First Look: Panasonic Lumix GX8

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Mark has been shooting and posting images made with a Lumix GX8 since the camera was announced. I just got my paws on one and in this first (of at least two) posts about the camera put it through its paces.

I’ve said it here ad nauseam that I love my Lumix GX1. I love its size, handling and the image quality ain’t bad. Oh yea, I know it’s old (in Internet years anyway) being introduced in 2009 and the menus and screen seem old-fashioned but there’s everything I like about its weight (even with my LVF2 finder,) ergonomics and handling that make it my go-to camera when I’m just hanging out. When the GX7 came out, I admit to being initially tempted by it’s IBIS but didn’t like the tilting viewfinder and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a cheapskate.

GX8.GX1

The Panasonic Lumix GX8 looks and feel bigger and heavier than a GX1; It weighs less than six ounces more. It includes Dual IS—the body IS and Lens IS can work at the same time to take advantage of both stabilizer systems not just with wide angle but also telephoto lenses. Some, OK maybe most, Lumix lenses need a firmware update to do this. A list can be found here. But firmware updates on Lumix cameras are painless: You download the updater, copy it onto an SD card, insert in camera, push a few buttons and “Bob’s Your Uncle.”

The GX8 has a new 20.3-megapixel sensor along with a Venus Engine image processor with quad-core CPU that enables shooting at 25,600 ISO or 51,200 in Extended mode. It’s capable of high speed burst shooting at 8 fps (AFS)/6 fps (AFC.) There’s the inevitable 4K video in 3840×2160 at 30p(60Hz) or 24p in MP4 and the GX8 has an external mic jack. There are also three count’em 4K Photo modes; 4K Burst Shooting, 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) and 4K Pre-burst.

lake.GX-

The GX8 has a tilting viewfinder that I still don’t like. I’d rather use the tilting, swiveling 3-inch 1,040K-dot LCD screen, even though the OLED viewfinder is 2,360K-dot resolution with a 100% field of view, mainly because the LCD is much bigger. In fact, I’dswap the tilting viewfinder for a fixed one and use that space for a pop-up flash that I would use.

Lumix.GX8The camera has a Contrast AF System with DFD (Depth From Defocus) and focuses like a sonofagun. Other AF functions include Face/Eye Detection AF, Pinpoint AF, One-shot AF and advanced Low Light AF. Like any new camera, ya go to have Wi-Fi with NFC (Near Field Communication) even if you seldom use it. But like modern cars I wonder if too much technology just adds weight, complexity and cost—a GX8 body is $1,197.99—while sacrificing overall usability.

The camera certainly seems rugged. Its main structure is made from magnesium alloy and features splash/dustproof construction. The GX8 offers a 1/8,000 sec mechanical shutter speed and can process RAW images in camera although I’d just as soon do it in Adobe ACR. And it has all of the features recent Lumix cameras offer including Focus Peaking, Silent Mode and Time Lapse.

In the usability sweepstakes, GX8 comes with plasticky, concentric exposure mode/exposure compensation dials, which lets users set -5 to +5 stops. You can change settings such as aperture and shutter speed with the front/rear dials and customize the function buttons. Otherwise it’s the same Lumix GX that we all love—or not.

Look for a field test soon and maybe another post on Joe Farace Shoots Cars when I take the GX8 to a car show.