Open comment directed at Panasonic: Great work.
Seriously, you did well. Whoever was responsible for the conception of the GX8, promote that person. Whoever worked on the details of the UI, give that person or persons a bonus.
I acknowledge that I am not Mr. Typical Photographer, representative of the widest possible swath of the buying fan base. But I do have a fairly wide familiarity with a variety of cameras, having owned 11,358 different ones (I first typed 1,358, but then it occurred to me that maybe that wasn't enough of an exaggeration to make it clear that it's an exaggeration) and having tried out another, oh, ~4,000 more. (That's an exaggeration.)
I'm really liking the GX8. It's not pretty, and it's not diminutive in the way that usually charms the Japanese, but it sure is nice to hold and pleasant and easy to use. Ergonomics get an A+ from me so far. Still R-ing TFM though*.
Here they are at B&H Photo, which loaned me the equipment for the review. Note that GX8 bodies are currently on sale for $200 off.
Viewfinder über alles
To keep this post from being just a fluffle of opining:
A camera's viewfinder is all-important. It's what connects the camera to the world, in the most important way for the enterprise at hand, i.e., visually. A great viewfinder is a reason to buy one camera over another. It's what sold me on the Fuji X-T1, second only to Fuji's beautiful lens system.
(I should explain that I now prefer electronic viewfinders [EVF's] to optical viewfinders [OVF's]. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each, the EVF edges ahead for me.)
I directly compared the electronic viewfinders of the Panasonic GX8 and the Fuji X-T1, and the GX8 to the optical viewfinder of the Sony A900 DSLR, previously my gold standard (among the cameras I'm familiar with, so only 15,358 of them) for an OVF on a DSLR. The Fuji beats the Sony, as I've mentioned before (and the Sony beats the Nikon D750, as I've also mentioned before). The Fuji X-T1's viewfinder is one of that camera's strongest points, and it is indeed just a little bigger than the one in the GX8. But not much. The Fuji's seems a little more coarse to me, and not quite as color-correct. Big win for the Panasonic is with eye relief (this refers to how far back from the eyepiece your eye can be while still allowing you to see the whole frame). The Panasonic has great eye relief. I find it easy and pleasant to see the whole frame in the GX8 even with glasses on. With no glasses on it's A/B**.
So the GX8 is highly recommended to both left-eyed shooters and glasses-wearers.
I very much like the upper-left-hand position of the GX8's EVF, and I very much like the tilting feature, too, which I first learned I liked when reviewing the ill-fated Ricoh GXR a number of years ago. (Remember that one? With the interchangeable lens/sensor modules?)
I find this shooting position, with the finder at about 45°, very comfortable. Sort of midway between a studio and a snapshot camera. Reminds me of...
...Another camera with a 45-degree finder. (Rolleiflex 6008AF shown without lens.) Of course the GX8's VF adjusts effortlessly to all positions from straight up to straight back.
The GX8's tilting finder is in essence an answer to the grizzly Photo Dawgs who ask where interchangeable finders went, such as those on the Nikon F3, Pentax LX, and Canon New F-1. Well, it's now all-in-one, can't be lost, doesn't cost extra, and comes built-in on the Panasonic GX8.
There's even a larger accessory eyecup to eliminate extraneous light when you're shooting outdoors. I'm very curious about how the VF will do in bright sunlight, but this morning it's gray, wet, and snowing again. We've had more Winter in April than we've had all Winter; Winter took all Winter to get here. I'll let you know about the VF in bright sunlight once the sun comes out.
Anyway, just because the VF on the GX8 tilts, don't think it isn't a world-class VF. It's clean, clear, easy to see, and yes, pleasant to spend time looking at. A nice interface with the visual world. (And kind of a contrast, when you think of it, in innovation and implementation, to the traditional "faux prism humps" on the X-T1 and the OM-D's.)
It's an excellent viewfinder, both in an absolute sense, and comparatively.
(Thanks to B&H Photo)
*"RTFM" is "read the f------ manual."
**Awesome/brilliant, for American and U.K. readers respectively.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
I finally decided I could afford this book, and ordered
it two days ago. Can't wait!
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Steve G: " I completely agree that a tilting viewfinder is a boon, not a gimmick. When I first got my Ricoh GX100—and there are still more gallery shots in my portfolio from that camera than any other—I thought the tilting EVF (maybe a first for Ricoh? I don't know) was just a marketing frippery. I soon found myself using it a lot, and it became a big part of why I loved that camera so much."
Mike replies: Yes, I do think this should be emphasized. Using tilting finders has convinced me. I think it's a serious and desirable feature, and this is the best implementation of it I've used yet.
Of course, I haven't actually used 15,358 cameras—in fact I probably use fewer cameras that most reviewers do. I'm sure Luke at Imaging-Resource, for example (he reads TOP) is familiar with many more VF's than I am.
James Clarke: "I am interested how you find the exposure compensation dial. Having not used the GX8 (still using the GX1) I'm inclined to agree with this take on the ergonomics."
Mike replies: Wow, I completely disagree with that assessment. The EC dial, which by habit I use a lot (I know it's something some people don't use, but I do), is one of the best things about the GX8. You just raise your thumb and forefinger and there it is, right to hand in the perfect place. I can set it easily—I mean very comfortably, no stretch, no fuss—while holding the camera one-handed!
beuler: "I first tried a tilting VF on the Konica Minolta Dimage A2. I miss the feature and wonder why it has not replaced the faux prism hump as design standard. I find a tilting EVF more versatile and useful than a tilting rear screen."