Panasonic Delivers the G100, an MFT Mirrorless for Vlogging06/24/2020
Today, anyone can create, and everyone can publish. Panasonic saw this trend and designed something specifically for this new breed of creators: the G100. It is a lightweight, powerful mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera with a fully articulating touchscreen, advanced OZO Audio by Nokia, 4K video, and plenty of sharing-oriented recording features that will appeal to the vlogger in everyone.
Image quality is great—as it should be. The imaging pipeline is a familiar one to the G9 and GH series, so this is going to be a winner. The real differences come with the body design. For vloggers, there is perhaps nothing more important than having a flip-out screen. If you can't see yourself, you can't effectively shoot. The screen flips out to the side, can face front or back, and can even be tucked away for protection. It measures 3.0", has a 1.84m-dot resolution, and has a high brightness, making it useful when outdoors in bright sunlight. A vlogging-specific interface and Video Selfie Mode make using this device even easier by automating many processes.
Image quality is superb, which is not surprising considering it is using a 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds MOS sensor and a Venus Engine—just like the GH5 and G9. This allows it to capture beautiful UHD 4K at 30p and Full HD at 60p with such a compact form factor. V-Log L comes built-in here, for advanced color grading and integration with other systems. It's also good for capturing stills.
Image stabilization comes as standard with a 5-axis hybrid setup. This uses electronic stabilization from the camera as well as optical stabilization from compatible lenses. This should help smooth out your walking videos. It even works with 4K recording, though this drops down to 4 axes.
Heading back to more content creation features, we have to discuss a lot more body design features. Related to the screen is the addition of a sharp, high brightness EVF. It has a 3.68m-dot resolution and should be no problem for recording footage on a bright day. To help with recording, the camera also has a nice large, red record button on the top next to the shutter.
Autofocus has been upgraded to be faster and more effective at tracking faces and eyes. This will be huge for vlogging or doing interviews, as you can just let the camera do what it needs to do. For other speedy moments, the G100 has a Slow and Quick mode that can help you capture video at up to 120 fps in Full HD and get a nice, slowed down image straight out of the camera.
For vlogging, the G100 features a brand-new microphone system, called OZO Audio by Nokia. What this does is use an array of three microphones at the top of the camera and smart software to focus the pickup pattern. The coolest application is the Tracking option. The camera's autofocus system will actually track your face and eye as you shoot and then adjust the audio system to make sure you are always coming in clear while the background noise does not.
Other options include Surround, which appears to just capture everything around you; Front, which focuses in on anything in front of the camera and is perfect for interviews or vlogs; and Behind, which can help keep narration clean as you capture things in front of you. An Auto setting can switch between Tracking and Surround based on what it sees. If you want to use your own mic, there is a standard 3.5mm input.
There is a lot of fun stuff packed into the menus and operation modes. For starters, when you hit Record there is a red box that shows up around the entire image that clearly tells you that you are recording. The G100 also has frame markers, which will make it easier to shoot for various platforms and social media sites. These include 5:4, 1:1, 4:5, and 9:16. Variable opacity will give you control over how much outside the frame video is visible. And, the camera will automatically tag video shot vertically so it plays back properly on your devices.
Finally, it is worth talking about the sharing features. There is a button at the top that will help you quickly transfer stuff to your smartphone from the Playback menu. You'll need to connect to your device using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth using the Lumix Sync App. Combined with built-in tools to make capturing easier for finishing on your devices, this should streamline the creation process without needing a computer in the middle.
If you want to make the most of the system, Panasonic has created the DMW-SHGR1 Tripod Grip. This mini tripod can also work as a handheld grip, and if you connect it to the camera you are given controls for the shutter, recording, and sleep. It's great for quickly setting up and moving around with the G100. You can get the camera and grip in a nice starter kit.
On paper, this looks to be a stellar camera, especially if you want to upgrade your vlogs.
The Hands-On Experience
Honestly, the G100 matches what the specs on paper tell you. It is a great, compact mirrorless camera that is especially well suited to vlogging. The relatively large Four Thirds sensor will make a difference to your images in certain situations, and it manages to keep the camera size competitive with point-and-shoots commonly found in the industry.
This camera feels good in the hand, it's lightweight, and it could easily squeeze into an everyday bag or even a jacket pocket with relative ease. It's not the smallest thing out there, but it's close enough, considering all the other advantages it brings. The audio system actually works surprisingly well. The lack of a windscreen means that you might struggle in windy conditions, but for the most part it delivers as promised. Setting to Front or Back provides the most clarity for speaking, and it does a great job. This really helps with most vlogging situations and is very helpful. Tracking is also sounding good, especially for walking and talking.
I love the new content creation features. Having a big red box indicating you are recording just makes me feel so much better. It's an underrated feature I think everyone should adopt at least as an option in lieu of traditional tally lights. The different frame markers are also super helpful. Before that required having a good external monitor; now you can just see it right on the camera, and needing one less tool is always an advantage.
Moving on to image quality, I can't say I'm surprised. It looks great. The optional color effects are also nice to have for quick workflows where minimal editing is desired. As for autofocus, this is where I was very surprised. It exceeds that of the ever-popular GH series. It caught my face and tracked with ease, even when I was using it as a webcam.
Since it is all the rage these days, you can use the G100 as a webcam if you use the camera's HDMI output and have a capture device for your computer. It's a nice option to have, but I do wish that it was native or supported by Panasonic's Lumix Tether for Streaming (Beta). The HDMI out is also limited to Full HD 60p and turns off the camera's screen when in use.
There is one point of disappointment from my hands-on review, and that is that I think the camera is being held back by the included kit lens. The lens is okay, but it is slow and lacks some cool features like power zoom. If you have any additional Micro Four Thirds lenses or are looking to pick some more up, this camera can unleash its full potential. To be fair, the lens choice keeps the camera tiny and affordable, but it is a limiting factor for something that is being billed as an all-in-one solution in the kit.
The mini tripod was a nice touch, and if you aim to do vlogging I highly recommend going for the kit. It completes the package.
Overall, I think this is a great system to start with vlogging, particularly because you can expand it later on with new lenses or even match it with more serious cameras. It's a standard format, which should help, and V-Log L will allow it to integrate into more serious workflows. I would only knock the lens, which can be easily swapped out if you want to get an even better image.
What are your thoughts on the new Lumix G100? Are you thinking of giving it a try? Let us know in the Comments section, below.