-camera HDR is indeed not overexposed anymore and has a slightly lower contrast, as shown by the histogram. As long as you are not shooting a fast-moving subject, you will not quickly see that the in-camera HDR image is composed of 3 shots.
Noise Panasonic G5At the low ISO settings, you encounter little noise and the images of the Panasonic G5 are beautiful. Up to ISO 1600, you see no noise in the jpg files. The Panasonic G5 Imatest results are shown in the Panasonic G5 test report. Left is a detail from a 160 ISO RAW image without any noise reduction. The highest ISO setting produces no useful images. The RAW file shows a solid amount of color noise and luminance noise. Due to a high degree of noise reduction in the jpg file, you see no color noise at ISO 12800 anymore, but much detail is lost.
Color reproduction Panasonic G5The accuracy of the color reproduction of the Panasonic G5, set to color style of course, is as good in daylight as that of competing cameras like the Canon 650D. In daylight, the colors look natural, as you can see in the example. In terms of color reproduction in daylight, the current cameras are so good that the differences between cameras are sometimes smaller than the differences between the different picture styles that you can choose on a camera. It is therefore important that you choose the correct image style for the best results. In previous tests, Panasonic cameras like the Panasonic GX1 and Panasonic G3 have scored very well in terms of color reproduction in artificial light, while most cameras show a clear orange colorcast in artificial light. Unfortunately, the Panasonic G5 has joined the cameras of other brands and showed the same orange colorcast in our test as the cameras from the competition. In terms of color reproduction in artificial light, the Panasonic G3 scores better than the Panasonic G5. This is easily remedied by manually setting the right white balance on the camera before shooting. Better yet, those who shoot in RAW can also greatly improve the white balance in artificial light afterwards in Photoshop or Lightroom compared to the automatic white balance. Compared to the standard color profile, you can also choose “Vivid,” in which the colors are more saturated and the images show more contrast. The names of the color profiles are not self-pointing. What is the difference between standard and natural? The color reproduction of the Natural profile is truer and less blue than the default color profile.
VideoWhen recording a video, you can manually set aperture and shutter speed. Those who seriously pursue video rather opt for a Panasonic GH3. The output has been increased to 1080 50p. Yet the Panasonic G5 is more a camera for photographers that occasionally want to make a video. Such a user will be less bothered by the fact that the Panasonic G5 has no possibility to connect an external microphone.
Creative filtersThe Panasonic G5 offers 14 filters, which can give your images a specific creative atmosphere it, like Sepia, Soft Focus, Expressive impression, Cross Process, Star filter, Miniature Effect and Low key. On the screen or in the electronic viewfinder, you will already get to see the edited version of the image that you want to create. If you have set the G5 to Intelligent Auto, the G5 first analyzes the image and then suggests a possibly suitable creative filter.
SCN shooting modeIn addition to the creative filters, Panasonic also offers a range of shooting modes that are pre-programmed for specific shooting situations. Especially those that use a system camera with interchangeable lens for the first time are offered a helping hand with 23 sample shots in the Scene Guide. Users can select the image that best matches the situation that they want to capture. The optimal settings for the capturing of the image will be automatically selected. Moreover, method, technical advice, and recommended interchangeable lens are displayed so that users can learn to photograph.
Built-in flashThe Panasonic G5 has a built-in flash. The built-in flash has a guide number of 10.5 (ISO 160). Top left on the camera is a switch that allows the flash to pop up.
Autofocus: speed, accuracy and autofocus trackingThe autofocus of the Panasonic G5 is fast and accurate. Because the sensor signal is used to focus, this camera comes without back focus or front focus, which is sometimes complained about with SLRs. Because the focusing system, unlike the AF of SLR cameras, cannot determine whether the subject comes towards the camera or moves away from it, this camera theoretically has more trouble with fast-moving subjects. In practice, this is not so bad.
- Good image quality, especially at low ISO settings
- High dynamic range
- Completely silent when using the electronic shutter
- Compact, especially in combination with the (slightly more expensive) Panasonic 14-42 mm X lens
- Touch screen operation is possible, but not necessary
- Fast autofocus
- Strong noise reduction with jpg files
- For video: no microphone jack