- 1Construction, Handling and Ergonomics
- 2Operation and Controls
- 3Viewfinder and Rear Screen
- 4Autofocus and Performance
- 5In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
- 64K Photo Mode and Post Focus
- 8Other Features
- 9Image Quality
- 10Dynamic Range and Color
- 11Detail and Noise
- 12JPEG Quality
- 15Image Samples
In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
The GX8 is the second Panasonic camera to feature in-body image stabilization, after the GX7. Panasonic has improved the stabilizer by allowing it to work in tandem with most optically stabilized Panasonic lenses as well, helping to gain an extra stop or so of handholding. However, like the GX7, I found the IBIS of the GX8 to be a step behind the other systems that feature body-based stabilization. While occasionally I was able to get sharp shots at 3 stops slower than my normal hand-holding shutter speed, I could generally only count on one to two stops of stabilization in my daily shooting, with one stop really being the only level I could consistently count on. Because the IBIS wasn’t consistently stable at the slower speeds, I generally had to treat the stabilizer as if it were only good for one stop. It’s disappointing that Panasonic hasn’t been able to figure this one out, as Olympus continues to improve its amazing IBIS, which now can easily stabilize for 4 stops on bodies like the E-M1 and E-M10 Mark II, and even 5 is possible with the new E-M5 Mark II. Sony’s Mark II bodies in the A7 series all features internal stabilizers that are generally good for around three stops of stabilization.
The only optically stabilized Micro 4/3 lens I have is the tiny 12-32mm f/4-5.6 pancake zoom, which is compatible with the new Dual IS system present on the GX8. Again, I didn’t notice any major improvement vs. the bare lens. The 12-32mm’s optical stabilizer was generally good for 2-3 stops, while the lens in Dual IS mode gains perhaps another half a stop to one stop. It’s not a big difference, and still falls behind what the Olympus bodies can do with IBIS alone. It’s nice that Panasonic continues to work at improving the IBIS system on the GX series, but to date, it’s a largely ineffective stabilizer.
4K Photo Mode and Post Focus
Panasonic cameras led the way with 4K video capabilities long before most makers had the capability to shoot 4K video footage at all. They also lead the way with figuring out how to use that 4K video footage to further stills shooting with 4K photo mode. In 4K photo mode, the camera effectively takes short bursts of 4K video footage, then allows you to select individual frames to export, producing an 8 megapixel final image. 8 megapixels is a far cry from the 20 available on the sensor, but it’s still plenty of resolution to make decent sized prints, and more than enough for most on-screen display.
In 4K photo mode, you select one of three ways to capture the 4K burst. You can have it operate just like any other continuous shooting burst, where the burst starts when you fully depress the shutter and stops when you release it. A second mode allows you press the shutter once to start and again to stop a burst, and a final mode creates a continuous buffer at all times, and when the shutter is depressed, it captures the action starting a second or two BEFORE you pressed the shutter. However you activate it, the idea behind 4K photo mode is having 30 frame per second bursts so that you capture the decisive moment in a still image. Shooting a group of toddlers who never look at the camera at the same time? Use 4K photo mode to get the one frame that has all the children with eyes open looking at you. Capturing a shot that requires precise timing? 4K photo mode can help increase the chances of nailing the perfect moment.
Because of the lower resolution and limitation of electronic shutter and JPEG only output, I wasnt a big user of the 4K photo mode in my time with the camera, but it’s great to have for special situations like the ones I laid out above. The picture above shows the interface after capture. While the photo taken for the above example obviously didn’t need 4K photo mode, I just wanted to show how Panasonic designed the post capture interface. Scrubbing along the image timeline at the bottom goes through the burst frame by frame. Faster scrubs can be done at the top and the buttons on the side also advance a frame at a time. Once you have the frame you like, simply select the ‘OK’ button and the image will export that frame to a JPEG.
Panasonic also uses the GX8’s 4K photo mode to engage in a bit of fun with their Post Focus mode. This mode takes a very short 4K video clip but steps the focus point of the lens through every area in the frame. You can then, on the rear of the camera, choose the frame that has the focus point you most want. The way of navigating can be done in the filmstrip style selection mode, as with regular 4K photo clips, or you can simply tap on the image where you’d like the image to be focused, and the camera will find the frame that was taken at that focus point. Then export it and you’ve got the 8MP JPEG image.
As neat as this feature sounds, in reality, it’s really not going to come in handy very often. Because it’s a clip, it’s not going to be useful for action (a moving subject will be in a different part of the frame at each focus point), it’s lower quality than choosing a focus point in advance and it is limited in the settings available when utilizing the feature. Overall, it’s a neat trick, but I think the potential for great imagery from it is fairly minimal.
Like all current mirrorless cameras, the GX8 has full-featured Wi-Fi capabilities. The GX8 can connect to your mobile device and transfer images, tag images with GPS location or remotely control the camera. Panasonic predominantly does an excellent job with their Wi-Fi system, with a very full feature set that operates smoothly in most circumstances. Where it doesn’t operate smoothly is in setting up the connection at first. There are a multitude of ways to connect your device to the phone, but the sheer number of ways to do it and the less than clear names and instructions makes it often difficult to remember which one you should use in what circumstances. Setting up a direct connection doesn’t work smoothly at all if you choose an image and then select the option to transfer the image to the phone. However, that option is readily available with the WiFi function soft-button on the touch screen, or by going through the menu system. Once you’ve finally connected, however, things are smooth sailing. Images transfer quickly and allow for browsing of the camera from the phone to select images to transfer.
For remote control, Panasonic’s app is one of the best. Almost all manual controls are available right from the app, allowing changes to all exposure controls, focus points, drive mode, white balance, shutter controls and more. It even has a ‘jump’ mode where you can set the camera up and give the phone to a person in the picture. When that person jumps, the camera will take the shot at the apex of the jump. It’s a gimmicky feature, but it works well and could add some fun. The nicest thing about remote control with the GX8 is that the live view from the camera has a decent refresh rate and relatively low lag, especially compared to most of its competitors.
I’ll just mention a few more things the camera has up its sleeve. The GX8 has a built-in intervalometer for creating time-lapse movies, star trails or any other plethora of reasons to capture images over a long period of time, and can then output that timelapse as a 4K video file right from the camera. It also has a ‘starlight AF’ mode, which is supposed to precisely focus on stars for night shooting. I didn’t get a chance to test that mode during my time with the camera, but it is intriguing. Also included are an in-camera HDR mode and, like most cameras, a panorama mode.
The GX8 is certainly a full featured camera, as you’d expect for a high-end mirrorless camera, but how do the images look?
23 thoughts on “Review: Panasonic Lumix GX8”
Thanks for this review. Just one point, the camera definitely DOES have in camera Raw processing, I use it all the time. If you go into the playback menu there is a menu option for ‘Raw processing’ This allows you to do full Raw processing and, on completion, outputs a Jpeg file to the card.
Thanks for the heads up. I wish I had been able to find it. I’ll revise the review later tonight.
It’s great that there can be two systems in micro four thirds that are different enough to suit individual preferences. Regarding adjusting the focus point in the EVF using the rear touch screen – Panasonic let you choose either mode on several of their cameras, so you can change to offset mode using a menu option.
Great review as always. Thanks.
One small correction. The GX8 does let you customise the Quick Menu, in the same way as all other Lumix G cameras I’ve used – see page 68 of the advanced manual. You have to set [Q.MENU] in the [Custom] menu to [CUSTOM] and can then customise it via a button in the lower left of the Quick Menu. I do like to change this to get the settings I want quickly available.
Jordan, Good review, particularly about the ergonomics of the thing, which are in many respects unsatisfactory.
I have analysed why I think this is so in more detail on my Camera Ergonomics blog
If you want to browse through more stuff, I recommend starting with the ‘Discovering Camera Ergonomics’ page.
Disappointing and unprofessional review
So you think “However, like the GX7, I found the IBIS of the GX8 to be a step behind the other systems that feature body-based stabilization.” the Dual IS feature lacks behind other systems but the only lens you have is the “The only optically stabilized Micro 4/3 lens I have is the tiny 12-32mm f/4-5.6 pancake zoom, which is compatible with the new Dual IS system present on the GX8.”
Didn’t you think it would be a good idea to use on the stills flagship Panasonic GX-8 camera, the flagship “pro” level Zoom 12-35mm f/2.8 to test the IBIS?
From my personal experience with this combination the IBIS works amazing and for me much much better with Tele focal lengths as Olympus, because of the stabilized EVF.
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRK6WfCboM8
For stills (!) a much better solution then Olys way!
First of all, my comment about the IBIS being disappointing is in relation to the IBIS by itself. It, like the GX7 was only good for 1-2 stops for almost all my shooting with the camera. This is in comparison to the 3 stops I get regularly with the A7 II and nearly 4 stops I regularly get with the OM-D series. That’s a big difference.
Second, the dual IS feature should enhance optically stabilized lenses similarly regardless of whether it’s the 12-35/2.8 or the 12-32/3.5-5.6. It adds an extra stop or so. Nice, yes…amazing? No. If I owned the 12-35mm, I would have tested it with it. I can’t afford to spend $1,000 to do a slightly more thorough test of one feature.
I’m glad the GX8+OIS lenses works great for you. I find it kind of odd that you think it’s a much better solution than Olympus, however, but if it works well for your shooting, that’s fantastic. You mention that it’s great because of the stabilized EVF: well, the Olympus has a stabilized EVF with ALL lenses, not just ones with OIS (which are stabilized anyway in the viewfinder, even on cameras that have no IBIS). The GX8 does not stabilize the view with non-OIS lenses…Olympus does it even with adapted manual focus lenses.
Jordan, yesterday I tried a couple of shots with the 12-35mm f’/2.8 and Dual IS @35mm and 1/2s (!) shutter speed. 7 out of 10 perfect sharp (with experience in photography of 25 yrs) and as you know 35mm on m4/3 is equivalent 70mm an a full frame sensor. Without stabilization a shutter speed of 1/80s would be necessary, so 1/2s means 5-6 stops of stabilization (1/80 – 1/40 – 1/20 – 1/10 – 1/5 – 1/2).
Of course I would be able to provide pictures with EXIFs, but I’m not able to show you they are shot handheld so it makes unfortunately no sense.
I apologize for my direct way and hope you will on some day retest the GX8 Dual IS feature with a proper lens, the results are really amazing.
I don’t doubt your results. Thing is: it doesn’t add to my data point because everyone’s amount of handshake is different. You may be a much steadier hand-holder than I am. You may have shake only in certain directions that the GX8 corrects better than a more rotational shake that perhaps I have. Besides, it’s only one stop better than what I received. The dual IS helps a lens with OIS…I got 4 stops with the 12-32. Thing is, I got 3 stops with the 12-32 on its own, so the Dual IS only added one stop or so. When I reviewed the 12-35, I consistently got sharp shots at 1/8s at 35mm. A one stop added would bring that to 1/4s, and then you might be a stop or half stop steadier than me.
The fact is, I could only consistently count on the Gx8 to give me an extra stop of handholding, whether on a non OIS lens or adding to an OIS lens. That’s nice, but it’s not a game changer and is behind the other systems. If the camera works great for you, then that’s fantastic. If you are happy with the camera that’s all that matters. It’s a quality device that is capable of creating great images.
Hello Jordan. As usual, a very thorough and informative review with some really gorgeous images. I am a long time follower of your blog and it has been a lot of fun watching your art and talent evolve and improve over the years!
I have used many Micro Four Thirds bodies and lenses since 2012 and I love both Panasonic and Olympus for their unique offerings. I had a GX7 for a bit over a year and loved it! I recently had a GX8 for a few weeks over December and tried to fall in love with it, but I found many of the same personal ergonomic challenges as did you. The location and action of the exposure compensation dial and the AF mode dial/button were especially awkward for my hands. The 2.5 mm mic-in jack and grip were also strange. Despite loving the huge EVF, loving the images coming from the new sensor, and generally finding the camera to be really well built, it ultimately did not feel right in my hands. I ended up finding a new open box GH4 for only a bit more and it fits my hands and my needs perfectly!
I think many people may find the GX8 to fit their needs well. It was just not for me. All the best to you and your family this new year!
Agreed, I love checking this site out, eagerly awaiting each post. I think the GX8 is one of those cameras you either love or hate, but for me it was both. I bought one when they first came out and didn’t take to it at all. I was use to the GH3 grip and physical interface, and quite pleased when I found the GX8 had a fault and had to be returned. Move on a few months and I was keen to give it a try again due to the improvements of the GH3. Ironically the price drop, cashback, strange Amazon kit pricing, and trading in my GH2 + GH3 meant I could buy both the GX8 and GH4 for less than the GX8 at launch. Using it a second time it felt like a different camera and I really came to appreciate things like the tiltable viewfinder and physical exposure compensation dial.
I have different complaints about the ergonomics. The grip is shallow enough that I accidentally activate buttons on the back of the camera when I hold the camera with a more substantial lens mounted. There’s no ridge on the back grip for the heel of your hand, and for me, that means it’s easy to switch into ISO, DISP, and WB settings unintentionally. Needless to say, that’s extremely annoying and can cause lost shots. You can reduce the problem by locking out all but the DISP button, but that also slows access to settings. I’ve partially solved the problem by creating a grip pad that supports the heel of my hand. I’m surprised that more people don’t complain about this issue – go figure.
I find the exposure comp dial to be quite easy to find by feel, and I use it a lot. It’s far easier to find and set by feel than using anonymous buttons that control ISO in combination with a command dial (like my GH3 or my Nikon D800).
Image stabilization is good with OIS lenses that have been updated to the new firmware. Only a few lenses have firmware available to-date. With non-OIS or adapted lenses, stabilization is useful, but not nearly as good as it is in dual mode.
You don’t list the mediocre battery life as a con. I do. And it’s ridiculous for a camera its size to have the memory card access behind the battery compartment door. The microphone jack size is also annoying – and unnecessary.
Liked the extensive and personal review. – many thanks
However, the enormous weight given to IBIS which I use a few times a year surprised me. Also I am not a video man but to just write off the amazing possibilities for capturing exactly the best moment in an action that the 4K photo options offer was difficult to understand, Using it for a static picture of a bottle begs belief!
Totally agree about the handling taking time to get used to, especially coming from the GX7 as I did.
We have the same views on the EVF and screen.
Pity you do not have a larger lens collection – mention it before your next birthday.
Regarding 4K photo – I thought my text covered it well. I did use it for more than a static photo, but the people I used it on while testing did not want their images posted for the world to see. The bottle shot is simply to show the interface for selection.
A really honest review for sure Jordan. I own the GX8 and completely agree with you on the placement of the EC dial. It’s actually quite frustrating and pretty much ensures I hardly ever use it. And what’s extremely annoying is that Panasonic forces that that poorly positioned dial for EC!!! I would love to program (while in Aperture Priority mode) the shutter dial to change my EC. But this isn’t allowed – how frustrating. But overall I do enjoy the camera and the image quality is what I need for both stills and video. Thanks.
I find your blog interesting and you write about much of the equipment I am interested in. I also think you have written a good review of the camera based on your experience and your preferences, so I can not say you are wrong about anything. At the same time I find it somehow too critical about a camera I have bought myself and have fantastic experience with. It has a great feel, build quality, picture quality, responsiveness and autofocus. I find it is the first M43 camera that I would be truly comfertable to use in professional settings. I agree that the handling too a couple of days to get used to, but now I like it better then any, I love the feel of the dials. The IBIS might not be as good as the market leading Olympus, but how often do you really shoot at 1/10 of a second?
Still, nice review and keep up the good work!
“It’s not a rather substantial body”
presumably should read
… *now* …
That notwithstanding an excellent read.
My main complaint about the GX8 in comparison to the GX7 is its increase of size. I love my GX7 which is my minimalist travel companion with an Olympus 12/2 mm and a Panasonic 42,5/1.7 mm. Wow, what a flexible high-class combination in such a small package! I would love to get the improved 20 MP sensor in a compact GX7 sized body. I do not need a fully articulated screen, I am very happy with the tilt touchscreen of the GX7. So why carrying a bigger body? (Maybe that is necessary because of the integration of 4k, but I am not a video guy.)
That is the reason why I stick to the GX7. This is still a wonderful camera, following the idea of Micro FourThirds: beeing small.
Love my GX8 and enjoyed the review despite the quibbles but I wanted to offer a note on post focus. It is the ultimate solution for focus stacking. If you are in low light and want to avoid high ISO/long exp noise and want your whole scene in focus you can shoot wide open at low ISO and stack all the images to provide a completely focused scene with low noise. Subject movement not appreciated. Helicon focus has produced a feature for their software that will take a post focus video capture and stack all the frames for a full focused shot automatically. In my experience with the feature I have found that if subject movement spoils part of the image I can select the single image of the affected area and blend in the static image to the composite image in just that part and recover the area spoiled by movement. Far more than being a toy feature I can imagine many ways that Post Focus will benefit my commercial shooting. The only downside is the 8mpx capture.
Wow, didn’t know that Helicon Focus could do the stacking straight from the video. That’s great. Do you know which license version you need for that feature?
For my use, the way the focus bracketing feature on the Olympus E-M10 II (and added to the E-M5 II and E-M1 in firmware) is much more useful. Still automatically records individual images for focus stacking, but captures full resolution RAW files (or JPEG if you choose). Much higher quality than stitching 8 MP JPEGs. Panasonic’s process is a bit more automatic, but Oly’s isn’t hard to set up.
I have done high res focus bracketing with Panasonic using touch focus on the screen. Not very fast but can do a good job.
Good job, Jordan.
I can see what you eman about the AF/MF switch and its button. What on earth are they doing there? Nicely located in the GX7.
What really, really gets me, though, is the AF/AE lock button n ac little raised island to the right of the thumb. I think the same applies to the PEN F. How to you use that and hold the camera too? You have to change your grip and LOSE your grip! On the GX7, this switch is actually under the thumb, it does NOT get pressed by accident, but it is very convenient to press when you want to use that feature AND retain your grip on the camera.
There have been some complaints about accidentally pressing the WB (in the 4 way) and DISP buttons on the GX8. This also happens on my G6 and has been reported on the G7. I beat it on the G6 by gluing a little bit of plastic stuff on the outside of the 4 way, and some more on the thumb rest point above the switches which lift my thumb above them. A correspondent on the DPReview m43 forum did a very nice job with little piece he moulded out of one of those two ingredient putties.
I have never had this problem with the GX7 and when I look at it, I can see why.
It offers just a few mills more real estate to the right of the 4 way so the lower part of my thumb can rest on that. That area actually curves out just a tiny bit too.
The designers had the chanceto set everything a little to the left because of the flip up screen, rather than the fully articulated screen with its big hinge (twice as bit as that on the PEN F, I notice).
In the same part of the G6 and GX8, the body is already curving away to the front. The DPREview guy’s molding provided those extra few mills needed for the lower part of the thumb to have a gripping action (as does the bit of plastic stuff I have glued to the G6) but without interfering with the controls under it.
But yes, the buttons you mention, and the CRAZY little raised island with the wrongly angled AF/AE lock switch on it.
And after doing so very well with the GX7.