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Panasonic GF3 vs GF5

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2011 and April 2012. Both the GF3 and the GF5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Panasonic GF3
versus
Panasonic GF5
Panasonic GF3   Panasonic GF5
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 160-6,400 ISO 160-6,400 (160 - 12,800)
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 460k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed touchscreen
3.2 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
300 shots per battery charge360 shots per battery charge
108 x 67 x 32 mm, 264 g 108 x 67 x 37 mm, 267 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GF3 and the Panasonic GF5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The GF3 can be obtained in five different colors (black, brown, pink, red, white), while the GF5 is available in three color-versions (black, red, white).

Size Panasonic GF3 vs Panasonic GF5
Compare GF3 versus GF5 top
Comparison GF3 or GF5 rear

In this particular case, the Panasonic GF3 and the Panasonic GF5 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the GF5 is slightly heavier (1 percent) than the GF3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GF3 nor the GF5 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Panasonic GF3 108 mm 67 mm 32 mm 264 g 300 n Jun 2011 549i
2.
 
Panasonic GF5 108 mm 67 mm 37 mm 267 g 360 n Apr 2012 499i
3.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
4.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
5.
 
Panasonic G6 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599i
6.
 
Panasonic GF6 111 mm 65 mm 38 mm 323 g 340 n Apr 2013 499i
7.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
8.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599i
9.
 
Panasonic GX1 116 mm 68 mm 39 mm 318 g 320 n Nov 2011 699i
10.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499i
11.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599i
12.
 
Panasonic GF2 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 n Nov 2010 549i
13.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The GF5 was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the GF3 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Panasonic GF3 and Panasonic GF5 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the GF3 and the GF5 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the GF5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the GF3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 160-12800.

GF3 versus GF5 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the GF5 offers substantially better image quality than the GF3 (overall score 12 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Panasonic GF3 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849
2.
 
Panasonic GF5 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.411.661861
3.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
4.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
5.
 
Panasonic G6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961
6.
 
Panasonic GF6 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254
7.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
8.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756
9.
 
Panasonic GX1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355
10.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
11.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
12.
 
Panasonic GF2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654
13.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The GF3 and the GF5 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GF3, the Panasonic GF5, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Panasonic GF3none n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2 Y n
2.
 
Panasonic GF5none n3.0 / 920 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
3.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
4.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
5.
 
Panasonic G61440 n3.0 / 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
6.
 
Panasonic GF6none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
7.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
8.
 
Panasonic G31440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
9.
 
Panasonic GX1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
10.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
11.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
12.
 
Panasonic GF2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the GF3 and the GF5 write their files to SDXC cards. The GF5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the GF3 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Panasonic GF3-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic GF5-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
4.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Panasonic G6Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Panasonic GF6-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Panasonic GX1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic GF2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---

Both the GF3 and the GF5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF3 was replaced by the Panasonic GF5, while the GF5 was followed by the Panasonic GF6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GF3 and the Panasonic GF5? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).


Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (360 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GF5 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 1 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

GF3 01:08 GF5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Panasonic GF3 and the Panasonic GF5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the GF3 or the GF5 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Panasonic GF33/582/100..71/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549i
2.
 
Panasonic GF53/5......4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 499i
3.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
4.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
5.
 
Panasonic G64/5+ +....5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 599i
6.
 
Panasonic GF6..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499i
7.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
8.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +..75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599i
9.
 
Panasonic GX13/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 699i
10.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499i
11.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
12.
 
Panasonic GF23/582/100..70/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549i
13.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Panasonic GF3:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GF5:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Panasonic GF3 vs Panasonic GF5

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Panasonic GF3 Panasonic GF5
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2011 April 2012
    Launch Price USD 549 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Panasonic GF3 Panasonic GF5
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.33 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 5.34 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 160 - 6,400 ISO 160 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 160 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor Venus FHD Venus FHD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 49 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.6 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.0 11.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 458 618
    Screen Specs Panasonic GF3 Panasonic GF5
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Panasonic GF3 Panasonic GF5
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.2 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Panasonic GF3 Panasonic GF5
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Panasonic GF3 Panasonic GF5
    Battery Type DMW-BLE9 DMW-BLE9
    Battery Life (CIPA)300 shots per charge360 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 108 x 67 x 32 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
    108 x 67 x 37 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 264 g (9.3 oz) 267 g (9.4 oz)

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