We pit Panasonic's entry-level model against Nikon's smart and sexy new rival, the Nikon 1 J5. Yes - it's a T3 Smackdown of the very best Compact System Cameras (CSCs).
- Check out our guide to the best compact system camera
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7
Panasonic’s entry-level CSC gets a clean new look and a selfie screen.
The GF7 is slightly bigger and more utilitarian than the J5, but smart in its own way, with a choice of colours. What looks like a viewfinder housing on the top is nothing of the sort, which is odd, and a couple of the controls feel cramped.
The GF7’s Micro Four Thirds sensor is largerthan the J5’s and good for image quality. The space-saving 24-64mm kit lens offers a bit less reach, though. Both cameras offer Wi-Fi compatibility, but the J5 also has NFC.
The GF7’s bigger sensor delivers slightly more sharpness and slightly less noise, though you have to know what to look for. It doesn’t have
the J5’s smart hybrid AF system but its autofocus is still fast and snappy, except in low light.
Like the J5, the GF7 is great for both novices and more advanced photographers. Both cameras lack a viewfinder, though, which makes composing shots in bright light trickier and knocks a star off each one’s rating.
Rates: The bigger sensor and lower price. The GF7 is a good choice for the practically minded, and there are lots of Micro Four Thirds lenses you can add later.
Slates: It lacks the J5’s tech innovations and charm.
Nikon 1 J5
Nikon brings a smart and sexy look to its new compact system camera.
Retro styling is combined with nice materials and handling. The J5 is made of plastic with faux-leather trim, but you wouldn’t know it. The touchscreen display works well, and flips up and over for selfies, just like the GF7’s.
The J5 and GF7 both have flip-up selfie screens but no viewfinder. The J5 comes with a 27-83mm kit lens that offers a longer range, but it comes with a smaller one-inch sensor. It hits back with some clever high-speed shooting modes, though.
Image quality is fractionally down on the GF7’s, and in single-shot mode the J5 takes a moment to get ready for the next photo, which is odd for a high-speed camera. The J5 can shoot 4K video but only at 15fps, so it’s hardly worth having.
The J5 can be used by novices but also has enough manual control to keep an expert happy. Usability and handling are much improved over early Nikon 1 cameras, and the J5 is small enough to replace a compact camera – almost.
Rates: Its small size, smart styling, super-fast hybrid AF and 20fps burst mode. The J5 is a clever little camera with some innovative shooting options.
Slates: The smaller sensor, and 4K at only 15fps.
1st - Nikon 1 J5 4/5
2nd - Lumix DMC-GF7 4/5