Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 review
17.3x13mm 12.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (28-84mm equivalent), 362g
Autofocus performance was extremely quick. This is one area where Panasonic still holds a comfortable lead over Sony's NEX cameras. Rapid-fire shooting in the Single drive mode started enthusiastically, providing just 0.6 seconds between shots, but the camera couldn't save them as fast is it captured them. After four frames, it slowed to 1.8 seconds between shots. Continuous shooting started at 4.1fps, but slowed to 2.1fps after 13 frames. That's respectable, but the Sony NEX-F3 was a little faster.
CSCs usually excel for low noise thanks to their large sensors, but the GF5 is lagging behind the pack for noise performance. The Panasonic DMC-GX1 exhibited less noise, despite its higher resolution, and Sony's NEX cameras exhibited far less.
Heavy noise reduction makes these indoor skin textures look like they're out of focus - click to enlarge
This had obvious implications when shooting in low light, with a distinct lack of fine details at ISO 1600 and some ugly noise-reduction artefacts at ISO 3200 and above. However, it was impossible to escape the clutches of noise reduction, even in brightly lit scenes, with a smudged appearance to fine details even at the slowest ISO 160 setting. We have no qualms about the relatively modest 12-megapixel resolution of this sensor, but it really should be managing lower noise than this. Panasonic made the wrong decision by not including the GX1's sensor here.
Noise can be an issue even in bright light, with noise-reduction processing glossing over details – note how much more shadow detail we were able to get from the raw file - click to enlarge
The GF5 is expensive, but comparisons with the Sony NEX-F3 are fairer when the GF5’s paired with its bulkier zoom lens. This puts both cameras on a level playing field for both size and price. Then again, the GF5's compactness is, for us, its strongest attribute. With the bulkier lens, it fails to stand out. Those who want an entry-level CSC should go for the Sony NEX-F3, while those who simply want a high-quality, truly compact camera are better off with the excellent Panasonic Lumix DMC- LX7.