In 2013, Panasonic surprised us with their GM1 mirrorless camera. Then the company managed to achieve something simply incredible: it managed to fit a relatively large Micro 4/3 format matrix into a case the size of a deck of cards, and even add removable optics there.
Last fall, we were shown the closest relative of that same camera, the Panasonic Lumix GM5. But what could be improved in an already excellent camera? Panasonic, without thinking twice, added an electronic viewfinder and a hot shoe here.
Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? But what about the same advanced Panasonic LX100, which also has a compact body, is also equipped with a Micro 4/3 matrix and has a similar price tag? In which case is it worth giving preference to a novelty and is it worth it?
When you pick up this baby for the first time, at first you try to get used to the idea that you have a full-fledged mirrorless camera with a quite decent matrix in your hands. The Lumix GM5 may not be small enough to fit in a jeans pocket, but your jacket or jacket will definitely have a place for it. Case dimensions are 98.5 x 59.5 x 36.1 mm. The novelty is even comparable to such beloved by many “soap dishes” as Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and Panasonic LX100, although it is more than five millimeters thicker than its predecessor.
With the exception of the viewfinder and the shoe again, there are no significant differences from the GM1 in terms of design: when using the kit lens, you still have to open the lens before shooting, as it folds up to ensure compactness. In this regard, capturing some unexpected moment can be difficult.
Despite the presence of a touch screen, Panasonic did not sacrifice physical buttons and selectors. Thus, the company is trying to meet the needs of both novice photographers and enthusiasts.
The front of the GM5 is nothing special: only a G-mount, an optics release button and an autofocus illuminator.
Behind the camera there is a standard five-position navigation block, a dedicated video recording button, quick menu buttons and a button for information displayed on the display. To their left is a large touchscreen display, and above it is an electronic viewfinder, two function keys, a play button and a selector dial.
On the top of the camera are a standard mode selector (PASM), an on/off button, a shutter release button with a zoom lever, and a focus mode selector.
The bottom panel is equipped with a tripod thread and a compartment that hides the battery and memory card slots. Both elements are so close that it is impossible to change the battery without removing the tripod. We have already seen such an omission in the Fujifilm X100T and Panasonic LX100, yet another price to pay for compactness.
The right edge is equipped with a compartment with microHDMI and microUSB ports, as well as an eyelet for a strap. On the left is another eyelet and a speaker.
You can also control the camera remotely via the built-in Wi-Fi module using your mobile device.
The GM5 features a 3-inch 921k-dot touchscreen LCD and a 1166k-dot electronic viewfinder. For unknown reasons, the display resolution was reduced in relation to the GM1 and its 1040k dots. Otherwise, there are no complaints – the display is bright, with good viewing angles and color reproduction.
The viewfinder also lacks stars from the sky: the resolution is inferior to that of the LX100 (2764 thousand dots), the contrast is rather low. Pleases only 100% frame coverage and no strobe effect. In any case, its presence will please those who are already accustomed to this method of sighting.
First of all, it is worth noting that the GM5 has exactly the same 16-megapixel matrix as the top-end Panasonic GX7. For image processing, the Venus Engine is used. This bundle allows you to set ISO up to 25600 and record Full HD video at up to 60 frames per second in AVCHD or MP4 formats. No 4K here, alas, no.
The kit version of the camera comes with a LUMIX G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens. MEGA OIS Its focal length in full-frame equivalent is 24-64mm. This lens is great for hiking and everyday shooting in general. High sharpness across the frame is achieved only at f / 8. If desired, you can get a small effect of “bokeh”, but only at the maximum aperture. If you want to get more, then I advise you to pay attention, for example, to the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH.
A 23-point contrast system is responsible for autofocus, its speed and accuracy are high, but far from the top solutions on the market. On the positive side, even in poor lighting conditions (down to -4 EV), the autofocus system remains reliable, albeit less fast.
The Panasonic GM5 is capable of taking pictures at up to 5.8 frames per second in burst mode. This value is achieved with a semi-electronic shutter, but if you switch to a fully electronic one and lower the resolution, the speed will increase to 40 frames. The only pity is that the buffer will overflow after 5 RAW frames.
The image quality is excellent: pictures taken at ISO 100-800 are completely free of noise, and the first slight noise begins to appear only at ISO 1600. At ISO 3200, noise is already quite noticeable, and, naturally, when increasing ISO to 6400-12800, the pictures give out even more noise reduction, although you can still use them for small format printing and social media.
Photos are very bright and juicy, but without a tendency to oversaturate. Exposure metering is quite accurate, there is practically no need for exposure compensation, except in the most difficult conditions with high contrast. There are no complaints about the white balance either: even in artificial lighting conditions, the colors just slightly deviate from the norm, leaving in warm shades. But you can always correct it with special tools like the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR 24 or one of the 8 recommended color grading tools.
Many manufacturers have been releasing mirrorless cameras with an emphasis on compactness for several years now: Nikon did it with their Nikon 1 line, Samsung is trying to do it with its NX Mini and, of course, Pentax with its Pentax Q, but they are not even close to the Panasonic GM5 . It’s smaller than some of the competition, but has a much larger sensor and a huge range of Micro 4/3 optics that Panasonic and Olympus have painstakingly developed over the years. In the compact mirrorless segment, the company has every chance of success.
But Panasonic has created a dilemma by releasing the LX100 and GM5 with roughly the same specs and cost, although I think both cameras will find their followers: you might prefer the LX100 for its better viewfinder, 4K video capability, more physical controls ( shutter speed selector, autofocus lock), faster shooting speed, as well as better optics at the start. At the same time, professionals with an already formed fleet of Micro 4/3 optics will probably give preference to the GM5, because not everyone will have enough range of focal lengths of the optics built into the LX100 (24-75 mm in full-frame equivalent), which means that the new product is a must. find a buyer.