Panasonic G5 review continued

Panasonic G5 Olympus 40-150mm Zoom lens

Before I went away and got caught up in the Photokina hysteria, I was putting together a review and user experience on the Panasonic G5. Having used it while away in Sussex and taken it out again yesterday with my Panasonic 12-35mm and Olympus 40-150mm I can again report how much I think its a huge improvement over the G3.

If like me, you think the introductory price for the GH3 in the UK is pretty steep then the G5 is a seriously good alternative for stills photographers. Its become a somewhat neglected camera, it doesn't get much attention anymore but it is actually really good. If as well as the price you think, again like me, that Panasonic might have made the GH3 somewhat heavier and larger than is comfortable for a m4/3 camera, then again the G5 could be what works for you.

 Panasonic G5 Olympus 40-150mm Zoom lens

Panasonic G5 Olympus 12-35mm Zoom lens

Before proceeding there is something thats been bugging me for a while. New m4/3 cameras seem to produce an exaggerated response about how much the image quality improves with each successive model. The most obvious example of this is the Olympus OM-D E-M5. I've read comments like "The Olympus OM-D is way better than Panasonic m4/3 with regard to image quality" Its rubbish, its also untrue. The thing I like about m4/3 is the consistency of results. Even with its Sony sensor the OM-D's output is very similar to cameras like the G3, GX1 and G5. The colour output seems slightly different with the Olympus seeming to be a bit warmer. There are very marginal gains, maybe, but even at high ISO's there isn't much difference. See my tests between the OM-D and GX1 here if you don't believe me, or perhaps more accurately want to believe that there IS a significant difference.

The point I'm about to make (finally!) is that if you are thinking that the GH3 will have significantly better IQ than the G5 then I'm pretty sure it won't. Obviously having seen only a few samples I can't be definitive on this, but I suspect this will be the case. Certainly, I doubt whether I could tell the difference in a blind test between OM-D and G5 files and I'm pretty certain that will be the same between the GH3 and G5. That is a good thing by the way.

All of this is trying to make the case that if you don't need the extra video options that the GH3 provides then the G5 is an excellent alternative. There is something about the GH3 having better dynamic range, but with the latest version of Adobe Camera raw thats taken care of anyway.

 Panasonic G5 Panasonic 40-150mm Zoom lens

 Panasonic G5 Olympus 12-35mm Zoom lens

Panasonic G5 Olympus 12-35mm Zoom lens

As I wrote about before there are two things I really like about the G5. 

Firstly its the most comfortable m4/3 camera I've ever used. And that includes the OM-D in either grip configuration. The new grip shape is really good. Mine has been further improved by the convenient fact that both my NEX-7 cases fit the G5. The fixing screw is in the same place, its the same width. The only difference is the depth. The NEX-7 is slimmer, but the case does fit snugly to the bottom of the camera and doesn't interfere with the screen movements. 

Secondly, the G5 is the quietest and fastest m4/3 camera I've ever used. In fact its probably the quietest and fastest camera of any kind I've ever used. The reason is firstly the electronic shutter which is wonderful. Why don't all cameras have this? There are 3 reasons for why I like it so much. 
1. It is as I said totally silent if you switch off the sound in the menu. 
2. Its instant, unlike other m4/3 shutters. 
3. Its vibration free, so you can use slower shutter speeds. I still smile every time I press the shutter. 

The second thing to mention is that the AF, with the latest Panasonic lenses such as the 12-35mm is phenominally fast. Its so fast that whenever I use my D800E its a very noticeable delay. With the majority of pictures I take this actually doesn't matter that much, but there are always usually one or two shots in a day I see, that need an instant reaction. Most times, with other cameras, I ignore them but with the G5 I give them a go and get a pretty high success rate.

So I'm coming to the opinion that the G5 is a great little camera. It is better than I thought it would be. I was anticipating keeping it until I could my hands on a GH3. Now I'm not so sure that I won't keep this instead. The price of the GH3 in the UK is a deterrent. Though it has to be said that there is some disparity on this. WEX have it as £1549 body only, which is way over the top but Park Cameras have it at £1245 with a memory card and £1553 with the grip and a spare battery. Even so, I think its about £250 too much and my feeling is that it should be around the same price as the OM-D. It will probably drop in time but my main concern is the weight.

I think that the GH3 + grip + spare battery + 12-35mm lens is going to be quite a bit over a kilogram. I haven't found out how heavy the grip is but the body + 12-35mm alone is 855 grams. Now thats definitely DSLR territory. The size doesn't bother me at all, but its not going to be a light camera. It does I think weigh in at about 125g heavier than the OM-D, and I've already discovered that when I use my OM-D with the 12-35mm I prefer to leave the full grip at home. The G5 however is around 400g and I like the weight and size with the 12-35mm fitted to it. Obviously its what you are comfortable with, but if I do consider a GH3 I I'm going to give it a try first before buying one.

So, there will be more on the G5, but I just wanted to re-start this review since I think its a camera that is getting less attention than it deserves and its been a really pleasant surprise to me that I like it so much.

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