Panasonic's GX8 shoots 4K now, will gain Post Focus function later
Panasonic has updated its mirrorless camera line-up with the DMC-GX8, a follow-up to the GX7 which retains the retro styling of its predecessor, but adds mod-cons like a higher megapixel count, 4K capabilities and dual image stabilization technology. The camera is also due to gain a new Post Focus feature – allowing users to select a focus point after taking an image – in an upcoming firmware update.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 uses a new 20.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor, making it the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds (17.3 x 13.0 mm) format camera currently available. This sensor is paired with a newly upgraded Venus Engine processor which is said to give better low-light performance, and the camera has a standard ISO range of 200 to 25,600.
Another undoubted highlight of the new camera is its use of Panasonic's Dual I.S system, which combines optical image stabilization with body image stabilization to help reduce wobble-induced blur in images – particularly useful in low-light situations or long telephoto shooting. If speed is more your thing, the GX8 can shoot full resolution stills at 8 fps (frames per second) with AFS, and 6 fps with AFC, when using the mechanical shutter.
On the 4K front, the camera can record 3840 x 2160 footage at 30/25/24 fps and 100 Mbps, and at Full HD 1080p the frame rates go up to 60 fps. 4K capabilities also include the 4K Photo features we've seen on other Panasonic cameras like the Lumix G7 and CM1 smartphone. This includes the ability to shoot 4K bursts of 8-megapixel images at 30 fps, and 4K Pre-Burst, where the camera shoots a 4K sequence one second before and after the shutter is pressed, giving you 60 shots to pick from.
However, what could be one of the most intriguing things about the GX8 is a function which isn't quite ready, and will be added to the camera in a firmware update later this year or in early 2016. Post Focus will allow users to select the focus point of an image after it has been taken, a bit like Lytro cameras, and help to prevent accidentally out-of-focus shots. However, rather than recording the color, intensity and direction of every light ray flowing into the camera like the Lytro Illum, the new feature uses the camera's more traditional tech.
Post Focus works by having the camera fire off a series of 4K images at a rate of 30 fps while the Contrast AF and Depth-From-Defocus system shifts the lens to set focus on around 50 different areas. Users can then simply touch the area of the image they want to be in focus, and a separate 8-megapixel image can be produced. Obviously because this effect is produced by taking a series of images, composition can change between shots, so it loses out to the Lytro there, but it promises to be very cool nevertheless.
Physically the GX8 is a bit of a beast compared to most mirrorless cameras – it measures 133 x 78 x 63 mm (5.24 x 3.07 x 2.48 in) and tips the scales at 487g (1.07 lb) when loaded with a battery and SD card, but without a lens mounted. It boasts a magnesium alloy body and features an array of dials and physical controls. A nice chunky grip should allow good handling, and the camera is also splash- and dust-proof. Around the back there's a large high-resolution tilting electronic viewfinder with 2,360k dots, and a 3-inch OLED free-angle touchscreen with 1,040k dots. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC make sharing and remote shooting easy.
Also announced by Panasonic was the launch of another 4K-shooting camera, this time in the form of a bridge super-zoom which will go by the name of FZ330 or FZ300 depending on where in the world you reside. The camera combines a 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor with a 25-600-mm equivalent F2.8-F4.5 lens and a new Venus Engine processor.
It has an ISO range of 100 to 6400, and can record 4K video (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 30 fps, or Full HD at up to 60 fps. 4K Photo features include 4K Burst and Pre-Burst, plus the camera also has an electronic viewfinder with 1,440k dots, a 3-inch free-angle LCD touchscreen with 1,040k dots, and built-in Wi-Fi. The splash- and dust-proof FZ330 is also due to receive Post Focus functionality in a firmware update.
The Panasonic Lumix GX8 will be available in all black, or silver top with a black bottom, from mid-August costing US$1,200 body-only. The Panasonic FZ330/FZ300 will set you back $600 when it arrives in October.
You can check out the Panasonic GX8 in the promo video below.