Reeperbahn with the Panasonic LUMIX GX8 By Thomas Ludwig

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Reeperbahn with the Panasonic LUMIX GX8

By Thomas Ludwig

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The Panasonic LUMIX GX8 has some impressive specs and comes along in a rangefinder style body. As it is not the smallest mirrorless camera and hence a bit more eye-catching, I was curious to see how it works in the streets. As usual I had my focus also on how it fits in a CAMSLINGER bag when hiking a city for a day.

Same as I did in my PEN F review some weeks ago, I used JPGs out of cam for most of the images in this review. I was at Reeperbahn in Hamburg/Germany, which is Hamburgs “entertainment district”. So I decided to go for a Cross Process Filter which gives a colorful and oldstyle appearance to the images.

Not everyone wants to be seen in such a place, so I was working with slow shutter speeds to make everyone unrecognizable. On the other side I was asking some peeps for a portrait – but have a look yourself :-)

Hey, what’s up man!

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The LUMIX GX8 in the Streets

My personal choice for a camera for street photography is not related to a certain brand (even though I like the Olympus PEN F a lot) but to the body design. To me a rangefinder style body is much more unobstrusive than a DSLR or DSLR style mirrorless camera. So the GX8 should fit somehow into my preferences. But it is on the bigger site and I guess Panasonic had nature and studio use in mind. Attached with a Pana-Leica 100-400 or a 42.5 Nocticron, the GX8 would handle very well. In the streets however, it is slightly too big for my taste. At least that’s what I thought when I started my review…

Besides the body design it is most important to me how a camera excels in image quality and focusing abilities. And so this review is mainly focused on these points.

To give you a short overview to my conclusion: The LUMIX GX8 is a brilliant camera. It’s not only the huge line up of functions and features, but also how brilliant almost all of these features do work. It’s a very reliable camera and perfectly suited to street photography!
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The Setup

Panasonic LUMIX GX8 | Pana-Leica 15mm/F1.7 | Pana-Leica 25mm/F1.4 | Lumix 42.5/F1.7 | Spare batteries | Cleaning towel | Raincover | Smartphone

All packed in a CAMSLINGER Streetomatic Blue

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JPGs OUT OF CAM ARE JUST AWESOME THESE DAYS

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I used the Cross Process Filter which is one of 22 Filters the GX 8 offers. Using the WB button, you can adjust from cold to warm in four steps.

By the way this is “Ms Drag Queen 1997” Olivia Jones who was so kind to let me take a portrait :-)

EYE DETECTION AUTO FOCUS WORKS EVEN AT A STICKER
Auto Focus of the LUMIX GX8 is simply stunning in all modes!

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Image Quality

Many photographers tend to say the sensor of Micro 43 is too small. Honestly, I can’t comprehend that. Up to ISO 3200 I do not have any problems with my style of photography and even DR is really good. And so I’m super happy with the 20 MP out of the GX8.

I remember very well the lousy colors of my first LUMIX, a GF1 back in 2010, which was far away from what I was used to from my NIKONs. But with the GX8 Panasonic did a great job and colors are superb.

The two next images were RAWs processed in Lightroom with only slight adjustments. While walking around at the port, which is just a stone’s throw away from Reeperbahn, I met Thilo from Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise. They were on the way to do some research about the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic. Had a nice chat with him and thanked him for the work they do…


AWESOME DETAILS AND TRUE TO LIFE COLORS
Thilo from the Arctic Sunrise shot with the Pana-Leica 25mm at F1.4

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GREAT DYNAMIC RANGE ON A CLOUDY/SUNNY DAY
I just adjustet lights/shadows in Lightroom and used the brush to brighten up the guy in the green jacket… Overall a small fix made within a few seconds. The DR of the new sensor is really good!

P1010334

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 “If granny knew my job, she would be rotating in her grave!”
Eye Detection Autofocus focuses through glasses – how cool is that?

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Handling etc.

The LUMIX GX8 handles very well, especially because of the nice grip. All dials and knobs are very good to reach and I was extremely happy to have a physical switch for AF mode. Only the SONY a6000 has a better handling in my opinion, but it misses some physical controls. The EVF is just awesome! Big, bright, quick – and the tilting feature comes in very handy.

This kind Lady is the ships photographer of the cruiser Qeen Mary “Two”. She was strolling around in Hamburg while her ship was in the ship yard. She saw me reviewing images in the GX8s tilted EVF and thought I might have a prob with the cam. Had I nice chat with her, thanks to the tilting EVF :-)

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When I started my review, I thought the GX8 is a little bit too big. But this turned out to be like it is with a new record from your favorite band – you have to listen to some of the songs a few times to like them. And so it was with the GX8. After using it for while I liked the size VERY much! It just fitted perfectly in my realtively big hands and is still small enough to not beeing flashy.

Some reviewers don’t like the design of the GX8 or at least say it’s “nothing special”. Not so me! Sure, the PEN F has that special aura, but let’s have a look at the GX8. Panasonics design approach is much more modern and I have the feeling that one can clearly see LEICA has been the noble midwife when Panasonic entered the market. I can see Bauhaus elements and straight, clean lines. All buttons and dials are well placed and functionality is above average (and the menue system as well). To me it comes along as a brilliantly designed working tool and I really like and appreciate this approach. But taste is generally known as a personal and subjective thing :-)

THE GX8 WITH A LEICA LENS – Simple, clean and modern design

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Focusing in the Streets

I’m using mostly three focus methods when in the streets:

#1 – Single point auto focus | #2 – Continuous auto focus with subject tracking | #3 – Hyperfocal focusing

At Reeperbahn (and in general) I was working most of the time with Single Point Auto Focus. And this is blazing fast and 100% accurate. Press the shutter and focusing and triggering happens in the same moment. Same when using the touch screen. Just tip on your subject and in the same moment – click – it’s done! Even in dim conditions I had no complaints.

When taking portraits, Eye Detection Autofocus is a superb method. It even focuses through glasses!

I won’t show images I made with Continuous Auto Focus with Subject Tracking, because all of them showed people in the nasty Reeperbahn area :-). However I tried this method and was amazed by the GX8s tracking abilities. It works 90% of the time – as long as there is enough light. As soon as it becomes dim, tracking was not that reliable anymore. For Hyperfocal Focusing the Pana-Leica lenses are not the first choice because of the missing distance scale. You’ll find a scale on the screen when manual focusing but unfortunaley it does not show the distance. So here I’d like to praise Olympus and the 12mm/F2.0 and 17mm/F1.8 – they have a great distance scale!

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The GX8 in a CAMSLINGER Streetomatic

As the GX8 is a little bigger than the average rangefinder style mirrorless body, I chose a CAMSLINGER Streetomatic for my Setup. The Blue one fits very nicely to my jeans :-) I attached the FINGERCAMSTRAP and so I could grab the GX8 with one hand and at the same time fix it to my index against accidential dropping.

Carrying the LUMIX GX8 and gear in a CAMSLINGER at the hip, is extremely comfortable. As your upper body is free of belts and straps, your neck will never hurt. In fact it is almost as quick to grab your cam, as it would be with a sling strap – but the GX8 was always protected, when not in use.

GX8 and CAMSLINGER Streetomatic Blue

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A VIDEO SHOWING THE GX8 IN THE CAMSLINGER STREET O MATIC

Conclusion

The LUMIX GX8 is a relatively perfect camera. It’s feature set is stunning and more so the fact, that everything simply works as it should. From the view point of a street photographer this cam is a no brainer. Buy it and you’ll be happy. It may not have this special appearence like a PEN F, but if you like a clean, modern, industrial design, the GX8 is a good choice for you.

JPGs out of cam are great even though it does not offer the crazy variations a PEN F delivers. RAW files are rich of detail and colors are superb. Thinking of video, which can be also a part of street photography, the GX8 is beneath the best choices available. I haven’t tried the 4K photo mode, but will in my upcoming GX80/85 review.

The LUMIX GX8 is a work horse camera with many useful features and it works nearly perfect. On the street it is a reliable companion and no, it is not too big :-)

P.S.: Imaging a full frame sensor in this body and a LEICA T mount. And then some nice lenses from Panny and of course Leica. You know what? THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!!!

SUBTITLE: The Devil at Reeperbahn

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27 thoughts on “Reeperbahn with the Panasonic LUMIX GX8 By Thomas Ludwig

  1. Very comprehensive article from a man whose opinion I have come to respect over the last several years. If anyone has stressed the value and importance of traveling light it has been you and the camslinger that you have designed and manufactured has truly addressed that issue with style and comfort.

    Thanks for the great article on the Panasonic. I own Fuji X pro 2 at this time and a three primes, and have recently become a Panasonic user with the LX100 because of your articles. Keep up the good work and the good fight Thomas.

  2. What are you ideal specs for the much anticipated EM2?

    This GX8 camera body and lens setup are not water/splash proof are they? How do firmware options comapre with Oly EM1?

  3. Have had a GX8 for a while and agree, its a great camera. Small Question, strange even, what is that small strap you are using? It looks quite a comfortable idea and I wouldn’t mind trying such an item. Home made or can you name a supplier?

    Thanks anyway

  4. Lots of pink and magenta hues. I don’t know if it’s a photographer’s choice of the subjects, a camera’s peculiarity or a processing peculiarity. Pink and interesting article, thanks.

  5. Nice photos.

    Yeah, I was using M43 for my work for many years. FYI, I’ve used the Olympus OM-D E-M5, E-M1 & E-M5 MkII. It’s does indeed offer plenty of resolution & DR for what I would honestly say at least 80% of photographers would ever need, probably more in a lot of cases, if we’re all being honest with ourselves.

    I have to say as far as interchangeable lens cameras are concerned, it’s hard to beat the fast AF performance of the camera & lens. Provided you don’t need top tracking, single point AF is REALLY good… but, AF and tracking are constantly getting better and eventually will be as good as DSLR’s, if not exceed some day.. and don’t have to mention black out for continuous shooting cause you already know that’s being handled by a lot of mirrorless recently announced in 2016 and it will only get better.. super fast processor and hardware to handle it will eventually solve these issues.. sure, it will never be absolute zero lag, but I think if it’s even remotely down to 0.0005ms or whatever, you’d be a liar if you said you could see the difference. Anyways… back on point…

    I think the “standard” and notion that bigger and more has to be better blinds some to the fact that perhaps more often than not that smaller and less is just as good or at least more than enough for most.

    I’m not going to talk about professional photography necessarily cause I know many would argue to death it’s a must to go full frame (or APS-C or Medium Format, whatever) and max resolution and DR and all of that.. and they probably would be right.. if it’s what you need for work, then that’s what you need. I’m saying for the greater mass of non-professional consumers and enthusiasts, the most important thing is 1, you have a camera [& lens(es)] you can use, you have the interest (I would say “passion”, but I hear that word used too often, cliche?, and that may be a bit too strong for the more casual shooter), and the “eye-magination” to make the photo you want… and if all else fails, the raw determination will get you through until you succeed.

    I’m not “pro” or anything, just what I think at this time and day.

    Keep up the great work! BTW, out of all the shots, I think I like #13 down from the top.. I think it’s the 13th one, the one with the sideways body shot on the wall with dude & dog walking by in a blur.. something about the shape and motion flows and caught my eye the most.

    1. .. one last thing I forgot to add.. I recognize that even the casual or enthusiast shooter may want and demand a larger sensor and all that entails. I’m not above conceding to that at all.. I still maintain the greater majority of anybody who’s ever thought of owning a camera doesn’t need all that to make a great photo.

  6. Good honest review. I agree with your assessment. I love the GX8 and find it to be the perfect size. It’s not as flashy as the Pen F, but I think it’s a sensible design that puts function over form. The EVF and focus are simply amazing. I think Panasonic has done a great job designing this camera from a blank slate, without trying to pull elements from the past for nostalgic reasons.

  7. Like almost everything about the camera, except there is no back button focus button where your thumb naturally rests while holding the camera. The function button inside the focus mode selector switch is too far to the left and is not comfortable for BB focus. The AF/AE Lock is in an even worse position.
    I like the camera a lot, but have had to switch to using Shutter button focus, which is not how I shoot with all of my other cameras, so I am actually thinking about letting this one go.

  8. Thankyou for sharing this blog. We have gained nice information about digital camera which you can search using digital camera on our website.

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  9. Nice write up and photos! I think the GX8 is one of the best cameras I have ever used. It also have a lot of features like 4K photo, time lapse, great video – and the crazy thing is here in Sweden you can find them for half the price.

  10. A great eye and interesting compositions and processing. Your work has a strong and distinctive authorial voice which makes your work stand out.

    After seeing your pics, I don’t even care what camera you use. Your talent is larger than the camera you use. :)

  11. I love your shots. I’m sure you would score with any camera, but obviously this one suits you well. You really captured the “flavor” of this interesting place. Thanks for the “taste!”

  12. There’s something about micro four thirds that keeps me contemplating downsizing for. You mention the A6000 – do you think the DR is comparable? How about autofocus abilities? Great pics!

    1. Hi Colin, DR of the a6000 is better. Also high ISO possibilities. But that’s not crucial to me. The GX8 works just awesome quick and reliable and has so many well implemented features. All this makes it IMHO a better street cam than the a6000.

      1. Thanks for the feedback! I shall be keeping an eye on these – seem like they could be a good fit for my type of photography. Keep up the good work!

  13. Hi,

    I especially love the blurred dog and person in front of the lingerie poster. However, for doing a camera overview I didn’t understand why all your images except for possibly the ones of the camera bag have a very profound greenish tint. Was this out of camera or did you add a filter to them in post?

    Thanks,
    Steve

    1. Hi Steve, I’ve used a built in Cross Process Filter and JPGs out of cam. The intention was to give it that colorful but old school look, that fits somehow in such a place.

      1. Thanks for clearing that up. You have a wonderful eye and so enjoyed your work, was just curious about the color. I have an Olympus OMD and when I looked at the original Panasonic camera when I was buying the color seemed to run on the greenish side. Thanks so much for sharing. I miss London.

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