The GF5 may be small but is it perfectly formed?
Compact cameras with interchangeable lenses are perfect for people who want DSLR quality without the bulk and complexity. They aren't cheap, however, and although they're smaller than DSLRs, most of them are still too big for anything but the roomiest of coat pockets.
The Panasonic GF5 addresses one of these issues. Its 3x optical zoom lens retracts when the camera is switched off, and it's just about slim enough to slide into jeans pockets. There are various other lenses available that are just as slim, but this is the only one that has a zoom function.
The camera itself is small and light for this type of camera, too. It's easier to hold than the older GF3, though, thanks to a more substantial rubber handgrip on the front.
Sadly, Panasonic hasn't been able to address the issue of cost. At more than £500, it's only likely to appeal to photography enthusiasts. The slim lens contributes to the high price - the GF5 is also available with a bulkier 3x zoom lens for £429.
There aren't many buttons and dials on the camera, and even the zoom and manual focus functions are operated by levers rather than lens rings. However, a Quick Menu button brings up various controls on the touchscreen.
Overall, it's a decent set of controls, but it's more likely to appeal to people who dip into manual settings every now and again rather than those who want to control every aspect of a shot. Still, the touchscreen comes into its element when selecting which part of the frame to focus on.
The camera is really quick to focus, and performance in general is pretty fast, rattling off four shots every second in continuous mode.
Image quality is high but at this price we expect it to be even higher. Fine details had a slightly artificial appearance on close inspection, with a hint of blotchy grain even in brightly lit shots. It was worse in low light, with mottled shadows and smeared details when viewed up close.
These are common problems among compact cameras, and while the GF5 was better than any conventional compact, it fell short of the standards set by Sony's NEX range.
Video quality was much more impressive, with crisp details and barely any image grain, even in low light. There's very little control in video mode, though. The ability to move the autofocus point is useful but there's barely any control over exposure settings for videos.
The GF5 is a pleasure to use and we love the wide range of compatible lenses available (these are branded as Micro Four Thirds lenses), but at this price Panasonic needs to appeal more to enthusiasts rather than the point-and-shoot crowd. The slightly more expensive GX1 or the heavily discounted GF3 are better options at current prices.
Read more reviews
A decent camera but the slim lens pushes the price up. At more than £500 we would expect better controls and even higher image quality
Small and light for an interchangeable-lens camera; Straightforward touchscreen operation; Huge range of compatible lenses available
Disappointing low light performance
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