Panasonic announces a new camera that might make m4:3 users upgrade. It looks great on paper, with one exception.....

What's not to like about the latest announcement from Panasonic? It popped up on my radar this morning because the announcement is all over the web. Here's the main stuff we like: The body style is super groovy. Very retro and aimed at photographers who are nostalgic for the cool, self contained, rangefinder style cameras of the 1960's and 1970's. The EVF is one of the new, high density internal screens that provides something like 2.6 million pixels to provide a detailed finder image. The camera  features Panasonic's respected 4K capabilities and it should be a very decent video camera. The thing that most people will be excited by is that it's the first micro four thirds camera to feature a sensor that provides more than 16 million pixels. Thom Hogan reminds us that the scale up from 16 to 20 million pixels only gives us 13% more resolution. Pretty sure that's not going to make a huge difference but then again, you may be one of those shooters who needs every last pixel for some giant prints.

The camera is a bit bigger and bit heavier than its predecessor, the GX-7, but I think that's a good thing on both counts; more space to lay out buttons and give our fingers a bit of relief space and the extra weight will probably mean steadier shooting.

The camera has built-in image stabilization but it goes one step further (when using Panasonic lenses that are so endowed) by using the I.S. in the lenses at the same time. Apparently the combined stabilization from both body and lens makes for a steadier image than either method used individually. I can only imagine that combining the two is a direct result of the inclusion of a much faster processor that can do the math required to optimize both sets of moving parts in tandem. Seem Moore's Law keeps improving cameras in a way that is different than just stuffing more pixels on a die.

So, better finder, better I.S., 4K video, more resolution (and presumably the same or lower noise!) and better handling all add up to a mature and potentially delightful new imaging product. What about my caveat in the headline?

It's not really that big of a deal but when I read through the specs I see that, while the camera has a port for the use of external microphones there is no port for headphones with which to monitor said external microphones. That instantly relegates the GX-8 to Fun secondary art camera for me. But the omission isn't a big deal if you never really intend to do much video or if you are happy shooting double sound with an external recorder instead of using audio that comes directly into the camera.

I think the camera is quite handsome and I'd like to have one in the silver finish. It looks very much like the Company's L1 (See DPR for illustration and review), digital 4:3 camera from about eight years ago. I handled that camera and liked its ergonomics as well.

If one were transitioning from a massive DSLR this might make a good choice for a first, higher end, foray into micro four thirds, but the equation is much different if you already own current Olympus products. Switching to the GX-8 as the primary camera would be scary since Olympus must surely have something new up their sleeves such as a revision/upgrade of the OMD EM-1. Remember that the launch of that camera happened during the October Photo Expo show nearly two years ago. Seems like it's just about time for something new to come out.

I'm hesitant to buy a GX-8 until I see if Olympus leapfrogs them again with something special. Choices, choices.

I wonder who will be pre-ordering this one? 


Gato said...

No pre-order, but I'll be closely watching the early reviews and user reports.

In-body stabilization is big for me as I'm getting a lot of use out of the Sigma prime trio - and still using the old Olympus 14-54 zoom. I'd been hoping for 24MP, but a 25 percent increase should give a small but visible improvement. I expect there is some basis for the claims about ISO and dynamic range, though also the usual amount of promotional hyperbole.

I also really like the combination of a tilt-up EVF with and articulated LCD. This combination could really work for me.

To me the mic jack is essential, but I can live without the headphone jack for now.

Nigel said...

I would be if I weren't saving up for the new Sony - got way too many old Taks I want to try out on the first full frame camera I've ever been tempted to buy....
So the excellent GX7 will have to soldier on for a bit.

DrMickey said...

Kirk, I won't pre-order the GX8 (or any other imaging equipment) but I will replace my GX7 with the GX8 at some point. Usually Panasonic offers a lower price or a 2-lens discount and I am very interested in their newly announced 100-400mm.

Unknown said...

I own a GX7 and love the tilt-up EVF. I don't like the limited movements of the LCD panel on the back of the GX7, though. I prefer the articulated screen of the G3, which I owned prior to the GX7. Having both the tilt-up EVF and the articulated LCD on the GX8 will be great for me also.

I pre-ordered today (the all-black body).

Also, I think a bigger body will be nicer for the Leica 42.5 mm f/1.2. On the GX7, that lens just overpowers the small body. Plus, with the two forms of image stabilization working in conjunction, I may not use my tripod as much.

tnargs said...

What stops them from streaming the audio to their wifi apps on your smartphone in your pocket? Then you hear the audio through earphones/headphones on your phone. That way you can monitor sound (and video if you like) without being tethered to the camera. And the GX8 wouldn't need a headphone port.

Anonymous said...

@tnargs : Indeed you may have identified a way to live- monitor audio. It could be included in Panasonic's "Real Time Broadcasting" feature in their Remote App.
BTW, the Panasonic UK website is much more informative and 'creative' than the USA site.

Antony J. Shepherd said...

"while the camera has a port for the use of external microphones there is no port for headphones with which to monitor said external microphones. That instantly relegates the GX-8 to Fun secondary art camera for me."

Usually missing features like that just mean they want to differentiate this camera from the next model up. Maybe there's a GH5 in the works and that would have the headphone port.

I had been thinking about a GX7 for myself, but now I might wait a bit longer and see if this one takes a price drop by the end of the year.

Dave said...

No headphone jack and the microphone is 2.5mm. Stupid decision at this price point. According to The Camera Store guys the stabilization doesn't work for video. Panasonic persists in not allowing auto ISO in manual mode. This one will never be on my shopping list. It costs more than a Sony APS-C mirrorless, so if the extra 4 megapixels were that important I'd just jump to an A6000 or wait for the next version of it with 4K video.

Panny makes great stuff but handicaps it to protect the GH4. Reminds me of GM in the 60's when no car could have an engine larger than the Corvette. Stupid.