Design & Operation
The GF5's design and operation are extremely similar to the GF3 to the extent that ever since taking delivery of our pre-production GF5 we've been muddling the two cameras up in the dpreview office. Like the GF3, the GF5's touch-sensitive LCD screen is central to the camera's operation and compared to higher-end G-series models like the G1X, the GF5's control layout feels positively spartan.
Or, to look at it another way, it looks a lot like a compact camera. The zoom lever might be on the lens, but in most other respects, the GF5 shouldn't be too off-putting for its target user, coming up from a small-sensor point-and-shoot. The lack of buttons isn't problematic, though, even if you do step away from its automated modes - the touch screen generally combines well with the physical controls to give plenty of access to settings if you want to change them.
Compared to the Panasonic DMC-GF3
Compared to the Olympus PEN E-PL3
Like its predecessors the GF5 is designed as a crossover product for photographers coming from compact cameras, as an entry-point into Panasonic's growing 'G' series Micro Four Thirds cameras. As such, it's small, lightweight, and inexpensive, and when paired with the ultra-compact Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH Power OIS kit lens, the GF5 is about as close to offering truly compact camera ergonomics as we've seen in an interchangeable lens camera.