The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 is a good value among compact interchangeable-lens cameras, reviews say. This Micro Four Thirds camera is smaller than a traditional digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera, with a great selection of compact lenses. For a few hundred dollars more, though, you could get the top-rated Olympus OM-D E-M5 (*Est. $1,100 with kit lens), a more advanced Micro Four Thirds camera with better image quality and a tinier, tougher build. Reviews prefer the Olympus as the most well-rounded camera in this class.
Stocky build, with a welcome touch screen. Chunkier than its rivals, the Panasonic G5 is shaped like a little digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. It's more than an inch thicker than other compact system cameras, but still easy to handle, reviews say.
The G5 gets an excellent electronic viewfinder plus a tilt-and-swivel LCD touch screen. The touch screen "genuinely speeds up the camera's operation," says Mark Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com.
It's not quite as good as the OLED touch screens you'll find on the top-rated Olympus and the G5's own big brother, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 (*Est. $1,300 body only), though. "Screen sensitivity isn't quite up there with the best touchscreen smartphones, and as yet there's no pinch to zoom functionality when the camera is being used in Playback mode," say editors at TrustedReviews.com. Still, it's "a welcome addition" that plays nicely with the G5's physical buttons and dials for full manual control.
If you'd rather let the camera do the work, an Intelligent Auto mode makes the G5 a fine choice for beginners or casual shooters, reviews say. "Pre settings work just fine!" writes one Amazon.com owner, who mostly uses the camera to snap her active kids and dogs. Goldstein says the G5's auto mode "makes it possible for the less experienced photographer to easily take well-exposed, sharp pictures of people, scenery and close-ups by simply pointing and shooting the camera."
Very good photos and video, but not class-leading. Images from the Panasonic G5 look very good overall in tests, although they can't quite match a DSLR or a higher-end mirrorless compact. The G5 gets a 16-megapixel image sensor. It's not as good in dim light as the more advanced sensors on the Panasonic GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M5, tests show. PhotographyBlog.com and TrustedReviews.com both run into grainy image noise around ISO 1600, and Goldstein says, "We wouldn't bother using the new headline-grabbing 12,800 speed."
Startup is sluggish in one test, but the G5 responds just as quickly as pricier mirrorless cameras otherwise. Autofocus is "super-fast," Goldstein says, and the G5 can shoot rapid-fire bursts of 6 full-resolution frames per second (fps).
Video quality is very good, experts say, at 1080p HD. It's not nearly as full-featured as the Panasonic GH3's class-leading video mode -- there's no full manual control, fewer available file formats, no microphone jack, etc. -- but you can zoom and focus either continuously or manually. Audio from the on-board stereo microphone is very good in one test, but if you zoom, you'll hear it on your soundtrack.
Battery life is rated at 310 shots per charge, which is a bit lower than pricier models.
Solid aluminum body, but it's not weatherproof. The Panasonic G5 isn't weather-sealed like the costlier Panasonic GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M5, which are splashproof and dustproof to survive demanding conditions. Still, reviewers praise the G5's solid metal construction.
"It's still extremely well-built with a high quality aluminum body, metal lens mount and metal tripod socket that belies its mid-range price point," says Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com.
"Build quality is very good," say editors at TrustedReviews.com. Their only quibble is that the plastic command dial "feels a bit cheap compared to the rest of the camera." We found no owner complaints about the G5's build quality.
Good feature set for its price. The lower-priced Panasonic G5 omits a couple of features. There's no built-in Wi-Fi, like the Panasonic GH3 has. You can't shoot a panoramic photo, as you can with the Olympus OM-D E-M5.
Otherwise, though, features are class-competitive. The G5 has the usual pop-up flash and hot shoe, variety of special photo and video effects (High Dynamic, Miniature, Toy Effect, etc.) and microphone jack.
The G5 ships with a 14 mm to 42 mm kit zoom lens (you can buy it body-only for $100 less, if you prefer). The kit lens "performs very well," say TrustedReviews.com testers, although images look sharper and more detailed with the better Panasonic and Leica lenses they try. Like other Micro Four Thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus, the G5 has access to a large variety of very good lenses -- a definite plus, experts say.
Review Credibility: Very Good The Panasonic G5 is a Recommended pick here. Testers praise its build quality, intuitive touch screen and impressive overall image quality and performance.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 Review, Editors of TrustedReviews.com, Aug. 8, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good PhotographyBlog.com counts the Panasonic G5 as one of its favorite compact system cameras. It's not as good in dim light as a DSLR, but overall photo quality, video mode and handling make it a "realistic alternative to a bigger and bulkier DSLR," tester Mark Goldstein says.
Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 Review, Mark Goldstein, July 24, 2012
Review Credibility: Good ConsumerReports.org tests 29 SLR-like digital cameras, including the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5. Editors rank the cameras from best to worst based on their photo and video quality, ease of use and more, and the ratings are very up to date. However, each camera's written review is short and not very detailed.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5K, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Review Credibility: Fair The Panasonic G5 gets very high marks from over 25 owners here. Almost all rate it 4 or a perfect 5 stars. Among the few that give it 3 stars -- one user finds it too complicated, while another would have preferred a white camera.
Review: Panasonic DMC-G5KK 16 MP Compact System Camera with 14-42mm Zoom Lens and 3-Inch LCD (Black), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013
Review Credibility: Fair Over 20 customers have reviewed the Panasonic G5 here, all giving it 4 or a perfect 5 stars. Most identify themselves as casual photographers or photo enthusiasts. Some of the written reviews are very short, but others are more thorough, identifying the G5's pros and cons.
Review: Panasonic Lumix G5 Digital Camera with Lumix G Vario 14-42mm Lens - Black, Contributors to BHPhotoVideo.com, As of February 2013