Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Mirrorless Review - The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 is the update to the GF3 and features a redesigned body and an improved user interface, but is it enough to make you want it? Joshua Waller finds out.
The new Panasonic Lumix GF5 replaces the Panasonic Lumix GF3 and has several updates when compared to the GF3, as well as a new rubber grip, it features a high resolution screen, improved AF performance, 14 creative effects, enhanced noise performance and updated user interface.
Panasonic Lumix GF5 Features
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Body with built in pop-up flash.
New 12 megapixel Live MOS sensor
3inch 920k touch screen
0.09 second AF (compared to 0.1 second GF3)
Venus Engine 7HD II - Offers increased ISO, High Dynamic Range, Multi Noise Reduction
Expanded ISO range ISO160 - ISO12800
Full HD Video recording with stereo sound and MP4 1080 now available
4fps continuous shooting (compared to 3.8 on GF3)
Built in pop-up flash
14 Creative Effects, 23 Scenes with guides
Metal buttons on rear of camera - Additional display button
Metal surround around lens mount
Black or White body
Panasonic Lumix GF5 Handling
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 - Larger strap loops
Handling - Handling is improved over the GF3 with the noticable front rubber grip. There are also improved buttons on the back that are now metal rather than plastic, as well as an additional display button with further function shortcuts on the touch-screen. The camera is particularly compact when used in conjuction with the 14-42mm X lens. The finish on the camera has also been improved and in combination with larger strap loops the camera feels slightly more rugged than the GF3.
The custom settings menu lets you set the pinpoint AF time: this sets the length of time for pinpoint focus to show you an enlarged view - the feature was available on the GF3, although you couldn't adjust the length of time is showed.
Menus - The new screen is very pleasing to look at and use with a responsive touch screen and redesigned menu system that can now be controlled with the touch screen. The camera features a scrolling explanation of each feature. Another new feature is advice for different levels of photographer in the scene modes, the explanation explains what the scene mode does, then how to use it (for beginners), then advanced advice, then also what lens would be best for the mode. Pinpoint AF mode - doesn't work in lens off / 3rd party lens adapters mode.
Battery Life - Battery life is rated at 340 shots according to CIPA standards. We were able to take over 330 photos before the battery went flat.
Speed - We tested the cameras performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.
(full resolution, before slow down)
4fps (8 shots)
4fps (13 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with flash)
Continuous Shooting (RAW)
4fps (5 shots)
4fps (6 shots)
* GF3 tested with the 14-42mm Olympus M Zuiko 14-42mm II R lens. GF5 tested with 14-42 Power Zoom lens.
Panasonic Lumix GF5 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own sample photos, reviews and product ratings.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - The portrait flash shot has very low red-eye. The camera lets you bounce the flash, and has built in red-eye reduction. The camera produces images with very good detail and good colour. Dynamic range can be enhanced using the iContrast options, which are Off, Low, Standard, and High.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Lens test images
Lens test images - The 14-42mm Vario X Power Zoom lens performs well and provides an extremely compact lens compared to the standard kit lens. However vignetting is noticeable. Macro performance isn't as good as some other kit lenses, but is adequete, and there is a wide choice of lenses available either as a kit or for Micro Four Thirds.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - An additional ISO12800 option is available, when enabled in the camera's menus and this higher ISO setting does show quite high levels of noise. The camera shows slightly less noise compared to the GF3, although higher noise levels at ISO3200 compared to the Olympus OM-D E-M5.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance performs well under both tungsten and fluorescent lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a warmer result. There isn't a preset for fluorescent lighting on the GF5 or Panasonic cameras in general, as the auto white balance does a good job.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The GF5 improves on the GF3s digital filters / creative effects, adding a number of options including: One point colour, Impressive art, Cross Process, Dynamic monochrome, Soft focus and Cross filter. The creative effects can also be altered to increase or decrease the colour / effect / depth of focus / exposure compensation. Colour options include: Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, Noise reduction levels.
Video sample - The GF5 adds stereo sound, an improvement over the GF3. An example video can be seen below using the power zoom lens for smooth zoom in video. Video options are quite extensive with the following settings: Photo style, rec mode (AVCHD / MP4), record quality (1080p, 720p, MP4 VGA), continuous AF, metering mode, i. resolution, i. dynamic, ex. tele conv, wind cut, mic level display, mic level adjust (4 levels), flicker decrease (50/60/100/120hz).
Value For Money
The Panasonic Lumix GF5 is being introduced with the standard kit lens for £449, this is the same price as the GF3 with kit lens was when it was launched, however the GF5 has a number of added features and quality improvements, so it feels like the GF5 offers better value for money than the original. If the GF5 follows the GF3 over time, then the price of the GF5 should be equially competitive. Alternatives to consider include the Panasonic Lumix GF3, Olympus PEN E-PM1, Samsung NX200, Sony NEX-5N, Nikon J1, as well as the Panasonic Lumix GX1.
The Panasonic Lumix GF5 is a worthwhile upgrade, resolving a number of our original complaints about the GF3, and the addition of improved effects, menus systems, and built in scene modes with guides for beginners are a useful addition for beginners. The screen looks great and the camera feels better than ever with an improved rubber grip and body styling. The GF5 is certainly an appealing camera, particularly with improved noise performance in comparison to the predecessor. Although whether you should buy this or one of the other Panasonic Lumix G cameras, such as the GX1 or G3 will largely depend on what offer is available, and whether you have a preference for size and features, as all cameras are currently around the same price.
The Panasonic Lumix GF5 is a stylish and compact mirrorless camera with great image quality and excellent features.
Panasonic Lumix GF5 Pros
Fast AF speed
Fast Continuous Shooting Speed
New rubber grip for improved handling
Excellent 920k dot touch-screen
Additional creative effects
Improved video recording with stereo sound
Pinpoint AF confirms focus point
Extremely compact when used with X kit lens or pancakes
Panasonic Lumix GF5 Cons
More advanced users may be better off looking at the GX1
Noticeable vignetting with the X kit lens
No mode dial, lacks flash hot-shoe