Panasonic continues to expand the number of 4K cameras in its arsenal with the introduction of the new GX8 and FZ300. Beyond the new models, Panasonic said it was prepping a Lytro-like “post focus” capability for its new cameras that would leverage 4K recording and touch screens to allow users to adjust the focus point after capture. New lenses, too, are also in the works.
Let’s start with the cameras.
In addition to 4K video, the Micro Four Thirds-based GX8 is the first in Panasonic’s lineup to offer a dual image stabilizer–one for the camera body, the other for the lens–that work in tandem to combat camera shake at all focal lengths. According to Panasonic, most of its image-stabilized lenses will be able to work with the new dual stabilizer system in the GX8. When filming videos, the GX8 will employ a 5-axis hybrid stabilization that combines sensor shifting and digital corrections and is similar to the system used in the company’s video cameras.
The GX8 features a new 20.3-megapixel image sensor and quad-core Venus Engine CPU to drive continuous shooting at 8 frames per second in AFS mode and 6 fps in AFC mode. Dynamic range has been improved by a 1/3 stop over its predecessor, the GX7.
Like most recent Panasonic cameras, the GX8 will record 4K video (3840x2160p30) as well as 1920x1080p60 video in either AVCHD Progressive or MP4. Similar to the G7, the GX8 features a 4K Photo Mode that lets users shoot 4K video in any aspect ratio and isolate an 8-megapixel clip from a 4K video file during playback. According to Panasonic, the virtue of using 4K Photo Mode versus simply grabbing stills from 4K video is the ability to change aspect ratios and the faster shutter speed of 1/500 sec. that keeps 4K Photo Mode stills in sharper focus than 4K video frame grabs. The color range is also wider in 4K Photo Mode than it is during 4K video capture.
There will be three new 4K photo modes in the GX8.
A 4K Burst Shooting mode captures frames at 30fps for the duration of your shutter press (up to 4GB worth of data). A 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) mode starts consecutive shooting with a single press of a shutter button and stops it with the second press. Finally, a 4K Pre-burst mode automatically records 30 frames before and 30 frames after your shutter press for a total of 60 4K video frames to choose from.
Other features of the GX8 include:
* a tilting OLED Live Viewfinder with a magnification ratio of 1.54X and a 100 percent field of view
* a free-angle 3-inch OLED touch screen display
* 240 fps Contrast AF system with DFD (depth from defocus) technology that calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating 2 images with different sharpness level while consulting the data of optical characteristics of the current lens to deliver a .07 sec. AF speed
* 49 AF points
* 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed and a 1/16,000 sec. electronic shutter
* improved low-light focusing down to -4EV with a Starlight AF mode to help users shoot stars in the night sky using autofocus by narrowing the AF zone
* Wi-Fi and NFC
* weather proof magnesium alloy die cast frame
* in-camera RAW processing
* focus peaking
The GX8 is due to ship in mid-August in two versions: all black and a model with a silver top with a black bottom for $1,200 (body only).
Panasonic also rolled out the successor to the FZ200. The new FZ300 delivers a similar optical package with a 25-600mm f/2.8 built-in lens with optical image stabilization and adds 4K recording and a new Venus Engine image processor to improve ISO sensitivity to a max of ISO 6400.
The FZ300 features a 12-megapixel image sensor, 4K video recording and the same 4K Photo modes as the GX8 above.
You can frame your compositions through a 1,440K-dot OLED LVF with a 100 percent field of view when shooting in 4:3.
Additional features of the FZ300 include:
* 3-inch, free angle LCD
* 12 fps continuous shooting in AFS mode or 6 fps in AFC
* .09 sec. AF speed with DFD technology
* low light focusing down to -3EV
* 5-axis hybrid stabilizer for HD video recording
* focus peaking
* in-camera RAW processing
The FZ300 will ship in mid-October for $600.
Coming Soon: Post Focus Mode
According to Panasonic, a new Post Focus mode will leverage a 4K burst mode to compile multiple exposures which a user would then use to freely determine a focus point in the frame using a touch screen. Post Focus mode will come to both the GX8 and FZ300 later this year via a firmware update as well as future models not yet announced by the company.
Beyond the focusing capabilities, Panasonic also said it was working with Leica to develop a Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 telephoto lens for its Micro Four Thirds lineup. The lens would offer a 35mm equivalent focal length of 200-800mm and a dust and splash-proof build. Panasonic said its light weight and image stabilization would allow for handheld shooting out to the very end of the focal length.
The company is also prepping a Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 prime lens. Release date and additional specs for both lenses are not yet available. Product photography is preliminary.