Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GF3 is less than a year old, but has already been replaced by the GF5. How much better is the new 12.1-million-pixel micro four thirds camera? Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 review to find out
Although the specification of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5’s sensor is based on the same 12.1-million-pixel live MOS sensor as the GF3, Panasonic states that improvements have been made to the sensor to enhance low-light performance. Also improving image quality is an enhanced Venus image processing engine and new Multi-process Noise Reduction (MNR). These improvements have led to an increase in sensitivity from ISO 6400 in the GF3 to ISO 12,800 in the GF5.
A much-needed boost has also been given to the resolution of the 3in screen. This is just 460,000 dots in the GF3, but the GF5 raises this resolution to the same level as its peers, with 920,000 dots.
The GF5 is compatible with the very latest SDHC UHS-1 cards. These SD cards are currently the fastest available, and despite being on the market for more than a year, there is still only a handful of cameras that can take full advantage of their maximum read and write speeds.
Reacting to the popularity of camera effects used in smartphones, Panasonic has more than doubled the number of in-camera effects from six to 14. Among these settings are high dynamic, cross process, dynamic monochrome, retro, expressive and star filter, as well as the now standard toy camera and miniature effect. These settings are a clear indication that the GF5 is aimed at the same market as the GF3 – those who want more control and better quality than is possible with most compact cameras and smartphones, but who may be put off by the bulk and perceived complexity of a DSLR.
With the entry-level user in mind, there is also a new scene guide mode. Similar to those we have seen on DSLRs, shooting in this mode not only selects a series of predetermined settings, but it also guides you through the process of shooting the best image possible. For example, when shooting a portrait it will advise the photographer to ‘fill the frame with the upper half of the subject’s body’ and to use a ‘bright’, telephoto lens. Although the scene guide mode isn’t as intuitive as using the equivalent mode in Nikon’s new D3200, it should be of use to the entry-level user.
First-time users aren’t the only people catered for. Video is now a staple of every new camera, and the GF5 has seen some improvements in this area. I will look at this in more detail later.