Panasonic GX800

Here's our review of the entry-level Panasonic GX800 CSC

Panasonic’s G series line-up of interchangeable lens Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras has been around for almost a decade now. The technology is well proven, and there are models aimed at almost every kind of photographer. At the top end there’s the crowning GH5, while the new GX800 is aimed at beginners and those who want DSLR quality in a smaller form. The camera is certainly small – the most compact in the G series, as it’s even slimmer than the GX80 and GX8 that are its closest stablemates, and at 336g with the 12-32mm lens it’s light too. It’s also the most affordable model in the current line-up, but still packs in lots of the cutting edge features found in other G series cameras. 

The entry-level Panasonic GX800

The entry-level Panasonic GX800

The GX800 includes 4K video and 4K Photo mode

The camera is built around a 17.3x13mm 16MP Live MOS MFT sensor, with a native ISO range of 200-25,600, and sharpness has been improved by omitting a traditional optical low-pass filter. Those numbers might sound anaemic compared to many cameras, but 16MP is plenty for most purposes, and 16-20MP is currently something of a sweet spot for MFT cameras in terms of image quality.

4K (at 30p) video is included, as is Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode and Post Focus tech from the same well.

In the interests of reduced size, unlike the GX8 and GX80, there’s no EVF, so framing is via a 3in touchscreen. The screen is hinged at the top, flipping upward through 180º where it activates a Self Shot mode, but that’s the extent of its articulation.  

Handling & build

The GX800’s body is plastic and there’s no weather-sealing, but that’s not to suggest it’s not well built. It’s obviously not designed for daily hammering, but the petite body has a very solid feel and its dials and screen are well engineered. 

Button layout is clear and uncluttered, but given the small size of the body I did find myself hitting some of them by accident. And like many entry-level cameras there’s just the one control dial – a ring around the four-way selector. While a second dial would improve control, the ring works well, and though light, there’s just enough resistance for accurate selection. 

There are three physical Function (Fn) buttons which can be customised for most-used settings, but in a switch from predecessors the iAuto button has been moved from one of these onto the Mode dial, freeing up space to promote the 4K Photo mode. 

Using the touchscreen adds four more ‘virtual’ Fn buttons and the Quick menu can be customised too, which is handy. 

I didn’t find the GX800 very comfortable to hold, unless using both hands. Unlike the GX80 and GX8, there’s no grip on the front, which makes it feel like you’re pinching the camera rather than gripping it. The front surface is a bit slippery, although the rear has a generous thumb pad.

Performance

The GX800 focuses quickly and accurately in test, and its 5.8fps burst mode is plenty for most subjects. The 4K Photo mode tops this, letting you grab 8MP stills from video at up to 30fps. This is a great feature, but does show motion blur in moving subjects due to the video frame rate, so for critical sharpness stick to the regular mode.

Live View is very smooth until you start working in low light when, like most, it judders. 

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Self Shot mode works well. After flipping the screen it optimises output for portraits and gives a little countdown after hitting the shutter, allowing you to pose.

Verdict

The Panasonic GX800 is brim-full of class-leading technology, but due to its streamlined design getting to it can sometimes be tricky. The camera will be, for some, too small to operate comfortably, but for entry-level photographers and those upgrading from compacts it’s a better fit. If you like the features, but not the handling, consider the GX80 or GX8, the former of which is only slightly more expensive.

Pros 

Good image quality for MFT
Customisable buttons  
Self Shot Mode  
Decent AF and shooting speed  
Small and light body  
Built-in Wi-Fi

Cons

Will be too petite for some  
No grip on front
No hotshoe for accessory flash

Specification 

  • Lens: 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6
  • Effective resolution: 16MP
  • Sensor: 17.3x13mm Live MOS Micro Four Thirds
  • Processor: Venus Engine
  • LCD: 3in 1040k-dot tilting touchscreen
  • Shutter: 1/16,000sec-60sec
  • Autofocus: 49-area contrast-detect
  • ISO: 200-25,600 (expands to 100)
  • Shooting speed: 5.8fps for 15 RAWs or 100 JPEGs
  • Video: 4K at 30fps, Full HD at 50fps
  • Pop-up flash: Yes, GN5.6
  • Other features: Wi-Fi, time-lapse, stop-motion, dust-reduction system
  • Battery life: 210 shots
  • Card type: microSD, microSDXC, microSDHC
  • Size (WxHxD): 107x65x33mm
  • Weight: 336g
  • Find out more the Panasonic website