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.
Viewfinder and vari-angle touchscreen
Clever Ozo Audio by Nokia onboard
Crop in 4K mode
What is the Panasonic Lumix G100?
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.
Key video specifications: 4K (3840×2160) 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): 115.6×82.5×54.2mm
Vlogging is a growth area at the moment and Panasonic has a good reputation amongst videographers. Looking to capitalise on these two points, Panasonic has introduced the Lumix G100 which while having features that make it suitable for stills photography, is aimed at novice videographers and vloggers.
Naturally, that means it’s capable of shooting 4K or Full HD video at a selection of frame rates. Something to keep in mind with 4K recording, however, is that there’s a slight crop applied so the 12-32mm kit lens looks a little longer than its usual 24-64mm effective focal length.
Helpfully, the Panasonic G100 has a Rec Frame Indicator that outlines the frame in red when you start recording. There’s also a Frame Marker feature that can be set to indicate the framing of a selection of aspect ratios favoured by some social media channels. The video is recorded as normal but you can preview what’s in the frame with your selected aspect ratio.
There’s also a Slow&Quick option on the mode dial to ease creating slow motion and quick motions footage. When this is selected, there are menu options to enable 2x, 4x and 8x quick recording or 2x and 4x slow recording. The camera cranks up or reduces the frame rate accordingly and the footage is output at the intended viewing rate so there’s no need to adjust the playback frame rate in post-processing.
While, as usual, the sound isn’t recorded in Slow&Quick mode, the autofocus system does work, which makes the mode more versatile.
Further good news is that the Panasonic G100 has 5-axis hybrid image stabilisation. This combines an in-camera electronic stabilisation system with lens-based stabilisation when a stabilised lens is used.
When the Lumix G100’s vary-angle screen is rotated to face forward, the camera switches to selfie mode. And if the video record button is pressed, a countdown from 3 appears on the screen before the recording starts.
If it’s activated via the menu, the G100 also looks for faces and eyes in the frame and focus on them.
Although the G100 has a 3.5mm port to connect an external mic, it also features a spatial audio recording system called OZO Audio by Nokia. This is a first for mirrorless cameras.
In the G100, OZO Audio uses three internal microphones. It can also work in tandem with the face detection focusing to track the person talking and optimise the audio for them.
Alternatively, the mic can be set to Auto, Surround, Front or Back, depending upon where you anticipate the most important sounds will be coming from.
While some of the video features are designed to help beginners or non-videographers create content, there are some attractive features for more experienced shooters. For example, amongst the usual Photo Styles (Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, L. Monochrome, L. Monochrome D, Scenery, Portrait and Custom), there’s Cinelike D, Cinelike V and (more significantly) V-Log L. The later produces low contrast, low saturation footage that’s more suited to post-capture grading than the results from the other modes.
Also, while it’s possible to let the camera take control of exposure when you’re shooting video, you can take full manual control if you prefer. Aperture and shutter priority modes are also on-hand.
Although the Panasonic G100 is aimed at vloggers, it still has the features you’d expect from a stills camera.
As it’s a Micro Four Thirds camera, the G100 can also accept any of the now huge range of Micro Four Thirds lenses from Panasonic, Olympus and others.
Crucially, there’s a 3,480,000-dot electronic viewfinder built-in. That’s really useful when the sun is shining on the screen on the back of the camera. It makes it much easier to assess exposure and colour as well as composition.
In addition, there’s a small pop-up flash and a hotshoe for attaching an external flashgun.
It’s also nice to see a customisable button which by default is set to send images or video to a previously paired smartphone or tablet.
Build and Handling
Panasonic has gone for a mini-DSLR design for the Lumix G100. That means that the electronic viewfinder is in the centre of the top-plate and there’s a grip on the right side (as you hold the camera).
While it’s clearly made from plastic, the G100 doesn’t have an especially cheap feel. There’s a nice textured coating on the grip and thumb rest and top-plate dials are chunky with a positive feel. The buttons, especially those on the back of the camera, are a little on the small and fiddly side, but they all respond quickly to being pressed.
The dial on the back of the camera, however, moves quite freely and lacks the solid feeling of the top dials. Consequently, you need to keep an eye on the settings if you don’t turn the camera off between shots.
As I mentioned earlier, on the back of the G100, there’s a 3-inch screen that can be flipped out and rotated up or down for easier viewing from above or below head-height. This design means that it can be swivelled round for viewing from in front of the camera (vital for selfies) and it’s of use when you’re shooting in upright or landscape format.
The screen provides a good view, but in bright sunshine, it’s preferable to use the viewfinder. As I mentioned earlier, it’s easier to assess the exposure, composition and colour. Both show a good level of detail and provide an accurate preview of the captured images.
The Panasonic G100 isn’t exactly littered with buttons and dials but there are enough to let you adjust the key settings quickly. Helpfully, the dials on the top and back of the camera let you adjust the shutter speed and aperture values directly in manual exposure mode without having to press a button.
By default, you have to press a button to adjust the exposure compensation, but this can be changed via the menu. I switched to use the top-plate dial to adjust exposure compensation in the automatic and semi-automatic exposure modes as it speeds getting the exposure you want.
This leaves the exposure compensation button (Fn1) available for customisation.
There are two other physical buttons, marked Fn3 and Fn4, on the top-plate that are customisable. There’s another (Fn2) on the back of the camera (it doubles as the delete button). Panasonic makes it very easy to change the purpose of these buttons, a long press brings up the available options and then you just select the one you want via the screen.
That approach also means that you can quickly change settings without having to go into the menu.
There are a further five function buttons on the screen. These are accessed by tapping ‘Fn’ on the screen to open tab and you just tap on the one you want to use. The purpose of these virtual buttons is changed via the menu.
It’s good to see that red record button on the top of the camera is quite big. It’s not as large as the shutter release button, but it’s not one of those annoying buttons that you found yourself searching for either.
The Lumix G100 produces the video and stills that I’d expect from a modern MicroFour Thirds camera with a 20.3Mp sensor. There’s a good level of detail and while not groundbreaking, noise is controlled well for this type of camera.
Panasonic has stuck with contrast detection for the G100’s autofocus system and although it’s generally reliable, it’s not quite as fast or dependable as a phase detection system.
Also, although the camera showed a box around my face and highlighted my eyes when I was shooting some 4K video in a gloomy woodland, it didn’t get my face or eyes sharp from the outset. It took a few moments to get me sharp and it wavered occasionally.
Further testing reveals that it can struggle to spot your face or eyes if you’re wearing spectacles. And in less than perfect light, even though there may be a box around your face and a crosshair on an eye, the focus can shift around a bit.
Another issue with shooting 4K video on the G100 is that there’s a slight crop on top of the 2x focal length magnification that comes with a Four Thirds type sensor. That means that the widest point of the 12-32mm kits lens is actually a bit longer than the expected 24mm. It makes the framing a little tight for vlogging to camera at arm’s length.
The solution is either to get a wider lens or switch to Full HD recording.
I tried using the internal mic in its tracking mode on a windy day and although there’s lots of wind noise audible, it did a good job of picking up my voice and it tracked me as I or the camera moved. That said, it would be better to use an external mic with a windshield it’s windy.
Green bracket marks either side of the face detection box let you know that you are being tracked by the audio system.
On another occasion, I walked along a weir with lots of water crashing beneath me. The internal mic coped extremely well, delivering a natural ambient sound but my voice was clear above it.
When the mic is set to capture audio from behind the camera, the G100 delivers nice clean audio. I’m especially impressed with how it maintained the same tone and volume of my voice as I stepped outside.
Naturally, wind noise can still be an issue with the G100’s internal mic, but the Ozo system does a very good job.
The raw conversion software isn’t available for the Panasonic G100 yet so I’ve only been able to look at Jpeg and movie footage.
With stills, the results look great up to around ISO 3200. I’d even be prepared to go up to ISO 6400. With video, however, I’d aim to keep the sensitivity (ISO) setting a bit lower if possible as the temporal noise spoils the results.
Sample Video from the Panasonic G100
The video below was shot on the Panasonic Lumix G100 in 4K 25p at 100Mbps with the internal mic set to Tracking. The Face/Eye Detection AF was activated but as you can see, at the start of the first clip, it’s not nailed the focus. The white balance was set to Automatic and the Photo Style was Natural.
This video was shot on the Panasonic Lumix G100 with its S&Q setting set to 4x slow. The white balance was set to Automatic, the Photo Style was Natural and the exposure mode was set to Program.
I’ve not yet been able to examine the raw files from the Panasonic G100, so I won’t pass final judgement on it just yet. However, the G100 is really all about its video and vlogging capability and that’s impressive.
The focusing could be better in low light, and the Face/Eye detection is challenged by spectacles, but it’s generally good.
Using the stabilisation crops the framing a little, and if you’re shooting 4K video of yourself with teh camera at arm’s length, it feels a little tight around your face with the 12-32mm lens at its widest point. It’s preferable to shoot in Full HD resolution from a composition point of view.
Naturally, wind noise is still an issue when you’re using an internal mic (even with the camera’s wind noise reduction activated), but the Ozo audio system does a great job. Provided it’s not a really windy day, you can get great results from the onboard mic.
My review sample was supplied with the DMW-SHGR1 tripod grip and I found it very useful. I kept it on the camera for most of the time I used it and I recommended buying it. However, it doesn’t have quite the solid feel that I was hoping for, and the ball tension control is poor. Nevertheless, it provides a very comfortable way of holding the camera at arm’s length and triggering the shutter or starting and stopping recording.
It’s nice to see a good-quality viewfinder onboard along with the G100’s excellent vlogging credentials. It means the camera is just at home shooting stills as it is video.