Review Date: December 29, 2014
Category: Serious to Advanced Amateur
Photoxels Editor’s Choice – Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 is an ultra-compact mirrorless camera (aka Compact System Camera, CSC — or DSLM, Digital Single Lens Mirrorless, as Panasonic refers to it) targeted to serious and advanced (“enthusiast”) photographers. It has 16MP resolution on a Four Thirds (17.3 x 13.0 mm) Live MOS image sensor and accepts interchangeable lenses on the Micro Four Thirds mount.
The Lumix GM5 has excellent image quality including very good low-light performance at ISO 200 with good detail preserved. Image quality is very good up to ISO 1600, and ISO 3200 is very usable. At higher ISOs, images suffer from noise and loss of detail.
|LUMIX G VARIO 12-32 mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S.
2.7x Optical Zoom
(24mm, 35mm equivalent)
(64mm, 35mm equivalent)
One of the many advantages of an interchangeable lens camera is the ability to use different lenses suited to specific jobs. The GM5 comes with a LUMIX G VARIO 12-32 mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. (35 mm equivalent focal length: 24-64 mm) 2.7x zoom kit lens which has 7 circular blades, a minimum aperture of F22, and accepts 37mm diameter filters. It’s a great walkaround lens, providing wide-angle and portrait coverage. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 12mm [24mm equiv.] then 32mm [64mm equiv.].
The Lumix GM5 has full exposure flexibility with PASM modes, and Program Shift. The camera also provides exposure compensation (with Auto Bracketing) and Custom (Manual) White Balance. A Live Histogram can be displayed.
The actual macro capability is a function of the lens you use. The 12-32mm kit lens allows you to focus as close as 0.2m/0.66ft (between 12-20mm) and 0.3m/0.98ft (between 21-32mm).
Panasonic implements the best AF Area: the latter can be manually moved to anywhere (and we mean, anywhere, to the very edge) on the screen. The AF Area can be resized and, at its smallest size, can be moved to 103 x 75 = 7725 locations! AF is very fast in good light, takes about 1 sec. in very low light.
There are three metering modes: Multiple / Center Weighted / Spot. Since the LCD is touchscreen, Touch AE allows you to finger-point exactly where you want the camera to measure the light.
|Auto White Balance Indoors|
As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under artificial lighting [I have two energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs on the ceiling]. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 allows WB to be set manually and this brings out the real colors. AWB works very well in natural light.
|ISO 400||ISO 800|
|ISO 1600||ISO 3200|
|ISO 6400||ISO 12800|
|ISO 25600||ISO 100 (Extended)|
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 has 8 or 22 ISO settings, depending on whether you choose 1 EV or 1/3 EV ISO steps in Custom Menu [MENU – Rec – ISO Increments] going from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, plus extended ISO 100. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds (in 1 EV ISO steps). At ISO 200 to 1600, noise is under control. Noise starts to be slightly visible at ISO 3200 but is still very acceptable. Noise (with progressively higher detail loss) is quite visible at higher ISOs. Overall, excellent noise handling.
CA is not much of a problem, even in high contrast shots, using the 12-32mm kit lens. We had to look very hard to find anything remotely worth showing. The corner delimited by the red square at top right, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, would normally show CA but shows none.
Our Long Shutter Speed test is a torture test for digital cameras. Here we test whether (and how well) a camera can lock focus, provide accurate WB and obtain a correct exposure in extreme low light situations. The Lumix GM5 passes the test easily.
The Lumix GM5 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 60 sec. in PASM modes, therefore allowing nice night photography. Generally, with image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take a low-light indoors shot. Usually I have to experiment quite a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, but with the GM5, I simply set it to Shutter-Priority mode, select a shutter speed of 60 sec. and let the camera decide which aperture to use. [The available shutter speeds depend on which menu options you have chosen.] The AF locked without any problem. Even at this long shutter speed, the Lumix GM5’s noise reduction seems to be working great, producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.
TIP: There is also a shutter speed setting of “T” (Time) in manual shooting mode. The maximum length of time is approx. 60 sec. and you press the shutter release button to open the shutter, press it again to close the shutter. This is useful for fireworks when you are not sure how long you want to leave the shutter open until you’ve caught the number of fireworks explosions you wanted. “T” is similar to “B” (Bulb) but, in the latter case, you need to keep your finger pressed on the shutter button to keep it open and let go to close it.
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 has excellent image quality including very good low light capability, making it an easy choice for an ultra compact mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. It is quick, point-and-shoot easy to use in iA and P mode, and gives full manual control for those needing it.
View the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Photo Gallery.