Body & Design
At a quick glance the G5 looks very similar to its predecessor but a second look reveals a number of new features and specs - both on the outside and underneath the hood. The camera body has undergone a slight redesign as has the layout of the buttons and controls. Physically, the most obvious change is a new, larger, hand grip, which makes the camera a little more comfortable to hold, and the addition of a control lever behind the shutter button which controls the power zoom on compatible lenses. Alternatively it can be configured to operate exposure compensation or aperture in M-mode. Other, more minor modifications include an aluminium front plate, a redesigned four-way-controller, a larger mode dial and a changed position of the shutter button.
The G5 is an impressively small camera given its specification, and although slightly larger than its predecessor the G3, it forms an extremely portable package when paired with the collapsable 14-42mm PZ lens. The rear of the camera is dominated by a fully articulated 920k-dot LCD screen, which is also touch-sensitive. Panasonic's touch screen implementation is pretty well-established at this point, and like the G3, the G5 takes a 'non mandatory' approach to the touch UI. If you want to use it, it's there for you, but if you prefer buttons and dials, you have that option as well, via a more or less traditional interface of physical controls.
In your hand
We've not had much time yet to shoot with the G5 but our initial impressions are very encouraging. It's an enjoyable camera to shoot with and although it might not be a groundbreaking upgrade to the G3, the new sensor is very promising, and the resolution bump of the rear LCD is very welcome.
The new function lever on the camera's top plate top is useful in combination with a powerzoom lens but even with a standard lens it offers you an alternative method for applying exposure compensation in a quick way. We also spent some time trying out the new touchpad-AF feature. It's something that we haven't seen on any other camera before and while potentially useful it certainly takes some time getting used to. Depending on what eye you are using to peek through the viewfinder it's easy to confuse the system by accidentally touching the screen with your nose. That said, we'll spend some more time looking at this feature when working on our full review and investigate how to make the most of it.
Looking ahead to the review, we are keen to put the camera through our range of image quality tests and view the results next to its peers. Considering the new sensor design we would not only expect better detail at low sensitivities but also improved performance at high ISOs. The updated video specs make the G5 potentially very attractive to video enthusiasts while the new filter options should appeal to compact camera upgraders at the same time.