Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5 Preview

I've heard it a thousand times. You have a growing love for photography and are tired of point-and-shoot restrictions. Maybe you're looking for a dSLR, but simply not ready to trade the slim size of pocket sized cameras for the bulk of something full-featured. For you, dear shutterbugs, I offer up Micro Four Thirds camera systems. They've got the flexibility of the dSLR in terms of interchangeable lenses (of which there are many) in the smaller body of a larger point-and-shoot.

Panasonic's latest G-series Micro Four Thirds camera was announced today, the DMC-GF5. Its compact, lightweight body with a built-in flash and rubberized grip will be available in three colors (red, black, white). It features a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, a 3.0-inch high resolution touch screen, a revamped Venus Engine image processor, 1920 x 1080 HD video recording capabilities up to "60i" frames per second, and an incredible 100-12800 ISO sensitivity range. For glass, you have your choice among the many Micro Four Thirds lenses available from Panasonic and other brands.

Just because this camera is designed for a more advanced user doesn't mean it won't work well for newbies. Panasonic has included an easy to use Graphic User Interface (GUI) on the large touch screen, as well as iA (Intelligent Auto) and iA Plus modes. iA mode "automatically activate a range of technologies to enhance photos without adjusting settings every time conditions change, including AF Tracking, Intelligent D-range Control, Intelligent Scene Selector, Face Recognition and Intelligent ISO Control." iA Plus mode let you be more flexible, allowing "users to adjust defocusing area in the background, exposure compensation and white balance." There's also Light Speed AF (Auto Focus), which find and focus on your subjects in 0.09 seconds. You've heard the term "blink and you missed it." The Venus Engine powered Light Speed AF is more like "blink and you're in focus."

If you're the type of person that likes to see how a professional might take a picture, there's a fun Scene Guide included in the GF5, where there are 23 professional photographs to help you with your framing. In fact, if you try to duplicate one of the pro pictures, you can even tell the camera to use similar settings to those used to capture it. Lastly, for the creative types, the GF5 includes 14 Creative Filters (8 more than last year), which can be added beforehand or while reviewing pictures on the viewfinder. The camera can even make suggestions for filters that might look good in various scenarios.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5 Features:
  • 12.1-megapixle Live MOS sensor
  • Micro Four Thirds standard
  • 3.0-inch (920K dots) touch display
  • 1080/60i HD Video Recording
  • Redesigned Venus Engine
  • iA (Intelligent Auto) or iA Plus modes
  • 100-12800 ISO sensitivity
  • Light Speed AF (focus in 0.09 seconds)
  • Contrast AF (Auto Focus)
  • 3D Noise Reduction (3DNR)
  • Multi-process Noise Reduction (MNR)
  • 14 Creative Control Modes (up from 6)
    • Soft Focus
    • Dynamic Monochrome
    • Impressive Art
    • One Point Color
    • Cross Process
    • Star Filter
    • Expressive
    • Retro
    • High Key
    • Sepia
    • Hi Dynamic
    • Miniature Effect
  • Scene Guide with 23 sample pictures shot by Professionals
Panasonic's LUMIX DMC-GF5 will be available later this year in two kit options: 1) body with 14-42mm standard zoom lens will have an MSRP of $599, or 2) body with 14-42mm power zoom lens with an MSRP of $749.

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