First Look

Bigger, better GX8 also feels just great

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8's top-button layout, with two command dials, makes the changing of settings quick and easy.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8's top-button layout, with two command dials, makes the changing of settings quick and easy.PHOTO: PANASONIC

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 is a solidly built upgrade from the GX7, minus the built-in flash

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 ($1,699 with H-FS1442A kit lens), available next month) is the latest Micro Four Thirds (MFT) interchangeable mirrorless camera for prosumers and serious amateurs.

IMAGE SENSOR

It is the first mirrorless camera to have an MFT image sensor of over 20 megapixels. Its new 20.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor allows for higher resolution, wider dynamic range and sensitivity of up to ISO 25,600 for still pictures.

It can shoot at up to eight frames per second (fps) for still pictures, and delivers 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) videos at 30fps. Users can also grab an eight-megapixel still image from a 4K video file.

DUAL I.S.

When you hold the camera, its solid build gives you plenty of confidence that it can withstand knocks.

A highlight is its new dual image stabiliser, or Dual IS - a first in the Lumix range of mirrorless cameras.

As its name implies, Dual IS combines the image stabilisers on both the lens and camera body to reduce camera shake.

Panasonic claims that Dual IS works even when you are using telephoto lenses, whereby even tiny movements can mar image quality.

Most of the Lumix G Vario lenses will support this feature through firmware updates. But some lenses, such as the original 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6, and 100-300mm f/4-5.6, are not supported.

DESIGN AND BUILD

The GX series has always taken its design inspiration from vintage rangefinder cameras.

The GX8 is no different. It comes in all-black, as well as a silver-and-black model. I tried the all-black model, a colour scheme suited to street shooting.

The new camera is bigger (by 36 per cent in volume) and 33g heavier than its predecessor, the GX7. The magnesium alloy chassis is supposed to be splash- and dust-proof.

When you hold the camera, its solid build gives you plenty of confidence that it can withstand knocks.

The front rubberised grip and rear thumb rest of the GX7 are even more prominent and comfortable with the GX8. Just holding the camera was a delight.

On the downside, the GX8 does not have a built-in flash - unlike its predecessor - despite its weight and size gain.

CONTROLS AND BUTTON LAYOUT

The GX7 has almost a straight line top profile when seen from the front. The GX8's top profile is broken up by dials and buttons.

At the top right is the mode dial, which sits on top of the exposure compensation dial. Next to them is the command dial and power switch. At the top of the grip is a second command dial. This dial also houses the shutter release button.

This layout of buttons makes the changing of settings quick and easy. For example, you can change the aperture and shutter speed in manual mode quickly, using the two command dials with your index finger and thumb, and then press the shutter release button to capture that decisive moment.

At the rear are many buttons for one-touch access to functions like ISO, autofocusing points, white balance and drive mode.

EVF AND DISPLAY

The built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) gets both a downgrade and an upgrade. It has lower resolution than the GX7, but has a sharper OLED panel.

It also provides a higher magnification while maintaining the 100 per cent field of view. The EVF can be tilted up to 90 degrees.

Like the GX7, the GX8 has a three-inch 1.04 million-dot touchscreen. The newer model sports an OLED screen though, which provides better clarity.

It also has better screen articulation. The GX7's screen can be tilted downwards by only 45 degrees and upwards by 80 degrees. The GX8's screen gets a vari-angle hinge that can be rotated for all sorts of interesting angles.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'Bigger, better GX8 also feels just great'. Print Edition | Subscribe