New Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5: A solid ILC made better

Panasonic updates its DMC-GF3 entry-level interchangeable lens compact camera with incremental but useful new features.

(Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 image courtesy of Panasonic)

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 interchangeable lens compact (ILC) camera announced today is one of those consumer-friendly updates: The new features are attractive enough to keep it competitive in its class but not so significant that it makes buyers of its predecessor (last year's DMC-GF3) regret pulling the trigger.

Take for instance the most obvious change when you pick up the camera: The new model sports the same curvy and compact design as the GF3, but adds a rubberized grip that makes for a subtle but very likeable addition (especially useful for single-handed shooting).  The most obvious change when you turn on the camera is the GF5's gorgeous new 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot touch screen (compared with the GF3's 460,000-dot model) and the redesigned user interface to match. I really liked the look of the Olympus E-PL3's redesigned interface, and the GF5's looks similarly clean and modern (though I still find Olympus' a bit prettier).

The GF5 sticks with a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, but sports a new processor that helps bump burst-mode shooting speed slightly to 4 fps (up from 3.8). Other updates include a higher extended ISO sensitivity rating of 12800 (vs. 6400 in the GF3) and a slew of new filter options in the Creative Control Mode (up from six to 14) as well as a new Scene Guide that offers 23 professionally shot sample photos to help you choose among preset scene modes. The Scene Guide also offers some hand-holding in the form of technical advice and recommendations for newbies who are upgrading from a point-and-shoot.

Last, but not least, the full 1080i HD video recording has been augmented with the option to save in MP4 format, in addition to the AVCHD format supported by the GF3.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 will ship later this year for $599, including a 14-42mm standard kit lens or $749 bundled with a 14-42mm power zoom lens, and will come in black, white, and red body color options.

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