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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review

Joshua Waller reviews the brand new Panasonic Lumix G5 - the latest Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic.

| Panasonic Lumix G5 in Mirrorless Cameras
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 (12)

The Panasonic Lumix G5 is the latest camera from Panasonic, and is the update to last year's Panasonic Lumix G3 and is tested with the compact Lumix G Vario X 14-42mm power zoom lens. Panasonic say that their cameras shouldn't be called mirrorless or compact system cameras (CSCs), but should instead be called Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) cameras. Whether this will take off or not is another matter, but they are keen to point out that they believe this a match for Digital SLRs.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Features

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 (2)

The Panasonic Lumix G5 features a new 16.05 megapixel Live MOS sensor, a new image processing engine and extended ISO up to ISO12800, as well as promises of improved low-light performance. The body has been redesigned to feature additional function buttons, new front and rear rubber grip, as well as a new zoom control next to the shutter button that allows the control of power zoom lenses. The camera also features eye-detection to automatically activate the electronic viewfinder (EVF).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 (6)

Key Features

  • New 16.05 megapixel Live MOS sensor
  • Micro Four Thirds lens mount
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario X 14-42mm Lens
  • 3 inch 920k touch screen
  • 1.44m dot EVF: Eye detection sensor with diopter adjustment
  • Venus Engine 7 FHD
  • Full HD video AVCHD Progressive
  • ISO160 - 12800
  • 6fps continuous shooting
  • 3.7fps continuous shooting with AF
  • Level guage
  • Available in Silver, Black, White

Panasonic Lumix G5 Handling

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 (5)

Handling - The G5 features a noticeably improved grip compared to the G3, with a large front rubber hand-grip and rubber thumb grip on the rear. A new rocker switch has been added just behind the shutter release button which can be used for controlling power zoom lenses, or alternatively exposure compensation when using standard lenses - this can be set in the menus and in manual shooting mode can alter the aperture, with the rear dial setting the shutter speed. Three customisable function buttons are available on the back of the camera, including 2 soft function buttons that are on the touch-screen. Another new feature is the eye-detection sensor under the EVF - this can be set to activate AF as soon as you put your eye up to the camera.

The G5 features an electronic shutter for silent operation which is useful as the shutter sound is still quite loud (as is the case with other Panasonic Lumix G cameras) so the electronic shutter is a welcome addition.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 (7)

The touch screen allows you to swipe through your photos in playback mode, as well as allowing you to focus on any area of the screen, and if you want you can also use the screen to take photos. The camera, does not force you to use the touch screen, and you can quite happily use the camera fully without using the screen if you are not a fan. Another new feature is the ability to set the focus area on the screen, while looking through the EVF. The electronic viewfinder with 1.44 million pixels is very good, easy to see, and very clear, even for someone wearing glasses.

Menus – The G5 gains the new guided scene modes from the GF5, as well as an improved resolution screen (920k dots compared to the G3 with 460k dots). The menus are easy to use, as an explanation of the current option is displayed at the top of the screen. The menus can also be controlled with the touch screen making it even more intuitive to use the cameras menus if you are used to using touch screen devices.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 (11)

Battery life - The G5 uses the larger battery from the GH2, and has a CIPA rating of 340 shots. We were able to take just over 350 photos before the battery went flat, although the life will depend on how much you use continuous shooting, flash and other features.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 (10)

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.

  Panasonic G5 Panasonic GF5
Shutter Response <0.05 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15 0.2
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2 0.2
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.1* 1.2*
Shot to Shot (without flash) 0.4 0.4
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.0 1.5
Continuous Shooting
(full resolution, before slow down)
6fps (13 shots) 4fps (8 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with flash) N/A N/A
Continuous Shooting (RAW) 6fps (9 shots) 4fps (5 shots)
* G5 / GF5 tested with 14-42 Power Zoom lens.

Focus is extremely quick, as is shutter response. Shot to shot time is impressive, and continuous shooting at 6fps is an improvement over the G3 (at 4fps), as well as being quicker than the GH2 (at 5fps). The camera can also shoot with continuous AF active at 3.7fps.

Panasonic Lumix G5 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 G5 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour is excellent outdoors as well as indoors, with good exposure and detail, although there is a slight tendency to under-expose shots so the occasional exposure compensation may be needed. Skin tones are good with good detail, and no red-eye was shown in the photo.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The 14-42 Vario X lens is an extremely compact lens when off, and still quite compact when switched on as it automatically extends. The lens features two side controls for electronic control of zoom and focus - the zoom can also be controlled with the G5's zoom lever behind the shutter button. Dynamic range is good with good detail in photos at both wide and telephoto zoom. The combination of lens and camera are free from purple fringing, resistant to lens flare, although it does suffer from vignetting as can be seen in the macro photo. This can be improved by switching on Shading Compensation in the menu.

Panasonic Lumix G5 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Images show very low noise at ISO160 and ISO200, with a slight hint of noise appearing at ISO400. At ISO800 noise is still low, but there appears to be a drop in detail in images. At ISO1600 noise becomes more noticeable. ISO3200 shows an increase in noise but lower noise than the GX1, although the image does appear to be noticeably softer. ISO6400 shows stronger noise again and it's possible that this may be the highest setting you'll want to use. ISO12800 shows the highest levels of noise, and also the softest images with the lowest detail therefore this setting is best avoided.

Panasonic Lumix G5 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto white balance (AWB) performs extremely well under tungsten and fluorescent lighting. The camera doesn't feature a fluorescent preset, but does feature manual white balance. The tungsten preset gives an orange cast, but could be useful if you wanted to keep the warmth in an image.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Other sample images

Panasonic Lumix G5 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The camera has a number of new digital filters and colour effects - including Low-key, High-key, Sepia, Mono, Impressive Art, High Dynamic, Cross Process, Toy, Expressive, Soft, Retro, Star, Colour select and Miniature. The G5 doesn't feature a panoramic mode.

Video - The G5 has a large number of options and settings available for high video quality, and records Full HD video with stereo sound. Video menu options includes: Photo style, Record mode (MP4/AVCHD), Video size, Focus, Picture mode, Continuous AF, Metering mode, iResolution, iDynamic, Ex. Tele Conv, Digital zoom, Wind cut, Mic level display, Mic level adjust, and Flicker Decrease.

Value For Money

The Panasonic Lumix G5 is available for £599 body only or £699 with the 14-42K lens, or £829 with the 14-42X compact lens as tested pricing it higher than the G3 it replaces. Alternatives to look at include the Panasonic Lumix GX1 (£400 without EVF), Olympus OM-D E-M5 (£999 body only with weather sealing, EVF and 9fps shooting), Sony NEX-5N (£449 without EVF) / Sony NEX-7 (with EVF, £999), Samsung NX20 (£899, 8fps continuous, EVF, Wi-Fi), Nikon 1 V1 (£549 with EVF). Have a look at other mirrorless cameras available. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix G5 has been introduced with a new telephoto zoom lens, the compact 45-150mm f/4.0-5.6, and with Micro Four Thirds offering one of the most extensive ranges of lenses available for CSCs / DSLMs / Mirrorless cameras. Whatever you decide to call it, the G5 makes a compelling case for itself. It offers high speed performance, with extremely quick focus, shutter response, and very good continuous shooting at 6fps. The camera has a number of useful function buttons, as well as an excellent screen and EVF with eye-detection. If you choose the compact 14-42mm power zoom as your kit lens, then you get a very compact system, and one that's capable of excellent image quality.

The Panasonic Lumix G5 has an impressive specification and produces excellent images - with improved noise results. The G5 is more expensive than the model it replaces, however we feel that the improvements make it worth the investment. The Panasonic Lumix G5 has an abundance of features, excellent image quality, and is good value for money, making it well worth investing in. Highly Recommended.

  Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 DSLM Review:
  The Panasonic Lumix G5 offers excellent image quality, handling and value for money with an impressive lens range.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Pros

Excellent image quality
EVF with eye-detection sensor
Electronic shutter for silent operation
6fps continuous shooting
Improved handling and controls
Improved menu system
Improved battery life
New zoom lever / exposure control
Electronic level

Panasonic Lumix G5 Cons

Compact 14-42mm Vario X lens not the strongest performer
Panoramic mode would be nice
Standard shutter quite loud


Panasonic Lumix G5 Specifications

Image Sensor
Pixels16.05Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeLive MOS Sensor
Sensor SizeMicro / Four Thirds
Sensor Size (width)17.3mm
Sensor Size (height)13mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution920k
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity160 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Viewfinder Resolution1.44million dots
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting6fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPSAVCHD (1080p at 50 FPS) and MP4 (1080p at 25 FPS)
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)340shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera, Lens, Body cap, Battery, Battery charger, USB cable, Neck Strap, Software CD-ROM

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Lumix G5

Autumn in Glen EtiveJimi Hendrix's BedroomFillingThe LambOn GuardDrama QueenDon't really want to be hereGetting Away From It All - Nearly ...A quiet moment  -  boy on Inle Lake, MyanmarGarden Randomness???Billy's Breakfast.Lenses through the Lens

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kodachrome Avatar
kodachrome 12 789
18 Jul 2012 8:39AM
Wow! I want one, its a very good up grade on the body design and looking more like a small DSLR than previous models. Good review Josh, and those test pictures are out standing. It has the new Venus 7 engine and improved IQ which is slightly more Olympesc if you like. There is also an electronic 'level' which will be a great feature, especially for Landscapes.

I have since seen on another site that it will cost £599 [body] and £829 with the new compact GX 14-42. Take note Olympus, all this spec and just as good a performance for a lot less money.
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
18 Jul 2012 11:05AM

Quote:Wow! I want one, its a very good up grade on the body design and looking more like a small DSLR than previous models. Good review Josh, and those test pictures are out standing. It has the new Venus 7 engine and improved IQ which is slightly more Olympesc if you like. There is also an electronic 'level' which will be a great feature, especially for Landscapes.

I have since seen on another site that it will cost £599 [body] and £829 with the new compact GX 14-42. Take note Olympus, all this spec and just as good a performance for a lot less money.

Hi Kodachrome,

Yes it's a great update to the G3, and resolves a lot of the issues or design aspects that the camera had.

The price information was in our review too, under Value for Money Wink

Thanks for the comment,

stevedigip Avatar
18 Jul 2012 12:04PM
Would be interested to know how the tracking AF performance is at 3.7fps and does the viewfinder image remain uninterrupted or does it freeze making it difficult to follow a moving subject? A head to head comparison with the Olympus M5 would be very useful!
josa Avatar
josa 11 25 Czech Republic
18 Jul 2012 1:41PM
Digital single lens mirrorless?Grin What are they smoking? I want that too!Tongue
Shcokete Avatar
Shcokete 12 32
18 Jul 2012 2:54PM
I wonder if you can fit a Leica lens.
Jschneir Avatar
18 Jul 2012 4:20PM
The G5 appears to be a very nice camera but before I would buy it I would want to compare image quality with the Sony NEX 5N or the F3. The high ISO performance of any camera is the key for me and I doubt if any 4:3 camera is as good as a APS Sony sensor.
kodachrome Avatar
kodachrome 12 789
18 Jul 2012 4:21PM
Leica make several Micro 4third lenses. Did you mean the older 35-mm Leica lenses. Perhaps some one can find out if an adaptor is available.
Hoggdoc Avatar
Hoggdoc 11 United States
18 Jul 2012 6:06PM
WOW, where do I start. After watching the first over-view in this review my opinion is that the whole approach to the design is that of an up-scaled Point & Shoot. The control layout, the over-done graphics based menu system just scream P&S.

I personally own and really like the approach Olympus has taken with their OM-D offering. It appeals to the more advanced shooter, and in my case has replaced my Nikon D300 as my back-up camera to my D300s.

While the images on the G5 seem to look OK, the film quality look the OM-D produces, once again points to it's more professional appeal.

I was wondering if Panasonic would have an answer to the OM-D, guess not..... Tongue
kodachrome Avatar
kodachrome 12 789
18 Jul 2012 6:22PM
Yes, there are rumours of a GH3, which should compare favourably with the E-M5. The older GH2 was almost an equal and considering its technology was a couple of years older than the Olympus says a lot for how advanced Panasonic were with M4T.
kodachrome Avatar
kodachrome 12 789
20 Jul 2012 6:37PM
Question to Josh

Do you think or know if the sensor has been improved on the G5, reason I ask is all earlier G model cameras were some times critisized for having colour tint problems at the higher ISO settings. Even at low ISO, they some times exhibited a green or red tint to some pictures. Its never been a problem with my G3, but I have heard other people comment on this. May be the Venus 7 engine has addressed these issues? Your test pictures did look different/more colourfull than the G2/3.
StrayCat Avatar
StrayCat 19 19.1k 3 Canada
21 Jul 2012 5:03AM
Panasonic have done a good job with this camera body, and it's a good buy for the price.

You can use Leica lenses on any M4/3 body with a cheap adapter, around $25.00. I had one for the PL1. There aren't many lenses that you can't find an adapter for today, it's become a thriving business in its own right.Smile

Performance wise I would expect it to be right up there with Sony, Olympus, and other Mirrorless manufacturers.

Good review Josh.

mannypr Avatar
mannypr 12 9 Puerto Rico
23 Jul 2012 6:07PM
I'm impressed by the photo quality of the camera .
kodachrome Avatar
kodachrome 12 789
25 Jul 2012 8:35AM
Not sure what any body else thinks, but to me the G5 has more than a similar resemblance to the DMC FZ200 camera and FZ series in general. I suspect that was Panasonic's intention as the FZ cameras always looked more ergonomic and easier to hold than the G3.

One last thought, one other review site praised the new shape for the reasons given above but marked it down a point on IQ compared to their review of the older G3.
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
25 Jul 2012 9:17AM
When I was using the FZ200 and G5, the resemblance made me double check which camera I was using, they are very similar in design.

I can't comment on other sites, but I can guess that with the release of the E-M5, the G5 is now up against new competition and needs to be marked accordingly.
kodachrome Avatar
kodachrome 12 789
26 Jul 2012 7:37AM
I can see its an easy option to try and compare the new Panasonic G5 with the Olympus E-M5, I think thats a trifle unfair as its not in the same price range or spec. It would be a much better idea to compare a GH2 replacement [GH3] as its probably going to be in the same price range and performance.
Jschneir Avatar
26 Jul 2012 4:43PM
I get an email from you saying you " updated" your review. Can you tell me where? It would be most helpful if you could illuminate your updated material in some manner.

I just shot some side by side comparisons using my Sony NEX F3 and my Olympus Pen e PL1 using the basic kit lens, no competition. Yes the LP1 is 2 years older but from what I have seen, not a great deal of improved IQ from the newer models. The 4:3 sensor is clearly a limiting factor. THE SHARPNESS and low noise of the Sony NEX F3 were even better than my Nikon D90 and equal most of the Canon T series of cameras.
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2012 8:18AM
Hi Jschneir, If you have commented on the review, and ticked "Notify me of any responses" you'll get an email whenever there's a fresh reply.
Jschneir Avatar
27 Jul 2012 6:37PM
I believe I did check that box, notify me.....
SteveMcHale Avatar
SteveMcHale 14 15 United Kingdom
30 Jul 2012 8:55PM
I've been eagely waiting for this camera to come out. It has some improvements over the G3 but don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors. I have the G1 and the EVF hasn't changed since that and had the eye detection sensor. The handgrip had gone BACK to that design and the zoom level/exposure control still carried out exp compensation in a wheel near the shutter release. The rubber grip seems to have made a reappearance too. The whole camera had a rubberised finish on the G1. So yes some improvements have been made but a few steps back as well to correct issues. More evolution than revolution, that's why I don't think it will sustain this price for long.
Jschneir Avatar
30 Jul 2012 10:24PM
Steven- nicely said. I had 3 Panasonics (G1,G2 and GF1) before I switched to the Sony NEX cameras and haven't been sorry as yet. I was wondering what it was about the pictures I was looking at in this review that were so familiar and couldn't put a finger on it. Thanks to you I now know what it was. It was the Panasonic's EVF that was the main reason I left and went to Sony. Then the IQ from the NEX cameras blew me away and now it would take a major improvement in the high ISO limage quality to make me rethink that move. I don't think that will happen with any of the mFT cameras. I must admit a little while ago that I picked up a Olympus E-PL1 cheap and just love that camera's design and handling. If only the IQ was better. I know better lenses will improve the IQ at low ISO levels. but will not help much at the higher ISO levels.
SteveMcHale Avatar
SteveMcHale 14 15 United Kingdom
31 Jul 2012 10:38AM
Yep, despite Panasonic's advertising hype (DSLM, etc) a four thirds sensor is always going to play catch up to an APS-C (and above), being only 60% the size of it, regarding IQ. But there's also I think other factors involved and I dunno, I've done the dance over the years of carrying loads of heavy gear around and have reached a point where I have to pragmatically ask myself, do I really want to count the number of hairs up a subjects nose? I think if I put my hand up and admit it, I enjoy the handling and functionality of the G1 and lenses and am just looking for improvements on them. After all, I can print up to A3 and still have great results with this gear. I fully appreciate you wasn't enamoured by these features and moved on to something different, which is the great thing about photography, that we all get different things out of it.

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