Like the GF3 before it, the GF5 is predominantly controlled via its touch screen. Panasonic has made use of the GF5's higher resolution LCD panel by prettifying the menus and by increasing the complexity of the touch-screen interface. Oddly, on the pre-production model we used, around half of the on-screen icons were extremely blocky, with crude, jagged edges, while others had very fine outlines that made full use of the new screen's resolution. We're hoping this mix-and-match aesthetic is simply a result of this particular sample being unfinished.
|The GF5's menu has received a much-needed makeover - with more pleasantly rendered text and a customizable colored background.
The rather poorly sign-posted underpinnings sadly remain unchanged. But it is now touch-sensitive.
|The top-level menu screen is also customizable, with the option to put one of your own images as a backdrop.|
|The GF5 features a revised version of interface that Panasonic has been tweaking iteratively across its past few G-series cameras.
The addition of the physical 'Display' button means there is no need for virtual buttons impinging on the default display.
|It now features two 'tabs' on the right hand side of the screen (the second appears in the iA, Scene and Creative Control modes, giving access to the simplified control of aperture, white balance and exposure compensation)|
|It retains the rather good customizable Q.Menu, into which your most-used options can be dragged-and-dropped.|
The GF5's interface is remarkably configurable for a camera at this level, with choice of switching most touch-screen functions on and off independently (or switching off touch control altogether). For instance you get to choose whether you want: Touch Tabs, an on-screen Q.Menu button and Touch AF.
It's worth remembering this option to add an on-screen Q.Menu button if you choose to re-purpose the physical Q.Menu button as 'Fn1.' By default, both 'Display' and 'Q.Menu' are controlled with hard buttons, so you don't have virtual buttons cluttering up the screen when using the camera.
Creative Control mode
|The revised interface also provides a live picture-in-picture preview of each of the camera's filter effects in Creative Control mode.|
|Pressing the 'Display' button switches to a view with a slightly larger preview.|
|When a filter is chosen, all the available options are arranged in tabs, just like the other shooting modes.|
There's an option that prompts the GF5 to suggest filter effects when you're shooting in iA and iA+ modes. It does this based on scene analysis.
Scene mode selector
The GF5 has a revised 'Scene' mode which offers a 23-image slideshow of the different types of images that can be taken using the different scene modes. These images, apparently 'shot by professional photographers' essentially act like slightly larger mode icons, so aren't a major departure from the way most contemporary cameras work.
|The camera presents a series of images to represent each of the available scene modes.|
|Pressing the Display button shows a short piece of text explaining what the mode actually does and recommends actions you can take to improve your photo.|
The GF5 is a fairly subtle refresh of the GF3 and, despite promises of a 'newly developed' sensor, we're not expecting dramatic leaps forward in image quality. The simple (and easy to customize) touch-screen interface, which we really liked on the GF3, has been updated and in some ways improved. However, while the GF5 features commendable attempts to keep direct control of key photographic parameters near to the surface, no matter how simplistic the selected shooting mode, we encountered a couple of instances where the interaction between the physical buttons and the touch screen became confusing.
We'll see whether this impression is reinforced or dismissed once we've had a chance to spend more time with the camera. Overall, though, the GF5 offers an awful lot of large sensor camera in an impressively compact package, and that alone means it's likely to work its way into our luggage when venture out of the office.