Panasonic GF3 vs LX5
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2011 and July 2010. The GF3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the LX5 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (GF3) and a 1/1.7-inch (LX5) sensor. The GF3 has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the LX5 provides 10 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Panasonic GF3||Panasonic LX5|
|Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||24-90mm f/2.0-3.3|
|12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||10 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||720/60p Video|
|ISO 160-6400||ISO 80-3200 (80-12800)|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 460k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.2 shutter flaps per second||2.5 shutter flaps per second|
|300 shots per battery charge||400 shots per battery charge|
|108 x 67 x 32 mm, 264 g||110 x 65 x 43 mm, 271 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-LX5? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Panasonic GF3 and the Panasonic LX5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF3 can be obtained in five different colors (black, brown, pink, red, white), while the LX5 is available in two color-versions (black, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic LX5 is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Panasonic GF3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GF3 nor the LX5 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LX5 has a lens built in, whereas the GF3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the GF3 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Panasonic GF3»||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic LX5«||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||9.6 oz||400||n||Jul 2010||499||Panasonic LX5|
|Fujifilm X10« »||4.6 in||2.8 in||2.2 in||12.3 oz||270||n||Sep 2011||599||Fujifilm X10|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus XZ-1« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||9.7 oz||320||n||Jan 2011||499||Olympus XZ-1|
|Panasonic GF5« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic LX7« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.8 in||10.5 oz||330||n||Jul 2012||499||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic FZ150« »||4.9 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||18.6 oz||410||n||Aug 2011||499||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3« »||4.5 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||11.9 oz||270||n||May 2011||599||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||12.7 oz||410||n||Sep 2008||599||Panasonic G1|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The LX5 was launched at a lower price than the GF3, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic GF3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Panasonic LX5 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the LX5 is 80 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 4.4. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3. The LX5 has the particularity of featuring a switch that allows to toggle between multiple aspect ratios, while maintaining the same field of view and full image resolution.
With 12MP, the GF3 offers a higher resolution than the LX5 (10MP), but the GF3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.33μm versus 2.14μm for the LX5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the GF3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the LX5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GF3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inch or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inch or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inch or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic LX5 are 18.2 x 13.7 inch or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inch or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inch or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
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-LX5 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-12800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 review, the GF3 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the LX5 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic LX5||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||19.6||10.8||132||41||Panasonic LX5|
|Fujifilm X10||2/3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/30p||20.5||11.3||245||50||Fujifilm X10|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus XZ-1||1/1.7||10.1||3664||2752||720/30p||18.8||10.4||117||34||Olympus XZ-1|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic LX7||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||20.7||11.7||147||50||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic FZ150||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||19.4||10.9||132||40||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53||Panasonic G1|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GF3 provides a higher video resolution than the LX5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the LX5 is limited to 720/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The GF3 and the LX5 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. That said, the LX5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GF3, the Panasonic LX5, and comparable cameras.
|Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2||Y||n||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic LX5||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||Y||Panasonic LX5|
|Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||Y||Fujifilm X10|
|Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus XZ-1||optional||n||3.0||614||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.0||Y||Y||Olympus XZ-1|
|Panasonic GF5||none||n||3.0||920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic LX7||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic FZ150||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic G1|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF3 has a touchscreen, while the LX5 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the GF3 and the LX5 write their files to SDXC cards.
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-LX5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Panasonic GF3||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic LX5||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic LX5|
|Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Fujifilm X10|
|Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus XZ-1||Y||mono||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus XZ-1|
|Panasonic GF5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic LX7||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic FZ150||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10||Y||mono||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G1|
It is notable that the LX5 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The GF3 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
Both the GF3 and the LX5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The LX5 was replaced by the Panasonic LX7, while the GF3 was followed by the Panasonic GF5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic website.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic GF3 or the Panasonic LX5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12 vs 10MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/60p).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.2 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the LX5).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5:
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the GF3 necessitates an extra lens.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the LX5 comes out slightly ahead of the GF3 (9 : 8 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Panasonic GF3 and the Panasonic LX5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the GF3 and the LX5 in practical situations. 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.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Panasonic GF3
- Canon 6D vs Panasonic LX5
- Canon 760D vs Panasonic GF3
- Canon R vs Panasonic LX5
- Canon SL3 vs Panasonic GF3
- Nikon D200 vs Panasonic GF3
- Nikon D2Xs vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic G10 vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic GF2 vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic GF3 vs Pentax MX-1
- Panasonic GF3 vs Sony A58
- Panasonic LX5 vs Ricoh WG-6
Specifications: Panasonic GF3 vs Panasonic LX5
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 Model||Panasonic GF3||Panasonic LX5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||24-90mm f/2.0-3.3|
|Launch Date||June 2011||July 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF3||Panasonic LX5|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||7.85 x 5.89 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||46.2365 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||9.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.33 μm||2.14 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.34 MP/cm2||21.59 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||720/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||160-6400 ISO||80-3200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus FHD||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||49||41|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.6||19.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.0||10.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||458||132|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF3||Panasonic LX5|
|Viewfinder Type||No viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF3||Panasonic LX5|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.2 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GF3||Panasonic LX5|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||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 LX5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
108 x 67 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
110 x 65 x 43 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||264 g (9.3 oz)||271 g (9.6 oz)|
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