Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8: the "Pro" Still Photographer ...




The Panasonic Lumix GX8 in its nice silver delivery.
A more discrete black version is also available

My first impression was that GX8 fit like a glove to me. The handling, the control and the interface are easy to comprehend and you have the feeling to hold and to use a very pro oriented M4/3 format still camera.

The very confortable
 and secure front grip
 of the Lumix GX8
The grip factor is really one of the strongest points of the Lumix GX8 that is giving a very secure and confortable way of working with the model. Many times I have used the GX8 without bothering to put my wrist strap since I was feeling fully confident about the handling. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is large and very informative of the picture output result you can expect. Direct dial options are easy to learn and reach if needed. As usual push bottoms are handy and fast to react but can be accidently activated during shooting if you are not aware of your palm hand position. The LCD screen is also a very fine viewing tool and can be fully oriented in many ways.

The very beautiful and classical design of the Panasonic Lumix GX8 upper deck. An interesting mixture of classical presentation and modern direct dial functionality attributions
The Panasonic Lumix GX8 is a bigger camera than the previous GX7 (original). It appears as a design choice by Panasonic study board rather than a technical constraint especially with the venue of the new Lumix GX85 / GX80 (Japan GX7 Mark II) that has a significaly smaller size despite its similar features. For a full time photographer (dixit so-called pro) the dimensions of the GX8 are still smaller compare to traditional DSLR even more if you add the equivalent lenses. So it confirms in a way the “Pro” orientation of the model.

The tilt able electronic viewfinder (EVF) of the Panasonic 
Lumix GX8: a Chest level alternative that can preserve parallel 
vertical lines or help you for low level point of view
Is the Lumix GX8 an action camera? For spontaneous photography you can say without a doubt yes. For sport or very moving subject it cannot in any way compete with the modern DSLR that are the most advanced autofocusing system available on the market. Using the faster prime lenses will give you a more reactive GX8 in the view o my modest experiences. So doing action photography with the Lumix GX8 can be more challenging for the user. You have to rely on a more pro-active approach (Anticipation) than a reactive watching.



No in-board flash is available on the Lumix GX8. Again it seems to be a voluntary designer choice. Panasonic has often been joggling with that feature like in the case of the diminutive Lumix GM5. Without in-board a flash option you need to bring an external flash unit of some kind to perform at least fill-in flash operation. So it represents an additional device to think of but the advantage came by the fact that most of the external flash units are self-powered saving the camera own battery life. Again no in-board flash unit is reflecting a traditional “Pro” design approach.



The Panasonic Lumix GX8 is delivering beautiful image outputs. The exposure system is very accurate and you can rely on it on every operating modes offered by the GX8. Color rendering especially in the “Natural” mode is respecting the reality of the scene. The exposure direct control dial is handy.
You can produce rich black and white pictures that as always a big advantage of using a camera equipped with an EVF that is showing you on the spot the final image output prior to the picture taking.  In a strictly personal point of view using the new 20MP image captor didn’t represent a strong departure from the usual 16MP sensor used on many others M4/3 models. I am sure that the new 20MP will give some edge advantages on specific picture taking situations or in performing particular image post treatments. But for a Web diffuser like myself the difference will appear marginal at the most.
In combination with the Lumix Vario G 12-60mm lens the 
Panasonic GX8 can deliver very pleasant colours and fine details.

Using the monochrome option on the GX8 is producing 
excellent black and white results

After a few days of companionship the Panasonic Lumix GX8 had proved to be a very solid still camera. Its larger size will give you confidence to bring it everywhere on every circonstances even in bad weather. But you must remember this is not a very compact model such as the smaller Lumix GX85/80 model. Lens combination with the GX8 are better served by selecting the "Pro" lens version like the 12-35mm f2.8 and the 35-100mm f2.8 or the versatile 12-60mm. 

As a professionally oriented model, some aspects of the Lumix GX8 such as its generous grip, the add-on external flash option, its 20MP image captor and its titl-able EVF for example will be well received for everyday and intensive photographers.



On the road with the Lumix GX8

Although the Panasonic Lumix GX8 is a very well crafted camera it cannot be assimilated as an impressive model such as to be the previous Lumix GX7 (first version) which had many interesting features in a more smaller package. Even considering the improvement of the image sensor this redesign won't necessarely seduce everybody. Paradoxically Panasonic has already done better with the new GX85/80 (Japan GX7 Mark II) but with the sacrifice of the weather sealed body feature.

Now (August 2016) the current selling price of the camera combined with the Lumix Vario G 12-60mm lens is representing a better quality-price ratio for this quality level of product.


Special thanks: With the complicity of Panasonic Canada and my kindly representing contact person I was able to work with the GX8 model equipped with the newest Lumix Vario 12-60mm Power OIS lens.