Panasonic GM5 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly lower than average mean saturation levels, with about average hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
100
200
400
800
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare results at different ISOs, and click on the links for larger images.

Saturation. The Panasonic GM5 produces images with slightly muted colors compared to most cameras at default settings. Mean saturation is 107.9% (7.9% oversaturated) at the base ISO of 200, which falls to a minimum of 101.4% at ISO 25600. The Lumix GM5 pushes dark red and dark blues moderately and some other colors slightly, but undersaturates yellow, light green, aqua and cyan. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, the Panasonic GM5 does fairly well, producing natural-looking Caucasian skin tones with a slight push towards pink when either Auto or Manual white balance is used, giving a healthy appearance. Darker skin tones have a small nudge towards orange, but overall results are pretty good. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Panasonic GM5 shifts orange toward yellow and cyan toward blue, but most other hue shifts are quite minor. The typical Panasonic yellow to green shift and desaturation is still present, though not as pronounced as some prior Lumix models. The GM5's mean "delta-C" color error after correction for saturation is 5.37 for JPEGs at the base ISO of 200 (100 is an extended ISO). That's about average these days, and color error remains quite stable throughout the ISO range, except at maximum ISO where it jumps to 6.22. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Warm colors with Auto and Incandescent white balance setting. Good color balance with the Manual setting. Average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance is quite warm with the Auto white balance setting. Results with the Incandescent setting are also much too warm, with a slightly stronger orange-yellow cast. The Manual setting produced very accurate results. The Panasonic GM5 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation here, about average for this shot. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

Outdoors, daylight
Natural colors overall, with a tendency toward high contrast under harsh lighting. About average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Panasonic GM5 performed well, with natural-looking though slightly cool color in the Far-field shot. Skin tones are fairly realistic in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, with a healthy-looking push of pinks and reds which is preferable to too flat or yellow. Exposure accuracy is about average, as the camera required +0.7 EV compensation for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot to keep facial tones reasonably bright. That's typical for this shot. Despite the bright appearance, only a few highlights were actually blown in the mannequin's white shirt which is quite good, though there are some very deep shadows that are a bit noisy and posterized. The default exposure is good, just slightly dim for the Far-field shot, but as a result there are very few blown highlights, though again there are some very deep shadows that are a bit noisy and posterized. Default contrast is on the high side, but that's how most consumers prefer their photos.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
Very high resolution, ~ 2,350 to ~2,450 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
~2,450 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,350 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,450 lines horizontal
ACR converted raw
Strong detail to
~2,350 lines vertical
ACR converted raw

In camera JPEGs, our laboratory resolution chart reveals sharp, distinct line patterns to about 2,450 lines per picture height horizontally, and about 2,350 lines in the vertical direction. (Some might argue for higher, but aliasing artifacts begin to interfere at these limits.) Complete extinction of the pattern occurs just after 3,000 lines horizontally and about 2,800 vertically. We weren't able to extract significantly more high-contrast resolution by processing the Panasonic GM5's RW2 file using Adobe Camera Raw, and the ACR conversion also shows some color moiré which is practically nonexistent in the camera JPEG.

Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very good sharpness overall, with minor edge-enhancement artifacts on high-contrast subjects. Mild to moderate noise suppression visible in the shadows even at base ISO.

Very good definition of high-contrast
elements, with just slightly visible
sharpening artifacts.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The Panasonic GM5 captures sharp, detailed images overall. Some minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the sharpening "halos" along the lines and text in the crop above left, but default sharpening here is fairly typical for consumer-oriented models, and not too overdone. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows the effect of noise suppression in the form of smudging of individual strands together in the darker areas of the model's hair, as well as in areas with low local contrast. The GM5 also leaves behind a little more chroma noise than some other brands. Still, this is good noise versus detail processing performance for a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds model, leaving plenty of detail intact instead of blurring much of it away in an attempt to hide noise. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

Electronic Shutter Artifacts. Like the GM1, the Panasonic GM5 uses an all-electronic shutter at shutter speeds above 1/500s, and the user can select all-electronic shutter for completely silent shooting. This can however lead to a number of artifacts that aren't usually issues when using a mechanical or hybrid shutter. See our GM1 review for examples.

RAW via ACR, no NR, ISO 25600, 1/3200s
GM1 GM5

The good news is that GM5 doesn't seem to suffer from pattern noise ("streaking" or "banding") at the highest ISOs like the GM1 did, as you can see from the above Adobe Camera Raw conversion comparison.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Panasonic GM5 produces sharp in-camera JPEGs with good detail. As is almost always the case, better detail can be obtained from carefully processing RAW files than can be seen in the in-camera JPEGs, with fewer sharpening artifacts to boot. Take a look below, to see what we mean:

Base ISO (200)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to a matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 8.7 using default noise reduction with some strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (300%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

As you can see, the in-camera JPEG contains pretty good detail, however ACR extracted additional detail, particularly in the red-leaf fabric where it managed to resolve some of the thread pattern. The ACR conversion also shows less chroma noise at default settings, though it shows more luminance noise after sharpening, especially in areas with flat detail. You can always turn up the luminance noise reduction (default of zero was used here), or process the files in your favorite noise reduction program or plugin if you find the noise objectionable. Bottom line, though, as is usually the case shooting in RAW mode provides better detail, color, and control than in-camera JPEGs when using a good converter. Note that we used electronic shutter mode for our GM5 Still Life shots, however the slight drop in image quality compared to hybrid shutter mode is insignificant.

ISO & Noise Performance
Great high ISO performance for a Micro Four Thirds model.

Default Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600

The Panasonic GM5's images are very detailed and clean at ISOs 100 (extended) and 200, with only minor luminance and chrominance noise detectable in the shadows. ISO 400 is also quite detailed, though a touch more noise can be seen. ISO 800 shows stronger noise reduction blurring some very fine detail in the process, though overall detail remains very good. ISO 1600 is of course a little noisier, but fine detail still pretty good. What looks to be a sudden increase in sharpening likely to make up for stronger noise reduction makes luminance noise more obvious with a bit of a crystalline peppered effect at ISO 3200. At ISO 6400 and above, the crystalline effect becomes progressively stronger while fine detail is reduced to the point where very little fine detail is left in the hair at ISO 25,600. Chroma noise also becomes progressively stronger and objectionable at ISO 6400 and above.

Overall, high ISO performance is quite similar to its sibling, the GM1, as expected. We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

A note about focus for this shot: We shoot this image at f/4, usually using one of three very sharp reference lenses (70mm Sigma f/2.8 macro for most cameras, 60mm f/2.8 Nikkor macro for Nikon bodies without a drive motor, and Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 for Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds bodies). To insure that the hair detail we use for making critical judgements about camera noise processing and detail rendering is in sharp focus at the relatively wide aperture we're shooting at, the focus target at the center of the scene is on a movable stand. This lets us compensate for front- or back-focus by different camera bodies, even those that lack micro-focus adjustments. This does mean, though, that the focus target itself may appear soft or slightly out of focus for bodies that front- or back-focused with the reference lens. We know this; if you click to view the full-size image for one of these shots and notice that the focus target is fuzzy, you don't need to email and tell us. :-) The focus target position will have been adjusted to insure that the rest of the scene is focused properly.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Somewhat high default contrast but with decent dynamic range. Very good low-light performance.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Panasonic GM5 did fairly well with the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. Contrast is a little high at its default setting, but dynamic range is decent in JPEGs. We felt the +0.7 EV exposure is the best compromise here. Although skin tones around the eyes are a bit dark, we prefer it to the +1.0 EV exposure overall, because there are fewer clipped highlights. It's really the photographer's choice here as to which direction to go in. For those Panasonic GM5 owners that are going to want to just print an image with little or no tweaking, the +1.0 image would probably produce a better-looking face uncorrected. The bottom line though, is that the Panasonic GM5 performed fairly well with the wide dynamic range of this shot, though not as good as some competitors. See below for how the Panasonic GM5's sensor performs (RAW mode) in terms of dynamic range.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Tone Curve Adjustment
Lower Contrast Raise Contrast Brighten Dark Areas

Tone Curve. In addition to traditional +/- 5 contrast adjustment, the Panasonic GM5 also has a curves setting called Highlight Shadow which allows you to adjust the shape of the tone curve to tweak shadows and highlights independently. There are 4 presets (Standard, Raise Contrast, Lower Contrast, and Brighten Dark Areas) as well as 3 custom settings that allow you to adjust the highlight and shadow ends of the curves by +/-5 units. Above are samples using the 3 non-standard presets.

Face Detection
Aperture Priority, 0 EV, f/8
Face Detection Off
Aperture Priority, 0 EV, f/8
Face Detection On
iAuto, 0 EV, f/3.2

Face Detection. Like most cameras these days, the Panasonic GM5 has the ability to detect faces (up to 15 in a scene), and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. As you can see from the examples above, face detection improved exposure in both Aperture Priority at f/8, and in iAuto mode where the camera had control over aperture, and automatically applied Intelligent D-Range (see below).


Far-field Intelligent D-Range Examples
Off
Low

Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range
The above shots are examples of Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range Control (or iD-Range) at work, with no exposure compensation. Note that the camera does not take multiple shots and merge them as HDR mode does (see below). It's a system that adjusts local contrast and exposure more akin to Nikon's Active D-lighting, Canon's Automatic Lighting Optimization or Sony's Dynamic Range Optimization.

There are three levels of iD-Range available on the Panasonic GM5: Low, Standard and High, plus Auto and Off. It's automatically invoked in iAuto and some scene modes and manually selectable in PASM modes. Here, you can see darker midtones and shadows were progressively boosted as the strength was increased, without blowing many highlights in the process.


Far-field HDR Examples
Off

HDR mode
Here, you can see the Panasonic GM5's High Dynamic Range mode at work with our Far-field shot. HDR mode takes three images at different exposures and combines them to increase dynamic range. Mouse over the links, and click on them the view the full resolution files.

Auto did a good job, producing results identical to +/-2 EV which was the best for this scene, while +/-3 dimmed the entire image. Notice the double images and ghosting of leaves or people moving between frames. Also notice the angle of view is narrower in the HDR images, likely because the images have been cropped and upsized during the optional auto alignment process. The camera does seem to apply slightly high sharpening as part of the processing, which leads to more obvious halos.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we compare the Panasonic GM5's dynamic range to its predecessor, the GM1, and also to another Micro Four Thirds model, the Olympus E-M10.

As you can see from the above graph, the GM5's dynamic range is similar to the GM1's peaking at about 11.7 EV at ISO 100, though interestingly it does up to about 0.5 EV better at a number of ISOs. The GM5's dynamic range is not as good as the Olympus E-M10's at lower ISOs, trailing it by about 2/3 EV at base ISO and up to just under one EV between ISO 200 and 400, though it's pretty much on par at moderate to high ISOs.

Overall dynamic range is fair for a Four Thirds sensor, though not as good as some recent competitors, and definitely not as good as the best APS-C mirrorless rivals.

Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Panasonic GM5 for more of their test results and additional comparisons.


  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16fc
No NR
ISO
200

1s, f2.8

15s, f2.8

15s, f2.8
ISO
3200

1/15s, f2.8

1s, f2.8

1s, f2.8
ISO
25600

1/125s, f2.8

1/8s, 1 f2.8

1/8s, f2.8

Low Light. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 performed well in our low light tests, able to capture bright images down to the lowest light level we test at. The darkest level equates to about 1/16 the brightness of average city street lighting at night, so the Panasonic GM5 should be able to take well-exposed photos in almost any environment in which you can see well enough to walk around in.

Using default noise reduction setting, noise is low at ISO 200 and well-controlled at ISO 3200, though as you'd expect, noise is quite high at the maximum ISO of 25,600. We didn't notice any significant issues with hot pixels, though with long exposure noise reduction turned off (rightmost column) there were a lot of slightly brighter pixels in the shadows, as well as a few hot pixels where you'd expect to see them. Performance here seems to be noticeably better than its predecessor, though. We didn't detect any issues with heat blooming or pattern noise.

Automatic color balance is just a touch cool particularly at lower light levels, but pretty neutral.

The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on our subject down to well below the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted with an f/2.8 lens, which is excellent, especially for a camera with contrast-detect autofocus. The Panasonic GM5 also has a focus-assist light which allows it to autofocus in total darkness, as long as the subject is within range and has sufficient contrast.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to their phase-detect AF systems, digital SLRs tend to do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects. The GM5 uses contrast-detect autofocus, as is found in most point & shoot cameras, so its low-light focusing ability may be less than that of some SLRs with phase-detect systems. That said, though, the larger, more sensitive pixels of the GM5's sensor do better under dim lighting than do the tiny pixels of most point & shoots.

Bundled Flash Test Results

Coverage and Range
A fairly weak flash with narrow coverage. Above average positive exposure compensation required.

12mm, f/3.5, ISO 800

Coverage. Flash coverage is rather uneven at wide angle, leaving the corners of our flash target image quite dark at 12mm, thought that's not unusual, especially for a wider than average kit lens. Some of the corner shading can also attributable to the lens itself. We no longer test flash coverage at telephoto, as it is invariably better.

Normal Flash, ISO 200
+1.0 EV
Slow-Sync Flash, ISO 200
Default

Exposure. Indoors under incandescent background lighting, the Panasonic GM5's flash underexposed our indoor portrait scene at ISO 200, despite the +1.0 EV flash exposure compensation used. (An average of +0.7 EV is normally needed for this shot.) You'll likely need to boost ISO (or enable Auto ISO) for typical indoor shots. The camera's slow-sync flash mode required no compensation to produce a bright shot, though the longer shutter time (1/6s vs 1/50s) resulted in a strong orange cast from the ambient background lighting.


Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Telephoto (f/5.6)

14 feet (Auto ISO 1000)

Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range Test. The Panasonic GM5's small bundled flash has a Guide Number of 7m at ISO 100, or 10m at ISO 200. With the kit lens and ISO set to Auto, Panasonic rates the flash's range at 22 feet at wide angle, and 14 at telephoto. As you can see above, the Panasonic GM5 produced a somewhat dim flash target at the rated distance at full telephoto (32mm), which means Panasonic's flash rating is likely a bit optimistic. Our standard test method for flash range uses either a fixed setting of ISO 200, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera (at Auto ISO if so specified), to assess the validity of the specific claims.

Output Quality

Note: The image quality between the GM1 and GM5 are practically identical, and as such, the print quality does not differ here either. We printed some samples from the GM5 to verify, but the below print quality analysis is the same as from the Panasonic GM1.

Print Quality

Very good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 125/200; a nice 13 x 19 at ISO 1600; a good 4 x 6 at ISO 12,800.

ISO 125/200 prints are quite good at 24 x 36 inches, with nice detail and rich colors. Wall display prints are possible up to 30 x 40 inches.

ISO 400 shots look very good at 20 x 30 inches, retaining good detail throughout our test image.

ISO 800 prints are good at 16 x 20 inches. Typical softening in the red channel begins to occur here, as is the case for many cameras we test.

ISO 1600 makes a nice 13 x 19 inch print, with only mild softening in the red fabric and minor noise in flatter areas.

ISO 3200 tends to be the turning point for many 4/3rds cameras, as is the case here, and requires a reduction to 8 x 10 inches due mostly to noise in flatter areas.

ISO 6400 prints a very good 5 x 7. 8 x 10s don't quite pass out official "good" standard, but are not bad for less critical applications.

ISO 12,800 yields a good 4 x 6 for this ISO and sensor type.

ISO 25,600 prints are not usable and this setting is best avoided when possible.

The Panasonic GM5 turns in a solid performance in the print quality department, and as expected, it yields prints similar to its acclaimed cousin the GX7, which shares the same sensor and processor. These sizes are what we have come to expect out of good micro 4/3rds cameras, and the GM5 certainly doesn't disappoint. Note that the biggest decrease in quality occurs at ISO 3200, so it is best to stay at ISO 1600 and above if you intend to print above 8 x 10 inches.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and on the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II review for details on that model.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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