Some ideas just sell themselves with no need for explanation.
A day out to talk cameras and get some family shots in the grounds of a scenic national trust property? Yes please.
Although the whole family were invited, I decided to have a special day out with just our littlest, and I have to say it was really lovely being able to go at a slower, quieter pace and indulge in him that little bit more.
Some photos I took on that day in the beautiful grounds of Osterley House:
All taken with the GX80, transfered to my phone via the camera’s in-built wifi, edited on my phone with the Color Story app, then posted to Instagram.
We started the day with photographer Emma Drabble showing us some of the family photos she has taken with her Panasonic micro four thirds camera, just like the one I would be trialling – the GX80.
I was instantly blown away by Emma’s photos. No forced smiles or posed shots, Emma’s passion is for capturing the true emotion of her children in that particular moment, and she has an absolutely stunning visual record of her children to show for it.
Being completely honest, I didn’t think there was a gap in my current camera collection for this camera to fill. I have my pocket point and shoot that I use purely for video, I have my phone for quick snaps, and then I have my SLR for high quality photos.
But then I saw Emma’s photos. And suddenly I was very intrigued indeed.
Because Emma had already told us that she ONLY uses Panasonic cameras. I honestly didn’t realise you could achieve these sorts of photos with anything other than an SLR, and yet, the GX80 is a MUCH more portable camera. My interest was piqued, and I immediately set about trying lots of different lenses on my GX80 that the panasonic team had brought along with them.
This photo was taken with the lens of DREAMS – the Leica Nocticron 42.5mm. This lens will set you back a pretty penny at almost £1,000, but there is a more affordable version which I recently rented myself – you can see the results over in this post where I took my boys to our local lavender field. I LOVE these photos. I want to marry this lens. The Panasonic 42.5mm 1.7 lens currently retails at around £350.
The biggest surprise to me was that the GX80 actually does have quite a few ‘one ups’ on my other cameras.
So, what can the GX80 do that my current cameras can’t?
I’d vaguely heard of 4K TVs, but didn’t realise that it actually can apply to images too. In 4K mode, the GX80 continually shoots, and then afterwards you can break down the shots and pick the ones you want to keep.
Recently, I was trying to capture Arlo running through our garden sprinkler. I kept missing focus, or missing the moment entirely. He soon got bored of me asking him to run through again. But if I had had my GX80 then, I would have caught the perfect moment first time round using 4K mode.
It is particularly useful for fast action moments and is really quick and simple to use, just like pressing record on a video. Using 4K mode means never missing that winning shot at the peak of the action.
This shot of Rory on the swing was taken using 4K mode – I used the camera for literally one second and walked away knowing I had the perfect shot already.
Being able to change the lens puts the GX80 at an immediate advantage over my smaller point and shoot. The Panasonic lens system offers a very similar selection of focal lengths and aperture as I’m used to with my Canon DSLR system. The price points are similar too, with budget friendly versions and top of the range models. I could choose to invest in lenses for my SLR, but I can actually see more advantages in choosing to buy them for the GX80.
Firstly, it’s a smaller, lighter body, making portability that much better. Secondly, with live view and silent shooting mode it’s a much less intrusive camera – having my big SLR in front of my face always affects my interaction with my littlest, who loses all natural expression as soon as my face is replaced by a big black thing. The GX80 is just that bit more subtle, which means my subjects are more able to relax and be themselves, sometimes they don’t even realise the camera is there – which is a huge bonus when striving to capture, pure candid moments.
You do need to invest in a lens or two in order to achieve the sort of portraits I like to take with my SLR. The GX80 kit lens is very good for standard video and photos, but it won’t give you the sharp foreground / blurry background look – you’d need to take a look at a Panasonic lens with a lower aperture to achieve that.
Taken with the Panasonic 42.5mm 1.7 lens
With my SLR and a good prime lens, I CAN shoot lovely sharp video with beautiful bokeh backgrounds. BUT, there is no auto focus, which is basically useless with small children who like to move around faster than my manual focus could ever keep up. This is why I bought my point and shoot purely for making our videos, because it has auto focus.
The GX80 has auto focus, but it’s interchangeable lens system also means that with the right lens I can achieve a high quality video with the added benefit of a reliable auto focus system.
Many of the Panasonic lenses have in-lens image stabilisation as well as the camera’s in-built image stabilisation. As a result, the final effect for the viewer is much less shaky and wobbly than footage I’ve filmed with my SLR – I really need to film on a tripod in order for my SLR footage to not be headache-inducing, but the GX80 works great as a handheld, even at the same focal lengths as I usually use with my ‘big’ camera.
Essentially, the GX80 is the camera I always wanted for video, but didn’t know it existed.
Vloggers beware – the flip screen on the GX80 does not flip all the way out for a selfie mode. I’ve become quite reliant on checking on my little flip screen when I’m talking to camera, so the GX80 doesn’t quite cover that gap for me – I’d still use my original point and shoot for that. But the GX80 allows you to create a much higher quality artistic look to your footage.
You can swiftly adjust focus on the GX80 by tapping where you want the focus on the touch screen. MUCH faster than focus adjustment on my SLR, and I also noticed that I got perfect focus way more often with the GX80 than I usually do on a typical shoot with my SLR.
You can charge straight off a USB port (a plug is included too), which makes it so easy to charge the camera straight after you transfer files to your computer. Charging is no longer an extra chore!
Because the GX80 charges via USB, this means you also get the option to charge the camera en route in the car (if your car has USB ports). For me, this has totally elimanated the need to carry extra batteries or worry about making sure my camera is fully charged the night before.
I think because I have already invested in my SLR, I don’t keep up to date with new technology in the world of camera systems, because to change my whole system means a considerable expense. But if I were starting out now and about to buy my first high quality camera, I would definitely be considering a Micro Four Thirds system over a traditional SLR – the lenses still give you that same WOW factor as SLR images, but the increased functionality is a huge bonus.
Both images taken with the GX80 kit lens
A little price comparison:
My current SLR setup:
Canon 6D – Current RRP = £1,185
50mm 1.4 lens = £290
TOTAL = £1,475
Body only = £509
25mm 1.4 lens (same focal equivalent as the lens above) = £369
TOTAL = £878
That’s almost HALF THE PRICE of the equivalent setup that I use on my SLR. That’s a BRILLIANT price if you are just deciding to invest in a camera system and want to be able to take outstanding shots straight away.
I’ve always thought I’d NEVER give up my SLR because it’s the only thing that can take those high quality portraits of my children that I love. There’s nothing else that can give me such lovely depth of field for portraits, nothing else that allows such flexibility to change the look of my images with different lenses.
But I think I might well have found it in the Panasonic GX80.
Yes, there are some differences to consider . But I will save you the in-depth comparison between a full frame SLR and a Micro Four Thirds system, because there are many of those around if you have a google.
I only take my SLR out when I KNOW I want to capture some specific portraits of my children. For general days out, it’s too much of a hassle to bring as it’s so bulky. In comparison, I hardly notice the GX80 when it’s strung from my neck. It’s so lightweight and the strap is so compact.
Overall, I know I would take the GX80 out with me more, and therefore I will capture more family memories than I otherwise would, all with the same glorious high quality that I usually need my big camera for.
I know I’d always rather have the opportunity to capture the moment, than miss it entirely.
That, for me, is the clincher between DSLR and Micro Four Thirds.
I was given a Panasonic Lumix GX80 for the purpose of thisd review. All extra lenses were rented at my own expense.