”Panasonic’s first “Vlog” camera rises as the current top dog of the market.”
For years now, smartphones have been the traditional tool for Instagrammers and vloggers. But, things have changed these last two years. And it’s no longer the smart choice. With the debut of hit releases like the Sony ZV-1 and Canon EOS M50, vloggers are leveling up. Since 2014, Panasonic’s held the reins as one of the top manufacturers for video, particularly in the professional segment with the acclaimed GH series. Until recently, they haven’t gained much traction in the vlog and content creation market as Sony or Canon.
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But, their latest release aims to change that and break new ground in this segment. Initially released in the summer of 2020, Panasonic G100 is best described as a mini G90/95. And it offers quite a similar feature set, but in a more compact package. While Panasonic is known for its confusing naming conventions, this is an entirely new lineup in the current LUMIX series. And it’s not a replacement to the G90. Instead, it’s a camera design explicitly for content creators wanting a lightweight and intuitive option with superior performance.
On paper, it delivers a large Micro-Four-Thirds sensor, log profiles, stabilization, and much more. It’s clear Panasonic wasn’t messing about with this release, that’s for sure. But, they face some rather tough competition in this area—namely, Sony’s ZV-1, Canon’s EOS M50, their G90/G95, and Fujifilm’s X-T200. As their first release, can this camera compete? Let’s find out.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Panasonic Lumix G100?
It obtains the same 20.3MP Live MOS sensor without an Anti-Aliasing (AA) filter and Venus Engine processor as the G90. While they don’t aim this camera at still shooters, it’s impressive to see such a high-end setup here. In size, it’s sensor nearly doubles its closest rival, the Sony ZV-1, and even the flagship GH5s.
And instead, this configuration closely matches the flagship G9. As such, this camera excels as a compact photographic tool and one that delivers image quality that punches above its weight. The images are sharp, with excellent dynamic range, and Panasonic’s faithful color rendering. Even as a Micro Four-Thirds camera, it competes directly with several larger APS-C equipped cameras in this regard.
The camera also obtains Panasonic’s full suite of Black & White filters, including the standard Monochrome and L Monochrome D profiles. The latter provides more rich black and whites with better gradations and contrast. And combined with the camera’s Grain effect, it delivers outstanding B&W images.
It offers continuous shooting speeds of up to 6 fps using a mechanical shutter or 10 fps using the electronic shutter. However, shooting at the higher 6 fps burst rate locks autofocus and exposure after the first shot. But dropping down to 5 fps, maintains continuous AF. Nevertheless, these are good figures for the class. And the camera also provides an excellent buffer of 480+ JPEG images or 20 RAW images before slowing.
It shoots 4K UHD video up to 30 fps and 1080p Full HD video up to 60 fps to the MP4 format. And both resolutions shoot internally with 8-bit color and 4:2:0 color subsampling. The camera also supplies working data rates of 100 Mbps and 28 Mbps for 4K and 1080p. Overall, the video quality is excellent, and the camera is quite capable. And the footage is sharp and free of rolling shutter or artifacts. However, this camera does have some notable video recording limits and crops. We will cover these in-depth in the cons section below.
Panasonic has pre-installed the V-Log L profile, a feature taken from the GH5. This profile increases the camera’s dynamic range to 12 stops and captures a flat neural gamma for easier post-processing. And the camera also obtains both Cinelike D and V profiles.
New for this release is the Slow & Quick (S&Q) Mode, which records in-camera slow or quick-motion footage to a 1080p video. You can record up to 8x quick-motion or 4x slow-motion in this mode, saving time during post-processing.
It has Zebras for highlight clipping indication, and you can also specify the range.
It has a clean HDMI output via the micro-HDMI port, which supplies an 8-bit 4:2:2 1080p FHD signal. This makes it a suitable choice for external recorders or to live stream if 1080p suits your workflow.
You can capture up to 40 JPEG stills during video recording, determined by the video recording settings.
You can also extract pictures from videos and save them as JPEG images via the playback mode.
The camera obtains Vertical Video support, which adjusts the metadata to the 9×16 aspect ratio for proper vertical playback on smartphones. It’s a nice addition that saves time having to do this in post-processing.
It obtains the REC Frame Indicator from the S1H, which adds a large red border around the display to indicate your recording. It’s a helpful addition that functions similarly to a dedicated Tally Lamp.
It obtains the new Frame Marker feature, which overlays a specific aspect ratio on screen. And this mode allows you to shoot in an unconventional aspect ratio and better gauge framing or composition before cropping in post. And it’s helpful if you plan on directly outputting videos to social media. This mode also offers plenty of customization over the color and how the camera masks the frame.
It obtains the Snap Movies feature, which allows you to specify the recording in advance and record videos more like snapshots. You can essentially use this mode to perform focus pulls and add fade in or out effects beforehand. It’s quite a niche feature, but it could be helpful.
Low Light Performance
It features a native ISO range from ISO 200 to 25,600. And users can expect usable images up to ISO 3,200 with minimal processing, which is suitable for Micro Four-Thirds camera.
It obtains a similar 49-area AF system with Panasonic Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology as the GX8 and GX85. Like these cameras, it’s solely a contrast-detection based AF system with support down to – 4 EV. However, Panasonic has added their latest image analysis software algorithms. And the camera also offers both Face and Eye-detection along with tracking.
The result is the best autofocus system they’ve released to date. DFD was already quick at single-point focusing and re-calculating distance. But, the updates now make it quite suitable for continuous AF and video. It’s substantially more accurate, consistent, and Face Detection is reliable. The camera can also detect up to 15 people, and you can specify which subjects to prioritize. Plus, it has AF custom settings, allowing you to fine-tune the Continuous AF settings for both stills and video.
Surprisingly, the camera maintains AF even when shooting in 1080p 120 fps, a new addition for Panasonic.
It also obtains Panasonic’s full suite of manual focus aids, including Focus Peaking, MF Guide, and Focus Magnification. The combination works well and is ideally suited for manual focusing.
Display & Viewfinder
It features a 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1.84M dots. A free-angle screen is an ideal choice for the vloggers Panasonic aims as it offers the most versatility. It’s also excellent for shooting stills and comfortable framing shots at awkward angles. Panasonic has also improved the brightness, which is now 1.4x that of the Lumix G90.
Overall, the screen is sharp, accurate, and easily bright enough to use in harsh sunlight conditions. And since it’s also a touchscreen, it obtains Panasonic’s full suite of touch capabilities. These include AF touchpad, touch AF, touch shutter, pinch to zoom, and full menu navigation.
It also obtains the same 3.68M dot Live View Finder with a 0.73x magnification as the flagship G9. But, to save cost, Panasonic has opted to use a traditional LCD panel instead of the higher-end OLED panel. Nevertheless, the viewfinder is quite large and bright for this class, with plenty of detail.
It obtains standard Panasonic user interface and menus, which uses a streamline category hierarchy. Overall, they’re well-organized and relatively easy to navigate, given the camera’s complexity. Both beginners and existing shooters will find them easy enough to navigate and master.
It obtains Panasonic’s Quick Menu. And you can customize up to 15 frequently used items to save time calling up the main menu.
It has the new SELFIE Mode, which is a unique vlogger-specific interface that makes recording more intuitive. By default, you activate this mode by rotating the rear screen forward. The camera then automatically optimizes the depth of field, Auto-Exposure settings, enables Face Detection, and configures the sound pickup range. This is a smart addition on Panasonic’s part, and creators only need to hit the record button, and they’re off.
- Pressing the DISP button display descriptions about menu items and various settings. Useful if you’re new to Panasonic cameras and are unfamiliar with specific settings.
- The camera offers three Custom Modes, C1-C3, accessed by “C” on the Mode Dial. And this gives you quick access to recall full shooting setups.
- It obtains the customizable My Menu, where you can register up to 23 frequently-used menu items.
- It offers four customizable Function (FN) buttons, Fn1-Fn4. And five more are accessible by the virtual menu, which they call Touch Icons.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics
Physically, the camera follows a similar styling and design as the G90. But, at 303g body alone, it’s currently one of the smallest cameras they’ve released. Nevertheless, for a camera of this size, it delivers excellent ergonomics. Panasonic has also added a relatively large and deep grip, which is quite comfortable given the camera’s weight.
Plus it has a protruded rear thumb rest, which helps during one-handed operation. As expected, however, the camera does use a full polycarbonate construction, which means it lacks weather sealing. But, this is expected for this class, and the camera doesn’t feel cheap whatsoever.
- It has a top plate Command Dial, which combines with the rear Control Dial to deliver excellent manual control.
- It has a dedicated video record button that’s large and conveniently located by the shutter release for quick access.
It offers built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE connectivity. This allows you to transfer images and videos via the Panasonic Sync app for iOS and Android. With Low Energy Bluetooth, you can automatically transfer images as they’re taken, remotely control or wake up the camera, and geotag files. Interestingly, Panasonic has mapped the Fn4 button as a dedicated send to smartphone shortcut by default. And in a single click, users can send images or videos to the paired device. Overall, it’s a nice addition that makes this feature even easier to use.
- It has a microphone input, and you can change the input sensitivity via the menus, and it offers quite a generous range for changes.
- It has a built-in pop-up flash.
- It has a fully silent electronic shutter.
- It supports USB charging.
It obtains 5-axis Hybrid image stabilization (I.S.), which combines lens-based optical stabilization and electronic IS for smoother results. For this camera, it doesn’t make sense to stabilize the camera’s sensor, as it would significantly increase size. But, this represents a good compromise and delivers excellent performance nonetheless. Panasonic also configured the camera to adjust and transition between each, for the best results. And they’ve added two electronic stabilization options for video recording.
New for this release is OZO Audio, a world’s first in partnership with Nokia. This is a new audio tracking feature that uses the camera three microphones to auto-adjust the range or direction for better audio. Instead of using two traditional stereo microphones, Panasonic added a third that also captures audio in the front and back.
This system also works in conjunction with the camera’s Face Detection and provides directional audio by skewing the pickup pattern. Essentially, it creates spatial audio recordings that improve richness, immersion, and accuracy regardless of where you are. And to date, this is the most comprehensive built-in microphone system we’ve seen.
It has a built-in intervalometer for time-lapse. And it saves individual pictures as a group or combines them as a video.
- It has Multiple Exposures, and you can combine four images in-camera.
- It has built-in HDR, and it can combine three images in-camera saved as a JPEG.
- You can rate images via the Playback mode.
- It has a 2x digital Teleconverter, which you can zoom beyond the lens optical zoom without deteriorating image quality.
- It has Touch Auto-Exposure (AE), which adjusts the brightness according to the touched position.
It has Live View Composite Recording, which only records changes in brightness to the exposure. It’s a good option for long-exposures or astrophotography that lets you see the exposure develop in real time.
It has several Bracketing options, including exposure, aperture, and white balance bracketing. But it also has Focus Bracketing, and the camera automatically changes the focus point.
It has Stop Motion Animation, which saves the pictures as a group or combines them into a stop motion video.
New for this release is a 10-second customizable countdown timer from when you hit record, which is quite helpful. The timer is easily visible and allows you to get ready in position before recording, saving time during post-processing.
It obtains Panasonic’s full suite of 4K Photo Modes, which pulls 8MP stills from a 30 fps video. And it has 4K burst, Pre-burst, and Start/Stop. And their Light Composition Mode, which superimposes only brighter images of the burst into a single picture. Overall, these are great when shooting decisive moments where proper timing is vital.
It obtains 4K Live Cropping, which uses the 4K resolution to create digital pans or zooms output as a 1080p file.
It has Focus Stacking, which lets you combine multiple images of different focus points in-camera. And it also has Post-Focus Recording, which captures a burst using the same quality as 4K photos while automatically changing the focus point.
It obtains several selfie Functions, including the Soft Skin Mode, Slimming, and the hands-free Face Shutter Mode. The Soft Skin mode makes people’s faces look brighter, and their skin tones softer. And Slimming Mode makes them look slimmer.
It obtains Panasonic’s full suite of extensive in-camera editing. You can trim video clips, crop, resize, develop RAW’s and even retouch images in this mode. New for this camera is the option to retouch photos and remove objects by drawing on the LCD. Panasonic calls this feature Clear Retouch. And it’s quite similar to the Spot and Blemish removal tools in Photoshop. But it works exceptionally well. And as always, Panasonic continues to go leaps and bounds above rivals in these nuances.
Panasonic ships the camera with the optional SHGR1 grip, which doubles as a tripod and has dedicated photo, video, and sleep buttons. It’s quite a helpful addition.
Ultimately, this camera’s key advantage over rivals it’s interchangeable lens system, particularly when compared to Sony’s ZV-1.And, frankly, changing lenses gives creators greater possibilities. This camera uses the standard LUMIX G mount. And Panasonic has a full breadth of compatible lenses, many of which are affordable and compact, matching the form factor. Overall, this gives creators more versatility in selecting a more robust lens for the task at hand. And it diversifies its use while keeping the system compact and small.
- The camera doesn’t output 4K via HDMI, only 1080p.
- As this is an entry-level camera, it lacks advanced video features such as 10-bit, waveforms, or vectorscopes.
- It also doesn’t offer unlimited video recording times like the ZV-1 or bigger brother, the G90.
But more frustratingly, to some, is the crops when shooting in 4K or using electronic IS. Merely switching from 1080p to 4K incurs a 1.26x crop into the frame. And when you enable standard IS, it increases to 1.37x and gets worse with the high setting. Even shooting 1080p with the standard IS setting incurs a mild crop. So, if you plan on vlogging with this camera, either in 1080p with the IS High setting or 4K, you’ll need an ultra-wide-angle lens. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find the crops too tight during recording. Overall, while capable, this camera isn’t ideal for handheld vlogging in 4K.
It uses the BLG10 battery, the same battery as the GX80. However, the battery life isn’t great. Panasonic rates the camera at only 270 shots per charge and 80-90 minutes of 4K video. And these figures are below industry-standards for a mirrorless camera. Thankfully, this camera does have the Power Save LVF Mode, which increases the lifespan to 900 shots. But, either way, you’ll need extra batteries.
With the lack of an OLED panel, the rear EVF suffers from artifacts and color tearing. But it remains usable for what it’s worth.
Like many compact cameras, the battery and SD are in the same slot underneath the camera. And this positioning makes quickly switching either tedious when using a tripod or the optional grip.
- It lacks a headphone output.
- It doesn’t have a full sensor-shift stabilization. For this, consider the G90 instead.
- It lacks weather sealing and dual card slots, which makes sense for the class.
- It only has a USB 2.0 port, not the newer USB Type-C port. With that, file transfers are on the slower side.
Is this a good beginner camera?
This camera remains dangerously simple to use. And it offers the full suite of standard Intelligent Automatic and Semi-Automatic Modes. But, even so, Panasonic has gone lightyears above expectations in this segment. And this camera jam packs an enormous selection of high-end features typically reserved for $2,000+ cameras, into a compact and affordable body.
Considering the features and updates to the interface, this is arguably the best beginner’s camera in the price range. And if you’re looking at a Panasonic camera, this and the G90 are undoubtedly ones to consider.
Is this a good camera for you?
It’s an excellent choice for those wanting a take-anywhere photography camera. Frankly, with its compact design, large 20MP sensor, IBIS, and extensive in-camera editing, it’s one of the better options. It’s less than 1 lbs, including the kit lens and grip. And for this reason, it’s hard to find something this compact yet capable.
This is an excellent choice for those wanting to upgrade from a smartphone or a fixed lens compact camera. At no larger in dimension than most smartphones, it delivers a lot in a small package.
For vloggers and content creators, this camera is a compelling choice. It delivers a large Micro-Four-Thirds sensor, strong 4K video, an articulating screen, innovative audio, and an easy-to-use package. And for the price, it’s currently the best camera for this purpose.
This camera’s an excellent backup or b-roll camera for existing Panasonic shooters, particularly for GH or S users. With its pre-installed V-log, sharp 4K video, and discrete form factor, it’s solid.
In the end, Panasonic’s G100 is currently the leader of this segment. It’s not only immensely feature-packed, it’s also easy to use. And as a content creation tool or hybrid camera, this camera delivers exceptional value for money. Plus, it even offers excellent customization and a robust interchangeable lens system to boast. If you’re looking to add another dimension to your content creation with more versatility it’s a strong contender. And as an answer to Sony’s acclaimed ZV-1 and Canon’s EOS M50, they’ve excelled.
Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Photography PX Published September 9, 2020
Panasonic’s G100 is quite a release on their part. Not only is it one of the most compact mirrorless cameras in the segment, but it also packs a feature set that far surpasses rivals. And as such, it’s the current leader of the mid-range mirrorless segment.