Panasonic launched the first mirrorless camera when it debuted the Lumix G1 back in 2008, and over the years the company has developed an extensive range of Lumix cameras, as well as travel compacts and big zoom bridge cameras. In this guide we’ll round up the best Panasonic cameras for what you want to film or photograph. But first, let’s explain the Lumix range.
Understanding the different ranges of Panasonic cameras
Panasonic has split its Lumix mirrorless cameras into four families over the years, but with the launch of its full-frame S range, there are now five.
S series cameras
The Lumix S series is Panasonic’s high-end full-frame range. Aimed at professionals, Panasonic S series cameras are bigger and feature professional specifications.
GH series cameras
At the top of the Micro Four Thirds pecking order is the Panasonic GH series, which is aimed mainly at videographers and professional photographers who shoot video. The GH cameras boast a DSLR-style body and have typically driven the market forward in terms of video specifications. GH cameras also have weather-sealed bodies.
G series cameras
The Panasonic G series cameras are the company’s mid-level range. These typically have a bigger body but are designed for speed and accurate autofocus. Thing of the G series as an economy version of the GH cameras.
GX series cameras
Panasonic introduced the GX line a few years ago, which sits somewhere between its entry-level and mid-ranges. These are more like advanced beginner cameras. They have smaller, compact bodies but usually offer some of the advanced features from Panasonic’s G and GH cameras.
GF series cameras
Panasonic’s GF series is its entry-level mirrorless range. These are small and light and aimed at people making their first leap into interchangeable lens cameras.
It’s also worth noting that in 2013 Panasonic launched the Lumix GM1, and the GM5 a year later. These were the only cameras in the GM series, however, and we’ve omitted them from this list.
LX series cameras
Panasonic’s LX range of premium compact cameras are hallmarked by larger sensors than you’d normally find in a compact camera, along with fast lenses and features from some of its higher end cameras.
The LX Series cameras offer full manual exposure and focus controls, as well as raw capture.
FZ series cameras
Panasonic’s FX series is its range of high-end bridge cameras that boast massive zoom lenses. They are about the size of a small DSLR and offer a wide range of manual controls and focus options.
As the series has evolved, Panasonic has also added extensive video options to its FZ range, such as 4K recording options and a built-in ND filter.
For a deeper dive into the many different camera types and features available, check out our range of camera buying guides.
Best Panasonic camera under £500 / $500
As a company that has tended to push the envelope with video capability over the years, there are some great deals to be had on older Panasonic cameras in that sub-£500 / $500 price point.
The Panasonic G80 is a weather-proof DSLR-style mirrorless or compact system camera (CSC) with a 16 million pixel Four Thirds type sensor and the Micro Four Thirds lens mount. It’s aimed at enthusiast photographers and it has a fast contrast detection autofocus system.
The OLED electronic viewfinder provides a good view of the scene and the vari-angle touch-sensitive screen responds quickly to a touch. The most important settings including exposure mode, shutter speed and aperture are set via dials to make operation quick.
Noise appears is controlled well and there’s a very good level of detail and micro contrast in its images. The clever 4K Photo modes are very useful for capturing fleeting moments and the Focusing Stacking feature is useful for creating images that have wider depth of field than normal.
The G80 feels very solid and tough, and it’s weather-sealed so you can use it in the rain – as I did. The dual-dial controls are also responsive and allow you to change settings quickly with the camera held to your eye. It may not have quite the same charm as some of Olympus and Fuji’s cameras, but it has a good collection of features and generally performs well.
With a street price of around £500-600, the G80 offers a lot of spec and a robust build that should make it a serious consideration.
If you don’t have the budget for a GH5 and if what you film or shoot isn’t all that complex, the Panasonic GX880 could be what you need.
With a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, the GX880 can record 4K video and also offers Panasonic’s 4K Photo feature.
Images are composed and reviewed on the 3-inch 1,040,000-dot screen that can be flipped up through 180 degrees for convenient selfie shooting and vlogging.
It’s a pocket-sized camera with a retractable lens, perfect for carrying anywhere you go. But importantly, its image quality is superb and has all the tools and features you need to learn – and grow – with the camera.
Best Panasonic camera for video
Sensor: 24.2MP full frame CMOS
Video: 6K (5.9K) 3:2 24p, 5.9K 16:9 up to 30p, C4K/4K UHD up to 60p
The Panasonic S1H features a 35.6 x 23.8mm, 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and is the first camera capable of 6K video capture. It can record 6K at 24p at a 3:2 aspect ration, 5.9K at 30p in 16:9, as well as 10-bit 4K/Cinema 4K footage at 60p using the Super 35mm image area. As if that isn’t enough, it can record 4:2:2 10-bit 4K footage at 30p over the full image area.
The Panasonic S1H also promises 14 stops of dynamic range – the same as Panasonic’s cinema cameras – along with a slew of other video specifications aimed at professionals such as Panasonic’s V-Log/V-Gamut log modes, HDR in HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output and Anamorphic 4:3 modes.
The Panasonic S1H’s Dual Native ISO thresholds are 640 and 4000, which means the sensitivity effectively resets at 4000 and can produce ‘clean’ images up to ISO 51,200.
Other features include a 225-area DFD contrast AF system, Panasonic’s Venus image processor, a 5.76-million-dot OLED EVF and a 3.2-inch, 2.33-million-dot tilting LCD.
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Shoots 6K raw
Records 4K at 60p
14 stops dynamic range
Largy body size
Honourable Mentions – Best Micro Four Thirds camera for video
Memory & Connectivity: Dual UHS-II SD Slots; Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
Stills: 12-fps Cont. Shooting and 4K PHOTO Modes
If video is your bag, the GH5S is not only the best Panasonic camera for video but arguably the best camera for video you can buy. While many videographers have hailed the Panasonic GH5 as the ultimate video camera, Panasonic is now calling it the ‘ultimate hybrid camera’ with the GH5S getting ‘ultimate video camera’ status.
Like the GH5, the GH5S can shoot Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) footage. However, whereas the GH5 is limited to 24p at this resolution, the GH5S can shoot at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p or 24p. Furthermore, if you opt for 30p, 25p or 24p, you can shoot that C4K footage in 4:2:2 10-bit for a greater range of colours and smoother tonal gradations.
If high bitrates are important, the GH5S can record 4:2:2 10-bit 400-Mbps All-Intra in 4K 30p, 25p or 24p and C4K 24p. While C4K and 4K footage can be recorded at up to 60fps, Full-HD (1920 x 1080) footage can be recorded at up to 240fps, giving 10x slow motion playback.
Inside the GH5S is a new 10.2Mp High Sensitivity MOS sensor coupled with a Venus Engine. Although it has the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount, its sensor is a little larger than is found in most MFT cameras because it’s a Multi Aspect Ratio unit that enables the same diagonal angle of view to be recorded whatever the aspect ratio of the image or video.
What’s more, in a new move for a Panasonic G-series camera, each pixel on the GH5S sensor has two analogue circuits and this enables two base sensitivities (ISO 400 and ISO 2500). This Dual Native ISO Technology and the lower pixel count of the GH5S are designed to improve dynamic range and help keep noise in check even in very low light when sensitivity (ISO) is high.
The GH5 is Panasonic’s flagship compact system or mirrorless camera and it has a mini-DSLR design, featuring a high-quality electronic viewfinder and – crucially for vloggers – a vari-angle touch-screen.
Inside the GH5 is a 20Mp Four Thirds type CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter to allow it to record more detail. This is paired with a new Lumix processing engine which enables a native sensitivity range of ISO 200-25,600. This can be expanded to a low setting of ISO 100.
Videographers will be pleased to learn that there’s unlimited 4K video recording – most cameras can only record in bursts of up to 29minutes and 59 seconds. There’s also a choice between MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive and AVCHD formats at a variety of frame rates, the system frequency can be set to 59.94Hz, 50.00Hz or 24.00Hz.
In addition, there’s a Waveform Monitor and Vector Scope to meet the needs of professional videographers. This embeds SMPTE-compliant Time Code with Rec Run or Free Run counting to aid with multiple device synchronisation.
It’s possible to shoot 4096 x 2160 4K at 24p (or 3840 x 2160 4K at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p with no cropping), 4:2:2 10-bit Full HD (1080p) recording and 4K 4:2:2 10-bit ALL-Intra MP4/MOV (apart from at 60/50p) and Full HD 4:2:2 10-bit ALL-Intra recording. The step-up from 8-bit to 10-bit recording vastly increases the range of colours that can be recorded.
A firmware update has also added high-resolution Anamorphic Video Mode and Hybrid Log Gamma for 4K HDR Video (for playback on HDR compatible televisions).
It’s also possible to add V-LogL recording via an optional software key (DMW-SFU1), with LUT (Look Up Table) and V-LogL View Assist to help experienced videographers get the colour and contrast they want.
In short, the GH5 offers videographers the kind of specification and video quality that is normally only made possible by a much larger, more expensive cinematic camera. It’s even possible to connect XLR mic via an optional adaptor.
In addition to the extensive range of video quality, format and frame rate options, the GH5 has a high-quality viewfinder, excellent vari-angle touch-screen and both 4K Photo and 6K Photo mode to simplify capturing fleeting moments. It’s also dust and weatherproof so you can use it without concern outdoors.
Sensor: 20.3 million Four Thirds type (17.3 x 13mm)
Burst Mode: 20fps with AF-C, 60fps with AF-S
Autofocus: 225-point Contrast detection
Video: 4K (3840 x 2160) at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p with no cropping
Dimensions (W x H x D) : 136.9 x 97.3 x 91.6 mm / 5.39 x 3.83 x 3.61 inch (excluding protrusions)
Weight: 658g / 1.45lb including 1 SD card x and battery, 586g / 1.30lb body only
The Panasonic Lumix G9 is Panasonic’s flagship stills-camera and it sits alongside the GH5 at the top of the company’s interchangeable lens camera line-up.
The G9 has the same 20.3-megapixel sensor and Venus 10 processing engine as the GH5. However, Panasonic says the sensor and processor have been tuned differently to suit the G9’s stills-shooting focus.
The G9 also has a High Resolution mode that enables 80-megapixel images to be created in jpeg and raw formats in-camera. In this mode the camera takes a sequence of 8 images in quick succession, shifting the sensor a little between each shot. These images are then merged to create a single larger image with more detail.
The G9 also has Dual IS, a system that can combine 5-axis sensor shifting-stabilisation and lens-based stabilisation. The G9’s Dual IS can deliver a correction of 6.5EV at all focal lengths.
The G9’s 2x focal length conversion factor is attractive for sport and wildlife photography as it enables you to frame the subject more tightly than you might expect.
Meanwhile, optics such as the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 ASPH. and Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH., which are equivalent to 14-28mm and 16-36mm lenses respectively on a 35mm camera, mean that you don’t have to miss the wide-angle shooting opportunities.
Price when reviewed
$1698 / €1729
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Compact weather-sealed body
Stabilisation system rated at 6.5EV
High-quality EVF and screen
Awkwardly positioned joystick controller
400-shot battery life in standard mode
Best Panasonic camera for landscapes
Camera type: Full-frame mirrorless
Announcement: 1st February 2019
Sensor: 47.3MP full-frame (36x24mm)
Aspect Ratios: 2:3, 4:3, 1:1, 16:9, 2:1 and 65:24
Sensitivity range: ISO 100-25,600, expandable to ISO 50-51,200
Autofocus system: Contrast detection with 225 areas, Auto Detection (Face, Eye, Body, Animal)
Storage: Dual ports: XQD/CFexpress and SD/SDHX/SDXC UHS-II
Dimensions (HxWxD): 110x148.9x96.7mm
Panasonic is aiming the Lumix S1R at professional photographers who want a high-resolution camera. For many, the 47Mp resolution is likely to be enough, but like the S1 and Panasonic G9, the Lumix S1R has a High Resolution mode.
When this is mode is activated, the camera shoots a series of 8 images in quick succession. Using the in-body stabilisation mechanism, it moves the sensor a fraction between each shot. The camera then merges the images to create one much larger raw file.
When the aspect ratio is 3:2, using High Resolution Mode results in 16,736 x 11,186-pixel images. That means the images have 187million pixels! At 300ppi this enables you to create 141.7 x 94.56cm (55.787 x 37.227-inch) prints.
Naturally, the main reason for investing in a 47Mp camera is to produce images with lots of detail. The Panasonic Lumix S1R certainly delivers on this score. If you want to take things up a notch, there’s the High Resolution mode.
Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.74x magnification
Key video specifications: 4K (3840x2160) 4:2:2 10-bit LongGOP H.264 29.97/23.98p/25p and 150Mbps for up to 30mins, 4K (3840x2160) 4:2:0 8-bit LongGOP H.264 29.97/23.98p/25p and 100Mbps unlimited, Full HD (1920x1080) 4:2:2 10-bit LongGOP H.264 59.94/29.97/23.98p/50/25p and 100Mbps unlimited
Slow & Quick motion: Slow: 4K up to 60p in MP4, FHD up to 120p at full width or 180p with narrower angle of view, Quick: 4K to 1p
Sensitivity: Dual native ISO 100, 6400, Range: ISO100-51,200, expandable to ISO 50-204,800. Dual-native ISO for video
Shutter speed: 60-1/16,000sec, Bulb to 30mins
Maximum continuous shooting rate: AF-S or manual focus: 7fps, AF-C: 5fps, 6K Photo 30fps, 4K Photo: 60fps
Memory: Dual SD card slots, 1 UHS-II, 1 UHS-I
Weight: 714g with memory card and battery
Dimensions (WxHxD): 132.6x97.1x81.9mm
The Panasonic Lumix S5 is a full-frame mirrorless camera and the most affordable model in the Panasonic Lumix S range.
However, Panasonic hasn’t just used the same bodyshell and reduced the number of features of the Lumix S5. It’s taken a look at what people love about the Micro Four Thirds Lumix GH5 and considered the pros and cons of the S-series to deliver something more affordable and very attractive to enthusiast photographers looking to shoot video more seriously and frequently.
One of the most exciting features of the Panasonic S5 is that it has the same 24.2Mp full-frame sensor as the S1H. That’s a camera that has garnered many plaudits for its video quality.
Consequently, Panasonic is pitching the S5 at people who have started out as photographers and content creators who want to create more video. Its headline video specification is that it can shoot 4K (3840×2160) footage in 4:2:2 and 10-bit LongGOP H.264 at 29.97/23.98p/25p. That’s when recording internally to an SD-type card.
It can shoot at that quality and resolution for up to 30minutes. Alternatively, if you’re happy to 4:2:0 8-bit 4K footage, you can shoot indefinitely until your memory cards are full.
If the Panasonic S5’s HMDI port is used to connect external storage, it’s possible to record 4K 4:2:2 10-bit footage at 60p. That means you can have high resolution 2x slow-motion video in 4K resolution.
There are also ports to connect an external microphone and headphones.
Impressively, the Lumix engineers have managed to make the Panasonic S5 smaller than the Lumix GH5. That’s quite a feat given the difference in the sensor and mount sizes of the two cameras.
The Panasonic S5’s specification, size and price are all very enticing. It offers what many were hoping for from the Lumix S1 and S1H, a full-frame version of the GH5. Panasonic’s back-to-the-drawing-board work on the autofocus system also delivers. It’s an excellent all-rounder suited in equal measure to shooting stills and video.
Key video specifications: 4K (3840x2160) at 24,25,30p and 100Mbps, V-Log L and Ozo Audio by Nokia
Weight: 310g body only, 352g with SD card and battery, 412g with the 12-32mm lens
Dimensions (WxHxD): 115.6x82.5x54.2mm
While you might think the Panasonic G100 is a replacement for the Panasonic G90, it actually sits below it in the Lumix line-up of mirrorless cameras. It’s aimed at new vloggers and people who want to start shooting video. With that in mind, it has a vari-angle touchscreen that can be seen from in front of the camera and new audio technology called OZO Audio by Nokia that’s designed improve sound without using an external mic.
Panasonic is keen to stress that the Lumix G100 can also be used for stills and it has a 20.3Mp Four Thirds type sensor plus a built-in viewfinder.
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix G100 is designed as an entry-level vlogging camera and it fits that bill very well. It has a bigger sensor than competing compact cameras like the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III and Sony ZV-1 and benefits from accepting interchangeable lenses, which makes it a bit more versatile. In still conditions the OZO Audio tracking works very well, but I think even novice vloggers will soon migrate on to an external mic like the Rode Wireless Go for the windshield capability. While it lacks some of the novel vlogging-centric features such as Face Priority,Product Showcase of the Sony ZV-1 and the live streaming capability of the Canon G7 X III, it provides a good level of control with the ability to restrict depth of field without being too bulky.
Sensitivity: 200 to 25600 (Extended: 100 to 25600)
Video: UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 24.00p/29.97p [100 Mb/s]
Viewfinder: 2,760,000-dot EVF
Monitor: 3-inch 1,240,000-dot tilting touchscreen
Panasonic introduced the GX9 to sit in the middle of its range as a “premium street photography camera”. With its small body size and flat rangefinder type design, it’s also ideally suited as a travel camera – especially if you already own another Micro Four Thirds camera.
It houses a 20.3 megapixel Four Thirds sensor, without an anti-aliasing filter for increased detail resolution.
It has a host of other appealing specifications, including a high-resolution tilting viewfinder, a tilting touch-sensitive LCD screen, 4K Photo and Video modes, and compatibility with the huge range of Micro Four Thirds lenses.
The look of the camera is also very stylish, without attracting too much attention when using it out and about, which is ideal. There’s a good mixture of buttons and dials on the camera, while the tilting screen is very handy for composing from awkward angles – I’m personally not too bothered about articulation for a camera like this (others may feel differently).
Overall image quality is very good, particularly in good or bright light. In lower light, watch out for a little loss of detail in places, and try to stick to as wide an aperture as possible. Colours are nicely reproduced, being natural while also vibrant, while focusing is generally quick and accurate.
Tilting screen is great for shooting at odd angles
Some loss of detail in low light
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