When the Lumix GX7 debuted two years ago, it was packed with Panasonic's newest technologies. But two years is a lot of time in camera tech, especially given how much Panasonic itself has done over the past couple of years. So along comes the Lumix GX8, once again bearing the latest and greatest of the company's features and technologies, taking direct aim at Olympus' tech leader, the E-M5 Mark II .

The GX8 is also launching at a higher price than the GX7 did, which is somewhat unusual. It's slated to cost $1,200 for just the body (AU$1,399); in contrast, the GX7 debuted at $1,000. Outside the US there will be more kits, just as there are now for the GX7, including options with the 14-42mm (AU$1,499) power zoom lens, 12-35mm (AU$2,399) lens and 14-140mm lens (AU$1,999). I don't yet have UK pricing, but the body price converts directly to about £770.

What's new

  • New sensor. For years we've been stuck at 16 megapixels for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) sensors; the GX8 introduces a new 20.3-megapixel version, which makes the GX8 the highest-resolution Micro Four Thirds camera for the moment. It also incorporates a new version of Panasonic's Venus Engine image processor and incorporates color, noise and sharpness processing technologies that date back to the LX100 .
  • Weather resistance. A big hole in the GX7's feature set, the GX8 is now dust- and splashproof, like Olympus' OM-D line.
  • Updated displays. The electronic viewfinder still tilts -- a great feature -- but now it's higher magnification with a bigger eyecup. And the previously tilt-only back LCD is now fully articulated.
  • Enhanced image stabilization. It's always been really frustrating that the two MFT-mount camera manufacturers had different stabilization schemes -- Olympus went sensor-shift and Panasonic went optical -- which meant that even though they could use each other's lenses, you had no stabilization for Olympus lenses on Panasonic's cameras. The GX7 was the first Panasonic to cave into offering sensor shift, and the GX8 is now the first of its cameras to be able to combine the two types of stabilization. Panasonic claims the so-called Dual I.S. will deliver better stabilization as well as better performance with short focal lengths. It does require lens support, however, and it will require a firmware update for all lenses. (Three of them won't support it at all: the 14-42mm f3.5-6.5, the 45-200mm f4-5.6 and the 100-300mm f4-5.6.)
  • 4K video and burst modes. The camera incorporates the 4K video capabilities and the Panasonic-specific 4K burst-shooting modes that it introduced with the G7. In addition to 4K Photo Mode, which lets you to pull decent 8MP stills from videos as an alternative to continuous shooting, it has a 4K-resolution mode to allow you to shoot bursts without stopping video recording, a 4K preburst (which captures a few shots before and after the shutter press) and a regular 4K burst mode.
  • Performance improvements. While it's not up to the GH4's level, it incorporates the same fast Depth-from-Defocus autofocus system with rated continuous-shooting performance similar to dSLRs in its price class, like the Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D7200 . It's interesting to note that the GX8 has a more powerful battery than the GX7 but only ekes out about 10 more shots in its rated life.
  • New features. Also picked up from sibling cameras, the GX8 now offers in-camera raw-to-JPEG conversion; a post-shot content-aware erase for removing unwanted elements in photos; a monochrome filter; the ability to use effects filters in manual and semi-manual exposure modes; and a wide-angle panorama that shoots narrower but wider-angle shots than the traditional panorama.
  • Redesigned. To date, the GX7's body was the most stylish interchangeable-lens model from Panasonic, especially of the models with electronic viewfinders. Now Panasonic has streamlined the GX8 with some enthusiast-favorite design touches, like a physical exposure-compensation dial, a bigger grip and a more naturally located shutter button, all while retaining a snazzy look. On the downside, Panasonic dropped the pop-up flash and now only offers an extra-cost optional model. It's also bigger and heavier than the GX7 and the E-M5 II.

My take

The GX8's feature set certainly looks formidable for its price class, though the E-M5 II is less expensive (partly because it's older) and the replacement for the Sony A6000, which would likely be its toughest competitor, is overdue. While it might be a nice alternative to enthusiast-level dSLRs like the Nikon D5500 and Canon EOS Rebel T6i/T6s (750D/760D) which offer similar performance, it's a lot more expensive than those and has a smaller sensor. The GX8 certainly offers quite a lot of updates over the GX7, though.

Comparative specs

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8
Sensor effective resolution 16.1MP Live MOS 16MP Live MOS 20.3MP Live MOS
Sensor size 17.3 x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3 x 13mm
Focal-length multiplier 2.0x 2.0x 2.0x
OLPF Yes Yes Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 125 (exp)/200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600
Burst shooting 5fps
unlimited JPEG and raw
(10fps with fixed focus and IS off)
4.3fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
(40fps with electronic shutter)
6fps
100 JPEG/30 raw
(8fps with fixed focus; 10fps with fixed focus and electronic shutter)
Viewfinder
(mag/ effective mag)
EVF
n/a-inch
100% coverage
2.4 million dots
1.3x - 1.48x/0.65x- 0.74x
EVF
n/a
100% coverage
2.8m dots
1.37x/0.7x
OLED EVF
Tilting
100% coverage
2.4m dots
1.54x/0.77x
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 81-area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
49-area
DFD Contrast AF
AF sensitivity n/a -4 - 18 EV -4 - 18 EV
Shutter speed 60 - 1/8,000 sec.; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec. x-sync (Super FP to 1/8,000) 60 -1/8,000 sec.; max 1/16,000 sec. with electronic shutter; 1/320 sec. x-sync; bulb to 2 minutes 1/8,000 to 60 sec. (1/16,000 with electronic shutter); bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec. x-sync
Metering 324 area 1,728 zone 1,728 zone
Metering sensitivity -2 - 20 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p, 50p (52 Mbps); 30p, 25p, 24p (77 Mbps)
AVCHD 1080/60p, 30p, 25p, 24p @ 28Mbps UHD/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50p, 25p, 24p @ 28Mbps
Audio Stereo; mic input; headphone jack on HLD-8G grip Stereo Stereo, mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time per clip 4GB 4GB/29:59 minutes 4GB/29:59 minutes
IS Sensor shift Optical Optical and Sensor shift
LCD 3 in/7.5cm
Articulated touchscreen
1.04m dots
3-inch/7.5 cm
Tilting touchscreen
1.04 million dots
3 in/7.5cm
Articulated touchscreen
1.04m dots
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi, NFC
Flash Included add-on Yes None
Wireless flash Yes No n/a
Battery life (CIPA rating) 310 shots
(1,220mAh)
320 shots
(1,025mAh)
330 shots
(1,200mAh)
Size (WHD) 4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in.
123.7 x 85 x 44.5mm
4.8 x 2.8 x 2.2 in.
122.6 x 70.7 x 54.6mm
5.2 x 3.1 x 2.5 in.
133.2 x 77.9 x 63.1mm
Body operating weight 15.7 oz.
446g
14.24 oz. (est.)
402g (est.)
16.1 oz. (est.)
487g (est.)
Mfr. price (body only) $1,050
£900
AU$1,200 (est.)
$550 (est.)
AU$800 (est.)
$1,200
Release date February 2015 July 2013 August 2015