The Panasonic Lumix G100: A Mighty Mirrorless for Content Creators?

Content creation and publication is a major driving force in today’s social media world, and Panasonic has come up with the camera to match the job: meet the Lumix G100. 

It’s built to cater to vloggers and content creators, with a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) 20MP sensor and a tracking audio system that works with the face detection feature. It comes with a flip-out screen and easy-use modes so you don’t have to be a camera expert to use it.

 It’s a very compact camera, but does that small size impact on the performance of the G100? We’ll take an in-depth look at how the Lumix performs as well as look at the key features and specifications.

The devil is in the details, as they say, so let’s dive in!

Specifications

 Here are the important specs for the techies out there:

  • 3MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • Directional audio with tracking
  • 8M-dot LCD panel with full articulation
  • Electronic image stabilization that works with the in-lens IS system
  • 68M-dot equivalent electronic viewfinder
  • Video options up to 4K/30p, and FHD up to 120p
  • Mechanical shutter extends to 1/500th second
  • Electronic shutter extends to 1/16,000th second
  • Supports V-Log L recording for advanced videographers
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for instant sharing

Design and Details

The Panasonic G100 focuses mainly on vlogging, so most of the features are specific to novice videographers. However, it does take still photos (we’ll look more at the photography side of the G100 later in this article).

The G100 can shoot 4K or Full HD video at different frame rates. One thing to bear in mind is the crop factor when recording 4K with the 12-32mm kit lens, so you have a longer effective focal length.

One great feature is the Rec Frame Indicator. This handy indicator outlines the whole frame in red when you start recording, so you shouldn’t have any of those “But I thought I pressed record!” moments with the G100.

The Frame Marker feature can be set to show the framing of different aspect ratios that are favored by certain social media channels. The video records as normal, but you can preview what is in the frame with a chosen aspect ratio. This means you can create a video for YouTube, but make sure the action is also centered in a region that can be easily cropped for Instagram. That’s sure to speed up your creation process - as does the sharing features on the G100.

A button on the top helps you swiftly transfer your photos or videos to your smartphone when you connect your device using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with the Lumix Sync App. 

If you’re into slow-motion (or quick-motion), there’s a Slow & Quick option on the mode dial to make this easy. When you select the option, you can choose to enable 2x, 4x, and 8x quick-motion recording, and 2x or 4x slow-motion recording.

The camera outputs the footage at the intended viewing rate, so you don’t need to bother adjusting the playback frame rate later. You can’t record sound while in Slow & Quick mode, but the autofocus system works in this mode, which is a big bonus.

The G100 can also shoot vertical video directly, and it includes all the metadata necessary to make sure the files are played back the correct way up.

Features for Experienced Videographers

Panasonic hasn’t neglected more experienced video shooters, and include some attractive features aimed at them. There’s the usual Photo Styles (Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, L. Monochrome, L. Monochrome D, Scenery Portrait, and Custom), but also Cinelike D, Cinelike V, and V-Log L.

V-Log L produces low saturation, low contrast footage that is much more suited to post-capture color grading than the other modes.

You can also take full manual exposure control of the G100.

Five-Axis EIS Stabilization for Video

One of the trade-offs for keeping the G100 small and light is the lack of physical image stabilization. The camera instead uses an electronic IS (EIS) system in video mode. This works in sync with built-in lens stabilization, which means you only get a lens stabilizer when shooting still photos.

However, the EIS stabilization comes into its own when you shoot video. You have the option of five-axis digital correction in 1080, and four-axis stabilization in 4K mode.

This imposes a crop on the video, though, as is usual with electronic correction because it moves which region of the sensor is used to collect video and thus correct any unwanted camera motion.

Directional Audio

One of the most exciting features on the Panasonic G100 is the directional audio modes. These modes include technology from Nokia’s OZO VR project and offer different ways of using the G100’s three built-in microphones.

The microphones have a front, rear, or surround sound pickup, but there is also a Tracking mode that is linked to the camera’s face detection system. This enables the mic to pick up audio from the direction of the face and to reduce input from other directions, which limits background noises effectively.

The G100 uses Tracking mode when in the default Auto mode and it detects a face, but it uses Surround mode when there isn’t. There is also a 3.5mm port to connect an external mic to if you prefer.

Best Face Forward!

The Self Shot mode makes vlogging so much easier when you turn the screen to face forward. The camera goes into this mode automatically when you turn the screen. The exposure mode you set on the dial stays the same, but most of the other settings change. 

The Self Shot mode automatically engages the Face Detection and Tracking Audio mode, and it gives you a pop-out onscreen tab to choose a selection of functions you might want to use. These functions include Skin Smoothing, Slimming Mode, Effect Filters, Background Control, Touch Shutter settings, and self-timer settings.

The Background Mode lets you choose Defocused for a out-of-focus background, or Clear, for a sharp front-to-back image. It does this by opening up or stopping down the aperture (as long as your chosen exposure mode allows this.)

When you shoot in Self Shot mode, the camera applies a default 3-second self-timer to both video and stills. You can change the delay, and also how many photos you wish to take in the self-timer settings. 

Touch Shutter is the default setting, but you can change this for options that require a face (or two) to trigger the shutter.

What About Photographers?

The Panasonic G100 is clearly aimed at vloggers, but it’s still capable of taking decent photographs.

The G100 can accept a large array of Micro Four Thirds lenses from Panasonic, Olympus, etc, so you’re not stuck for choice when it comes to lenses.

There’s also the built-in electronic viewfinder, which is impressively large and bright. This makes it much easier to assess your exposure, color, and composition.

There are a small pop-up flash and a hotshoe on top for attaching an external flashgun. The built-in flash isn’t as useful as it could be, as the very slow flash sync speed (1/50th second) makes it hard to use in bright conditions.

Build Quality

The G100 is a small yet solidly-built camera, with the look of a mini-DSLR camera. Although the casing is made from plastic, it doesn’t have that cheap feel that some plastic-cased cameras do. The top dials are nice and solid, and there is a textured coating on the grip and thumb-rest.

The fully-articulated touchscreen doesn’t fold out by the full 180 degrees, but it only stops a little short, and the screen itself is a very bright 1.84M-dot LCD.

User Interface 

The G100 has a fairly standard interface for a newer Panasonic camera. The main menu is easy to understand, with options separated into tabs. The Custom Settings tab is sub-divided into sections to make it much easier to navigate.

There’s also a useful My Menu tab where you can store menu settings you change regularly.

The Q. Menu appears as an overlay on live view when you’re shooting, and shows an array of settings along the top and bottom of the screen, but you can customize up to 15 settings in the Q.menu to suit you.

Battery Life

The G100 comes with a DMW-BLG10 battery, which provides a battery life of around 270 shots per charge without relying on sleep mode. It’s not great for video though, and if you’re shooting 4K you only get around 10 minutes per battery charge, so you’d best invest in some spare batteries!

The camera can be recharged via the Micro-USB socket or wall adapter. There is no external charger for keeping a spare battery ready, though.

The Panasonic Lumix G100 in Use

While the footage and still shots produced are pretty much what is expected of a camera with a 20.3MP sensor, it’s not earth-shatteringly brilliant. There is a good level of detail, and the noise is pretty well-controlled.

The AF system could be better when shooting in low-light conditions, but Panasonic chose to stick with contrast detection in the G100, instead of the more reliable phase-detection system. The autofocus can also be thrown off if you’re wearing glasses, so that’s something to bear in mind.

When you shoot in 4K video on the G100, there is a slight crop on top of the focal length magnification - it can make vlogging to the camera at arm’s length a bit tight, so be aware. You can solve this problem by switching to Full HD recording or buying a wider lens.

The mic does the job very well in Tracking mode and copes brilliantly with background noise (although if you are going to film on a windy day outside you may be better with an external mic and windshield). You can tell when the Audio Tracking is on, as there are green brackets on either side of the face detection box on the screen.

The OZO audio system does a sterling job overall and is impressive in a compact camera like this.

As for image quality, still JPEGs look good - very crisp and sharp at lower ISO’s (up to 3200, or 6400 at a push).  For shooting video, it’s probably wiser to keep the sensitivity lower to avoid temporal noise.

Is the Panasonic Lumix G100 a Winner or a Sinner? 

The closest rival to the G100 is the Sony ZV-1, which targets a similar customer base. Interestingly, Panasonic has gone in a different direction to Sony, with the G100 being a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a sensor that’s nearly twice the size of the Sony ZV-1. Then there’s the viewfinder and flash - the Sony has neither. 

The main problem with the G100 for vloggers is that kit zoom lens in 4K mode, which makes it hard to record large indoor subject matter (or even yourself!). Your only option here is to change the lens or shoot in 1080 video instead.

You also only get the full five-axis stabilization in 1080 mode, which does leave the 4K video mode lagging a bit compared to its rivals, as do the mere 10 minutes of 4K recording time available on a fully-charged battery. If shooting 4K is important to you, the G100 might not be the best choice. 

For still image shooting, it’s more than adequate if you are shooting in decent lighting conditions and don’t need a higher ISO. The main niggle is the very slow 1/50th second flash sync speed, which makes trying to use any fill-flash in bright conditions where you can’t stop down just about useless.

However, it’s not a photographer’s camera - and it wasn’t intended to be. The G100 is designed mainly for vlogging, and it does that very well. It’s easy for beginners to set up and use, while also having some extra features for the more experienced videographer.

Overall, it does the job it was designed for very well indeed, but if you want to use 4K video a lot then maybe it’s not a great choice for you.

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