Panasonic's Lumix refresh should have its rivals' top compact and mirrorless cameras quivering in their retro canvas bags with not one but three snappers getting an official unveiling today. We've already had some quality hands-on time with the new Lumix lot – so here are all the essential specs plus some Stuff.tv first impressions of the Panasonic Lumix G5, Lumix LX7 and Lumix FZ200 cameras.
Panasonic Lumix G5 hands on review
Panny's got quite a few mirrorless cams on the books now – but while the likes of the amazingly quick Lumix GX1 fill the high performance niche, Panasonic is selling the G series models like the new G5 on their 'stylish' and 'active' credentials.
The Lumix G5 has a 16MP live MOS sensor on board and a beefed up Venus processing engine taking care of all the grunt work. You also get a fast AF, an electronic viewfinder and rear touchscreen LCD display, plus a burst mode that'll shoot up to 6fps at 16MP.
Don't just reach for the Intelligent Auto button, as the G5 is really easy to operate and won't scare anyone who has never wielded a proper DSLR. We liked that the touchscreen LCD can be used for selecting focus points – which makes sense in the era of iPhones and Instagram – but that there were also plenty of buttons, levers and dials for zoom and adjusting ISO and aperture. That said, if you're looking at buying your first step up from a compact camera, be warned the G5 isn't particularly pocketable.
The Lumix G5 took really bright and impressive shots on a sunny day in Budapest and on first impressions we think this new Micro Four Thirds cam would make a worthy all-rounder. Sporting ISO skils up to 12800 to cope with low light, an occassional smattering of grain did creep in. We were left with mixed results in low light environments during our hands-on test – sometimes the G5 struggled to make up for the less than perfect snapping surroundings.
As it's an interchangeable lens camera, you get a good range of shooting options. You'll probably plump for a 14-42mm kit lens with this compact system cam but Panasonic also tells us it's bringing out three new G series lenses this year. These will include a 12-35mm option and a 45-150mm telephoto zoom lens (with in-lens stabiliser), bringing the entire compatible range up to an impressive 17 lenses.
Battery life isn't quite as impressive – with that electronic viewfinder and 3in LCD screen draining power, the G5 left us on low battery after three hours of intensive snapping. So you'll want to make sure the G5 is fully charged before you take it for a spin and maybe chuck a spare battery into your camera bag with your lens selection.
It's easy to switch to 1080p video mode and the G5 features a silent electronic shutter for zero noise – so if you want to shoot that rare wood pigeon without disturbing the little fella, this new Lumix might be a good shout. There are also 16 filters to play around with, which DSLR owners might sneer at, but B&W might be useful as may soft focus or star filter if there's bright lights overhead.
The Lumix G5 will be available from mid-August for £600 body only, £830 with a 14-42mm lens and £880 with the 45-150mm telephoto lens – better get eBaying your current camera then.
Panasonic Lumix LX7 hands on review
Next up in the new Lumix line is the 10.1MP LX7, the successor to the Panasonic Lumix LX5. It sports a Leica 24mm wide angle lens that aims to let plenty of light into your shots with a max f1.4 aperture. So the LX7 will be great for shallow depths of field with background blurring, if that's what you're going for. There's also a pop up flash and the obligatory HD video capabilities.
We loved the manual aperture ring around the fixed lens, plus you can also control the aspect ratio (4:3, 16:9 etc) from here. These controls, in a body that's compact and stylish enough to get our attention without going down the retro route, really add something that the likes of the Nokia PureView 808 and the best Android smartphones just can't replicate. The LX7 will get unleashed in September for a measly £450.
Panasonic Lumix FZ200 hands on review
Panasonic's new superzoom bridge camera really does what it says on the tin – the 24x zoom 25mm wide-angle Leica lens produces detailed shots even when you're across the street, spying on your target (in our case old Hungarian churches, don't worry).
The FZ200 also offers up a 12MP sensor, Venus Engine, fast AF and ISO up to 6400. With full HD video on board and an f2.8 aperture through the whole zoom range, this bridge should definitely be on your shortlist if you're all about the optical zoom. And you can get your hands on one from late August/ early September for £500.
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