Hands-on with Panasonic’s hot new camera range

Arriving in September from $999 for the body only and $1099 with the 14-42mm lens, the Panasonic G5 is full-size mirror-less body, bringing the size closer to that of a small digital SLR.

This new camera features a 16 megapixel sensor, ISO up to 12800, 3 inch colour touchscreen with articulation, live view finder, high speed 6 frames per second shooting, insanely fast “light speed” auto-focus technology, and even some aluminium thrown in the build of the body.

In the hands, the G5 is a nice entry, with a surprisingly light frame that feels quite solid. The grip of the G5 is much easier to hold than that of the GF5, and we felt more at home with this style of camera.

On Panasonic’s Lumix G5, you look through either the 3 inch touchscreen, take advantage of touch-focusing, or even use the live viewfinder and bring the camera right up to your eye.

Panasonic has even combined the touchscreen functionality with the viewfinder, letting you keep your fingers on the touch panel and guide the focus points with a spare finger, pointing out where you want the camera to focus while your eye is otherwise occupied.

A new lens was launched with the G5, the Panasonic 45-150mm F4-5.6, and this lens practically stayed with our camera the entire time we had it.

A chameleon shot on the Lumix G5

Taking shots of a chameleon and baby wombat with this lens allowed us to get nice and close, offering some fairly sharp shots with soft backgrounds, even if the pre-production cameras gave us the occasional hiccup or two.

Getting up close and personal with the images, we found some excellent detail and strong colours, with the chameleon’s skin and beady eyes providing a perfect testing ground for the lens and camera.

A chameleon shot on the Lumix G5 (100% crop)

With Elvis the crocodile and his hungry need for fresh meat, we figured we’d test out the high-speed shooting on offer by this camera, with a blazing 20 frames per second offered on one mode, and a 6 frames per second on another.

Switching on the fastest of the two, we found our image quality dropped, with the 20fps mode firing images insanely quickly, but at a reduced four megapixel mode. While that should be more than adequate for most reasons to shoot quickly, it’s not quite the same as a 16 megapixel high-speed shoot-out, and the 6 frames per second burst gave us the proper image size we were looking for.

A high-speed shot taken at 20fps of Elvis the Crocodile. While the Lumix G5 is a 16 megapixel camera, the 20fps mode seems to reduce it to 4 megapixels.

Out of the two G series bodies, the G5 was our favourite, as it seemed to handle better and provide some very solid controls, more like that of a larger camera. We can’t wait to see the full review sample of this body.