Panasonic GX8 Conclusion

88mm equivalent (Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 at 44mm), f/8, 1/50s, ISO 100
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Beefing up the GX7: higher-res sensor & faster processor

Following up on the highly successful GX7, the new Panasonic GX8 offers a similar, retro-ish rangefinder design, but with a number of big technological improvements. Sporting a new 20-megapixel sensor, the GX8 is the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds camera currently on the market. Combined with the GH4's Venus Engine image processor, the GX8's image quality capabilities as well as high ISO performance are top-notch for this class of camera.

Very good high ISO performance despite smaller pixel size

Indeed, in both our lab testing and real-world experience, the image quality we saw from the Panasonic GX8 was thoroughly impressive. Despite the smaller pixels with the higher-resolution sensor, high ISO image quality was very good, allowing for larger print sizes at several ISOs compared to the GX7. The fine detail resolving power was also very good, though you can squeeze out a bit more detail using RAW files. The dynamic range performance is very good for this class of camera as well.

70mm equivalent (Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 at 35mm), f/10, 2s, ISO 200
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Very fast AF and great burst performance, but slow buffer clearing

On the performance front, the GX8 generally does very well for a mirrorless camera. Autofocus felt nimble and accurate with both single-shot AF and, despite the lack of on-sensor phase-detect, the GX8 does quite well with continuous AF and tracking for still images. Unlike the GX7, the GX8 makes use of their Depth From Defocus technology originally introduced with the GH4. Though our lab testing didn't show a significant speed boost between a DFD-capable Panasonic lens and a third-party lens, in the real-world, the GX8's autofocus nevertheless felt very capable, quick and precise.

Burst mode speed is very good, with standard "Continuous High Speed" mode using the mechanical shutter roughly meeting Panasonic's 8 frames-per-second specification, though the all-electronic shutter mode actually tested slower. Buffer depths are excellent, limited only by card capacity when shooting highest quality JPEGs. When shooting RAW files, buffer depths tested at 36 frames for RAW and 32 frames for RAW+JPEG, which is quite generous. However, buffer clearing is quite slow, taking 20 to 39 seconds to clear maximum length bursts with a fast UHS-I SD card, and the faster UHS-II interface is not supported.

Dual I.S. steadies up stills, but 4K video misses the fun

One of the Panasonic GX8's biggest new features is its enhanced image stabilization technology called Dual I.S. The GX7 was the first Lumix ILC to have body-based image stabilization, though the majority of Panasonic's lenses feature optical stabilization. With the GX8, however, now these two image stabilization mechanisms can work in conjunction, in a similar fashion to Sony's recent A7-series 5-axis system. Though we don't test I.S. in a lab setting, out in the field, it performed very well, allowing for steady handheld shots at slow shutter speeds.

Like many new Panasonic cameras, the GX8 includes 4K video recording, as well as their array of "4K Photo" modes -- utilizing the high resolution of 4K video for still images. The image quality of 4K footage from the GX8 is very good, with lots of fine details that we've come to expect from Panasonic cameras. However, though we found autofocus to be quite nimble for stills, it felt a bit on the sluggish side for video. The contrast-detect AF system makes it slow to react to moving subjects during video recording, we found. Furthermore, the impressive Dual I.S. system is not fully available for video, though a 5-axis Hybrid I.S. is available, which is a combination the 2-axis lens-based stabilization and a digital stabilization. A further caveat is that, sadly, Hybrid I.S. is only available at 1080p video and lower resolutions; 4K video is limited to just lens-based stabilization.

70mm equivalent (Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 at 35mm), f/11, 1s, ISO 200
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Taking what made the GX7 great and making it even better

Overall, the Panasonic GX8 is one impressive camera. Though the body shape feels slightly larger than average, the build quality and ergonomics are fantastic. The articulated LCD and characteristic tilting EVF really make the GX8 a versatile, easy to use camera regardless of where or how you're positioned. The array of external controls will undoubtedly please advanced users looking for a highly configurable control scheme. It's small and rugged enough to travel practically anywhere, and its speedy performance lets it capture pretty much all but the most challenging, fast-paced subject matter.

Its high-res sensor makes great images with impressive print quality results, and the GX8 is well-suited for the multimedia power user with a nice array of video features. All said and done, with its new sensor, impressive performance, high quality 4K video, as well as excellent, robust wireless connectivity features, the Panasonic GX8 wears a lot of hats, so to speak, and certainly deserves consideration if you're in the market for an enthusiast-level mirrorless camera that can practically do it all. Therefore, it's no surprise that the Panasonic GX8 gets the nod as a Dave's Pick.

Pros & Cons

  • Highest resolution Micro Four Thirds camera yet
  • Impressive high ISO performance despite smaller photosites
  • Very good dynamic range for its class
  • Fast autofocus
  • Low shutter lag
  • Very fast single-shot cycle times
  • Fast ~8fps burst mode with deep buffers
  • Autofocuses in very low light
  • Accurate EVF and monitor
  • Articulated monitor & tilting EVF look great & provide lot of versatility in the field
  • Touchscreen interface makes it quick to adjust AF point
  • Dual I.S. combines lens and sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Great build quality with dust and weather-sealing
  • A bit on the large and hefty side, but a very comfortable design with nice hand grip
  • Lots of external controls including customizable function buttons
  • Dedicated AF mode switch
  • Robust wireless features with full remote control capabilities (Wi-Fi & NFC)
  • 4K UHD video at 30p/24p
  • Ability to extract 8MP stills from 4K video (4K Photo modes)
  • 4:2:2 8-bit HDMI output up to 4K, though no simultaneous internal recording of 4K
  • Unlimited video recording time (for US-based models)
  • Microphone jack, but uses less common 2.5mm plug (doubles as remote jack)
  • No built-in flash
  • Slow buffer clearing (and does not support UHS-II cards)
  • Below average battery life
  • No in-camera battery charging
  • Warm colors with Auto and Incandescent white balance in tungsten lighting
  • Claimed 10fps burst rate with e-shutter was slower than 8fps with mechanical shutter
  • Limited image stabilization with 4K video
  • Contrast-detect AF somewhat sluggish with video
  • No Cinema 4K (4K DCI) option like GH4
  • Video bitrates top-out at 100Mbps (no 200Mbps like GH4)
  • No headphone jack
  • No dedicated drive mode dial

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