What's new and how it compares

With Panasonic's explicit focus on vlogging, it should come as no surprise that the bulk of the G100's stand-out features relate either to video or attempts to keep the camera small and light.

Key takeaways

  • Several directional audio modes with tracking technology licensed from Nokia
  • Camera depends heavily on electronic video stabilization, with aspects derived from Panasonic's IBIS systems, but with heavy crops
  • 4K footage already cropped before stabilization is applied
  • Simplified shutter mechanism imposes photographic limitations
  • Compared to its peers, the G100 has a competitive spec but the specs don't tell the whole story

'OZO' directional audio

The three mics (one on either side of the viewfinder, near the front, the third at the back right) are used to provide a series of direction-specific audio response patterns. There's also a tracking mode, linked to face detection, that reduces background noise coming from other directions.

The most distinctive feature of the G100 is its directional audio modes. These offer a series of ways of using the camera's three built-in microphones, including technology licensed from Nokia's 'OZO' VR project.

The mics have a front, rear or surround pickup pattern, but also include a 'tracking' mode that adjusts the mic response direction based on the camera's face detection system. The audio is adjusted to pick up audio from the direction of the recognized face, and to actively reduce the input from other directions, limiting background noise sources.

In the camera's default 'Auto' mode, the camera will use tracking mode if there's a face present and surround mode if there isn't.

5-axis EIS stabilization

In order to keep the camera body small and light, Panasonic has made the decision not to include a physical image stabilization system in the G100. Instead the camera uses an electronic IS (EIS) system in video mode that, like Panasonic's other IS systems, works in sync with in-lens stabilization.

The G100 offers an electronic image stabilization system that uses the gyroscope sensors and algorithms from Panasonic's sensor-shift IS systems. However it imposes significant crops on the footage.

This means lens-only IS when shooting stills, but with the option of five-axis digital correction in 1080 mode and four-axis stabilization when capturing 4K. As usual with electronic correction, the stabilization is provided by moving which region of the sensor is used to collect the video, in order to correct for any camera motion. This imposes a crop on the video.

Panasonic says the EIS system in the G100 uses the same gyroscopic sensors and algorithms to detect and correct motion as its physical systems, but moves the area of the sensor used, rather than physically moving the sensor itself.

Forward-facing simplicity

To make vlogging easier, the camera switches to a simple 'Self Shot' mode when you turn the screen to face forward. The exposure mode set on the mode dial persists but most other settings change.

I can scarcely believe it, but the G100 includes a simplified Self-Shot mode for shooting videos of yourself with the screen flipped forwards.

This engages face detection and tracking audio mode, as well as popping-out an onscreen touchscreen tab from which you can select a series of functions you might want access to. By default these are: Skin Smoothing, Effect Filters, Background Control, Slimming mode, Touch Shutter settings and self-timer settings.

Background Control gives you the choice of 'Defocused' and 'Clear,' and either opens-up or stops-down the aperture, so long as your chosen exposure mode allows it.

By default the camera applies a 3 second self-timer to both stills and video shooting in Self Shot mode, but you can change the delay and how many photos are taken. Touch Shutter is engaged by default but there are also options that require a face or two faces next to one another, to fire the shutter.

You can turn off 'Self Shot' mode to get the camera's standard interface, if you prefer

You can change in the menus whether AF is conducted before or after the 3-second countdown has happened, or you can turn off 'Self Shot' mode entirely.

To make it easy to tell when the camera is recording, a red frame appears around the screen when it's capturing footage.

Video modes

The G100 offers a range of video modes including UHD 4K and Full HD, with fast and slow-mo options in the latter.

Frame rates Bitrates Recording limit
UHD 4K*

30 / 24p 100 Mbps 10 minutes
Full HD 60p 28 Mbps 20 minutes
30 / 24p 20 / 24 Mbps
respectively
29:59
Full HD Quick 120 fps - As 1/2 speed 60p or 1/4 speed 30p. 60 fps as 1/2 speed 30p 10 minutes
Full HD Quick 2x, 4x or 8x for both 60 and 30p output. 29:50
*Numbers are for NTSC region. PAL units offer multiples of 50 and 25p, in addition to the NTSC options.

The quick/slow modes continue to provide autofocus, though do not capture audio.

Video crops

Like many recent mid-range Panasonic cameras, the G100 uses a cropped central region of its sensor to create its 4K video. On top of this, the IS modes then use ever tighter crops to provide its two levels of image stabilization (standard and high).

The examples above were shot at arm's length with the kit lens set to its widest focal length, to give an idea of how closely-cropped the results will be.

The table below shows the crop factors, relative to using the full width of the sensor (which ignores the crop that comes from taking a 16:9 video out of a 4:3 sensor).

IS Off IS Standard IS High
4K video 1.26x 1.37x 1.79x
Full HD video 1.00x 1.09x 1.43x

As you can see, the crop factors get pretty severe pretty quickly, particularly to provide the smoothest level of stabilization. For perspective, the sum of all cropping means that the 12mm setting on the G100's kit zoom has the same diagonal angle of view as a a 47mm lens would on a the full area of a full frame sensor. Using a the ultra-wide 7-14mm lens still only gets you a 27mm equivalent field of view (albeit a very stable one).

Video features

The G100 inherits a number of features from Panasonic's higher-end video cameras, including the 8-bit variant of the V-Log L gamma curve, and the on-screen VU audio meters, to help with setting volume levels.

The G100 also gains the ability to show framing guides for a variety of aspect ratios. Rather than being restricted to cinematic options, such as Cinemascope (2.39:1 and 1.35:1) ratios, it also includes 1:1 and 9:16, so you can shoot content for YouTube, but make sure that the action all takes place in a region that can be best-cropped for Instagram.

The G100 can also shoot vertical video directly, including all necessary metadata within the files to ensure they're played back long-side up.

Shutter mechanism

The G100 uses the same shutter mechanism we first saw in the tiny (and rather pretty) GM1. It's a single curtain mechanical shutter, used in conjunction with an electronic first curtain shutter. The shutter is limited to a maximum shutter speed of 1/500 sec, with the dependence on an electronic first curtain limiting the flash sync speed to just 1/50 sec.

All shutter speeds faster than 1/500th are provided by a fully electronic shutter mode, which tops-out out 1/16,000 sec. By default the camera automatically switches between the two modes but you can specify either electronic first curtain or fully electronic mode if needed.

In use, we found the camera would only use the electronic shutter when it absolutely had to, with P and Auto mode often using very small apertures to avoid using the fully electronic shutter, resulting in soft images.

The G100 has a built-in flash, but the 1/50th maximum sync speed means it's not very effective for 'fill' flash in bright conditions.

The very slow flash sync speed limits the usefulness of the camera's built-in flash, since it's not always possible to stop down the lens enough in bright conditions in order to hit the 1/50th shutter speed needed to use fill-flash.

Selfie grip

One of the options available separately or as part of a kit with the G100 is the DMW-SHGR1 selfie grip/tripod. It's a small, lightweight hand grip that incorporates a shutter button, REC button and sleep button, allowing arms-length operation of the camera. The grip connected to the camera via the USB port to allow these buttons to operate (rather than the Bluetooth connection used in rival systems).

The grip doubles as a tabletop tripod, and both the shutter and REC buttons have 'half-press' steps, to allow subtle control of the functions. The grip appears to prioritize lightness over apparent build quality, such that it's likely to feel like more of a bargain if purchased for an extra $50 as part of a kit, rather than $100 if bought separately.

Firmware updates will allow its use with a range of older Panasonic cameras.

How it compares

The obvious camera to compare the Panasonic against is the Sony ZV-1. They're two rather different attempts to make vlogging cameras from a mixture of existing components and clever ideas (tracking audio in the case of the G100, vlogging-specific AF modes on the Sony).

We've also lined it up next to two Canon cameras that are popular with vloggers: the M50, which has reliable Dual Pixel AF, and the compact G7 X Mark III.

The table covers both the G100 and the G110 variant, since they differ only in that the G110 doesn't offer digital zoom in stills mode.

Panasonic
DC-G100/G110
Sony ZV-1 Canon EOS M50 Canon G7 X Mark III
MSRP
with lens
$749 $749 $900* $749
Pixel count 20MP 20MP 24MP 20MP
Sensor size Four Thirds
(225mm2)
1"-type
(116mm2)
APS-C
(332mm2)
1"-type
(116mm2)
Autofocus method DFD (Contrast-detection) Phase detection Dual Pixel phase detection Contrast detection
Built in mics 3 3 2 2
Stabilization
  • Stills: if IS lens used
  • 1080 video: 5-axis EIS
  • 4K video: 4-axis EIS
  • Stills: Lens
  • Video: Lens and EIS
  • Stills: if IS lens used
  • Video: EIS
  • Stills: Lens
  • Video: Lens and EIS
Viewfinder 3.69M-dot equivalent None 2.36M dots None
Rear screen 1.84M dots
fully-articulating
0.92M dots
fully-articulating
1.04M dots
full-articulating
1.04M dots
flip-up screen
4K video 30 / 24p 30p / 24p 24p 30 / 24p
Video rec time
(Default mode)

4K: 10 min
1080/60: 20 min
1080/30: 29:59

4K: 5 min**

To card/battery capacity To card/battery capacity
4K crop
(vs full width)
EIS Off: 1.26x
EIS Std: 1.37x
EIS High: 1.79x
IS Off: 1.08
IS Std: 1.08
IS High: 1.19

IS Off: 1.55x
IS Std: 1.73x
IS High: 2.22x

IS Off: 1.00
IS Std: 1.11x
IS High: 1.43x
1080 crop
(vs full width)
EIS Off: 1.00x
EIS Std: 1.09x
EIS High: 1.43x
IS Off: 1.00x
IS Std: 1.00x
IS High: 1.09x

IS Off: 1.00x
IS Std: 1.11x
IS High: 1.43x

IS Off: 1.00x
IS Std: 1.11x
IS High: 1.43x
Mic input 3.5mm 3.5mm
(XLR via adapter)
3.5mm 3.5mm
Headphone socket No No No No
Battery life (CIPA) LCD/EVF 270 / 250 260 / – 235 / 235 235 / –
Weight (with kit zoom) 412g 294g 517g 304g
Dimensions

116 x 83 x 54 mm

106 x 60 x 44 mm 116 x 88 x 59 mm 105 x 61 x 41 mm
* $900 was the MSRP at launch in Feb 2018, it has subsequently been reduced to $649
** In standard mode. Overheat limits can be disengaged, allowing essentially unlimited recording but with the risk of the camera becoming hot.

The more sophisticated microphones of the Panasonic and Sony are highlights, and it's worth noting how much lighter the G100 is than the Canon M50, but the video crops are the detail worth paying most attention to. Cropping video not only lowers image quality but it also makes it hard to capture a wide-angle field of view.