My (purely subjective) GF5 experience

Started Aug 25, 2012 | Discussions thread
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mw1111 Junior Member • Posts: 30
My (purely subjective) GF5 experience

This is mostly going to be just a lot of musing, but bottom line: I'm happy.

The competition: I'd been using old reliable (the original G1) since the beginning and was looking for a much, much smaller replacement for my second m43 body. The main competitors I was considering were one of the small PENs or the GX1.

First, regarding the price, I got the 'twin lens' 14mm/2.5 pancake + 14-42 zoom GF5 config for $650, kept the pancake sold the zoom and, by my accounting, therefore paid about $400 for the body. This was broadly in line with GX1 and new PEN prices at the time, and is about what I paid for the G1 body.

Re: the PENs--I still regret the lack of IBIS at times (having now almost exclusively migrated to OIS-lacking prime lenses, except telephoto) mostly with my Oly 45/1.8 but sometimes with the PL 25/1.4 as well.

Re: the GX1--I have no regrets. My reading of the review data and images failed to find a large enough QE or dynamic range difference between the 16mp and 12mp sensors to justify the larger body size and, most importantly for me, the low-res screen on the GX1. Having owned the low-res screen on the G1 for years, I noticed that I almost never used it, favoring the LVF, not because I like LVFs more (I don't really) but because the image quality was so much higher. I suppose I felt (and still feel!) that the GX1's hot shoe was for me less a feature than a necessity that would prod me to spend the extra $150 on an LVF I didn't really want because the low-res screen was so difficult esp in day-light, making the camera effectively more expensive and larger (personal preference).

The GF5's 920k touch-screen is just wonderful--I love it. It's still non-trivial to see in direct shining sunlight but by and large it's a joy. This is critical for me, and an advantage over the small PENs as well of course.

Regarding the loss of external control buttons, I find the touch screen esp with the flyout custom menu buttons that I have set for metering and ISO to be intuitive, fast, and easy. I miss all the wheels and buttons of my G1 not at all. My one and only gripe about the interface is the pop-up shooting mode menu--why does this have to be animated? It makes it take > 1s longer than it needs to to change modes just to have the thing do a pointless little animation.

The grip (it may sound trivial but, perhaps sadly, it is not) is great, especially having handled a friend's GF3 in the past. I can one-hand shoot (at reasonable shutter speeds I suppose) my GF5 with the 14mm pancake, the oly 45, and the PL 25 with ease, and it's quite ergonomic.

And now the big thing (at least if you read the reviews)--the 'new' sensor. I have found this to be the least consequential issue. A non-issue. I shot some JPEGs, and found the 'new sensor' (ie the new denoising algorithms) to be extremely distasteful, especially at high ISO, with bizarre banding-like artifacts and very strange selective detail loss (separation of MTF-chart parallel lines aside ;). In a very pleasant surprise, however, I have found shooting RAW (which I do exclusively now) to be an absolute joy, with pictures taken at ISO 3200 to be perfectly fine and mildly 'croppable,' and at ISO 6400 to be (at least to my perception) reasonable viewed on my 27in monitor without cropping, with just some turns of the denoising dials in Lightroom maintaining most of the detail my eye 'expects.' ISO 12800 not so much: Aside from the general expected ugliness of the image, for me the biggest (perceptual) problem is the loss of color information, with color denoising only making the whole image look sort of grey. Unsurprisingly then, perhaps, I nevertheless find B&W's shot at 12800 to be mildly useable, and almost always better than no picture certainly. In any case, on the whole, combined with (what is for me, as an amateur) the insane brightness of the PL 25 lens (which is no doubt doing almost all the heavy lifting here!), I find I'm taking low-light shots I never dreamed of with my ancient G1 and the 14-45. (Again, old hat for most of you I'm sure but revelatory for me.)

 mw1111's gear list:mw1111's gear list
Olympus PEN E-PL5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 OIS +3 more
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1
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