Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 Review
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The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 (also known as the GX850 and GF9) is a new camera to sit in the entry-level end of Panasonic’s line-up. The camera replaces the GF line, which no longer exists in the UK. Instead, there are now three models in the GX line in an attempt to simplify the options for a consumer - you can move up or down the line depending on your needs. Marketed as the “most affordable 4K CSC”, the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 features a 16 million pixel Four Thirds sensor, a flip-up 1040k-LCD screen, Wi-Fi connectivity and 4K video and Photo. It will be available for under £500 / $549.99 (including the 12-32mm kit lens) and you can choose from four different colour ways.
Ease of Use
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 is the smallest CSC in Panasonic’s line-up, and indeed it’s one of the smallest currently available on the market. You could be forgiven for thinking, especially with the small pancake kit lens attached, that it’s a premium compact camera.
This makes it ideal for those who want to always have a camera on them, but don’t want to carry something bulky and heavy around with them. As this is a camera marketed at entry-level users, the design and usage of the camera has been kept pretty simple.
There are four different colour variations to choose from, some of which are exclusive to certain retailers. The one we have been supplied is a black and silver version, which has a ‘classic’ look to it.
As standard, you can buy the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 with the 12-32mm retractable kit lens. This folds away neatly when not in use, making the camera small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. You will need to extend the lens manually before you can shoot though, so it may be worth leaving the lens extended if you’re planning on photographing a few things in quick succession.
|Front of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800|
Dials and buttons are kept to a minimum for this camera. On the right hand side of the top plate there’s a mode dial for switching between the various exposure modes which the camera offers. Despite the fact that this camera is aimed at beginners, it’s possible to shoot in manual and semi-automatic modes. You’ll also find options such as automatic, scene, panorama and digital filters.
Next to the mode dial is on the on/off switch, which encircles the shutter release button. Just behind the shutter release is a button which you can use to switch on the 4K Photo Modes. These have proved popular in previous Panasonic releases, so it’s no surprise to see them here. Using 4K Photo allows you to extract a still from 30fps 4K video recording. There are three options to choose from when you use this mode. You can either shoot a two second burst and have 60 frames to shoot from, or you can start recording with a press of the shutter release button, stopping it again with a second press. Finally, you can keep recording so long as you have the shutter release button held down.
In the middle of the top plate there’s a pop-up flash, which you can activate by flicking a small switch just underneath it. There’s no electronic viewfinder, and there’s also no hotshoe or means of attaching an external one either.
|Rear of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800|
On the far left hand side of the top plate, there’s a button which you can use to switch on Post Focus. Another consequence of 4K capability, Post Focus allows you to take a photo of something, and choose the focus point afterwards in playback. It does this by recording a short video at different focus points, you simply tap on the point afterwards and press the “Set” button to save a JPEG version of the image you want.
Moving to the back of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800, the majority is taken up by the touch-sensitive and tilting 3-inch screen. The screen can be moved to face forwards, making it useful for selfies and group shots. Because the screen flips up at the top, you can mount the camera on a tripod, or place it on a stable surface like a table or wall, and still use the tilted screen to compose your shot. It’s not possible however to make the screen tilt downwards, or to the side, making it slightly less useful for some awkward angles, such as shooting from above.
All of the buttons on the back of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 are grouped on the right-hand side, making it easy to use this camera one-handed - and the small size of the camera certainly encourages such methods of shooting. Again, there’s not a huge number of buttons here, but if you’ve ever used a Panasonic camera before you should be familiar with what is available.
|Tilting LCD Screen|
There’s a four-way navigational pad, with each of the directional keys having a specific default function. Down controls drive mode and timer, left controls AF mode, up accesses exposure compensation, while right gives you access to white balance controls. There is a button in the middle of the pad which can be used to make selections, or access the main menu. The navigational pad also doubles up as a scrolling dial which you can use for a variety of settings, depending on what you’re doing at the time. If you are shooting in aperture priority mode, for example, the scrolling dial will alter aperture. If you’re looking at images in playback, the scrolling dial will allow you to move through the different images you have taken.
There are four more buttons on the back of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800. Just above the rubberised thumb rest is a video record button - this is neatly tucked out of the way so as to avoid accidental movie recording. There’s also a playback button, a display button and a button which accesses the quick menu when in shooting mode, or acts as the back/delete button when in playback or moving through menus. The quick menu is particularly useful on a camera like this which doesn’t have a vast array of dials and buttons to give you instant access to certain settings - here you’ll find options such as ISO, image quality, metering and so on.
If you want to set up the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 to work in a different way, you’ll be pleased to know that three of the physical buttons on the camera can be assigned to different options than the default, while there are a further five “virtual” buttons, which are accessed on the touchscreen to give you a more direct route into certain settings. You can also customise the quick menu, which is useful if you find you’re not using a certain setting all that often, or there’s something missing which you like to change often.
|The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 In-hand|
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 accepts Micro SD cards, rather than full sized ones. It’s worth mentioning that in case you have a stack of SD cards that you want to use with this camera - it’s relatively affordable and easy to pick up Micro SD cards these days, and many mobile phones accept them, so you may already have at least one available. The slot is found next to the battery, behind a door which protects both. Another thing to note is that the GX800 supports in-camera charging, which means that the camera doesn’t come with a separate charger.
Start-up time is quick, especially if you already have the kit lens extended (or indeed if you’re using a different lens which doesn’t need extending).
Focusing locks on quickly and accurately in the majority of situations, but if you’re faced with a very dark situation then the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800 can struggle a little. There’s a focusing lamp to assist in these situations, and it’s pretty rare for a false confirmation of focus to be displayed. The GX800 copes reasonably well with following a moving subject so long as the active AF point is kept over the subject - if you’re photographing something with a fairly predictable path you should be OK, but anything a little more erratic and you may struggle.