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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 207
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My Short-Lived Fling With the Panasonic G5
Friday 30 November 2012   —   Category: Equipment
My short-lived fling with the Panasonic G5 camera has come to an abrupt end! It was merely infatuation, and not true love. After pondering the capabilities of the G5 for the past few weeks, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we are not meant for each other, and that this is not a suitable second camera that meets my needs and expectations.

As I recounted almost exactly a month ago in A Tale Of Three G5 Cameras, I had decided it would be good to have a backup camera body for an upcoming five-day snowmobile photography outing to Yellowstone in February 2013. Because I didn’t want to spend another $1,000 on a second OM-D E-M5 body, and because I thought it would be interesting to try a Panasonic camera, I finally settled on the newly released G5. After two unsuccessful attempts to purchase a silver version, I finally settled for the black body.

Having already used the awesome Olympus OM-D E-M5 for a few months, I was immediately disappointed when I first tried out the G5. But, I reasoned with myself, it is only a second camera, and $300 cheaper than the E-M5, so decided I should just live with the G5’s shortcomings. As I have had more time to mull this situation over, I've had the growing feeling that the G5 just won’t do for me. Today the conviction finally seized me that this camera had to go, so I listed it on Amazon.com.

Specifically, why am I unhappy with the Panasonic G5? Not in any particular order, let me count the ways:
  1. The mostly-plastic body of the G5 seems lower-quality and less-solid than the mostly-metal E-M5. The build of the G5 conveys the impression of a cheap consumer camera, while the E-M5 feels a lot more professional.
  2. The E-M5 is weather-sealed, while the G5 is not. When shooting in the snowy, icy, sub-zero Yellowstone environment, this difference may prove critical.
  3. The E-M5 has two programmable control dials for adjusting settings like aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO, and other settings. The G5 has only one dial, built into the body (not on top of the camera). In order to select which setting you are adjusting, you press the dial until that setting is selected on the screen. When rotating the dial, it is quite easy to press it in, thus accidentally selecting a different setting. This is VERY irritating, and very poor design.
  4. The E-M5 has more programmable buttons than the G5, reducing the number of trips to the menu for changing the camera settings.
  5. The E-M5 has a wonderful add-on battery grip — which allows for extended periods of shooting before having to change the batteries, and also facilitates using the camera in vertical position — while the G5 does not have such an accessory.
  6. Panasonic builds optical image stabilization (OIS) into its lenses rather than its camera bodies, while Olympus builds it into its camera bodies rather than its lenses. This works fine if you use cameras and lenses together from the same manufacturer. When using Olympus lenses (which have no OIS) on a Panasonic body (which has no OIS), the end result is that you have ... no OIS. But when using Panasonic lenses on an Olympus body, both of which have IOS, you can disable the IOS on one or the other, and have full IOS capability using any Micro Four Thirds (µ4/3) lens.
  7. For more information about the similarities and differences between these two cameras, see Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review.
Pretty much the only feature of the G5 which surpasses the E-M5 is the higher-resolution LCD with much better articulation. Other than that, I feel the E-M5 is, overall, the superior camera. At this point in time, the E-M5 is unique among — and head-and-shoulders above — every other µ4/3 camera on the market.

By the time I sell the G5 (and the two spare batteries I bought for it), I will probably loose about $250 on my “experiment.” That would have almost covered the $300 price difference between the G5 and the E-M5, which, in hindsight, I should have bought in the first place. In this case, I didn’t practice what I always preach, that it’s less expensive to buy the right equipment the first time, rather than trying to skimp with a cheaper substitute, find that it doesn’t fulfill the requirements, and then having to buy the second time what you should have bought in the first place. I should have known better, and now I've learned another painful and expensive lesson.

The E-M5 is still a hot camera, so it’s hard to find it selling for a discounted price. I’m hoping that right after the holidays season I might be able to find a black E-M5 body (I already have the silver model) for a decent price, to fill the role of backup camera. Supposedly Olympus is coming out with one or two additions to the OM-D family in 2013, but for now the E-M5 is the only game in town, especially in light of my need for a second camera before the middle of February.

In the end, the E-M5 is so much better than the G5 that it is definitely worth the extra $300, particularly if you buy it the first time, and don’t fool around with the wrong camera like I did. I guess there was no way for me to know ahead of time without giving the G5 a try. Hopefully my bad example of wasting money will save you some of your hard-earned cash. Don’t squander yourself on a short-lived fling — go for the E-M5 and true love!
UPDATE: Over the few weeks that my G5 was for sale on Amazon, the bottom just continued to drop out of the market. It was astonishing and agonizing to see the value of this camera melt away like a snowflake in hell! Finally, right before Christmas, someone bought my camera and the two spare batteries. After Amazon took their cut, I got back only $400 of the $800 I had originally spent in October. Someone got a really good deal, and I got really burned by a tumbling market. Live and learn! Purchase in haste, repent in leisure!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 207
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 207
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