src="http://www.mirrorlessons.com/wp-content/themes/mirrorlessons A day at Penrhyn Castle - Hands-On with the Panasonic GX8
MirrorLessons
Camera Reviews

Date: 17/08/2015 | By: Mathieu

A day at Penrhyn Castle – Hands-On with the Panasonic GX8

DMC-GF7, 1/320, f/ 56/10, ISO 400

A day at Penrhyn Castle – Hands-On with the Panasonic GX8

I’ve just come back from a day trip to Penrhyn Castle where Panasonic UK held its second Wales-based event in association with the National Trust. Despite being late in the evening, I decided to start writing my first impressions about the Panasonic Lumix GX8 while the experience is still fresh in my mind. We extend our warmest thanks to Panasonic ambassador Ross Grieves, who was able to procure us a pre-production model to use, and to Mark Baber for telling us about the event.

lumix gx8 review
GX8, 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 200 – Nocticron 42.5mm
lumix gx8 review
GX8, 1/6, f/4, ISO 200 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8

 

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Main Specs
  • Sensor: 20 megapixel m4/3 Live Mos sensor
  • Lens system: micro four thirds
  • Weatherproof: Yes (splash and dust proof)
  • Internal Stabilisation: Yes (4 axis)
  • Autofocus: Contrast detection AF with 49 areas and DfD technology
  • Continuous shooting: 8 fps (AF-S), 6 fps (AF-C)
  • ISO Sensitivity: 200 – 25600 ISO (pull 100)
  • Shutter Speeds: 1/8000 to 60 seconds, up to 1/16000s with electronic shutter
  • Viewfinder: Tilting OLED electronic viewfinder with 2,360k dots, approx. 100% FOV coverage and 0.77x magnification
  • LCD Screen: multi-angle touch sensitive 3″ OLED monitor (1040k dots)
  • Movie recording: 4K at 25fps, Full HD up to 60fps
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Extra Features: WiFi, NFC, 4K Photo and 4K Burst, Panorama, Timelapse, Stop Motion, HDR, Multiple exposure
  • Dimensions: 133.2 x 77.9 x 63.1mm
  • Weight: 487g (including battery and memory card)

Ergonomics & Design

The ergonomics and design of the Lumix GX8 didn’t give me a positive impression at first but there was a specific reason for this.

To me, the name “GX” is associated with a camera both Heather and I fell in love with back in 2013: the GX7.

panasonic gx8 review
The new GX8 next to the GX7

The GX7 was wonderful because Panasonic managed to give it a small and compact body with a great grip. I never felt the need for an additional landscape grip or other accessories to enhance its ergonomics. It was just perfect just the way it was and during the time we owned it, I often used it as a second body for my still work alongside the OM-D E-M1 and my video work next to the GH3. To be honest, I don’t believe there is another camera in the Micro Four Thirds line-up that manages to mix compactness and a good grip as well as the GX7. Even the E-M5 mark II feels less comfortable – I prefer to use it with the optional HDL-8 grip.

The GX8 in this regard is a different camera: it is larger and heavier. Once you accept this fact, you start to get used to it. Though the grip isn’t bad, I still feel that the E-M1 is the most well-designed camera when it comes to ergonomics. One improvement the GX8 has acquired is its build quality: the camera feels very robust, which is justification for the extra bulkiness. The GX8 is also weatherproof (splash and dust), a feature that the GX7 was lacking and whose absense many users complained about.

The dial layout has been cleverly designed. I especially enjoyed using the exposure compensation dial under the main mode dial, even though the former would raise the exposure when I twisted it to a negative value and vice versa. Not to worry, though – it was simply because the pre-production model had a few “bugs”.

panasonic gx8 review

The button layout will look familiar to Lumix users. There are a lot of customisable buttons and you get that excellent “ease of use”  that has come to define Panasonic Lumix cameras. Did I already say that their menu system is the best of the best? I think so. 😉

The electronic viewfinder is probably the aspect I liked the most about the camera. Being able to tilt the viewfinder up is of great use outdoors when shooting at a lower height, especially if you don’t want to use the LCD screen. I already appreciated the tilting EVF concept on the GX7 and I don’t understand why some people and reviewers criticise that choice. After all, if you don’t want to tilt it, just leave it in its default position. (There is an automatic locking mechanism to keep it in place.)

While we’re on the topic of the EVF, I can also say that it is the best improvement I’ve found so far over the GX7: it is larger with a great magnification factor (0.77x).

panasonic gx8 review
The new and old EVF

The OLED screen can be rotated and flipped to the side. Curiously, on the rear of the screen there is the same faux-leather texture you’ll find on front of the camera. The screen is of course touch sensitive and like other Lumix cameras, it gives you the best touch experience of all the mirrorless brands.

panasonic gx8 review


Image Quality

The Panasonic GX8 is the first Micro Four Thirds camera to feature a 20 megapixel sensor. After years and years of 16MP sensors being made, re-made and updated for many Lumix/Olympus bodies, it does “feel” nice to have something new. Now, one afternoon is certainly not enough to put the sensor through its paces but from what I’ve seen so far, the improvements to image quality are not that relevant. Certainly more megapixels will give you some extra detail, but between 16 and 20, there isn’t a major difference.

lumix gx8 review
GX8, 1/800, f/2.8, ISO 200 – Nocticron 42.5mm – OOC JPG
Click on the image to open the full res version!
lumix gx8 review
GX8, 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 200 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 – OOC JPG
Click on the image to open the full res version!

Photographer Ross Grieves showed us a few very large prints (44” on the longest side) from a recent shoot he did with the GX8 and I must admit that the prints were absolutely stunning. However, I have seen excellent large prints with Olympus cameras too, so in the end, this is nothing really new to my eyes.

But those prints were a nice reminder of how good these cameras are even when printing on a large scale.

panasonic lumix gx8 review
Some of the large prints photographer Ross Grieves showed us at Penrhyn Castle.

After exploring the spectacular castle grounds outdoors, I also had the chance to shoot inside in the magnificent rooms of the castle to test the camera’s low light / high ISO performance. The sensitivity range of the GX8 hasn’t changed – we still get the usual 200 to 25600 with the extended (pull) ISO 100. Up to 3200 ISO, the images are reasonably clean and 6400 ISO looks really good as well. I can’t really say if there is a noticeable improvement but so far it looks on par with the best Micro Four Thirds cameras out there.

panasonic gx8 review
GX8, 1/15, f/5.6, ISO 1600 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8
Click on the image to open the full res version!
panasonic gx8 review
GX8, 1/20, f/5.6, ISO 3200 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8
Click on the image to open the full res version!
panasonic gx8 review
GX8, 1/30, f/4, ISO 6400 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8
Click on the image to open the full res version!

We will test dynamic range later on, as the day wasn’t particularly cooperative weather-wise but below you can see one shot with lots of shadow recovery. It is a good preview of what you can do with this camera.

panasonic gx8 review
GX8, 1/13, f/4, ISO 200 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8
Click on the image to open the full res version!


Autofocus and performance

The GX8 inherits the same DfD (Depth from Defocus) technology that Panasonic first introduced on the GH4 and then implemented on the LX100 and the Lumix G7. The words “Depth from Defocus” are now a reassurance: the GX8 like the other Lumix cameras mentioned above focuses really fast in both still and video mode. The latter is important because Panasonic cameras stand out from the crowd when it comes to AF during movie recording. I have yet to test the continuous AF capabilities for stills but I did shoot some 4K video footage using the Nocticron 42.5mm and the Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 in Continuous-AF, and the response was really good even when the camera had to track a bee on a flower at a close distance. The camera also performs well in continuous shooting mode (8fps in S-AF and 6fps in C-AF).

panasonic gx8 4k photo
4K frame grabbed from the video footage

The camera works well in low light. While wandering around Penrhyn castle, which isn’t very well lit, it never really struggled even in the darkest rooms. With 4K video, there was some more hesitation in lower contrast areas.

The GX7 was the first Lumix camera to include built-in stabilisation but the sensor shift only worked on 2 axes. Furthermore, you could only use either the in-body stabilisation or the optical stabilisation found in Panasonic lenses. The GX8 introduces Dual IS technology which allows the camera to use both sensor and optical stabilisation in tandem. After a day of use, I can say that it works well down to 1/5s with short and medium focal lengths. I used the 12-35mm f/2.8 which was the only lens available with the updated firmware. (If you purchase a GX8, remember to update your lens firmware to take advantage of the Dual I.S. function. For now only six lenses benefit from this upgrade but Panasonic promised to release the new firmware for most of its lenses later on.)

panasonic gx8 review
GX8, 1/8, f/5.6, ISO 1600 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8
Click on the image to open the full res version!
panasonic gx8 review
GX8, 1/5, f/4, ISO 1600 – Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8
Click on the image to open the full res version!

Unfortunately the Dual IS doesn’t work for video. Rather, the camera combines optical stabilisation with electronic stabilisation (aka software stabilisation) called 5-axis hybrid stabilisation. I couldn’t activate the latter in the camera’s menu (limitation of the pre-production model) so I’ll wait for our own GX8 to arrive to test that further.

The GX8 features many other functions. As I mentioned already, it can shoot 4K video up to 25fps and also integrates 4K photo and 4K burst like the G7. The 4K burst allows you to take a 30fps 4K video and save an 8MP JPG frame from the footage. The camera also includes an electronic/silent shutter, stop motion and many other extra functionalities. Many of these features are already available on other Lumix cameras.


Hands-On Video and 4K footage samples

Below you can watch our quick hands-on video and see some 4K video footage shot at low and high ISO.

 


Conclusion

The Panasonic GX8 looks like a very exciting camera on paper: a new sensor, updated design, larger EVF and all the goods from Panasonic’s latest bag of technology tricks which includes DfD autofocus and 4K video. My first impressions are positive but the truth is that it feels to me very much like “another very nice camera” rather than a “killer-camera”. I admit that this last sentence is a little unfair, in part because I only used the GX8 for one day, and in part because I test many cameras every month while the average photographer (hopefully) doesn’t use as many.

With its new design come some great features such as weatherproofing and an excellent EVF. However we have lost the “magic” form factor of the previous GX7 which, despite being smaller, retained an excellent grip and ergonomics. I found the GX7 more unique in this regard.

As a first impression, the new sensor doesn’t strike me as a huge improvement in comparison to the many 16MP Micro Four Thirds cameras I’ve had the chance to test. To see if this is true, we will be sure to conduct some comparisons between them.

With this new, more robust body, I believe that Panasonic wants to attract more mid and high end users, not only for video but also for stills. For now, things look promising, and if anything’s going to win me over, it will be that tilting EVF. I can safely say it is the best EVF I have used on a Lumix camera, period.

You can check out more full res image samples in our Smugmug gallery here. We’ll soon have our own copy of the GX8 in for testing, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions or leave your impressions in the comments section below!


Like our blog? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter! If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out Amazon and Adorama. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to us. Thank you!

About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    I like the Nissin i40. Not too expensive, compact and with lots of features (TTL, HSS, Wireless etc.).

  • J/R

    Would you recomend any good cheap flash for gx8?

  • capitalphotog

    You’re comparing the cost to an end of line GX7 to a new GX8. Despite what you say about the new camera being an incremental improvement, I consider it a major one. For example, the IQ of the GX7 is fine, but not fantastic. As DXO tests show, its resolving power isn’t that great, and I can see this myself when I compare my GX7 and my GH4.

    Try photographing fidgety subjects like children with a shallow depth of field, and you’ll struggle to get the spot focus cross on the eye. The GX8 eye-detection is a killer feature. Alternatively, If you switch from spot focus to face detection on a GX7, the image is too soft or misses focus when wide open.

    Finally 4k may be a small increase if you’re not interested in video. but if you are it’s a huge benefit. The ability to reframe when downscaling to 1080 mimics a second camera with a different focal range … ideal for documentary interviews where you can go wide or closeup from a single recording.

  • Agachart Sukchouy

    why i recommend because you are olympus,fuji fanboy,
    Fuji had much noise reduction on RAW file,Can you see?

  • Mark M

    No I don’t know what you mean. You are the one who is engaging in reductio ad absurdum not me. I was comparing the GX7 to the GX8, please note the following facts.

    -Same mount m43 and lens choice
    -Same manufacturer
    -Same series/package (X range)

    We also know that image quality is pretty much the same as the GX7.

    Get the point?

    Considering what the cameras have in COMMON (as noted above) using a basic price multiple is a fair way to compare the cameras.

    My point is you are paying 3x the price for a very small increase in image quality and a few upgraded features (better EVF, 4K). Making that comparison doesn’t turn into a reductio ad absurdum, that is however a “slippery slope” fallacy. (and Yes I did get this from google)

  • Turbofrog

    “In the Uk this body alone costs £1000. A Gx7 with the excellent 20mm 1.7ii (new rrp £200). costs around £450 with a cashback deal.”

    To be totally fair, if you’re valuing the GX7 body at just £250 because of a super deal and comparing everything else in those terms, you’ll be hard pressed to find literally any high-end that is worth the money.

    Is an Olympus E-M1 or a Fuji X-T1 3.5x the camera that a GX7 is? Nope. Is an A7 II 5x a GX7? I don’t think so. Is an A7R II 11x (!) as good as a GX7? Not a chance! You see what I mean? It turns into a reductio ad absurdum as soon as you extend the comparison to any other camera model.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Sorry I didn’t explained that well. There isn’t a mechanism you can use to lock the EVF. When you tilt it down it automatically locks (you can hear the sound confirming it) and to “unlock” it you just lift it up.

  • Patrick Ward

    I downloaded the user manual for the GX8 but was unable to find any confirmation of your statement that the electronic viewfinder can be locked in the closed position. I personally only use the EVF on my GX7s in the closed position and have in fact super-glued them…reaching for the camera and finding the viewfinder in the wrong position happened once to often! Not helpful for resale value so I’d be grateful if you can confirm that Panasonic has produced a better solution. Thanks for your excellent review, Mathieu.

  • GaryGarth

    The SOOC have that classic Panasonic JPEG look where the noise reduction is just too strong at the default setting.

    It’s why I recommend Olympus and Fujifilm over Panasonic. The files simply look nicer straight away, without needing to change things immediately.

  • Mark M

    I got a chance to play with the GX8 on Saturday and I pretty much agree with Mathieu regarding the camera. It is easy to use, has a bigger grip and the EVF is much larger than the GX7.

    Here is my take:-

    I own a Gx7 and a Fuji XT1. This new Gx8 camera is bigger than my APS-sensor Fuji X1T, it will not fit into any coat pocket you need to carry it in a bag so all the “smaller lenses” arguments are now irrelevant. Yeah the grip is bigger but I preferred the GX7 compromise.

    Here is the kicker for me. In the Uk this body alone costs £1000. A Gx7 with the excellent 20mm 1.7ii (new rrp £200). costs around £450 with a cashback deal. So basically when comparing body alone price the GX8 costs 4X as much as a GX7. The GX8 is not 4x the camera, it’s just an upgrade, between the Gx1 and Gx7 we had a big leap but here it’s just incremental stuff. I actually much prefer the sleek metal design of the GX7 and dislike the faux leather finish on the Gx8. I understand the enhanced video features, but the GX8 camera costs more than a GH4.

    The pricing strategy of the newer m43 cameras just seems like pure opportunism. We all know this camera will be selling for £200 less at Christmas and half price this time next year, if you already have a GX7, Em5 (i,ii), em1, Fuji X upgrading at this price is just a waste of money.

  • http://johngaylordphotography.com John Gaylord

    I really want to like this camera, but the images I see here are unacceptably noisy and lacking in shadow detail.

  • Karl Withakay

    For me, it’s a key advantage to the GX-rangefinder style over the traditional SLR layout found in other M43 cameras from Panasonic and Olympus. I’ve also used that tilting viewfinder a lot shooting off a tripod at odd angles &/or low heights outdoors.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    It’s perfectly fine as you wrote it and thanks for sharing this, I honestly didn’t know exactly what was the technology behind the GX7’s EVF. The GX8’s EVF definitely feel better to use. Personally i always prefer a larger EVF rather than a small EVF with more dots.

  • Turbofrog

    It’s actually a bit complicated – the GX7 had a field sequential viewfinder, so rather than being made up of 3 RGB dots, each pixel would flash very rapidly between RGB in the right proportion to create the impression on your eye. As a result, Panasonic was able to claim (rightfully or wrongfully) that the viewfinder is 2,764K dot “equivalent.” In fact, it was made up of only 920K dots, so in reality the GX8 does have “higher resolution” since it’s OLED panel is made up of up that many true pixels.

    …that sounded more interesting in my head than when I wrote it, sorry!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    A larger VF definitely helps when wearing glasses. I rarely use the built-in flash in any camera to be honest, for micro four thirds I have the Nissin i40 which is small but powerful enough for most situations.

  • Karl Withakay

    It’s pretty nifty for taking pictures of ceilings, though some people get confused and think they need to get out of your way as you face them shooting upwards.

  • Karl Withakay

    With my aging eyes and glasses, the larger viewfinder alone was pretty compelling; everything else was gravy. I love my GX7, but I do miss the larger (add-on) viewfinder from the GX1.

    I lament the loss of the built in flash, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually used a flash on my GX7 anyway. Now I have a better justification for the FL-220 I’ve been carrying around since I bought my original kit back in 2010.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Oh you’re right, I don’t know why I was convinced that the GX7 EVF had a lower resolution. Thanks for pointing it out 😉

  • Paul Stuart

    in fact the gx8 resoultion of viewfinder is less than gx7 ,but everything else about it is a step up ,its one nice viewfinder for use and composition ,but why are they selling another viewfinder cup as accessory
    a larger one they could of used to begin with .still enjoyed the review agreed typical panasonic cameras always lack a little (soul) ,that the olympus fuji leica have ,but are improving .

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    I agree, it is a great option to have.

  • whensly

    My favorite thing about my GX7 is the tilting EVF. I want that on all cameras.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    The GX7 was already excellent with the autofocus. We even used it for contemporary dance . DfD gives you something more but Lumix cameras were good even before the GH4 and DfD technology. So just for the AF, I wouldn’t upgrade.

  • Sean T

    Sounds like a neat improvement, and with the IBIS and improved EVF, a direct competitor to whatever (if ever!) Sony releases the step-up from the a6000.
    The GX8 is also much more expensive than the GX7. Do you think it’s worth the 2x (or at least 1.5x) premium over the GX7? DfD enough to convince you to upgrade?

  • foto2021

    At last! A review from MirrorLessons that does not pull its punches.

BACK TO TOP
Disclaimer & Copyright Notice

The owners of this website, Heather Broster and Mathieu Gasquet, are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, B&H Photo Affiliate Program, eBay Partner Network, Macphun Affiliate Program, Peak Design Affiliate Program, The Inspired Eye Affiliate Program, SmugMug Affiliate Program and Mediterranean Photo Tours Affiliate Program, all of which are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking MirrorLessons (mirrorlessons.com) to Amazon, B&H Photo, eBay, Macphun, Peak Design, The Inspired Eye, SmugMug and Mediterranean Photo Tours properties properties. They are also members of Google AdSense. AdSense publishers must have and abide by a privacy policy that discloses that third parties may be placing and reading cookies on your users’ browsers, or using web beacons to collect information as a result of ad serving on your website.

To see more information, visit our full Disclaimer page. Thank you!

© Heather Broster/Mathieu Gasquet and MirrorLessons, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Heather Broster/Mathieu Gasquet and MirrorLessons with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
MENU
×