Panasonic has introduced a new 20-million-pixel sensor in its latest GX series camera that makes it the highest resolution micro four thirds camera to date. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 is much the same style as the previous GX7, but comes in a slightly larger body form with more exaggerated physical features. The company has increased the size of the right hand grip in line with that of the G7 and implemented the Leica-esque dual-level top plate of the LX100. We now have more dial controls, with the addition of an exposure compensation dial beneath the main mode dial, and the recessed thumb wheel of the GX7 now becomes a full-blown circular top plate accessory.
The articulated EVF of the GX7 remains, but in a larger housing and with a larger screen, and the rear LCD gets a vari-angle hinge that allows the panel to be viewed from a multitude of angles. We lose the pop-up flash of the GX7, keep the hotshoe, and gain 4K video and 4K Photo modes.
The camera will retail at £1069 body-only when it goes on sale on 10th August, and will be available in various kit forms, as well as with a silver or black top plate.
The Main Changes
While the GX7 used the standard 4592×3448 16-million-pixel senor the GX8 uses a 20-million-pixel sensor with 5184×3888 pixels.
In-body + lens stabilisation:
The GX7 was the first Panasonic Lumix G camera to use in-body image stabilisation, but when it met a lens that had mega IOS it would defer to the lens system. The GX8 has in-body stabilisation too, but it combines its strength with that of the lens when the two come together for a more powerful effect.
4K video and Photo modes:
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 allows users to shoot 3840×2160 4K video at 30/24fps at up to 100Mbps, and includes the Cinelike gamma setting of the GH4. In Europe video clips are limited to 29 minutes and 59 seconds – for tax reasons – but other territories can enjoy unlimited shooting.
Panasonic also introduces the 4K Photo modes of the DMC-G7 which provide the means to extract 8-million-pixel still images from especially tailored 4K video footage. The camera has a mode that records the second before and the second after the shutter release is pressed and modes that record continuously on the press/release of the shutter button. 30 frames are recorded per second, and users can scroll through the footage in-camera to select frames that get saved to the card as individual stills.
Panasonic has included a stereo microphone, and has gone back to the smaller 2.5mm microphone socket of the GX7/GH3 instead of including the more universal socket as used on the GH4.
While the resolution of the flip-up electronic viewfinder has decreased slightly from the GX7, the GX8 uses a different type of screen that provides a much bigger view. The whole EVF housing is much bigger too, which makes it more comfortable to use and allows glasses wearers a better view. The 2.36-million-dot panel in the GX8 is an OLED and features a 1.54x magnification, so everything is clearer and using the EVF is a much more pleasant experience.
The rear screen has also switched to OLED, but it features the same 1.04-million-dot resolution as the GX7. What is more important though is that it now comes on a vari-angle hinge that allows viewing from all directions – including from the front.
Panasonic has redesigned the top plate of the camera to make more use of large physical dials, introducing a system that is similar to that on the G7. The twin control dials on the right hand side proved fast and convenient on the G7, and now we have a rather cosmetic exposure compensation dial that offers +/-3EV of movement in 1/3 stops. All other Lumix G cameras offer +/-5EV, and I have been assured this model will too, via the Quick Menu and the touch screen – though the pre-production unit I have at the moment does not even show +/-5EV in the display or allow exposure compensation to be altered in the Quick Menu.
Button lock and customisation:
If pressing rear body buttons accidently is the bane of your life, you will be pleased to know that the whole sequence of buttons on the right of the camera’s rear, that might fall under your gripping hand, can be locked to prevent changes that you didn’t want to take place.
There is a massive amount of button customisation available, that allows users to assign each of the 13 function buttons to operation one of 52 functions. The functions of the main dials can also be switched to suit the way you work.
While the GX7 could still be classed as a small camera, the GX8 is getting into Leica M territory and is a good deal larger than its predecessor. It feels very comfortable in the hand though, and the space on the body makes handling and operation very convenient, but it is sized more like a four thirds camera rather than a micro four thirds camera. It is still smaller than a DSLR and very much lighter than most, and the added size may well suit many former DSLR users.
Here are some shots I’ve taken on a pre-production sample.
Stills from normal shooting modes
Grabs from 4K Photo mode