Hands-on with Panasonic’s hot new camera range

With the warmer months approaching and a possible holiday on the horizon, Panasonic has pulled the covers from several new cameras that it hopes will convince you to upgrade. Before the cameras come out, though, we’ve taken them for a spin, with loads of pictures to show just what they’re capable of.

For this hands-on, Panasonic was kind enough to let us explore the lovely NSW coast, with an emphasis on some cute and cuddly animals with loads of detail, while also testing the high-speed shooting power with a hungry hungry crocodile.

There were four main cameras that Panasonic was showing off here, two of which were launched in the past few weeks – the G series mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras, G5 and GF5 – and the two newbies – the FZ200 and LX7 compact cameras.

The interchangeable G-series duo: Panasonic’s G5 and GF5

Panasonic hasn’t exactly been shy with announcing its new mirror-less cameras, with the unveiling of the GF5 happening in April and the G5 last month in July.

Now we’re being given the chance to play with the models, ahead of their release this month and in September.

The new models are follow-ups to the G3 and GF3, and if you’re wondering why there’s no fourth generation, that more than likely comes from the number four having a resemblance to the word “death,” something many Asian companies acknowledge by just skipping over.

First we took a look at the GF5, a slimmed down mirror-less camera aimed at bringing the Micro Four Thirds sensor to a small body with a 3 inch touchscreen, creative modes, and an element of manual control.

Essentially, the GF5 is the camera for someone keen to play with this slimmer interchangeable lens form-factor, but who doesn’t necessarily want to rely on manual controls.

Heading to stores in late August from $699 with a 14-42mm lens, the Panasonic Lumix GF5 offers up 12 megapixels of Micro Four Thirds goodness, with ISO up to 12800, RAW support, creative modes, 23 focus points, and a 3 inch colour touchscreen.

A very sharp emu for this 100% crop taken with the GF5.

Our pre-production GF5 didn’t provide the best of experiences, with some early bugs rearing their head and showing some slightly delayed response times for flicking through the menus and changing options, something that will no doubt be ironed out for when the camera is released.

The touchscreen still supports Panasonic’s well-established touch-focusing technology, making it possible for anyone to just touch where they want the camera to focus and letting the camera take the shot immediately.

Macro taken on the GF5

Or there’s always the traditional method – our preferred – of holding the camera with the right hand on the grip, forefinger on the shutter, and left hand holding the lens.

For the most part, we grabbed most of the photos with the G series bodies like this, and found the GF5 offered some solid colour and clarity, as is evident in our test shots here and in our gallery.

Coupled with the new 14-42mm lens (one that will cost you extra and is shown above), the GF5 is a reasonably compact little shooter, though its compatibility with both Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses means this camera can do more than just be used for walk-around pictures, it could be handled with serious photography too.

Although, Panasonic does have another model it thinks is better suited for this task.