Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5

Panasonic has announced the launch of the 16-million-pixel Lumix DMC-G5 as the successor to the G3. Tim Coleman takes a first look at the G5, plus the LX7 flagship compact and flagship superzoom DMC-FZ200 PANASONICLumix DMC-G5 is the fourth generation of its original compact system camera range, following on from the 16-milion-pixel G3 and thereby avoiding the number 4, which is considered unlucky in Japan. Along with the rest of the companyCSCs, the company has labelled the G5 a digital single-lens mirrorless (DSLM) camera, stating that, The G5 has arrived to replace the DSLR.’ Panasonic is using the DSLM term to make a statement about the quality of its products and its commitment to the range - one that now includes 17 lenses after the announcement of the 12-35mm f/2.8, 35-1 OOmm f/2.8 and 45-150mm f/4-5.6 optics. I suspect the term DSLM is designed to appeal to serious photographers and DSLR users in an effort to take the CSC a little more seriously. The new lenses should certainly help to achieve this. Panasonic will use this term worldwide and not just in Europe, where DSLRs still dominate mterchangeable-lens sales over CSCs at 83% to 17%. There has not been any discussions with other brands about adopting this terminology across the board, so for now it s just Panasonic that uses the term DSLM. I had the chance to use the Lumix DMC-G5 over the course of a day to test many of its features, and to handle the DMC-LX7 and DMC-FZ200.

NEW FEATURES

Many of the key changes to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 from its G3 predecessor are features that can also be found in the companyflagship DMC-GH2. This includes a 16-million-pixel, four thirds sensor, which should mean that noise in the G5 in low light is handled a little better than in the G3, and an ISO range of 160-12,800 (ISO 160-6400 in the G3). The same Venus Engine VII FHD processor as used in the GF5 is present in the G5, making full 1080 HD video recording possible at 50p in AVCHD format Highspeed shooting is faster, too, at 6fps in the G5 rather than the 4fps in the G3. The more noticeable changes, however, are in the way the G5 handles, with numerous tweaks and a few interesting innovations.

 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5IN USE

There are some key enhancements to the handling of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 over the G3. A significant new feature is the  zoom lever , which works with Panasonicpower-zoom lenses for controlling the zoom, although to date the company has just two power-zoom lenses in its range in the form of the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5 6 Asph/Power OIS and Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph/Power OIS. In fact, the lever can also operate exposure - aperture in manual mode and exposure compensation in aperture or shutter priority. Without a power-zoom lens attached, the lever acts as a front dial - a control that is absent from the G3. Other improvements include a metal rear D-pad rather than the rubber one found on the G3. The G5body has also been reshaped, sitting comfortably in the hand with a contoured faux leather handgrip. Likewise, the shutter button on the G5 is more angled than on the G3, so is easier to press. I like the silent shutter mode, as well as the silent AF, which is ideal for when discretion is important, such as up-close street photography. The 1 44-million-dot EVF on the G5 is the same as that found in the G3, except it has an eye-sensor AF feature that is handy for speedy shooting. Thankfully, the sensitivity of the eye sensor can be adjusted or even deactivated, because I found that  when shooting from the hip, my stomach was too close to the sensor, which in turn switched the camera from the articulated LCD screen display to the EVF. I also had the same problem when my hand brushed over the sensor. I have always liked the handling of Panasonic s  DSLMs , thanks largely to a responsive touchscreen that is ideal for touch AF, metering and shutter. In what is a first, Panasonic introduces a touch pad function to the screen. This means that the screen can still be operated with the EVF in use. It took me a while to get used to the control, but once familiarised I found it added another intuitive way to handle the camera, especially in pin-point and single-point AF modes.

IMAGE QUALITY

Panasonic stresses that the camera I used is a pre-production sample, so while the handling of the test model performs just as a production model would, we will have to wait to comment on the image quality. Early impressions are that there is unlikely to be any surprises, with the Lumix DMC-G5 demonstrating similar behaviour to the GH2 in its colour rendition and clarity of detail. Images at IS012,800 are noisy, but settings up to ISO 3200 are perfectly acceptable The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 will be available from August, priced £599 body only, £699 with standard 14-42mm lens, £829 with 14-42mm X-series power-zoom lens and £879 as a twin-lens kit with the standard 14-42mm and new 45-150mm lenses.

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