Panasonic G5 Review

Panasonic G5 Review: Now With An Improved Grip

Panasonic is constantly continuing its four model series with Micro-Four-Thirds connection, and with the Lumix DMC-G5 the G3 now has a slightly better equipped successor model. The G3 had to take criticism from some users for the small handle. The G5 now has a slightly larger one again, so that the mirrorless system camera fits better in the hand. The sensor has also been improved: it still has a resolution of 16 megapixels, but the readout rate for FullHD video recordings has been increased to 50 frames per second.

Brief assessment


  • Excellent video capabilities (especially with PZ lenses)
  • High serial frame rate
  • Fast, accurate contrast AF – even with video
  • Ergonomically shaped, compact housing


  • Battery a little weak
  • No connection for external microphone
  • HDR function not very effective
  • Image quality only good up to ISO 1,600


In the US and Europe the 13 is considered the unlucky number, in Japan it is the four. And so Panasonic now has the Lumix G5 following the G3, without any G4 in the middle. In the fourth generation, the mirrorless system camera again has a more classic DLSR design. In addition, Panasonic has polished the screen on the G5, improved the video capabilities and added some interesting new photo features to the camera.

With the G3, it was quite a problem that the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels were read at 25 frames per second and stored at 50 fields per second. Especially demanding videographers saw this as a clear disadvantage compared to camcorders with real 50i readout rate. With 50p, the G5 now offers a real added value, in AVCHD format these videos are stored at 28 Mbps, which requires at least a Class 4 SDHC memory card. At HD resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, the frame rate drops to 25 fps. As an alternative to AVCHD, the videos can also be saved as MP4, but then even with FullHD only at 25 fps. The sound is recorded either via the internal stereo microphone or via an external microphone that can be connected via a 2.5 millimetre jack socket. The level can be adjusted in four steps, a digital wind filter can be switched on. In video mode, as in photo mode, there are numerous scene modes, a scene automatic and creative filters available.

But first and foremost the Lumix DMC-G5 is a mirrorless system camera for photography. Numerous automatic functions, scene mode programs and the possibility of manual control appeal to a wide range of users. A new feature is an HDR automatic, which takes differently exposed photos and combines them into an image with a higher dynamic range. ISO sensitivity can now be set from 160 to 12,800. Overall, the G5 is supposed to be less noisy than the G3, which is due to the better sensor, as well as the more powerful quad-core image processor and the more sophisticated algorithms. The new option of being able to photograph particularly quietly with an electronic shutter, for example at theatre performances, concerts or in museums, deserves special mention.

The continuous shooting rate has been increased to six frames per second. The resolution of the rear three-inch screen, which now has 920,000 pixels, was drilled out. It is touch-sensitive, which simplifies camera operation, for example when focusing on a specific subject detail. But the G5 also has numerous buttons and dials, so you don’t have to rely on the touchscreen. A new addition is a lever near the shutter release, which can be used to set either the motorized zoom of a lens or the aperture or the exposure time. This lever is also used for zooming during image playback. The screen can be swivelled 180 degrees to the side and rotated 270 degrees, so that self-portraits, shots taken near the ground or over the heads of a crowd do not require contortions.

Although the G5, as a mirrorless system camera, does not have an optical viewfinder, the electronic one has a proud 1.44 million pixels (SVGA resolution) and the viewfinder is as large as that of a 35 mm DSLR with 0.7x magnification. Since the electronic viewfinder is a live image, 100 percent of the image field is covered, the menus and image display can be displayed in the viewfinder, and the white balance can also be easily assessed. In addition, there is an exposure preview, fade-in grid lines, an electronic horizon and a live histogram. If desired, the viewfinder is activated by a built-in proximity sensor, so that manual switching is not necessary. New is the possibility to activate the Touch-AF for object tracking via the screen even in viewfinder mode. As with the predecessor and sister models, the autofocus should work extremely fast thanks to the 120 frames per second readout frequency of the sensor and lens electronics

The DMC-G5 has an integrated flash unit, but is also easy to connect. In addition to the system hot shoe, it has a remote release socket, a combined USB and AV connection and an HDMI output. The supplied lithium-ion battery is said to be sufficient for 320 exposures according to CIPA standard measurement procedures, but can also be replaced by a battery dummy with an AC adapter connector.

The Lumix DMC-G5 is available in US since August 2012 in the colors black, white and silver. The price in the set with the Lumix G Vario 3.5-5.6/14-42mm is said to be 750 EUR. But the camera is also available separately, then only in black. In addition, the G5 is also available in the power zoom kit with the Lumix G X-Vario 3.5-5.6/14-42mm in three colours. The double zoom kit with 14-42mm and the new 45-150 mm (see further links) will again only be available in black.

Ergonomics and Workmanship

“Small is beautiful” – many manufacturers have followed this design principle with the last generation of their cameras. So also Panasonic with the G3 from last year. That looked nice, but in use, the little contoured handle of the G3 proved to be not so practical. With the G5, Panasonic is once again following the old saying “form follows function”: The Lumix G5 looks more like a classic DSLR with a deep and well-shaped grip – only smaller. But that’s not a disadvantage: The G5 fits perfectly in the hand, which is also helped by the well-shaped thumb rest. With its weight of just under 600 grams (ready for use with Lumix G Vario 14-42/1:3.5-5.6 Asph. lens), the system camera remains somewhat lighter than a conventional DSLR, making it definitely recommended for longer trips and when travelling on holidays.

Despite the G5’s rather dainty case, Panasonic has found enough space to equip the camera with the most important controls and switches. This is clearly beneficial to the user, as the G5 can be configured in a fairly fixed manner. It would certainly be even faster if the inscription on the silver four-way rocker on the back could also be read. At the top of the top plate on the right is a handy program selector wheel, which even has two memory locations for user-defined settings. The somewhat small trigger extends far to the tip of the grip bead, so it automatically comes to rest under the right index finger. Directly behind it, Panasonic has fitted a new rocker switch, which performs two different functions: If a power zoom lens (more on this later) is attached to the camera, you zoom in and out with this rocker – just like with a compact camera. With conventional lenses, the rocker serves to correct the exposure – a clever idea! Especially because the thumbwheel sits decidedly too low and is therefore not very easy to reach. The design of the main menu has also been criticised: Although Panasonic divides the long command lists into several pages, they cannot be selected individually (e.g. via tabs). So you always have to scroll to the end of a page to get to the next one – this could be solved more elegantly.

Like its predecessor, the G5 has a good electronic viewfinder (EVF), with a very fine resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. The viewfinder image is pleasantly large and hardly smears at all even with fast pans, only its contrast range is too low. Back again, the G5 has a proximity sensor on the viewfinder, which Panasonic had saved on the previous model. This sensor automatically switches from the display to the EVF when the camera is raised to the eye. Or it can be held in front of the stomach, which also makes the viewfinder image disappear on the display. In practice, it proved to be very helpful that an easily accessible button allows manual switching between EVF and display. Panasonic has also improved the display, which now has a resolution of around 920,000 pixels. In the bright light of the sun at noon, it is easy to read when the brightness is adjusted manually – the automatic brightness control proved to be too restrained in practice. What has remained is that the G5’s display is touch-sensitive and accepts commands by fingertip. For example, not only can the ISO sensitivity be changed in a flash with two or three taps – the focus point can also be placed on the desired part of the picture with the touch of a finger and even the shot can be triggered. Panasonic apparently continues to rely on a resistive touchscreen. Although this requires a somewhat more forceful pressure than, for example, a capacitive touch screen of a smartphone, this technology also works with gloves. The display is attached to the left side of the case and can be folded away by 180 degrees as well as rotated 180 degrees up or forward and 90 degrees down. In short, the G5’s monitor is practically always visible, even during self-portraits known by amateurs and beginners as “selfies”.


The G5’s case can’t hide the fact that it is largely made of plastic, but it makes a solid impression. Only the rubber-like cover of the interfaces does not inspire much confidence in a long service life. Memory card and battery take up a combined compartment at the bottom of the camera, a few centimeters beside it there is a tripod thread that sits neatly in the optical axis. But due to the close proximity of the battery/memory card compartment and the tripod thread, at best, a very compact removable disk does not block the access to the mass storage and energy dispenser. Due to the somewhat limited battery capacity of 320 shots (according to CIPA standard), changing the battery is a little cumbersome when using a tripod for long periods of time. After all, Panasonic includes a decent charger with the G5, so an optional second battery can be charged without any problems while the camera is in use.


System cameras from Panasonic have always offered a veritable cornucopia of functions and configuration options – and the Lumix G5 is no exception. Panasonic has given the camera just about everything that both inexperienced photographers and amateur photographers with certain requirements could wish for. For those who simply want to take pictures without having to read a lot, the G5 offers two fully automatic functions: The “Intelligent Automatic” takes care of everything, without any possibility of influence. There is also the “Intelligent Automatic Plus” – it allows exposure and white balance corrections as well as depth of field control. If you don’t want to leave everything to the automatic, the camera has 23 freely selectable scene mode programs. Panasonic has expanded the number of creative picture effects on the G5, and you can now choose between 14 options from “Expressive” to “Miniature Effect”.

The G5 offers demanding photographers a wide range of options and functions for individual control of the shooting parameters. The camera can be operated as an aperture, time and program automat, and the exposure can also be controlled completely manually. The G5 takes exposure series of up to seven shots at a maximum spread of one f-stop. This should also be sufficient for demanding HDR series. It’s even easier to create HDR photos with the new HDR function of the G5. It automatically takes three photos with different exposure values and combines them into one image that is drawn through from the darkest depths to the brightest lights – theoretically. In practice, however, the HDR automatic proved to be too timid, the contrasts were too high, for example, with pronounced backlighting. The image processing in the camera can also be adjusted to a great extent, such as sharpness, contrast, saturation and the strength of noise reduction. The G5 has an on-board meter memory for the exposure, optionally the focus setting can also be fixed.

Panasonic has equipped the camera with an electronic shutter that can be activated when needed. Not only is the shutter noise significantly reduced, the electronic shutter also allows continuous shooting at up to 20 photos per second (fps), while the resolution drops to around four megapixels. At full resolution, the continuous shooting rate is still quite fast 6 fps according to the manufacturer’s specifications, but then the camera does not display a viewfinder image during continuous shooting. The flash function of the G5 has little surprise in store: It masters the flash to the second curtain as well as the long time synchronisation, the flash exposure can be corrected independently of the measured value of the ambient light. Caution: When the electronic shutter is activated, the flash will not function – a circumstance that the operating instructions ignore.

The ancestor of the Lumix G5, the G1, which was introduced four years ago, already amazed with a surprisingly fast autofocus for mirrorless system cameras. And it has remained that way to this day; the G5’s contrast AF is also among the fastest of its kind. Practically immediately after the shutter release button is pressed, the camera focuses. If the shutter release button is pressed all the way down, it takes a blink of an eye until the picture is in the box. Nevertheless, the shutter release delay including autofocus determined in the laboratory with the Lumix G Vario 14-42/1:3.5-5.6 set lens is a maximum of 0.3 seconds, which is on a par with comparable DSLR cameras. Even the continuous focus tracking works very well. This is especially true in conjunction with the new “power zoom” lenses, as the Vario PZ 45-175/4.0-5.6 has been able to prove in practical use. With Panasonic’s PZ lenses, servo motors move the lenses in the focus group, so the camera always knows the current distance setting.

The advantages of this method are particularly useful for video recordings: Equipped with the power zoom, the G5 adjusts the sharpness very quickly and, above all, without disturbing focus pumping. Almost even more valuable for video recordings proved to be the fact that the power zoom – as the name suggests – changes the focal length by motor. For this purpose the G5 is equipped with the already mentioned zoom rocker close to the shutter release. It works in two steps, half pressed, the zoom range is passed through at reduced speed. This finally makes it possible to zoom evenly with a system camera. Another advantage of this technology: The motor zoom works almost silently, so the days are over when a zoom change during video shooting would leave annoying scraping noises on the audio track. The standard Lumix G Vario 14-42/1:3.5-5.6 Asph. zoom available with the G5 in the set has been deprived of these advantages by Panasonic, as it can only be used for conventional manual zooming. In terms of 35 mm format, this zoom covers a focal length range from 28 to 84 millimetres. It is largely made of plastic, but without looking cheap.

The fact that the investment in power zoom lenses is worthwhile for film enthusiasts is impressively underlined by the G5’s video capabilities. The camera records in Full HD resolution at a frame rate of 50 full frames per second, resulting in a data stream of an impressive 28 Mbps. Videos can be recorded with practically all exposure, effect or scene modes, and the sound is recorded in stereo. The G5 allows you to manually control sound recordings in four stages, and a digital wind filter can be switched on if required. It’s a pity, though, that Panasonic has denied the G5 the possibility to connect an external microphone. By default, the camera tracks the focus during video shooting, but the function can be turned off. In this case, the autofocus will not start until the shutter-release button is pressed briefly. During movie recording, it is also possible to take pictures, but the aspect ratio is always 16:9.

Image quality

16 megapixel resolution is currently the benchmark for system cameras, and hardly any representative of this class is satisfied with anything less. The Lumix G5 keeps up well, just like its predecessor, its Micro Four Thirds sensor still has a resolution of 16 megapixels. In this sense, Panasonic has left everything as it was with the G5. The fact remains that the sensor area is about a third less than that of an APS-C sensor – and thus the basic risks and side effects for image noise. However, Panasonic points out that the noise reduction of the G5 has been significantly improved thanks to its four-core CPU.

At first glance, everything seems to be fine in terms of “noise” in the laboratory protocol – at least up to the sensitivity of ISO 1.600. Up to this ISO level, the signal-to-noise ratio just doesn’t drop below the critical limit of 35 dB. The brightness noise also remains at a uniformly low level up to this mark. The measurement of the texture sharpness reveals at what price the G5 buys the good noise values: The texture sharpness decreases continuously from ISO 200 onwards – a clear indication that noise suppression increasingly intervenes even at low ISO levels. At sensitivity settings beyond ISO 1600, the texture sharpness increases again at first – but so does the noise. Apparently the noise reduction is now more restrained, which is not a bad idea: In practice, photos that are too denoised look artificial, because the interfering pixels also sort out the finest image details – the G5 is no exception. Fortunately, the strength of the noise reduction can be reduced via image style, which proved to be a good choice in practice. In addition, the G5 can also record in RAW format, so that disturbing image noise can be minimized later without too much loss of detail using a RAW converter.

The Lumix G5 processes a contrast range of around 9.5 f-stops up to ISO 3,200 – a decent value, but not a top result. The tone curve is very softly tuned, so the G5 dispenses with crisp contrasts, but on the other hand delivers image-processing friendly pictures. The camera is not very accurate with the color fidelity, especially cyan tones are shifted strongly to violet, orange is clearly emphasized. But on average, the color reproduction is just about accurate, and the white balance is very precise.

Not only the image sensor and image processor of the camera, but also the lens have a significant influence on the image quality. Recently, it has often become apparent that the set lenses available with a camera cannot exploit the full potential of the camera. Does this also apply to the Lumix G Vario 14-42/3.5-5.6, which had to prove itself on the G5 with the testing software? At open aperture, the standard zoom shows a slight drop in sharpness towards the edges of the image, but faded down to F8, the world is fine. Also at open aperture and only in the wide-angle range, the set lens vignetts strongly, also this problem fortunately disappears by stopping down to at least F8. However, you have to live with the fact that the set lens is a little bit barrel-shaped in the wide-angle range, but in the telephoto range, there are slight cushion-shaped distortions. Panasonic has chromatic aberration well under control, the lens hardly shows any color fringes.

The resolution performance of the price-optimized zoom lens, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Although the G5 paired with the Vario 14-42/3.5-5.6 cracks the mark of 40 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) at an optimal aperture of F5.6, but only in the image center. Especially in the wide angle range, the resolution decreases rapidly towards the edges and at best reaches almost 30 lp/mm. Although the edge resolution increases with increasing f-stop number – due to its relatively small sensor, however, the G5 reaches its resolution maximum already at F8, is faded further, diffraction effects limit the resolution increasingly. Overall, the imaging performance of the set lens is just about right. But if you want to take sharp and detailed photos right to the furthest corners, you should equip the G5 with a higher quality lens.


With the Lumix G5, Panasonic delivers an all-round handy system camera that has few highs and lows as a camera, but which can inspire as a video camera. In comparison to its predecessor, the G5’s much stronger case makes it easy to hold in the hand. Thanks to its touch-sensitive display, the camera is easy to use, only trips to the main menu are a bit tedious. The G5 offers stunningly fast contrast AF that focuses as quickly as comparable DSLRs. In combination with a power zoom lens, it quickly adjusts the sharpness during video shooting without annoying pumping. In addition, the motor zoom lenses allow smooth, silent zoom movements. The G5’s range of features is good to very good and hardly leaves anything to be missed by inexperienced photographers and photo amateurs alike. Equipped with a micro-four-thirds sensor, the G5 can’t quite keep up with the APS-C competition in terms of image quality. Although the camera effectively suppresses image noise, the strong noise reduction leads to a visible loss of detail beyond ISO 1.600 at the latest. If you can do without pronounced high-ISO capabilities, the G5 is recommended for those who want a compact system and video camera in one device.

Firmware update 1.1 for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5: Adaptation to PAL

Panasonic has released new firmware version 1.1 for the Lumix DMC-G5. This only includes a cosmetic change in the menu: The AVCHD setting is now correctly 50p/50i/25p instead of 60p/60i/30p.

This firmware does not affect us in the United States. The update only affects the European Union area where PAL is used. The cameras differ from the overseas models not only in the refresh rate, but also in the maximum recording time, which is limited to just under 30 minutes due to customs regulations in the European Union. Without this restriction, the higher customs tariff for camcorders would take effect, which the end customer would ultimately have to pay. The update can be installed by the user himself, the English instructions on the Panasonic website should be followed exactly. If you don’t think you can do this, you should ask your dealer or camera support for help.


Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Lumix DMC-G5
Price approx. EUR 720* at market launch
Sensor Resolution 18.31 megapixel
Max. Image resolution 4.608 x 3.456
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens Lumix G Vario 1:3,5-5,6/14-42mm Asph. OIS
Filter thread 52 mm
Viewfinder LCOS EVF
Field of view 100 %
Resolution 1.440.000
Enlargement 0,7-fold
Dioptre compensation -4 to +4 dpt.
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 920.000
rotatable yes
swiveling yes
as Viewfinder yes
Video output AV and HDMI (PAL and NTSC each)
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure yes
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 18 additional scene modes
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection System hot shoe
Remote release Cable
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode yes
Format Quicktime or AVCHD
Codec H.264
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
at frame rate 50p
automatically 200-3.200
(upper limit adjustable)
manually ISO 160-12,800
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Shadow, flash, manual color temperature selection
Manually yes
Number of measurement fields 23
AF auxiliary light red-orange
Speed < 0,3 s
Languages English
More 15 additional languages available
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
(ready for operation)
346 g (body only) 591 g (with lens**)
Zoom adjustment at the lens
Battery life about 320 pictures
– = “not applicable” or “not available
“* with lens Lumix G Vario 1:3.5-5.6/14-42mm Asph. OIS

This test of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42 mm 3.5-5.6 Asph. OIS was created with DXOMARK Analyzer.

Brief assessment


  • Excellent video capabilities (especially with PZ lenses)
  • High serial frame rate
  • Fast, accurate contrast AF – even with video
  • Ergonomically shaped, compact housing


  • Battery a little weak
  • No connection for external microphone
  • HDR function not very effective
  • Image quality only good up to ISO 1,600

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)18.3 megapixels (physical) and 16.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 3.7 µm
Photo resolution
4.608 x 3.456 pixels (4:3)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 25 p
Video format
MPG4 (Codec H.264)


Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds


Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 920,000 pixels, transreflective, with touchscreen
Video finder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 1,440,000 pixels, dioptre compensation (-4.0 to 4.0 dpt)


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 144 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 60 s (Automatic
) Bulb function
Exposure control Programmed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 3 shots, increments from 1/3 to 2/3 EV
Exposure Compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 160 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
Scene modes Baby, Landscape, Night scene, Close-up, Party, Portrait, Sunset, Sports/action, and Animals.
Picture effects various tint and filter effects in the parameterizable B/W mode, nostalgic
White balance Automatic, Clouds, Sun, Fine Tuning, Shadow, Tungsten Light, Manual
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting 6.0 fps at highest resolution, unlimited with JPEG, 9 consecutive images with RAW; 20 fps with max. 20 consecutive images at 4 megapixels
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Recording functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash (hinged) Flash shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
Flash code Guide number 10 (ISO 100)
Flash functions Auto, fill-flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, flash on second shutter curtain, red-eye reduction


Image stabilizer no optical image stabilizer
Power supply 1 x Panasonic DMW-BLC12E (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 1,200 mAh)
Playback functions Red eye retouching, image rotation, image index, slide show function
Image parameters Sharpness, contrast, color saturation
Special functions Orientation sensor, Live View
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
AV Connections AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Special features and miscellaneous Dust protection filter with ultrasonic self-cleaning functionAutofocus
with scene recognition and trackingAdjustable
exposure parameters in program mode (shift function)
AE lock (AE lock)
AF lock (focuslock)5-step color saturation adjustment5-step
sharpness adjustment5-step
image contrast adjustment3-step
graduation adjustment (high-key, normal, low-key)
LCD image cover: 100%16x
zoomCalendar view
playbackLight panel viewSimultaneousRAW and digital recordingJPEG format possibleDisplay of
image resizing (resolution)
Subsequent saturation correctionRAW processing functionWind protection filter

with four levels

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 120 x 83 x 71 mm
Weight 396 g (ready for operation)


standard accessory DMW-BLC12 Li-ion battery chargerUSB connection cableAV cableStretch strapCamera software

Photofunstudio 8.2 Premium EditionImage editing software
Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SEUSB driver

additional accessories Nikon HDMI Cable Audio / Video CableOlympus
FL-700WR Flash with Swivel ReflectorPanasonic
DMW-AC8 Power SupplyPanasonic
DMW-MA3R Lens AccessoriesPanasonic
Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm 1.7 (H-X1025) Zoom LensDMW-BLC12
Li-ion Replacement Battery Exchangeable Memory CardFlash UnitsDMW-FL220, DMW-FL360 and DMW-FL500Zoom Lever


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