Photo answers review
Photo answers rating
Features & Build
Placing the G5 next to its predecessor, it’s immediately clear that there have been a number of changes to the overall design. Despite being only a few millimetres different, it seems Panasonic has decided to beef up the G5 by adding a deeper rubberised hand grip and more prominent rear thumb-rest that provides far more purchase than the previous model, making it look and feel more like a D-SLR. With the larger grip also comes a re-shuffle of the button layout, and the Shutter button is now placed at the front of the grip for maximum convenience. Directly behind that is a brand-new zoom lever, which has been designed to work in conjunction with the included 14-42mm power zoom lens, and allows you to zoom in and out with one finger. The Intelligent Auto button remains in the same place, though the Movie Record button has moved back to the top-plate, making the overall layout much closer to that of the G2 than the G3.
A glance at the rear of the camera reveals a 3in LCD free-angle touch monitor that looks almost identical to the G3, however the resolution has been upped to double that of its predecessor at 920K dots. The 1.44M dot electronic viewfinder has retained the 100% scene coverage, and comes complete with dioptre adjustment. In addition, the G5 includes an eye sensor below the viewfinder to turn off Live View mode when you bring the viewfinder up to your eye. With so little change to the back of the camera the button arrangement has remained in a very similar layout with just a few ergonomic tweaks. A new AE/AF-lock button has been placed where the Video record button used to be, and next to that is the Quick Menu button.
With regard to the inner workings of the camera, there hasn’t been much increase in the resolution of the sensor between this incarnation and the G3, however the sensor has been newly designed and features the new Venus Engine VII FHD processor, which boasts a greater low light performance. Adding to that, the G5 offers an ISO range of 160 -12,800, a one-stop increase over the G3 which offered ISO up to 6400.
Performance & Handling
With its large, deep grip the G5 feels much more like a small D-SLR than a compact, something that no other CSC on the market does and at only 10g heavier than the G3, it does this with very little extra bulk or weight. The inclusion of a deeper grip makes the camera fit snugly into your hand and gives a very solid hold, leaving your index finger naturally poised over the shutter button. The grip itself is finished in rubber but stylised to look like leather, increasing comfort and affording greater purchase when shooting.
The rear of the camera is equally well designed with the thumb resting comfortably on the rear thumb grip and within easy reach of all the major controls and buttons that, like the G3 before it, are very intuitively placed.
When it came to taking photos we found the G5 was responsive and quick; the autofocus was fast and accurate in locking on, and there was very little hunting, even in darker conditions. For a contrast-detect system, Panasonic’s LightSpeed AF technology is rapid and reliable, and with no noticeable shutter lag, picture taking had an immediate feel. The inclusion of touch focus on the free-angle LCD is a welcome addition that really aids quick focusing, especially when shooting from awkward angles where you can’t see through the viewfinder. We did find, however, that the tracking AF, while great for most applications, was a little sluggish at keeping up with erratically moving subjects.
The G5 also includes a Face Detection AF system, which automatically hunts out a subject’s face and sets the focus point there. This worked superbly and very little could be done to fool it, so the overall AF performance got the thumbs up.
The LCD screen used to view the images was lovely and crisp showing great detail, resolution and a responsive refresh rate, making it a superb tool for composing your images. Add to this the fact that it’s free-angle and can point in just about any direction and its versatility grows.
The EVF was just as refined; with the same design as featured on the G3, it was quick and had a handy rule-of-thirds overlay. The G5 also sees the return of an eye sensor found below the viewfinder, which was omitted from the G3. This allows you to switch between the LCD screen and EVF simply by bringing your eye up to the viewfinder – a handy time-saving feature. Also welcome was the inclusion of the Level gauge, which measures the tilt angle of the camera and offers a guide overlay on either the LCD or EVF to ensure you get straight horizons every time.
The G5 offers four shooting modes: Single shot; Multi-burst; Bracketing and Self-timer. Switching over to Burst mode and firing off shots at 6fps, the buffer quickly kicked in after 7 frames on both JPEG and RAW, slowing the rate of fire right down.
However, if you want to go even faster there is a JPEG-only SH burst mode which offers 20fps via use of an electronic (rather than mechanical) shutter, and in this mode, we got 40 shots before the buffer kicked in. Recording times were, on the whole, quick too, with a RAW taking 2.9secs to write to memory card and a JPEG taking just 1.8secs per picture. This, however, was a bit of a pain when shooting on burst mode with a sequence taking up to 47secs to write to our Sandisk 16GB extreme 30MB/s test card.
One of our favourite features was the inclusion of customisable function buttons used to control a range of different commands, allowing you to personalise your camera handling. The most useful we found was the lever positioned behind the shutter button, which could be programmed to either alter exposure or the lens’s zoom.
The G5 offers all the creative M, A, S, P shooting modes you’d expect from a camera in this class, but also includes 7 artistic effects as well as 23 different Scene modes to choose from – a comprehensive list!
Value for money
Priced at £799 with the power zoom lens included, or £599 body-only, the Panasonic G5 provides reasonably good value. It performs and handles a lot like a small D-SLR yet it’s considerably cheaper than one of a similar specification. The Nikon D7000, for example, comes body-only for £779 and the Canon EOS 60D at £729, so if the size of those cameras is a concern, the G5 could be well worth a look. For that matter, there aren’t many cheaper CSC cameras out there, either, so whether you’re looking to downsize from a D-SLR, or pick up your first CSC, the G5 offers plenty of features for the price tag.
If you’re already a CSC user, though, and are perhaps looking to upgrade from a more recent model like the Panasonic G3, we don’t think the cost will give you enough of an improvement for the cash outlay.
That said, G1 and G2 users will definitely see a benefit, so if you bought into the Micro FourThirds system early and are looking to refresh your body, the G5 is a very logical buy. Overall, this is a great little camera with good features and nice looks, and it performs well for the price.
Street price: £799 (with 14- 42mm f/3.5-5.6 power zoom)
Resolution: 16.05Mp (4608x3456px)
Sensor: FourThirds (17.3x13mm)
Lens mount: Micro FourThirds
Autofocus system: Contrast AF
Focusing modes: Face Detection, Tracking AF, 23-area-focusing, 1-area-focusing, Continuous AF, MF, Touch Pad AF, Touch Shutter AF, Touch MF Assist
Metering: Intelligent Multiple, Center Weighted, Spot
Burst rate: 20fps (JPEG only), 6fps, 3.7fps and 2fps
Pop-up flash: Yes
ISO range: 160-12,800
Shutter range: 60-1/4000, Bulb
Viewfinder: EVF (1.44M dot)
Monitor: 3.0in Free-angle LCD (920k dot)
Video: Full HD (1920x1080p)
Write speed: 2.9sec (RAW), 1.8sec (Large Fine JPEG) Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC
Dimensions: 119.9x83.2x 70.8mm (WxHxD)
Weight: 396g (body, battery and card)
As featured in the October 2012 issue of Digital Photo, for a back issue please contact 0844 848 8872.