Panasonic GX8 Hands-On Walkaround

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By and large, the new Panasonic GX8 is not all that dissimilar to the earlier GX7, as it maintains the overall rangefinder-esque design with top-left EVF. It is, however, noticeably larger than the earlier model as seen in the comparison image below.

The GX8's dimensions are 5.2 x 3.1 x 2.5 inches (133 x 78 x 64 mm) versus 4.8 x 2.8 x 2.1 inches (123 x 71 x 55 mm) for the GX7. Body-only weight with card and battery is naturally also greater, at 17.2 ounces or 487 grams versus 14.2 ounces or 402 grams.

Bigger body, beefier construction

Everything about the GX8 is bigger and better, in a sense, compared to the GX7: the EVF is substantially larger and higher-resolution with a 2360K-dot OLED screen providing a 0.77x magnification over the 0.7x field-sequential LCD viewfinder in the earlier model; the rear display is now a fully articulated as opposed to the simpler tilting design; and the handgrip is deeper with a repositioned shutter release button and front control dial.

The GX8 is constructed with a magnesium-alloy frame, just like the GX7, that's both durable and lightweight. New for this model, however, is dust- and splash-proof construction. According to Panasonic, the GX8's weather-sealing is on-par with that of the GH4. While Panasonic doesn't go as far as saying it'll stand up to a torrential downpour, the new GX8 should be able to withstand inclement weather much more comfortably than the earlier GX7.

The entire top deck control cluster has been redesigned on the GX8. In addition to the more forward-facing shutter button with surrounding front control dial, the rear control dial has been moved up from the thumbrest area to the top deck as well. There's a slight contour and chamfered edge, which allows your thumb to easily operate the rear dial.

New design looks and feels great, with a couple caveats

We found the camera to be quite comfortable for the most part and indeed noticeably larger and thicker-feeling than the original GX7. The deeper handgrip design is nice and makes for a more secure grip on the body. We did come across one small caveat that we felt worth mentioning. On the GX7, the rear thumb control dial was nearly flush with the back surface of the camera and was positioned right next to your thumb for ease of use. On the GX8, however, the repositioned rear dial is much higher up on the camera body and a bit farther forward onto the center of the camera. We felt that we had to reach a little further with our thumb or at least reposition our hand slightly to get our thumb in place over the thumbrest protrusion. This is far from a deal-breaker in our eyes, but those with smaller hands at least may want to keep this in mind.

The mode dial has been moved off the far corner and toward the center of the camera and now sits atop a large dedicated exposure compensation dial, itself a new feature on the GX8.

Speaking of the dedicated exposure compensation dial, we should note that these product images are of a pre-production model with production firmware installed. The only difference is the orientation of the EV values on the exposure compensation dial, with positive numbering towards the front of the camera and negative towards the back, versus the other way around on our sample. (Image at left shows production orientation.)

Interestingly, and perhaps to the dismay of many, Panasonic has opted for this dual mode dial and exposure compensation dial cluster instead of a built-in pop-up flash. The GX8 still maintains its hot-shoe, though, so those with an external flash unit will be good to go. Note however that an external flash unit is not included in the standard body-only bundle.

Dual Operation Switch offers vast customization

Like we saw on the G7, the thumb or rear control dial surrounds a new Dual Operation Switch. This "switch," which is technically a button, is fully customizable to perform a host of secondary mode and settings adjustments. By default, the rear control dial has a dedicated set of functions depending on the shooting mode, such as aperture or shutter speed adjustments. With a quick press of the Dual Operation Switch, you can quickly and temporarily adjust things like ISO, white balance, drive mode, or Photo Style. Then, simply press the button again, or give the shutter release a quick half-press, and the control dials return to their default functions.

Panasonic has also added a dedicated customizable Function button to the top deck controls, as well as moving the video recording start/stop button over to the far right edge of the top deck.

Rear controls are familiar territory

Moving down to the rear of the camera, the control layout on the right-hand side is largely unchanged compared to the GX7 with the same basic button cluster. Of course, the rear control dial is no longer on the back side of the camera, and instead, the dedicated AF/AE Lock button has been moved over into its place near the thumbrest. The thumbrest itself has been beefed up a bit and protrudes more, which gives your hand a slightly more substantial hold.

Additionally, the thin AF/MF switch that surrounded the AF/AE Lock button on the GX7 has been moved over to below the hot-shoe and resembles more closely the three-way focus mode switch from the GH4. Within this switch, the GX8 offers another customizable Function button.

Get the view from all angles with a big EVF and vari-angle screen

The big new features on the back of the GX8 are, of course, the EVF and rear screen. The larger electronic viewfinder maintains its full 90°-tiltable design and 100% coverage, but that's where the similarities end. Sharing the same 2,360K-dot resolution OLED display as the G7, the GX8's EVF improves upon the G7X (and G7) by providing a much larger image with 0.77x magnification over the 0.7x offered previously, and won't suffer from the reduced resolution and rainbow tearing effect associated with field-sequential LCDs like the one used in the G7X. Also, the eyepoint distance -- that is, how far away from the eyepiece lens you can still see the entire viewfinder image -- is increased to 21mm compared to 17.5mm, which helps improve visibility for those with glasses. The included eyecup itself is also larger to help block stray light, but Panasonic also offers an even larger, deeper replacement eyecup for even further isolation and easier visibility in bright conditions.

The rear screen on the GX8 maintains the same 1,040K-dot resolution, but the screen itself is now an OLED display like the EVF. Also providing 100% coverage in record mode, the capacitive touchscreen is now a fully articulated, vari-angle design as opposed to the up-down tilting design on the GX7. Like the GX7, the new model includes a cool feature called Touch Pad AF, which allows you to simultaneously use the EVF if you want while still moving the AF point around the frame with the rear touchscreen. Ergonomically, this feature is much more convenient now, especially for left-eye dominant users, since the screen can be swung out beside the camera and away from your face while using the EVF.

The left and right sides of the camera are both rather standard, though we do find a small NFC icon indicating where the chip or antenna is located along the right-hand side of the grip.

Like the GX7, the left-hand side features the small flap covering a micro HDMI (Type D) port (although the GX7 had a mini Type-C connector), a multi AV/USB 2.0 port and a 2.5mm microphone/remote jack.

And finally, on the bottom, built into the handgrip, we have the Secure Digital memory card slot, which is compatible with UHS-I SDXC and SDHC memory cards, as well as standard SD cards. Oddly, there's no support for faster UHS-II cards.

The GX8 uses the same rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack as the G7, and not the same battery as the GX7, which might be a bit of a letdown for current GX7 owners looking to upgrade.

The battery pack is CIPA-rated for between 310 and 340 shots per charge depending on the lens mounted and which screen, OLED monitor or EVF, is used, and a dedicated battery charger is included in the bundle. In-camera charging via USB port is not supported.

A pass-through in the compartment door is provided for an optional dummy battery connected to an AC adaptor.

 



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