As soon as I heard about the release of the new Panasonic Lumix 4K camera, the DMC-GX8, I could not stop thinking of the many opportunities given by this new gear.
I contacted Panasonic and I asked to review the camera, I was very interested to use and abuse this camera for 2 weeks.
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I opened the box and I was straight away quite impressed by the construction of the DMC-GX8 in a magnesium alloy front and rear frame. The GX8 was planned and built for the tough conditions, for the travellers that have to cope with dust, rain and sun; I love Panasonic decision to add a sealing on every joint and buttons. This is a camera that will last for a long while 😀
What are the new features that impressed me the most?
I should first start with a brand new sensor (you may remember the importance of the sensor as described on our Lumix CM1 camera/phone review), I may continue with a redesigned image stabilisation system and I shall most definitely mention one of the feature I was so keen to test, the 4K shooting option. I should add as well that, at 20.3MP, the DMC-GX8 offers the highest resolution of any Micro Four Thirds camera (November 2015).
What is about the Panasonic Lumix 4k camera that stands out?
This is an interesting question. The DMC-GX8 is able to shoot videos at 4K, here below an example of a 2 minute video
The outstanding outcome is the quality of the video in the dark club. You would expect lots of noise (due to the high ISO) however, as you can well see, the sequence is super clean. This is because the GX8 is still able to produce an high quality result up to ISO 1600 (less over this limit)
Although I do few videos, this is not my field of expertise. I therefore preferred to concentrate my review effort on the 4k shooting feature that allows to capture a 8M photo from a 4k video. This is a feature that has been implemented also on some new phones as the Iphone 6S, although at a more amateurish level.
When to use this feature?
When you need to capture the best moment is probably the easiest answer.
Sport photography is a typical example. I have been doing a fair bit of cycling photography and I do practice cycling as well. This puts me in an advantage position because my experience as a rider tells me what could be the next subject movement and I try to anticipate it. I may even capture a burst of photos to be sure to have the right moment, although this is a pain in post-production.
Having a video from which I can select the best frame is however one of the easiest solutions. At least 25 frames from each second I can choose from, not too bad. There is however a drawback, the resolution of the photo is just 8M which is not enough for printed magazines but good for websites.
I went down to my local skate park to test the Panasonic Lumix 4k camera. There are essentially 3 modes you can use: 4k Burst, 4K Burst S/S and 4K pre-burst
I tried all of them. The one I preferred was the 4K Burst because it allowed me to take the video as long as I wanted with less camera movement. The second option requires a second click which is not ideal for image stabilization. The third option makes just a 2 seconds video however he keeps the second before you actually click. Once selected 4K Pre-Burst the camera advises that it cannot be used for a long time otherwise the DMC-GX8 may become hot and it will eventually switch to another mode.
I had few tries and here below some of the results, beautiful sunset by the way
As you see in both cases I was able to select the best frame from a sequence of 3-5 seconds. You can select it in a software as Adobe Lightroom or directly on the camera using the touch screen monitor, super easy process
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 – Manual mode to document action sport
Even if the DMC-GX8 has some pretty awesome automatic features, I really suggest to try to go in manual mode as well. That’s where your creativity comes out. I started shooting some longer exposure to give that sense of action which a skate park deserves. There was an awesome sunset in the background too. Here are few shots
Both picture have a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second at f/10, that was enough to put in focus the background (f/10) and at the same add the action of the BMX riders (1/13 sec)
Another technique I love is called panning (see more on the Shooting moving objects – Panning) where the subject is static however the background is moving. I had few try and it may be just a perception however it seemed so easy to get good results with this camera
New sensor, higher dynamic range
The new new sensor in the DMC-GX8 allows to capture an higher dynamic range of luminosity. What this means is that your photo will have a bigger exposure range, resulting in a lower loss of details in highlights or shadows. These details can be brought back in post-production if needed.
Here below an example of a photo inside an old train carriage
It is quite amazing to capture all these fantastic details both inside and outside the carriage. Usually you would have either an over exposed window or an under exposed interior. Here below the same photo saved from the raw file without any post-production
The details are there in the photo. I just needed 10 seconds of post-production changing slightly the contrast, highlights, shadows and white clipping, an easy task.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8: Hot or Not?
This is quite a hot camera for travel photography. It’s bullet proof against any kind of weather condition. The construction is for the tough days too.
Yes, the DMC-GX8 is not that cheap (check the best price in USA or the latest price in Australia) however it is one of the best in its segment and it comes with the highest sensor effective resolution at 20.3M (November 2015). At less than half a kg is a great travelling camera.
The OLED viewfinder is awesome and the LCD is just marvellous, so clear. Easy to use as touch screen too
What is not that hot?
The camera came in a package with a 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 lens. I was not that impressed by it, a bit too slow for this camera. The DMC-GX8 deserves a better lens. You may want to check the 12-35mm F2.8 Pro Kit instead (check the best price in USA or the latest price in Australia). Definitely a better value
I downloaded the manual to verify few things. It does not look compatible with the Acrobat PDF reader, the find function (essential) did not work. A bit annoying. The manual does not have an index table too. Not sure why, not very friendly
I wanted to take some long exposure photos (30 seconds). Reading the manual I had to change the setting to mechanical shutter (default is electronic shutter). After 30 minutes of manual reading and different tries I had to give up. It was maybe just me however I would expect an easier interface. Need to review this on another Lumix
|Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II||Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7||Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8|
|Sensor effective resolution||16.1MP Live MOS||16MP Live MOS||20.3MP Live MOS|
|Sensor size||17.3 x 13mm||17.3mm x 13mm||17.3 x 13mm|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 – ISO 25600||ISO 125 (exp)/200 – ISO 25600||ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 – ISO 25600|
unlimited JPEG and raw
(10fps with fixed focus and IS off)
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
(40fps with electronic shutter)
100 JPEG/30 raw
(8fps with fixed focus; 10fps with fixed focus and electronic shutter)
(mag/ effective mag)
2.4 million dots
1.3x – 1.48x/0.65x- 0.74x
DFD Contrast AF
|AF sensitivity||n/a||-4 – 18 EV||-4 – 18 EV|
|Shutter speed||60 – 1/8,000 sec.; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec. x-sync (Super FP to 1/8,000)||60 -1/8,000 sec.; max 1/16,000 sec. with electronic shutter; 1/320 sec. x-sync; bulb to 2 minutes||1/8,000 to 60 sec. (1/16,000 with electronic shutter); bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec. x-sync|
|Metering||324 area||1,728 zone||1,728 zone|
|Metering sensitivity||-2 – 20 EV||0 – 18 EV||0 – 18 EV|
|Best video||H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p, 50p (52 Mbps); 30p, 25p, 24p (77 Mbps)
|AVCHD 1080/60p, 30p, 25p, 24p @ 28Mbps||UHD/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50p, 25p, 24p @ 28Mbps|
|Audio||Stereo; mic input; headphone jack on HLD-8G grip||Stereo||Stereo, mic input|
|Manual aperture and shutter in video||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Maximum best-quality recording time per clip||4GB||4GB/29:59 minutes||4GB/29:59 minutes|
|IS||Sensor shift||Optical||Optical and Sensor shift|
1.04 million dots
|Memory slots||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC|
|Wireless connection||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, NFC||Wi-Fi, NFC|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||310 shots
|Size (WHD)||4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in.
123.7 x 85 x 44.5mm
|4.8 x 2.8 x 2.2 in.
122.6 x 70.7 x 54.6mm
|5.2 x 3.1 x 2.5 in.
133.2 x 77.9 x 63.1mm
|Body operating weight||15.7 oz.
|14.24 oz. (est.)
|16.1 oz. (est.)
|Mfr. price (body only)||AU$1,000-1,200 (est.)||AU$500-600 (est.)||$1,200-1,300 (est)|
|Release date||February 2015||July 2013||August 2015|