Panasonic has been trying to catch up with the autofocus speeds of its Micro Four Thirds competitors so we took its latest snapper, the 16MP Lumix G5, for a spin – with a 14-42mm X Vario lens in tow. Here's how we got on...
The Lumix G5's 3in rear touchscreen and electronic viewfinder are both super-sharp, but they also suffer from a spot of distracting picture noise. As we've come to expect, a sensor switches on the EVF when you put your eye to it.
Manual controls and build
The G5's controls are a nice compromise between compact cam and full-on DSLR, with a simplified layout supplemented by plenty of customisable function buttons and a dedicated mode dial. The grip is comfortably chunky, but it does undo a lot of the size-saving done by that compact kit lens.
The swing-out rear touchscreen allows you to tap on part of the scene to focus, as well as access all the settings. Sadly, it's afflicted with a pre-iPhone lack of responsiveness, which means you'll probably stick to the excellent physical controls.
The 14-42mm kit lens has power zoom – so you can zoom using either the toggle switch on the lens itself, the one on the camera body, or via the touchscreen. Versatile, but it gives a compact cam feel and isn't as precise as a zoom ring.
Autofocus and light metering
The Lumix G5 is the first camera that can actually compete with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for autofocus speed. In most situations it's impossible to separate them. The light metering is also hard to fool, even when faced with high contrast.
Through the lower end of the G5's ISO range, there's very little to complain about – detail and colour rendition are absolutely superb. Compared to the very best, though, it all gets a tad too mushy if you go over ISO 3200.
Panasonic has always been pretty reliable with video, and the Lumix G5 continues that trend with smooth, sharp full HD video. It'll shoot AVCHD at 60fps, or you can opt for the device-friendly MP4 format at a maximum of 30fps.
The success of Instagram and other retro camera apps means that even 'serious' cameras get creative effects filters nowadays. The G5 is no exception, with seven filters. Most are too extreme, but they do offer striking results.
Versus Olympus OM-D E-M5
While the G5 gives a nod to beginners, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is unashamedly hardcore. A weatherproof body, comprehensive controls, 5-axis image stabilisation and outstanding images right up to ISO 25,600 all add up to a package that's worth the price.