There has been quite a bit of pre-announcement discussion about what kind of features might be added to Panasonic's latest member of its LUMIX G Series of Micro Four Thirds digital cameras. As it transpired, the new LUMIX DMC-GF5 interchangeable lens camera was not the marked improvement on last year's GF3 that we'd hoped it would be. That said, it has been given a new sensor and rehashed imaging engine, an improved user interface with the opportunity to automatically optimize settings based on images snapped by professional photographers, and it will be available with a power zoom kit lens.
The new LUMIX DMC-GF5 has the same eye-pleasing curvy body shape as the GF3 before it, including the rubberized grip for comfortable one-handed operation, but its slightly heavier at 7.94 ounces (225 g) and has marginally differing dimensions of 4.24 x 2.62 x 1.45 inches (107.7 x 66.6 x 36.8 mm). Although the camera boasts a newly developed 17.3 x 13-mm Live MOS sensor, the megapixel count is the same as last year's model - at 12.1 effective megapixels. This new sensor works with a redesigned Venus Engine image processor to offer a maximum sensitivity setting of ISO12800 for flash-free, low-light shooting and burst shooting of four frames per second in full resolution.
The combination of 3D Noise Reduction and Multi-process Noise Reduction technologies is said to result in faithful reproduction of both bright and dark areas of the image with minimal noise, and the available filter options have been increased from six to 14. The GF5 also benefits from a new Scene Guide that offers 23 sample pictures shot by professionals. A user chooses the photo closest to the shooting situation and the camera automatically applies optimal settings based on that choice.
The camera's full-area focus capability is controlled by the image sensor for higher accuracy and features the same nippy Light Speed autofocus technology seen in the GF3, which is said to bring a subject into focus in less than a second. The user can tweak the tracking autofocus via the GF5's higher resolution 3.0-inch 920,000-dot high-precision touch display, and touch can also be used to zoom when a LUMIX Power Zoom Lens H-PS14042 lens or H-PS45175 is mounted.
As you might expect of a Panasonic camera, the GF5 features Intelligent Auto which automatically activates technologies like Intelligent D-range control, Face Recognition and Intelligent ISO control for optimum image capture based on different conditions. In addition to snapping RAW or JPEG format stills in four photo aspects, the new camera also gets the same HD movie recording capabilities as the GF3, which can be activated by a dedicated video record button. There's also a stereo microphone with wind-cut and a built-in mono speaker.
Aimed at photographers looking to step up from compact point-and-shoot cameras, the DMC-GF5 supports SD/SDHC/SDXC media cards, has a built-in pop-up GN6.3-equivalent flash, sports both mini-HDMI and USB 2.0 ports, and comes supplied with a 7.2-V, 940-mAh Li-ion battery pack that's said to be good for about 320 stills between charges.
The LUMIX DMC-GF5 will be available in black, white and red later this year for a body-only price of US$599, or bundled with the company's retractable LUMIX G VARIO 14-42-mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH power zoom lens for US$749.