Initial impressions

By Richard Butler

Vloggers must feel a bit like Londoners waiting for buses: nothing for ages and then two come along at once.

It's interesting that, with the G100, Panasonic has taken such a different approach to the one taken by Sony's ZV-1, despite both targeting very similar users. The Panasonic is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a sensor almost twice the size of the one in Sony's compact. The Panasonic has a viewfinder and flash: both of which have been omitted from the Sony. The things they most obviously have in common are fully articulating screens and more than usually sophisticated mic setups.

The elephant in the room is the way that the G100 produces its video. 1080 video looks good and uses the full width of its sensor, or with a slight crop with standard IS on, but with the kit zoom the G100's 4K modes can't go any wider-angle than 30mm equivalent, which is going to make vlogging awkward, let alone recording large indoor subject matter.

It's also worth noting that you only get the camera's full five-axis stabilization in 1080 mode, which further brings into question the value of the 4K video. Panasonic makes the case that many vloggers are likely to transfer and edit their video on tablets, which would also push users towards the use of 1080. And, while this argument can also be extended to explain why there are very low bitrate options available, it doesn't explain why there are only very low bitrate options available. It's a little hard to fathom why the G100 offers editing-ready V-Log L gamma mode if all its output is so heavily compressed.

The provision of a viewfinder certainly boosts the usability of the camera beyond its vlogging role

Equally, the recording limits – 10 minutes for 4K and a maximum of 29:59 for 1080/30 – are likely to feel restrictive for some vloggers: we've all seen YouTube videos that take over twenty minutes to address a single question.

And, like Sony, Panasonic has decided that vloggers don't need the ability to monitor audio though they have at least provided the VU meter display from the GH cameras. The G100 can only output a 1080 signal over HDMI and can't record footage while doing so, so it's unlikely that you can even hijack the audio feed from the HDMI port.

Beyond vlogging

The provision of a viewfinder certainly boosts the usability of the camera beyond its vlogging role. Even as someone who's usually a little distracted by field-sequential displays, I found the G100's viewfinder really impressive: it's large, bright and rainbow glitching is essentially non-existent.

In many respects the G100 is a very capable stills camera, though the inclusion of a built-in flash has the unfortunate side-effect of highlighting (at least briefly) the limitation of the camera's shutter mechanism.

The front command dial on the G100 is well-placed and easy to move with precision. The same can't be said of the rear dial.

It's all a bit of a shame, because the tracking audio seems genuinely clever, it's one of the smallest mirrorless cameras on the market and one that gives you access to a broad and accessible range of lenses. I've also enjoyed shooting with a camera with such a bright rear screen.

I personally hope that more time spent with the G100, and some time trying to vlog in earnest (if that's not antithetical) changes my perspective, though it didn't for Jordan. But my first impression is of an attractive little camera that doesn't seem to quite fit any particular bill. Ultimately, for a lot of people, it's likely to hinge on whether they were planning to shoot 4K: if the clever audio setup works as promised, the G100 might prove to be a decent 1080 vlogging tool.