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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Full Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Full Review - Reviewed in detail, the 20 megapixel Panasonic Lumix GX8 with 4K video and built in image stabilisation.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 in Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera



Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (4)

The Panasonic Lumix GX8 is the first dual Image Stabilisation CSC camera from Panasonic and features a new 20.3 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor with sensor-shift image stabilisation. The sensor shift is designed to work in combination with optical image stabilisation built into Panasonic lenses for improved image stabilisation. The camera records 4K video and photos, features a tilting high-resolution electronic viewfinder, a vari-angle touch screen, and 8fps continuous shooting at full resolution. The Panasonic Lumix GX8 will be available at the end of August priced at £999 body only. 

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Features

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (5)

The Panasonic Lumix GX8 updates the GX7, which will remain on the market. The GX8 is said to give a 15% improvement in detail, and in Image Quality, with improved dynamic range, along with an improved noise to signal ratio, thanks to the use of a new 20.3 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor which is used in combination with the latest Panasonic Venus image processing engine. The GX8 also offers in-camera raw processing, highlight-shadow control, clear retouch, filters, plus an updated panoramic mode giving an option of a wider view. 

The Dual Image Stabilisation system is a 4-axis in-body sensor shift system, which works in conjunction with the optical image stabilisation in Panasonic lenses, which feature a 2-axis system. In video mode, the camera uses a Hybrid image stabilisation system to give 5-axis image stabilisation for FullHD video, but not 4K video. The dual image stabilisation system is said to give comparable image stabilisation performance to Olympus' 5-axis image stabilisation system found in the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

A new exposure compensation dial has been added underneath the mode dial. You can customise the front and rear controls, and there is a function button to alter the way the dials operate. The camera will shoot at 8fps in continuous shooting mode with fixed AF or 6fps with continuous AF. There is also a 2.5mm mic socket on the side of the camera, which is now weather-sealed. 

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (13)

4K Photo features: Using the 4K video technology, as featured on the Panasonic Lumix G7, there are various modes to extract 8 megapixel still images, with the option of 3:2, 1:1, 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios, these are: 

  • 4K Burst Shooting - allows up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds of continuous shooting at 30fps
  • 4K Burst (Start/Stop) - starts continuous shooting with the press of the shutter button and stops with the second press - suitable for shooting opportunities that require a longer waiting time (up to 29min 59 seconds)
  • 4K Pre-burst - records 30 frames the second before and after the shutter is pressed giving you 60 chances to capture the perfect moment.

You can save 4K photos straight from the camera, without having to process the video files on your computer. Lightroom can also be used to select frames from the video. 4K video is useful as it can also be used to create 1080p video, to either crop for a 200% view, digitally stabilised or reframed, amongst other things. 

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (15)

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Key Features:

  • 20.3mp Micro Four Thirds sensor – highest picture quality in Lumix G - 
  • Dual IS system – 4-axis in body and lens (2-axis) stabilisation working together (for first time) – works in both video and stills (video sensor electronic stabilisation plus lens)
  • 2360k dot OLED LVF (EVF) Tiltable, 0.77x magnification, high optical quality 
  • 3inch vari-angle monitor 1040k OLED (vari-angle), touch screen 
  • Splash / dust proof mag alloy body
  • 4K photo (8mp, 30fps) / 4K video (3840x2160, 25fpsUHD)
  • Time-lapse video recording
  • 8fps continuous shooting / 6fps with AFC
  • ISO100 – ISO25600
  • Wi-Fi / NFC / QR code 
  • USB tethering
  • 340 shot battery life

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Handling

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (9)

The Panasonic Lumix GX8 is noticeably larger than the GX7 it updates, with a larger electronic viewfinder (EVF), that has a high resolution and looks extremely large and clear when in use. The EVF has an eye detection sensor so that it will automatically switch on and off when held up to the eye, and the EVF is a tilting unit, that can tilt upwards 90 degrees. 

There are front and rear control dials to change aperture and shutter speed when in the correct mode. However, it's also possible to customise these so that you can change the function. Pressing the middle button in the rear dial will also let you change the function of the dial to something else. The camera has updated shutter speeds, with 60 to 1/8000s available with the mechanical shutter and 1/16000s available with an electronic shutter. The camera also has a bulb mode that can take photos with an exposure up to 30 minutes long!

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (6)

There are a number of intelligent auto modes built in, along with several function buttons that can be customised. There is also a new function button that defaults to aperture preview at the front of the camera, that can easily be pressed when holding the camera. On top is a new exposure compensation dial that makes it easy to dial in exposure compensation when needed, giving the camera more external controls. 

 

There is no longer a built-in pop-up flash, and a flash is not provided in the box with the camera. The camera feels extremely well built with a magnesium alloy body, and the metal dials feel re-assuringly solid. The camera includes diffraction compensation in order to improve image quality when shooting at smaller apertures. The focus points cover a large area of the screen and can be manually selected. You can use the touch screen to set the focus position while the camera's electronic viewfinder (EVF) is held up to your eye, although this can also mean that you accidentally set the focus point with your nose. Luckily this feature can be switched off if necessary.

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (14)

The screen on the back is a 'vari-angle' touch-screen which can be used to set the focus point, as well as other on-screen options. The screen is bright and clear. When using the screen the display is slightly brighter than it should be, when compared to the electronic viewfinder (EVF), or when viewing images later on the computer. The brightness, contrast and saturation of the screen can be adjusted, which will help ensure you are seeing what you should be seeing when taking photos, which is particularly useful if you are using the screen to gauge correct exposure. Screen brightness can be set to automatic so that the camera will automatically increase the brightness when using the camera outside.

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Function Buttons
Panasonic Lumix GX8 Function Buttons (Default settings)

Menus – There are multiple menu options and settings, spread over several screens, with the camera displaying hints and tips for each option making it easier to use without having to refer to the manual. The custom function buttons view, shown above, is where you can customise the operation of the camera, with a large number of buttons customisable, although the lack of labels on the physical buttons will make you want to refer to this screen just to check which function does what. 

Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Image App Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Remote Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Playback
Main menu of Image app Remote shooting Playback

 

Built-in Wi-Fi allows you to remote control the camera, as well as transfer images to a smartphone or tablet. Built in NFC makes it easy to setup a connection to a compatible device. Jump mode uses your smartphone's motion sensor to detect when you have jumped and is designed to get a photo of you in mid-air. You can also use the app to add GPS data to your photos.

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 340 shots when using the screen, with reduced battery life when using the EVF. The camera uses the same battery as the Panasonic Lumix G7 (and G6), and the battery and memory card compartments are underneath the camera. Extended use of the 4K pre-burst mode is likely to reduce battery life due to the camera continuously recording photos. 

Panasonic Lumix GX8 Silver (10)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.125secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.8secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.35secs
Shot to Shot with Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
8fps (140 shots*)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 8fps (35 shots*)


Focus is incredibly quick, as is shutter response, when using the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens. Continuous shooting is available with continuous AF tracking at 6fps and we managed this in our tests. * Using a high speed SD card, a Panasonic SDXC Class 10, U:3 with R:95/W:90MB/s.



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Comments


Andy_Curtis 3 790 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2015 9:28AM
This will be mine! OMD, gx7 and XPro 1 all rolled into one. (Well, the bits I like from those 3)

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mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2015 3:53PM
Are you sure those IS figures are correct?


Quote:IS Off completely (GX7*) - slowest shutter speed - 1/25s most shots sharp.
Lens based IS (GX7*) - slowest shutter speed - 1/20s


The lens IS gives an improvement from 1/25 to 1/20 sec?


Quote:Sensor only (GX8) - slowest shutter speed 1/20s most sharp
Sensor and lens combo (GX8) - slowest shutter speed - 1/15s


The sensor-only in GX8 is about the same as lens IS on the GX7
But combining them in the much-vaunted Dual IS (lens+ sensor) improves it to a mind-boggling 1/15

Neither of those sets of figures are very impressive over no IS at all.
joshwa Plus
6 822 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2015 4:05PM
Hi Mike, the ability to handhold a camera steady will vary from user to user, lens used and subject photographed. I took the photos using the same lens and subject and hand holding position. Albeit the testing wasn't particularly scientific (ie, I didn't use a robotic camera shaking system and remote triggering), but shows that there is a slight improvement from the image stabilisation system in the GX8. Although it doesn't quite match the system in the E-M5 Mark II, which is known to be one of the best (perhaps even the best) IS systems around.
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2015 5:08PM
Thanks, Joshwa
It was the 'no IS at all' bit that makes it all look a bit off. If someone less stable (such as myself!) gets their mitts on it, I guess the whole set of numbers may well show a greater spread between the different situations.

But comparing the 2-axis IBIS in the GX7 with the 4-axis IBIS in the GX8 (and both of them with the E-M5) the development that seems to be touted for the IBIS in the GX8 seems to be rather disappointing and has a fair way to go for usability with non-stabilised lenses.
dannyr 8 46 United Kingdom
24 Jul 2015 12:33PM
It looks like a very good upgrade from my GX7 (when it drops in price!).

Can I ask, its mentioned the shutter is louder, but does it have a nicer shutter sound than the shutter on the GX7? I always hated the shutter sound on the GX7 it sounded like somebody slapping a wet fish!
joshwa Plus
6 822 United Kingdom
24 Jul 2015 1:12PM
There is a video of the shutter here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_pw6SxAfxk




dannyr 8 46 United Kingdom
24 Jul 2015 1:51PM
Cheers Josh, ill check that out.
I see a lack of critical sharpness in the samples. The 'loud' shutter might be suspect. It looks to me like vertical shake, or maybe it's a mediocre lens. I would love to download RAW files shot with the 42.5mm Nocticron lens with the GX8 on a tripod, to see just how good this baby is, but for now these pics do not rival what I've seen from Olympus's top cams.
24 Jul 2015 5:57PM
To the reviewer(Josh?):
Two questions:
1. Is the test lens's firmware updated to work with the new Dual I.S.? As far as I know, the new lens firmware hasn't been released. The latest available (to public) is version 1.2 dated May 2015. Could you pls check the version you use? Also what's your camera's firmware version, production or early release?

2. When you compare the images details for ISO3200, you said EM5 II retains more details. Could you pls comment on your methodology? Compare OOC JPEG, or using RAW? If using RAW, what converter(s)?
TIA
Chris_L 3 3.9k United Kingdom
25 Jul 2015 1:49AM
In pros and cons review says a con is that there is no sensor shift IS in video mode but earlier it says "The Dual Image Stabilisation system is a 4-axis in-body sensor shift system, which works in conjunction with the optical image stabilisation in Panasonic lenses, which feature a 2-axis system. In video mode, the camera uses a Hybrid image stabilisation system to give 5-axis image stabilisation. The dual image stabilisation system is said to give comparable image stabilisation performance to Olympus' 5-axis image stabilisation system found in the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II"

If I buy this and I use it in video mode with a non-IS lens, with an Olympus lens or with a Panasonic lens with OIS when do I get stabilization and when don't I? I can't work it out.

Also the specs say framerates of 24 and 25 in video. What about 50 (as in my GX7), your YouTube video seems to be shot at 50?


Kawika 3 7
25 Jul 2015 4:52AM
Thank you for a very useful and comprehensive review, especially for buffer depth figures (all too often ignored by other camera review sites).
As a happy GX7 user, I look forward to seeing results of IQ with the new 20MP sensor. And of course 4K video with 8MP frames is a bonus.

Chris' question about IS is a good one; my understanding is the with a non-IS lens you will still get IBIS, but not 5-axis. Also, as I understand it, with Panny "Mega-OIS" lenses (such as the 100-300mm), you won't get the combined effects of IBIS and lens IS, although you will get the lens IS (which I have found to be very good). For the full IS combination, you need Panny "Power OIS" lenses.
joshwa Plus
6 822 United Kingdom
28 Jul 2015 8:13AM
Hi Chris_L

Review updated to clarify that the Hybrid IS works for FullHD video, but not 4K video. Specs also updated to show that 60/50p is available for FullHD video, and 25/24p for 4K video.

Thanks
J
joshwa Plus
6 822 United Kingdom
28 Jul 2015 8:15AM

Quote:To the reviewer(Josh?):
Two questions:
1. Is the test lens's firmware updated to work with the new Dual I.S.? As far as I know, the new lens firmware hasn't been released. The latest available (to public) is version 1.2 dated May 2015. Could you pls check the version you use? Also what's your camera's firmware version, production or early release?

2. When you compare the images details for ISO3200, you said EM5 II retains more details. Could you pls comment on your methodology? Compare OOC JPEG, or using RAW? If using RAW, what converter(s)?
TIA



Camera firmware 1.0. The lens firmware version was 1.3.

Comparing JPEG OOC images.
Kawika 3 7
29 Jul 2015 3:39AM
Question for the reviewer:
The GX7 has a great sensor crop feature that creates a greater zoom. Does the GX8 have this?
GX7 Video teleconverter; 1920x1080 crop from the middle; ~2.4x magnification with no loss in quality. GH4 has same feature (but not in 4K mode). Stills with ETC are 2x @4mp (S@4:3).
(Information found in GX7 Manual, p. 211)
joshwa Plus
6 822 United Kingdom
29 Jul 2015 8:12AM
Hi Kawika, yes it does have the same feature, thanks Josh
29 Jul 2015 1:30PM
I've had the GX7 for almost 2 years. I will skip this upgrade and may go back to Olympus. I am not happy with the "Look" of the Panasonic files. The colors just do not appeal to me in JPEG. The RAW can be processed to a decent level. My old EM-5 just seemed to pull more depth and richness out of the scene. Olympus has a different way of presenting the finished JPEG. The menu on the Panasonic is why I switched in the first place. But for picture quality, the Olympus seems to suite my tastes better.
Kawika 3 7
29 Jul 2015 3:43PM
Much as I like my GX7 (I passed on the EM1 due to mediocre video) I have to say that FoToEdge has a point. It is disconcerting to see that Panny lenses score much higher with DxOMark when used on Oly cameras. (For example, see the DxOMark review of the Lumix G VARIO 14-140mm /F3.5-5.6 ASPH.)
Score with Olympus OM-D E-M1: 13
Score with GX7: 10
I'm going to wait until DxOMark has tested with the GX8. I know that their tests are not the only measure of a camera, and that there are significant variations amongst individual units, but the tests do provide some indication.
(That said, I once went through 2 very poor Pentax 55-300mm lenses before finally, on the third try, getting a very good one. The difference was night and day. And I've had similar experiences with cameras. Every one is a bit different, even though they are the same make and model.)
29 Jul 2015 4:02PM
As Kawika mentions, it won't hurt to wait. Even if interested, the price is out of this world. There are other quality choices with Fuji, Sony and Olympus. As an early purchaser of the GX7 I feel the camera was not given much of a chance before Panasonic slashed the price dramatically and hurt all the initial purchasers. I do not feel that they try in our Kansas City Marketplace. There are no dealers selling their products. Also, I have spoke to Fuji and Olympus service departments on the phone myself and I received respect and attention. I have never been able to connect with a real human at Panasonic. Fuji and Olympus know photography and I am starting to feel just more comfortable with either of these companies and their products. Panasonic may still be inwardly viewing their cameras as just appliances. Time and Reviews will sort this all out. Keep your Credit Card in the wallet and investigate and then decide for yourselves, in the meantime the price will drop in 1 or 2 months.
Kawika 3 7
29 Jul 2015 10:06PM
At the risk of straying a bit off topic (evaluation of the GX8 and its feature set), Amen to FoToEdge's comment about price. When the GX7 came out I loved the spec sheet but simply couldn't justify paying that much for an MFT (even though, as a GH3 owner, I had all the MFT lenses I needed and was very fond of the GH3). Waited a year, pretty much forgot about the GX7, and then it came back on my radar and I bought it for under $700. I'm hoping that the GX8 will (1) live up to its promise and (2) be offered at a very reduce price sometime next year. Meanwhile, I can use the GX7.
30 Jul 2015 7:00PM

Quote:To the reviewer(Josh?):
Two questions:
1. Is the test lens's firmware updated to work with the new Dual I.S.? As far as I know, the new lens firmware hasn't been released. The latest available (to public) is version 1.2 dated May 2015. Could you pls check the version you use? Also what's your camera's firmware version, production or early release?

2. When you compare the images details for ISO3200, you said EM5 II retains more details. Could you pls comment on your methodology? Compare OOC JPEG, or using RAW? If using RAW, what converter(s)?
TIA



Camera firmware 1.0. The lens firmware version was 1.3.

Comparing JPEG OOC images.
--
Josh:
Thx for the details! The ver 1.3 has not been released to the public, so its existence is new. Now knowing the result was done using the latest lens' firmware tailored to the Dual I.S. but not seeing much advantage, I'm not too thrilled. Panasonic needs to go to the floating sensor route in order to have better stabilization capability.
Chris_L 3 3.9k United Kingdom
5 Aug 2015 2:21PM
I just sussed something out about this. Looks to me that they use sensor shift and OIS for stills. But for video the IBIS is electronic stabilization, which means it is done in software, scrolling the image left, right, up or down to compensate for shake. You can only do this at 1080 though because when 4k shooting you won't have enough pixels. It can't use decoupled sensor during video due to heat. OIS should still be feasible.

It does mean there may be more of a crop in some video modes, not certain on that.
8 Aug 2015 8:21PM

Quote:Much as I like my GX7 (I passed on the EM1 due to mediocre video) I have to say that FoToEdge has a point. It is disconcerting to see that Panny lenses score much higher with DxOMark when used on Oly cameras. (For example, see the DxOMark review of the Lumix G VARIO 14-140mm /F3.5-5.6 ASPH.)
Score with Olympus OM-D E-M1: 13
Score with GX7: 10
I'm going to wait until DxOMark has tested with the GX8.

You see I am a little sceptical, these tests carried out were done at a time everybody thought the E-M1 contained a Sony sensor. When chipsure took it apart, they found out it was a Panasonic. I am struggling to understand how these marks can be so different. Tony Northrup advises DxO place too much emphasis on colour. Either way, both these scores are poor, and whilst I suppose it is handy to have a benchmark, for all practical purposes, we are in the realms of nitpickery. The choice between Panasonic and Olympus is about whether you do video and or whether your nerves can handle the frustration of operating the Olympus machines, last only to Fuji's.

Kawika 3 7
8 Aug 2015 9:16PM
Montymouse says:
"Either way, both these scores are poor"
Actually, for the category of long zoom they are average or better. The typical 55-300mm long zoom for APS-C usually scores 11 or 12, and can go into single digits with certain cameras. That seems to be the price paid for long reach and flexilibity.
That said, I can hardly wait to see the 20MP GX8 coupled with the recently announced Panny 100-400mm OIS zoom lens. Whether stills or video (or 8MP frame grabs from 4K video) this should be an amazing kit for outdoor sports, wildlife, birding, etc.
19 Aug 2015 6:17PM
Does it really drop that low, the overall score for the 35-100mm is 19. Don't get me wrong, the 14-140mm is my favourite long zoom lens, my point is, why the difference between using it on the EM1 and the GX8, because I can't see any perceivable difference between images taken on the EM1 and the GX7 or my new G7, which I would say was even better. Everybody on the forums picked on me for saying this, constantly supporting their criticisms with the fact that it was obviously going to better given it's superior Sony sensor, so I ask now, given the sensor turns out to be a Panasonic... what now? Is DxO more subjective than we think?
Kawika 3 7
19 Aug 2015 7:33PM
All I can say is, go to DxOMark and see for yourself. Possible factors:
1. 55-300mm (nearly 6x) is a much greater focal length difference that 35-100mm (less than 3x). Typically there is a severe IQ penalty for greatly increased focal length difference, especially at or near a given price point.
2. 300mm is much greater than 100mm. Typically there is a severe IQ penalty for greatly increased focal length, especially at or near a given price point.
20 Aug 2015 4:36AM
The 300mm is known to be poor, I have reviewed the images and they are noticeably soft. But I am talking about the 14-140mm, this is a sharp high quality lens, if a bit slow. I have stopped looking at DxO scores along time ago because they add no value to my decision making, the charts on this site are far more informative along with the reviews. This doesnt answer my question regarding the improved scores on the EM1 wich i speculate is subjective.
Kawika 3 7
20 Aug 2015 6:35AM
I was answering this question:
"Does it really drop that low, the overall score for the 35-100mm is 19."
Your point about DxOMark is well taken, since especially with consumer-grade lenses there can be a huge variation from one copy to the next.
27 Sep 2015 3:20PM
Stabilization works best at higher shutter speeds for coffee drinkers like me. Try shooting everything in Shutter Priority for a change and keep that speed up above 1/250 and let the Auto ISO fly up to 3200 if needed. Grain is better looking than any blur from camera or lens movement with any camera.

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