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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.

It's only when you get it into your hand that you realize just how small the GF5 and retractable kit lens are together. The little rubber thumb rest on the back of the camera and the light weight of the lens means you can genuinely shoot one-handed, just as long as you don't need to zoom (though we'd still always recommend a two-handed grip for extra stability).

Compared to the Panasonic DMC-GF3

As you can see from these comparison images, the GF5 is very closely related to its predecessor the GF3 in terms of design and operational ergonomics. The most significant differences are a new, higher-resolution LCD screen and a more substantial rubber hand grip, which we think is a big improvement over the somewhat slippery grip on the front of the GF3.

The GF5 also gains an additional 'Display' button on the rear, meaning that no touch screen 'buttons' have to clutter the screen while shooting.

Compared to the Olympus PEN E-PL3

Compared to the Olympus E-PL3, the GF5 offers a smoother, more rounded, less 'boxy' design, and a proper handgrip. The E-PL3's more utilitarian design does offer more shooting flexibility though, and as well as a hotshoe, the Olympus also boasts a tilt/flip LCD, as opposed to the fixed touch-sensitive screen on the back of the GF5.

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.

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Comments

Total comments: 70
wlsinwi
By wlsinwi (Mar 7, 2013)

It's such a minor upgrade from the GF3. Now the GF6/7 is expected in April and I predict it will have the 16Mb sensor. I also think it will have the new and better 14-42 zoom which is lighter and smaller. Best advice - get the GF3 now to get started cheaply and upgrade for the better model when it is available.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Oct 23, 2012)

Oh why I cannot get GF5 body only?

I want to try out this model with my 20mm pancake as the next step. GX1 is not doing it for me (same size, same looks).

0 upvotes
HeadinSouth
By HeadinSouth (Aug 20, 2012)

Its funny since I read all the posts on DPreview and the review article when the GF5 came out and I ran far, far away from buying one.
I then went out and bought a NEX-5N, used it for a week, and returned it. The Sony took pretty good pictures and video that almost got me over how ugly it is. Then I just found that it was awkward and did nothing for me.
I then contuned my research and checked out another 10 cameras.
It wasnt until I went back and stumbled across some actual reviews of the GF5 that I went a store to check it out. I picked one up after being very impresed by how it handled and how small it was.
I just spent a weekend taking pics with the kit lens and the 20mm 1.7 lens. I can tell you with the prime lens the pics are awesome. Especially when you take into account how small it is.
Great camera, nice work Panny

0 upvotes
patchpuppy12
By patchpuppy12 (Jul 25, 2012)

Just bought the panasonic gf5 and am disappointed, especially with the flash. I assumed it would automatically pop up in both low light and intelligent auto mode but camera repairs have said a button has to be manually pressed for flash to pop up ,its not designed to pop up automatically. Real pain! Maybe I've just fallen out of love with the camera now but its not the step up in pic quality I had expected either. I've just had a point and shoot up until now and thinking a DSLR would be a step more than I was ready for at the minute I settled for the gf5. Unfortunately its not what I expected!

0 upvotes
HeadinSouth
By HeadinSouth (Aug 20, 2012)

I actually get super annoyed by all the cameras that automatically pop the flash up. Most of the time, I find myself clicking it back down and cursing the camera.

6 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Oct 23, 2012)

Keep shooting, patch. Flash-less pics are way classier than the flashed ones.

0 upvotes
Mongkul
By Mongkul (Feb 23, 2013)

Yes, auto pop up flash is really annoying.

0 upvotes
GDMitchell
By GDMitchell (Jul 11, 2012)

Why would anyone who is not barking mad pay $599 for a camera that is as big as this with such a slow zoom lens. The 14-42 offerings of Panasonic and Olympus are very poor with a maximum aperture of 3.5 at best . The benefits of a large sensor will be overshadowed by poor glass. These modern GFs are pretty poor by comparison to the excellent GF1 and to some of the recent Olympus offerings too, dispensing of nearly all of the manual controls was a real act of arrogant naivety from Panasonic. Only the GX1 has prevented their miniature Micro 4/3 cameras becoming a laughing stock.

0 upvotes
Impagliazzo
By Impagliazzo (Jul 17, 2012)

Why do you think the GF1 is better than this GF5? And why do you think the GX1 is better? Curious since I don't know much about these compact M43s.

0 upvotes
balchinian
By balchinian (Jul 25, 2012)

Same here, I'm curious too.

0 upvotes
whyamihere
By whyamihere (Aug 3, 2012)

There seems to be a bit of fondness for the overall design of the GF1 and GX1 among Micro 4/3 users. From an IQ perspective, the GF5 is roughly equal to the GF1 (both use 12MP sensors). However, the GX1 is a significant improvement with its 16MP sensor (read the respective DPR articles, and you'll see why).

After that, it's quibbling over housing, direct controls via knobs and buttons, etc. This is an area where personal tastes may vary. Personally, I don't mind the control differences, so long as I can shift from A to S mode and change ISO, aperture, and shutter speed quickly. I also like my big, chunky, metal-bodied E-P2, but I also like my small-yet-capable GF3. Some are more... sensitive, to these sorts of things.

So long as the controls make sense to you and it feels right in your hands, all you really have to worry about past that is IQ, and it's generally easy to figure out which cameras do well in that respect.

0 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (May 10, 2012)

I like this just because it is small. Mirrorless cameras seem pointless unless theya re truly compact

this fits that bill

2 upvotes
villagranvicent
By villagranvicent (May 7, 2012)

Too many models in a very short period of time... I am glad I decided to get a like-new GF1 which still looks like a nice little real camera. Same "OLD" sensor as must people claim but at least it feels more solid. It is funny how people complain about sensors but still paying top dollars for a Digilux 2 with an ancient 5mp sensor who cannot go beyond iso 400...

2 upvotes
keekimaru
By keekimaru (Apr 13, 2012)

Pros:
- LCD has great color and viewing angles
- Light
- Stereo video
- Hotshoe
- Responsive touchscreen
- Snappy startup
- Dedicated movie button
- Automatic image rotate
- Flash is mechanically released; you can tilt it up for ceiling flash shots, which is nice
- Surprisingly easy to grip (not great, but better than expected for the slim body)

Cons:
- Menus a bit confusing
- Lens is huge (this is excusable)

More Detail :
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B004A8ZQJS/tipfla-20

0 upvotes
Gully Foyle
By Gully Foyle (Apr 22, 2012)

Uhm, no hotshoe, I'm afraid.
Also in the specs says no orientation sensor either, so how can it rotate images automatically? Unless the specs are wrong (which is probable of course).

0 upvotes
xmb
By xmb (Apr 11, 2012)

Orientation sensors are normally only fitted into the OIS range of lenses. But the GX1 has a sensor fitted for the non-OIS lenses.

The spec for the GF5 lists a Direction Detection Function so I assume this also has the orientation sensor like the GX1.

0 upvotes
xmb
By xmb (Apr 11, 2012)

Thanks Panasonic for bring out new models very quickly.

It means I can buy your old models really cheap and bag a bargain! I have just ordered a GF3 with the X Vario PZ 14-42mm lens for £325, or about the same price as the lens alone!

This will go nice with my GH1 which I also bag at a great price after the GH2 was released. As they say in life timing is everything!

0 upvotes
lightsculpture
By lightsculpture (Apr 9, 2012)

This is one of the reasons why I stopped buying Panasonic cameras...

Those who went and bought the GF3 a couple of months back would have felt like fools for paying so much. They would have a problem selling their cameras in a second hand market (at a decent price), because with this launch, the new GF3 has dropped so much in price.

In the Amazon listing for GF3 above, there is even an entry that says 'Too low to display', whatever that means.

And looking at "Differences between the GF5 and the GF3" above, I seriously doubt there is enough justification for Panasonic to release a new camera based on these new features.

Unless ofcourse the dpreview sample images tell another story. Maybe dpreview should start giving us a high ISO preview with that furry toy mouse and that Chinese figurine. But I am not hopeful....

1 upvote
chadley_chad
By chadley_chad (Apr 16, 2012)

That's the boat I found myself in! Paid £450 November, used once, just ebayed for £280 after the 3rd atempt. After fees that's over £200 lost in 4 months .... Never buying a new Panasonic again! (although to be honest, didn't rate it compared to my new NEX-C3)

0 upvotes
AndrewG NY
By AndrewG NY (Apr 9, 2012)

It was my understanding that unlike GF3, GF5 includes an orientation sensor.

1 upvote
ralph seifer
By ralph seifer (Apr 7, 2012)

My thought, precisely. When I saw the reference to "rangefinder" I got excited to read more about this camera.

Then I scrolled down the specs, only to be disappointed to learn that this is another one of the beautiful breed of photo devices that we old guys can't focus when it's two feet in front of our eyes and the subject is a dozen feet farther away. I guess I'm still stuck with the Canon SD700is that I bought 6-7 years ago because it came with what passes for a rangefinder. Ralph L. Seifer, Long Beach, California

0 upvotes
blue camera
By blue camera (Apr 9, 2012)

Yes, call it something, but don't call it a rangefinder, which is a way of focusing, not an actual body style. (There were bellowed Polaroids that had rangefinders, for instance. Definitely not "pocketable!") I have been happy to see the increasing viewfinder designs and improvements coming from various makers. Having a choice of using a screen or viewfinder is great, although the implementation on many viewfinders is not to my liking.

I might suggest springing for some progressive lenses if your eyes need help on close focus and not on distance, should you find a camera that you like but which has no viewfinder. Even though I prefer taking off my glasses and looking through a viewfinder when shooting, it's nice to be able to use a screen for other shots, and progressives let me do that and keep everything in focus.

1 upvote
TxCamFan
By TxCamFan (Apr 6, 2012)

Still no ability to adjust flash output? Or did I miss that?

0 upvotes
joharis
By joharis (Apr 6, 2012)

Specs say: rangefinder style body. What has this body, without even an optical viewfinder, to do with rangefinder???
DPR must know better.

3 upvotes
007peter
By 007peter (Apr 6, 2012)

Damn It....No Hot-Shoe again?

I "LOVE" the tiny shape of GF3/5 but the lack of Hot-Shoe is holding it back. I agree with previous poster, any camera above $200 should have a Hot-Shoe.

I shoot a lot of portraits of family members, and once I experience BOUNCE-FLASH, there is no going back to bulidin flash.

GF5's High ISO looks fantastic! so close yet so far

0 upvotes
Photo Grapher
By Photo Grapher (Apr 9, 2012)

Yes this 12 megapixels sensor is improved, I liked the ISO performance also

0 upvotes
chadley_chad
By chadley_chad (Apr 16, 2012)

Stupid coment .... If it had a hotshoe it wouldn't be anything IIke what it is now! Just no pleasing some people ... If you want a hotshoe, buy a GF2!!!!

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Potemkin_Photo
By Potemkin_Photo (Apr 5, 2012)

Ahem, Pany and SONY, put a proper hotshoe on any cam above $200 already, all right?!

1 upvote
NikonScavenger
By NikonScavenger (Apr 5, 2012)

I briefly had the GF3 before returning it to amazon. It wasn't the lack of "pro" features in this tiny camera that turned me off as much as the fact that everything was controlled by the rear touch screen which was sluggish and unresponsive (at least compared to a modern smart phone). Every input had to be deliberate, as if the camera was wondering if I had accidentally touched the screen.

0 upvotes
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (Apr 5, 2012)

Page 1 says: Built-In Orientation Sensor
Page 2 says: Orientation Sensor - No.

1 upvote
LukeDuciel
By LukeDuciel (Apr 5, 2012)

the idea of one simplistic cam that produce good image is gooood.

But, WTF*!!!!

This is about the 6th (i actually lost count) camera built around the same ooooooooooooooooooooooooold 12MP LiveMOS.

And that is one bad sensor for anybody.

Even the edge-of-broke Olympus showed deeper respect to consumers than Panasonic.

WTF!

0 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Apr 5, 2012)

Panny says it should be "new" 12 mpix. Photos will show.. They could improve original sensor, it wouldnt be bad actually tho.. 10 or 8 mpix would be maybe better. :/

0 upvotes
Boris F
By Boris F (Apr 5, 2012)

Great noise performance:
http://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-lumix-dmc-gf5-hands-on-review-18921

1 upvote
skytripper
By skytripper (Apr 6, 2012)

You're not kidding!

0 upvotes
Tim in upstate NY
By Tim in upstate NY (Apr 5, 2012)

The E-PM1 and E-PL3 have better build quality than the cheap feeling plastic bodies of these Panny GF's and also the jpeg output is much better. There's been quite a lot of negative user feedback about the image characteristics of the 14-42X lens as well.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Apr 5, 2012)

You still can buy different lens for it, if you wish. Its not like m4/3 doesnt have enough native lens. :D

0 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Apr 5, 2012)

@Mescalamba: there are two issues with your suggestion:

1. if you start talking about all the different lenses, then you are probably more in the GX1 market, rather than GF5.

2. I really don't see why people would want to buy a product a part of which they would have to replace right away.

0 upvotes
Joesiv
By Joesiv (Apr 5, 2012)

The negative feedback has been from enthusiast that enjoy looking at their images in close scrutiny. The target market for this new GF seems to be the crowd that do not care for manual controls, and likely won't be quite as critical about absolute image quality. Compactness and similarities to their point and shoot is more of a concern. If there's any market that this x zoom makes sense given it's deficiencies, it'd be this one.

0 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (Apr 5, 2012)

I have to question why one would step 'up' from a more compact P&S if image quality wasn't your primary concern? Aside from the larger sensor, what does this offer over something like the LX-5 or ZX-1, whose faster lenses allow two stops lower ISO in low light, and match the slower 14-42x lens for depth of field control?

If you are going to MFT, you should be planning on getting at least one fast prime or you've missed the boat on the larger sensor (over a P&S with a fast lens).

Nice that they finally included an orientation sensor, though.

1 upvote
JohnFredC
By JohnFredC (Apr 5, 2012)

If you are trying to pull business from the point and shoot crowd, you must understand that your competitor cameras are the travel zooms. All of these new, larger sensor cameras have better image quality than the TZs... but the low zoom ratios necessitated by the size of the sensors vs the size of the optics means that, in practice, such cameras seem almost useless for a person accustomed to the versatility of a TZ.

0 upvotes
Mal_In_Oz
By Mal_In_Oz (Apr 5, 2012)

I commend Panasonic for developing in this space. I like the idea of a really small body that can take a series of very small, bright pancakes, or super compact zooms. Its not the perfect camera for every occasion but it will at least be the camera you take with you everywhere. This way I can buy one set of lenses and share them between a super small body and a more fully featured body like the EM5 when I need the extra size or performance.

Sony have partially achieved the same goal with their NEX5N and NEX7 with the 16mm pancake. If they had a few more pancakes, and perhaps with more inspiring image quality, they would be a contender for the carry-everywhere camera too.

0 upvotes
Mal_In_Oz
By Mal_In_Oz (May 19, 2012)

@Maloy. Yes, that is why I suggested that Sony should produce some more pancakes with better IQ than the 16mm.

In my view Sony are just two pancakes from being a contender for the true "point and shoot alternative". Personally I want only for Olympus to come out with a replacement 17mm f1.8 pancake and an EPM2 with the EM5 sensor...

0 upvotes
fastlass
By fastlass (Apr 5, 2012)

What's the point of the move from a manual to a motor driven zoom, size or production cost or?

To me you can have all the wonderful touch screen UI and design in the world: your camera could literally be able to read your mind for how to set a scene and you wouldn't have to press a button other than the shutter. But a manual zoom is so superior to button-driven zoom for the photographic process, prime shooters excluded.

Then again the owner can always buy a legacy lens :)

I'm sure I'm missing something obvious about a large class of photographers who will eagerly buy this camera.

0 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Apr 5, 2012)

Size, and not having to twist the lens if you zoom in video.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
1 upvote
jquagga
By jquagga (Apr 5, 2012)

As a GF3 owner my first impression is: "That's it?". It has a new LCD panel and a rubber grip. Nothing to improve the sensor quality or DR? So why on Earth would anyone shell out for this when you could get a GF3 for now much cheaper. Or a GF2 with a hotshoe for cheaper than that ...

I just don't understand Panasonic.

0 upvotes
Catalin Stavaru
By Catalin Stavaru (Apr 5, 2012)

Not sure if you read the part with "newly developed sensor" and "new processing engine". The only thing similar between GF3 and GF5 sensor is the number "12".

1 upvote
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Apr 5, 2012)

The sensor might be new, e.g., using the same technology as the G3 and GX1 sensors, but the resolution could be kept down to maintain maintain differentiation between GF and GX lines.

0 upvotes
DigitalPowerShot
By DigitalPowerShot (Apr 5, 2012)

C'mon dpreview: pink camera in the review?

0 upvotes
Mtsuoka
By Mtsuoka (Apr 5, 2012)

3DNR sounds like some BS to me
no sensor level improvements? maybe we will have to wait for GH3/G5

I hope they won't be using same sensor

0 upvotes
FlashInThePan
By FlashInThePan (Apr 5, 2012)

How do you know the sensor was not improved? Panasonic makes its own sensors, some of which are designed for just one camera model (GH1, GH2, AF100/101). The GF5 sensor may be totally new for all we know. Coupled with a new image processor, it may very well deliver results comparable with Panasonic's top models (i.e. less than a stop worse from APS-C competition).

Comment edited 56 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Apr 5, 2012)

"...compared to higher-end G-series models like the G1X, the GF5's control layout feels positively spartan."

I think you might mean the GX1? :)

0 upvotes
mfj197
By mfj197 (Apr 5, 2012)

I'd just spotted that too! :)

0 upvotes
pdelux
By pdelux (Apr 5, 2012)

May take good pictures but....
Aesthetically, its UGLY, almost toy like.

Over stated, too many "labels" and symbols.

1 upvote
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Apr 5, 2012)

> almost toy like.

What is IMO is a plus for a camera for social occasions: it looks like P&S, it doesn't stand out, it is not serious or intimidating.

2 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Apr 5, 2012)

And you can get "that shot" .. if it does AF well. Its actually very usefull for real life to have small - toy like camera capable of delivering good results.

Try shooting random ppl with this and then with 1D sized camera. :D

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
JohnHoppy
By JohnHoppy (Apr 5, 2012)

Seems Panasonic is stuck in its own groove, leaving Olympus to make the running for the m4/3 team. The GF3 and GF5 appeal more to smartphone users than photographers. Rather than pick our pockets with a 6-9 month cycle, most photographers would rather see a new camera in 15-18 months but with real progress & innovation. The GX1 is a short step from the GF1, if the G5 when it comes is barely a step up from G2 & G3, core Pany supporters are likely to feel short-changed. With the mirrorless market on a roll and Canon's effort appearing this summer/fall, Panasonic need to up their game.

1 upvote
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Apr 5, 2012)

I see that in your own private universe, the GH2 sadly was never released.

3 upvotes
FlashInThePan
By FlashInThePan (Apr 5, 2012)

In fact the G3 is very much changed compared to the G1/G2 - much better sensor (in terms of resolution, noise and read-out rate), much changed body (for better or worse) and many features added in firmware such as extended tele conversion, picture in picture focusing aid, quick menu and so on.

Have you used either of those cameras or do you simply believe you do not need first hand experience to make such comments?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
Valentinian
By Valentinian (Apr 5, 2012)

"Canon's effort appearing this summer/fall "
?
if you know something about that, would you please say it

0 upvotes
JohnHoppy
By JohnHoppy (Apr 6, 2012)

Between us, FlashInThePan, my brother & I have had G1, GF1, GF2, G2 & G3, as well as Olympus models (and several Canons), does that qualify for “first hand experience”? We felt the G3’s tiny improvement in IQ (you have to produce min. 13x19 to see any sign of it) was not a good trade for G2’s superior handling. Shelling out good money every 8-9 months for minor incremental improvements – some very questionable – may be what the camera makers want but we don’t see the sense in it and would prefer a more serious upgrade less often. The GF5 appears to move the game on hardly at all from the GF3, which anyway was Panasonic trying to out-shrink Sony’s NEX. Sure, it will take good pictures, but better designs are out there: Panasonic should take more note of what their m4/3 team-mate are designing.... in my opinion.

0 upvotes
klopus
By klopus (Apr 6, 2012)

@JohnHoppy Who forces you to engage in "shelling out good money every 8-9 months for minor incremental improvements"?

If you have what you like you keep it, if you think new thing isn't worth it you don't buy it. If you are referring to the the stupid must-have-now-latest-toy-no-matter-what crowd then it's consumer problem not Panasonic's.

And why you even think that with their incremental frequent updates Panasonic targets owners of existing models in the same series and not new converts?

3 upvotes
AndrewG NY
By AndrewG NY (Apr 9, 2012)

The only drawback to frequent introduction of new models is that people who feel the burning need to own the very latest are frequently disappointed by incremental improvement and the dark emptiness inside from owning (horrors!) the 'old' model.

For many other folks, this is a *good* thing. This means that most customers won't feel the need to wait for that longer cycle to avoid having their new camera immediately obsolete and maybe won't be as likely to feel they're missing out by (sensibly) skipping a model or two or three in the progression. It also means that any remaining inventory of the previous model on the shelves isn't as severely devalued when the new model appears.

0 upvotes
Bernard909
By Bernard909 (Apr 5, 2012)

Nothing said about the problems with the 14-42 X Zoom ?

0 upvotes
Joesiv
By Joesiv (Apr 5, 2012)

It's a preview, not a review.

0 upvotes
Bernard909
By Bernard909 (Apr 18, 2012)

The 14-42 Zoom is not a new product... It would be more interesting to have a follow-up on this issue rather than a preview on a new body with the same "suspicious" lens.

0 upvotes
Wellington100
By Wellington100 (Apr 5, 2012)

Its using the same old 1st generation sensor that has very poor DR. No amount of software trickery can change that. I would rather buy a GX1 with a 14mm lens and have a similar size camera kit but with a much better sensor and lens, for a similar price.

0 upvotes
Knight Palm
By Knight Palm (Apr 5, 2012)

Obviously this new GF5 is hosting a newly developed sensor, based on the low noise characterisitcs first seen in G3 & GX1, which means that it'll have the best per pixel performance of all Panasonic cameras at high ISO settings.

4 upvotes
locke_fc
By locke_fc (Apr 5, 2012)

The preview, if one actually bothers reading it, clearly states it's a new sensor

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Apr 5, 2012)

Well it does say the sensor "is closely-related to that used in the GF3, but the processor is different" so I guess we'll have to wait for the actual studio test shots before we'll know how much improvement there is (if any in RAW) over the old 12MP sensor.

0 upvotes
Luminar
By Luminar (9 months ago)

question, is the video rec, manual or automatic? is it 1080p or 1080i ?

0 upvotes
Total comments: 70