Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 review
In terms of CSCs, Panasonic has its Lumix GF line up resembling super-sized compacts, plus its G and GH models, which, as with the 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds system G5 here, appear as if shrunken digital SLRs. The advantage of these slightly larger cameras over rivals here is that they find room for an electronic viewfinder (EVF), switched on automatically via eye sensor, in addition to a regular LCD that can be tilted and swivelled rather than just angled up or down. As with the Olympus, Sony and Canon, the latter is also a touch screen, allowing a finger prod to direct focus to a subject in the corner of the frame and subsequently fire the shutter, with plenty of solid-feel physical controls remaining. While we might outwardly assume that the G5 is more for your photo traditionalist, familiarity and ease of use is such that it would be a good option for families too.
The advantage of the mini DSLR design is that there is room too for a decent sized handgrip, which on the G5 enables one-handed operation – something hard to achieve with a full sized DSLR plus lens. Here the provided optic is a 14-42mm mechanised ‘Power Zoom’ from Panasonic’s premium ‘X’ range; it operates like the lens on a regular compact in that it’s controlled via a lever rather than turned by hand. This has enabled the focal range to be squeezed into more compact dimensions – but we personally missed the precision of the manual variety. Plus, even with the lens removed the G5’s too large to squeeze into a pocket if that is a concern.
Shooting options are controlled via a five pence piece sized mode dial atop the Panasonic that features manual options alongside the automatic, throwing in the now expected digital effects filters, applied at the point of capture. Separate intelligent Auto (iA) and video record buttons feature too – press either and it’s simply a case of pointing and shooting to get consistent, responsive results. The 3-inch, 920k dot resolution tilting screen is so large, clear and creatively flexible it’s easy to overlook the even higher 1.44 million dot resolution EVF above, but your use will probably be down to personal preference and whether you’re coming to the G5 because you want something smaller than a DSLR or more comprehensive than a compact.
With 320 shots from a full charge the G5 mostly delivers sharp colour rich images, if we did notice some focus fall off towards the very frame edges at maximum wide angle. Otherwise this is a nigh all-encompassing step up option.