One of the main complaints levelled at the high-end Panasonic GX8 is that it’s a bit on the big side for a camera with a Four Thirds type sensor. Well the GX80 introduced below it in the company’s flat-style range of cameras is set to address that by offering a smaller alternative. The downside of course is that it doesn’t offer the same range of direct controls on the top-plate, but there is still a mode dial so you can switch quickly between the options.
Interestingly, or perhaps disappointingly, Panasonic hasn’t opted for a 20Mp sensor like the GX8’s for the GX80 and instead has gone for a 16MP device. However, unlike all the other 16Mp sensors in Panasonic’s previous compact system cameras the GX80’s sensor doesn’t have an anti-aliasing (or low-pass) filter.
The benefit of omitting a filter is that images have a little more detail and look sharper without the need to apply lots of sharpening digitally, so they can look more natural. The downside is that they may be prone to moire patterning, the interference that can occur when photographing fine repeating patterns.
However, Panasonic has given the GX80 a tweaked version of the processing engine inside the GX8 and tailored it to deal with moire patterning. Panasonic claims that the new sensor and processing engine enable around a 10% increase in detail resolution compared with a camera with a filtered sensor.
Although it sits below the GX8 in the Panasonic camera line-up, the GX80 has an improved dual stabilisation system which works across 5 axis (5 in-camera and 2 in-lens) that works in both stills and video mode. The ability for the sensor-based system to work in harmony with lens based stabilisation is particularly important with telephoto lenses because it affords much greater range of compensation.
Panasonic is claiming it’s the best system on the market. That’s a bold claim because there are some good ones around, especially from Olympus and Sony.
Panasonic has also opted for an electromagnetic shutter drive rather than its usual spring drives. Although this limits the maximum shutter speed to 1/4000sec rather than the 1/8000sec possible with the GX8’s mechanical shutter, it is quieter and produces 90% less vibration, which should result in sharper images. If 1/4000sec isn’t fast enough, there’s also an electronic shutter that enables shutter speeds up to 1/16000sec.
It’s good to see that Panasonic hasn’t abandoned a viewfinder in an effort to shrink the size of the GX80 – it has 2,764,000-dot device built-in. In addition, there’s a 3-inch 1,040,000-dot screen that can be tilted up through 90 degrees and down through 45. The protruding viewfinder prevents the screen from tipping right up for shooting selfies, but I’m fine with that decision, I know which I’d rather have.
Naturally for a Panasonic camera, the GX80 is capable of shooting 4K (3840×2160) video at 30,25 or 24p in MP4 format as well as Full HD (1920×1080) video in AVCHD or MP4 format. In addition Panasonic 4K Photo modes are present to help capture fleeting moments at 30 frames per second and extract 8Mp stills. The new Post Focus mode, which allows you to select the focus point after shooting, is also on hand and there’s the new Light Composition mode that appeared in the Panasonic TZ100 to enable better shots in low light conditions.
In addition to Panasonic’s usual range of Photo Styles the GX80 debuts L Monochrome, which produces higher contrast, punchier images than the standard Monochrome Style which is a simple desaturation.