Is this picture the first spy shot of Panasonic's next Micro Four Thirds camera, or merely an elaborate hoax by attention-seeking Internet hucksters?
The image, published by 43 Rumors, shows a camera that looks very much like the current Panasonic Lumix GF3, mixed with a little bit of the (also current) Lumix GX1. The body shape is essentially 'wrapped' around the lens mount -- almost bulging to accommodate it. Just like the GF3, it seems very compact for an interchangeable lens camera.
The GX1 influence is clear in the textured right-hand grip, which should make the GF5 easier to hold than the slippery-gripped GF3.
43 Rumors says the GF5 will be announced soon, and will come with a 12-megapixel sensor with improvements in the signal-to-noise ratio that should put image quality on a par with the Panasonic G3. The sensitivity goes up to ISO 12800, there's 'fast' autofocus and an ultra-sharp 920,000-dot touchscreen.
The story rings fairly true to us, although it seems odd that Panasonic has decided to 'skip a number' by jumping from the GF3 straight to the GF5. The leaked image itself is also somewhat strange, looking more like an arty 'vintage' filtered photo than a simple 'oh no they're coming I have to take this picture quickly' snap. But hey, maybe the leakster is just a really, really creative person.
Assuming it's the real deal, it seems that Panasonic is taking its Lumix G Micro Four Thirds series in two branching directions: there's the G, GH and GX series aimed at more serious photographers and the GF series which offers perhaps less in the way of controls and features but squeezes the body down to a tiny size. The GF3 hasn't fared particularly well with reviewers (at least by the Lumix G range's standards), but perhaps the GF5 can win back some goodwill?
Think this image is real, or is it dodgier than spammy bank emails requesting your account details? Let us know in the comments below.