The surprising G5 in Western Australia. It's really good. No, really.

Started Jan 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
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The surprising G5 in Western Australia. It's really good. No, really.
Jan 7, 2013

So I finally bought a G5 to replace my old G1. It took me a long time to decide, I really wanted to wait for the GH3. Compared to the G1 I wanted a larger body to make it easier to hold, maybe with more functional (to me) wheels and buttons, a bit more "professional" features such as PC socket, and better color rendition at higher ISOs. I am not too worried about noise but the G1 was truly atrocious at ISO 800 or more, and to me the frontier now is color rendition and not noise, at high ISOs. I want those subtle pastels and all.
I rented a GH2 once, decent camera but I didn't think it was a quantum leap vs. the G1 considering the price as well. So I didn't really consider the G5 either, with its GH2 derived sensor. But a trip to Western Australia came up and the painfully slow GH3 release still had not happened in Singapore so the day before I traveled I did buy the G5 after all. And I used it in "naive mode" for 3 weeks: ignore manual, use mostly default settings except for, using A mode, auto ISO with 1600 max, and shoot in RAW+M-sized JPG set to "natural" in Adobe color space. Lenses: 7.5mm/3.5 Samyang mostly set to a guess of hyperfocal distance at f/5.6 or so, and Panasonic 14mm/2.5, 25/1.4 and 45/2.8 in AF without thinking too much. I then processed the result in LR 4.3. Below are my LR edited final versions, filename suffix -3, in sRGB. In my gallery there are additional versions for comparison's sake: the original in camera JPGs (no file name suffix) and the same LR 4.3 edited version (suffix -2) as below but both in Adobe RGB. LR edits were strictly contrast, curves, a tad of CA for the fisheye pics (the ones w/o lens tag) if needed, and exposure. Color shifts between versions are due to contrast and exposure changes mostly. Color space hardly mattered in these examples. File sizes are about 8 MP because that's the in camera M size so I standardized the LR versions to that too.
But before the results, a few words on the G5 experience. Basically, it's the little camera that could. It's really quite amazing, it really has good color, even in camera and certainly, easily, in LR edited RAW. It does strong  saturated colors at base ISO, it does subtle pastels at sunset. It never muds or greys out as the G1 does above, say 400 ISO. It doesn't have a cast like some high ISO GH2 images do. It even does Astrophotography with a little NR in LR. Yes you can nitpick, there is some noise at 100% but nothing at a level that matters to me. The user interface is easy to grasp after the G1, the touch finger focus is interesting though I didn't use it much. The ergonomics are so much better than the G1 or the GH2 even. It could have more wheels and there is no PC socket, oh well. Only real pain is that I often changed WB accidentally because my palm rests in that area, and of course I wish lenses still had manual aperture rings, it's so much faster than the thumb wheel. The G5 AWB and AE are good btw, pointless to use auto WB or auto tone in LR, they're usually much worse than "as shot". The EVF though is not that great, and that is coming from the G1. It does fine on normal scenes but it glares out easily with high contrast subjects to a point where it's hard to see the subject, and color judgments are pointless. OTOH it is improved at low light. Oh and that 7.5mm/3.5 Samyang is unbelievable fun, I used it maybe 1/3 of the time.
So my big surprise is this: there really is progress. The G5 is extremely competent. It has noticeably better color rendering than the GH2. It has very very good color rendering, period. The G5 also handles very well. But most of all it does low ISO color very well, which is what I had been missing for a long time. Resolution etc are all good enough anyway and have been for a while in most MILCs / DSLRs.  I don't lust after a GH3 for now, not anymore. LR work from RAW is mostly for pop and contrast and that way the output can be made to look superb, but this is not strictly necessary.

The G5 is highly recommended as far as I'm concerned and much much better than its bread and butter reputation.

And now the results.  Files are a mix of hi/lo ISO and various lenses. All below are sRGB and edited in LR4,3 to my taste, the other versions are in my gallery.



Markus

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