It was all the way back in 2008 that Panasonic brought the world’s first compact system camera, the G1, to market, giving the Japanese company the longest mirrorless heritage in the business. Eight years on and 25 models later, Panasonic is still producing some of the most advanced mirrorless technology, and its Four Thirds mount boasts the largest lens range. The new enthusiast G80 sits between the G7 and GH4R in Panasonic’s line-up, and it brings a host of new features to the table.
The G80 boasts a 16MP Four Thirds sensor very similar to the one on the GX80. It has no optical low-pass filter (OLPF) though, so has 10% greater resolving power – in other words, it’s slightly sharper. A downside to no OLPF is that moiré (an optical interference effect) is more likely, but this is rarely an issue. Some users may be put off by the size of the sensor in comparison to full-frame and APS-C DSLRs and CSCs, as it’s more difficult to get a shallow depth-of-field, and resolution has to remain low to maintain image quality. The sensor also boasts 5-axis stabilisation (O.I.S) for blur-free handheld shots, and this works in conjunction with 2-axis lens O.I.S, which is better for long telephoto lenses.
For sports and wildlife, the camera can shoot at a very respectable 9fps. Video functionality includes 4K at 30fps with a bit rate of 100MB/s. Other useful video features include focus peaking, zebra overexposure warning, on-screen sound level meters and compatibility with external mics. It’s also possible to pull 8MP stills from 4K footage. So if you want to capture a very fleeting moment, simply video it, then extract a single frame. 4K Photo is also now on the mode dial.
The 2360k-dot live EVF is much better than that on the GX80, and has a respectable magnification of 0.74x compared with a full-frame DSLR. There’s no noticeable lag, and the blackout after the shutter fires is very short.
The G80 uses 49-area contrast AF, which is very fast and accurate. You can quickly change focus points while looking through the viewfinder by dragging your thumb across the touchscreen, and when the eye is away from the camera you can touch-focus on the LCD. The AF system also employs a brilliant Post Focus function that allows you to adjust the point of focus after capture. This works by shooting a short 4K video where everything is in focus for at least one frame. You then tap your finger on the screen for the point you want sharp, and the rest will fall out of focus. You can even select two points of focus if desired. Bear in mind though, image resolution is limited to 8MP. Battery life is 330 shots from a single charge, or 800 shots in Power Save Shooting mode.
Build & handling
Overall, handling is very intuitive and easy to use, and the very quiet shutter is only just louder than the near-silent LX100. The front of the camera is made of robust magnesium alloy, so should stand up to regular, heavy use. It’s still lightweight and compact though, at just 715g with kit lens and battery. Both body and lens are splashproof and dustproof, making the G80 suitable for use in difficult shooting environments. The 3in 1040k-dot flip-out touchscreen is very responsive, with touch menu navigation, touch focus and pinch-to-zoom functionality.
The G80 is a really solid release from Panasonic, offering 4K Photo and Post Focus in an intuitively-designed body. There’s also plenty for video enthusiasts to get excited about, with focus peaking, zebra pattern, and external mic input. It’s impressive value at £799 with a 12-60mm lens, though with Fuji’s X-T10 and Olympus’ OM-D E-M5 MkII at the same price point, there’s stiff competition.
- Camera: Panasonic G80
- Lens: 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6
- Effective resolution: 16MP
- Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
- Processor: Venue Engine 9
- LCD: 3in 1040k-dot tilting touchscreen
- Viewfinder: 2360k-dot OLED Live
- Autofocus: Contrast AF system
- ISO: 100-25,600
- Shooting speed: 9fps
- Video: Full 4K
- Pop-up flash: Yes
- Other features: 5-axis stabilisation, Wi-Fi, 4K Photo
- Battery life: 330 shots
- Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Size (WxHxD): 128x89x74mm
- Weight: 505g
- Web: www.panasonic.com
This review was first published in the December 2016 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.