Panasonic GX8 User Review : Panasonic’s Best MFT Effort Yet
The other month I had a couple days in sunny Valencia and whilst there I was fortunate enough to have the use of Panasonic’s new 20mp MFT (Micro Four Third) rangefinder styled Panasonic Lumix GX8, a major update on the previous GX7.
The headline feature of the new GX8 is the brand new 20mp four third sensor (the highest resolution for a four third sensor) but as I discovered this new Sony derived sensor doesn’t really offer any easily apparent “improvement” in resolution over the older 16mp sensor in the GX7 or other MFT models.
No its in the general handling and ergonomics that the larger GX8 shines which together with an improved AF performance all add up to a very well rounded and rewarding camera.
Throw in an excellent EVF (that’s tiltable – very useful) a touch sensitive (ie touch focus) fully articulated screen, 4K video (with the ability to “pull” a 8mp still), a free firmware update that allows post capture focus, Wi-Fi, silent shooting up to 1/16000 and a weather sealed body and your left with what is probably Panasonic best MFT to date.
In my experience the GX8 is easily a match for say the Olympus OMD EM5 II ( a camera I own) and in some key areas it ends up trumping its Olympus rival. In some quarters there have been moans that the GX models have grown in size but I actually preferred the physical set up of the GX8, the increase in body size and adoption of a more substantial hand grip really added to it overall usability.
As for image quality, well from base ISO to ISO 1600 images are crisp, very detailed and when shooting RAW display a reasonable dynamic range. The jump to 20mp hasn’t unduly effected the cameras noise performance although Panasonic’s in-camera noise reduction can be a tad bit aggressive and to my eye Olympus’s 16mp sensor produces a bit less noise and / or Olympus’s noise reduction is more subtle leaving high ISO images with a bit more detail.
So any moans? Very few in fact. Panasonic’s in-body stabilisation is definitely not as effective as Olympus’s hugely impressive 5-axis system and the GX8’s continuous AF performance is not as impressive as some of its rivals but that’s about it, the GX8 is a very accomplished performer.
I used the GX8 with 3 primes, a Panasonic 14mm f2.5, Olympus 17mm f1.8 prime and an Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro primes but many potential owners of Panasonic’s own primes and zooms would perform equally as well on the camera and I’d strongly recommend buying the Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 zoom to us as the standard zoom. Only large ( or relatively large) telephoto’s would likely unbalance the camera’s handling.
So there you have it. The Panasonic GX8 is probably Panasonic’s best MFT effort to date and possibly depending upon ones requirements the best overall MFT camera on the market at the moment (especially if you want to combine stills and video).
Mark Baynham ( December 2015)