Panasonic G100 Review
|Full model name:||Panasonic Lumix DC-G100|
(17.3mm x 13.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||200 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/16000 - 60 sec|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
4.6 x 3.2 x 2.1 in.
(116 x 83 x 54 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Panasonic G100 specifications|
Panasonic G100 Review -- Hands-On Preview
Table of Contents
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Cameras come in all shapes and sizes, from burly, full-frame DSLRs to pocketable point-and-shoots -- and yes, even super-slim smartphones. For more than a decade now, photo-oriented cameras have increasingly become popular choices for creators wanting to capture not only stills but also videos. One of the companies to break out and really embrace the hybrid nature of still cameras for both photo and video duties has been Panasonic. With the company's long history in the video camera market as well as being one of the pioneers of the Micro Four Thirds system, it's easy to see why. In particular, Panasonic's long-running GH-series of mirrorless cameras have made a huge splash in the video space, not only for independent and even casual video creators but also in higher-end video projects and the cinema world. However, compared to a modern smartphone, a device that can record pretty decent, if not quite impressive, photos and videos and is something that's extremely portable and easy to use, a camera like a Panasonic GH5 is not only extremely complex but also bulkier, heavier and relatively expensive.
What if you're a casual creator or perhaps a YouTuber, looking for a more video-centric camera that goes beyond the limitations of a smartphone or tiny-sensor point-and-shoot camera and at the same time is also compact, lightweight and easy to use? Well, Panasonic now has the solution: The Lumix G100.
Though the model name might suggest that the Panasonic G100 is merely the successor to the earlier Lumix G95, that is not the case; the new G100 (also called G110 outside the US) is an all-new model. While it's not necessarily aimed at just entry-level users, the G100 is, nevertheless, designed to address the needs of hobbyist vloggers and bloggers who are looking to move up from the limitations of a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. Though it leans more into the video space than a typical MFT mirrorless camera, the new Lumix G100 offers a versatile array of features for video recording as well as still photography. And while the timing doesn't necessarily match, as the G100 was likely in development for quite some time, the Lumix G100 is, in many ways, Panasonic's answer to Sony's recently released ZV-1 video-centric RX100 camera.
Let's dive in to see just this new Panasonic "blogging and vlogging" camera has to offer...
Key Features & Specs
- 20.3 MOS Four Thirds image sensor without Optical Low-Pass Filter
- DFD-based contrast-detection AF system
- 5-axis Hybrid I.S (O.I.S + Electronic Image Stabilization)
- 4K UHD video up to 30p
- Pre-installed V-LogL
- "Computational Audio" features powered by OZO Audio from Nokia
- Video Selfie mode
- Recording UI improvements
- Brighter, higher-quality EVF and LCD screens
- 3680K-dot electronic viewfinder
- 1840K-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD
- Compact, lightweight design
- USB in-camera charging
- Tripod Grip Handle accessory
Design and Build Quality
The design and styling of the new Panasonic G100 are a bit different than the rest of the Lumix Micro Four Thirds lineup. The camera's overall footprint is very compact, reminiscent of other slim, compact Lumix cameras like the GF8 and GX85. However, the camera has more of a classic, SLR-style design, including a centered, built-in EVF, much like many of Panasonic's larger Micro Four Thirds cameras. In fact, in many ways, the Panasonic G100 looks quite similar to the Canon EOS M50, a camera that Panasonic is pitting as a direct competitor. The styling, of course, is slightly different, with the G100 featuring more flat surfaces and sharper lines and edges compared to the more contoured and curvy EOS M50.
The Canon EOS M50
We've only just begun reviewing the G100, but from an initial hands-on with the camera, the new G100 is, indeed, very compact and very lightweight. While the construction feels to be primarily comprised of polycarbonate plastic rather than the rugged mag-alloy body of higher-end Lumix cameras, the svelte G100 nevertheless feels very sturdy in the hand. It doesn't feel flimsy or have that "cheap plastic feel" whatsoever. In-use, the camera feels very intuitive and, as we expected, very similar and familiar to other Panasonic Lumix cameras we've shot and reviewed. The camera is very straightforward to operate, with easy to use, well-organized menus.
A tour around the G100
Looking at the front of the camera, the G100 is fairly spartan when it comes to both design and features. It's a fairly minimalist look, with no additional front-facing command dials or buttons, aside from the lens mount release button. However, there is a small, contoured handgrip, giving the camera a bit more security in the hand both for regular shooting and selfie- and vlogging-style operation. Even though it's a subtle handgrip, and not nearly as full-sized as the one on the G95 or GH-series, it nonetheless makes the camera much easier to hold and more comfortable than super-slim, flat cameras without any grip at all.
|The Panasonic G100 (left) vs. the Panasonic G95 (right)|
Flipping around to the rear of the camera, we again see a surprisingly sparse design, with very few buttons and dials. All of the rear-facing controls are clustered over on the right side of the camera near the 4-way direction control wheel. The rear controls are very similar, if not nearly identical, to other ultra-compact Panasonic Lumix cameras, like the GF8 and GX85. The G100 features a small rotating command dial that surrounds a 4-way direction button cluster with various preset settings shortcuts, such as ISO, White Balance and AF point settings. Above the small grouping of controls sits a small thumb-grip protrusion.
The remaining area on the back of the camera is dominated by the large 3-inch articulated touchscreen display and big, centrally-mounted EVF. Panasonic's updated both the EVF and rear LCD on the G100 for better usability and performance in various shooting situations compared to other Lumix models, such as the G95. For both screens, Panasonic's added brighter displays, with the EVF capable of being up to 2.8x brighter than the EVF of the G95. The G100 EVF is also higher-res, using a similar 3860K-dot electronic viewfinder display as in the high-end G9 camera. However, unlike the G9's OLED EVF, the G100 uses an LCD panel. However, it does not use a field-sequential LCD panel, a display that can be prone to distracting RGB tearing artifacts. Additionally, the G100's EVF offers approximately 100% field of view, provides 0.73x magnification and a 20mm eye point.
Similarly, the G100's rear LCD touchscreen is also brighter, up to 1.4x brighter than the rear LCD on the G95, which makes it easier to see and use in brighter, sunnier outdoor conditions. The vary-angle LCD screen design allows for a wide range of positions, including a completely forward-facing position for easier single-person operation for both self portraits and vlog-style or single-operator video recording.
Moving up to the top of the camera, we now finally see where the rest of the camera's controls and buttons have been hiding! In addition to the standard PASM mode dial and on/off switch, there's a total of three dedicated Function buttons, as well as a large, bright red video recording button -- similar to the GH5S. There's, of course, also a typical shutter release button, one that's surrounded by the primary sub-control dial. So while the rear of the camera is somewhat sparse in therms of controls, the G100 is still quite well-equipped with customizable function buttons and controls, allowing for a fair amount of customization to fit your needs and shooting style. There is one rear Function button (Fn2) that defaults to the Quick Menu/Return or the Delete button while in Playback mode, while the remaining three Fn buttons are placed on the top (each with their own pre-assigned functions). Elsewhere on the top of the camera, the G100 features a pop-up flash as well as a standard hot shoe connection.
Improved onboard mics, powered by Nokia
When it comes to recording audio, most onboard microphones on digital cameras tend to do a pretty lousy job capturing clear, high-quality audio. Cameras usually have simple, tiny microphones that pick up not only the subject's audio but also all the other noises in the background as well as button presses and other operating noises. The G100 aims to do better.
In addition to offering a standard 3.5mm mic input jack, the onboard microphones on the G100 are a bit more sophisticated than in previous Lumix cameras. On the top of the camera, the G100 features not only left and right stereo mics, placed on either side of the EVF/flash housing, but there's also a third microphone placed towards the back of the camera. The G100 incorporates an audio technology called OZO Audio, developed by and licensed from Nokia. This "computational audio" processing technology allows the onboard mics to pickup sound in a different spatial areas depending the location or shooting scenario.
The "Surround" audio mode is designed for recording audio from all around the camera, such as sporting events or outdoor nature scenes; the mics pick up audio in all directions. The "Front" mode, as the name suggest, biases the audio spatial pickup range to the subjects/scenes in front of the camera. As we understand it, the audio processing and the rear mic block or counteract rearward-facing audio sources in order to capture clearing audio from subjects in front of the camera. Then, there's a "Back" audio mode, which as one might expect, does the opposite of "Front" mode; This rear-facing microphone mode is designed for things like narration, where you'd want to essentially record a voiceover audio track against the scenes you're filming.
Image courtesy of Panasonic. G100 shown here with optional DMW-SHGR1 Tripod Grip accessory.
Alongside these "standard" directional audio modes, Panasonic added their own flare to the OZO Audio technology, incorporating their face-detection system, to include a subject-tracking-based audio pickup range mode. With the "Tracking" audio mode, the camera will shift and adjust the directionality of the microphone pickup pattern depending on where in the scene a face is detected, or multiple faces. If a single face is detected, the camera will track the face across the frame and the microphones will similarly follow along, and in theory more clearly and directionally pick up audio from that person. If the camera's face detection recognizes multiple faces in a scene, such as a wide group shot, the audio direction mode will shift to a full frontwards-facing audio pickup range.
Image Quality & Shooting Features
From a pure imaging pipeline perspective, the new Panasonic G100 shares a lot of similarities with other Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras. For starters, the camera uses the same, or similar, 20.3-megapixel MOS Four Thirds image sensor as in the G95, GX9 and numerous other Lumix models, and also lacks an optical low-pass filter like this other stills-centric cameras for improved fine-detail resolving power. As with other Lumix cameras, the G100 is powered by a Venus Engine image processor, however Panasonic doesn't get specific about what generation processor is inside the G100 or if it shares the same version of Venus Engine as other Lumix modes. Nonetheless, the G100 offers the same ISO sensitivity range as the G95, with a native range of ISO 200 - 25,600 and an expandable Low ISO of 100.
Despite being more of a video-focused hybrid mirrorless camera, the Panasonic G100, nevertheless, includes a similarly full-featured array of photo modes and features as with other Lumix cameras. The camera offers RAW and JPEG image capture, along with in-camera raw processing and Clear Retouch functions that allow you to clone/remove objects from photos. There's also a full complement of creative filters and scene modes, including High Key, Low Key, Cross Process and Monochrome filters. Some filter modes, such as Rough Monochrome, Silky Monochrome, Soft Focus, Star Filter and Sunshine, are not available in video mode and are photo-only.
Thanks to the speedy Venus Engine processor, the G100, much like the vast majority of modern Lumix cameras, offers the standard array of 4K PHOTO shooting modes, including fast 30fps image capture and the ability to swipe through a range of captured 4K (8MP) frames and save individual still photos in-camera.
Thanks to the front-facing screen, the G100 also offers a host of self-portrait features, which Panasonic calls "Self Shot Mode." In addition to 4K PHOTO support when in "selfie mode," the G100 also offers an adjustable Soft Skin mode or filter for smoothing the appearance of skin, various filter effects, the ability to increase the defocused look of the background, an adjustable face-slimming filter, a self-timer, and a hands-free automatic shutter mode.
Plenty of video modes for casual creators as well as more advanced users
On the video side of things, the Lumix G100 is, as expected, fairly well-stocked with features. For starters, the G100 offers 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video at both 30p and 24p (25p for PAL), as well as Full HD video at up to 60fps. All video modes use the fairly lightweight and cross-compatible MP4 file format. 4K resolution is offered at a 100Mbps bitrate for all framerates, while Full HD is recording up to 28Mbps for 60p (30p is 20Mbps; 24p is 24Mbps). The camera also offers 720p HD video at 30/25p with a 10Mbps bitrate.
Unlike higher-end cameras, like the Panasonic GH5, there are continuous video recording time limits with the G100. For 4K shooting, recording is limited to just 10 minutes of continuous shooting, and 1080p60 (50p) video stops after 20 minutes. Other recording modes, such as 1080p30 and 24p will continue to record up to the mode common 29:59 time limit.
The G100 also offers additional video shooting modes; a "Slow" shooting mode offers easy in-camera slow-motion recording, capturing Full HD video at up to 120fps and then outputting a slowed-down video by either a 4x or 2x factor. On the other end, there's a "Quick" mode, which captures and records sped-up video. Offering either a 2x, 4x or 8x multiplier, this fast-recording mode exaggerates action and can be used for "quick and dirty" timelapse-style shots. On previous Panasonic cameras, the Slow & Quick video modes did not offer autofocusing, but AF is now possible here with the G100.
Furthermore, the G100 offers in-camera time-lapse recording at 4Kp30 (25p) as well as 4Kp30 (25p) stop motion animation videos.
For more advanced video creators looking for improved video file editing flexibility, the G100 comes with V-LogL picture profile pre-installed. This flatter image profile allows for much wider dynamic range (up to 12 stops), and gives those creators more control over exposure adjustments and color grading in post-production.
Image courtesy of Panasonic. G100 shown here with optional DMW-SHGR1 Tripod Grip accessory.
Given the emphasis on vlogging with the G100, in particular self-recording vlogging, the camera is designed with a number of amenities to help making this style of video shooting much easier. When powered on and you flip the screen forward, the camera can automatically switch into "Video Selfie Mode." The camera automatically switches to Face Detection AF/AE and the audio recording mode changes to Auto Sound Pickup Range -- and with Face Detection enabled, the audio recording mode will track the user's face for better audio recording quality. Additionally, there is a new "Clear Background" mode that will allow you to adjust the depth of field for either a shallower DoF with a blurrier background effect or a deep depth of field with both the foreground and background in sharper focus. According to Panasonic, the blurring background effect here is more than a simple, artificial blurring effect, as it utilizes their Depth From Defocus technology to produce a more natural-looking blurring.
The G100 also offers a 5-axis hybrid image stabilization system that combines optical image stabilization in the lens with electronic (digital) image stabilization for smoother handheld video recording and steady photo shooting. Unlike larger Lumix cameras, such as the GH5 and G95 that offer in-body image stabilization (and Dual I.S. with paired O.I.S. lenses), the svelte G100 is more limited on size and weight and therefore lacks the room for an IBIS assembly. However, the electronic image stabilization incorporates the same gyro sensors as their Dual I.S. system (there's a gyro sensor in the camera body as well as the gyro sensors in the O.I.S. lenses), and as such the camera can detect different types of camera shake. Given the use of electronic image stabilization, there is some inevitable cropping for video recording, though Panasonic does not state any crop factors for the various video resolutions. Additionally, Panasonic does not indicate the number of stops of stabilization correction. In 1080p and 720p video modes, the stabilization is a 5-axis I.S. system, while 4K video is limited to 4-axis I.S. compensation.
Additional video amenities include on-screen audio recording levels and adjustable audio levels in 19 levels (-12dB to +6dB), as well as Auto and Mute options. Furthermore, there's an updated UI for video recording; rather than a small red "dot" on the screen to indicate video recording, the camera now displays a prominent red border around the entire LCD screen, making it easier to see that you're recording. The camera also features frame marker overlays depending on the selected aspect ratio -- the camera offers a number of options for aspect ratio, including cinema-specific ones such as 2.39:1 CinemaScope as well as Social Media-friendly 1:1 or vertical 9:16 ratios for platforms like Instagram. And speaking of vertical, the G100 will detect when its placed in a vertical orientation and supports recording vertical video (and video files are rotated automatically when viewed on smartphones).
Autofocus & Performance
When it comes to autofocus, the Panasonic G100 is quite similar to to the Lumix cameras. The AF system is based, once again, around a contrast-detection AF system backed or assisted by Panasonic's Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology. The DFD system uses a database of lens characteristics and information to read spatial information of a scene, allowing for high-speed, higher-precision AF compared to standard CDAF focusing systems. Additionally, the G100 offers advanced low-light focusing, rated down to -4EVs, and it also supports Starlight AF, meaning the camera will be able to autofocus on the night sky with just stars.
As with other Lumix cameras, the G100 offers a 49-area AF system with a variety of AF point/area arrangements, including 1-area with scalable sizing, Pinpoint AF mode as well as a customizable AF area mode and an all-area AF mode. Additionally, the G100 offers Face and Eye-detection AF, as well as Post Focus and Focus Stacking modes. For manual focusing, the G100 supports focus peaking, AF+MF (AF with manual focus override), MF Guide, and Touch MF Assist (lets you tap the screen to bring up a magnified view to check focus).
Using the touchscreen LCD, the G100 offers various Touch AF modes, including Touch AF and Touch AF/AE, Touch Shutter and Touch Pad AF (lets you use the touchscreen to move the AF point around while shooting through the EVF).
In terms of performance features, the G100 offers fast burst shooting modes, but it's clearly not designed to be a super-robust action-shooting camera. Of course, with 4K PHOTO modes the G100 can capture lower-resolution 8MP stills at 30fps. For full-resolution photo shooting, the G100 is fairly tame with its continuous shooting rates, though with the electronic shutter it can still shoot up to a respectable 10fps with either AF-S or AF-C. Using the Electronic Front Curtain (there's is no mechanical shutter mode), the fastest burst rate is just 6fps with both AF-S and AF-C. These fastest burst modes do not offer a live view of the scene you're shooting; to shoot continuously with Live View, the fastest burst drops down to just 4fps in either focusing mode or shutter mode. Buffer depth, meanwhile, is fairly decent with JPEGs, with the camera rated to "over 480 images" when using a UHS I Speed Class 3 SD card. RAW and RAW+JPEG modes offer a much more limited buffer capacity, with Panasonic specs stating "more than 20 images" before the continuous burst rate begins to slow down.
Ports, Battery & Connectivity
The Panasonic G100 features a small assortment of physical/wired connectivity options, including the aforementioned 3.5mm headphone jack located on the left side of the camera. Despite being a video-centric camera, the G100 does not, unfortunately, include a headphone jack. The hotshoe on top of the camera offers support for the Panasonic DMW-MS2 stereo shotgun microphone.
Over on the right side of the camera, there's a micro-HDMI (Type D) port and a USB 2.0 Micro-B port that supports in-camera battery charging. The G100 does support Clean HDMI out up to 4K 24/25p resolutions and stereo audio.
The camera also offers wireless connectivity with Bluetooth v4.2 (Bluetooth Low Energy) and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi. The Bluetooth connectivity allows for easy pairing to a smartphone device, and the G100 supports Panasonic's newer Lumix Sync App for wireless image and video transfer. The G100 includes a dedicated Smartphone Transfer button on the top (the Fn4 button); switch into playback mode, press Fn4, and quickly select and transfer images to your pre-paired smartphone. The wireless transfer system in the G100 supports various video, including Time Lapse video and Slow & Quick video files. Larger videos, such as 4K video and V-LogL footage, will need to be transferred manually via the SD/Card Reader.
In terms of battery life, the Panasonic G100 is CIPA-rated for 270 images per charge via the rear display, or 250 shots/charge with the EVF. In Power Save LVF mode, the camera is stated to offer up to 900 shots per charge. For video recording, the camera is rated for around 80 minutes of 4K recording with the rear monitor or 70 min with the EVF (using the 12-32mm lens).
Pricing & Availability
The Panasonic G100 is scheduled to go on sale at the end of July. In the US market, the G100 will be sold in a kit with the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G VARIO lens, with an estimated retail price of $749.99. Additionally, a kit that includes the DMW-SHGR1 Tripod Grip will be sold for $799.99. Panasonic has stated that there will also be a $50 promotional discount for pre-orders on both the camera + lens kit and the camera + lens + tripod grip kit.
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