Lumix GX8/GX-8 IBIS In Body Image Stabilization did not meet my (high) expectations

I bought a used Lumix GX8 camera a month ago. Factors in my decision to buy the GX8 included the 20 megapixel image sensor, water sealing, and the in body image stabilization (IBIS) feature and there are great prices on the now used or refurbished models available; albeit, it is a 3 year old camera at this point. Plus I am familiar with the Lumix user interface.

I also have a used Olympus E-M10 I bought for cheap and I love this camera for still photography. It has an excellent IBIS which set my expectations high for the GX8’s IBIS.

Unfortunately, the IBIS in my GX8 does not appear to be in the same league as the E-M10. To be fair, the E-M10 mk ii is a newer camera than the GX-8. The following comments are primarily about the IBIS feature of the GX8.

Update April 2023: My comments about the GX-8’s IBIS – which is now a very old camera(!) – remain true. However, it is important to mention that if you use one of the newer Lumix Power O.I.S. lenses, the GX-8 supports “dual IS” where it leverages both it’s own iBIS and the lens’s optical image stabilization. When using dual IS, the GX-8 seems similar to the better IBIS available in many newer cameras. If I were using the GX-8 mostly with dual I.S. capable lenses, I would not worry about the GX-8’s older IBIS performance. With dual I.S., the image stabilization is quite good. Also, the original Mega O.I.S. Lumix lenses had optical image stabilization – O.I.S. works well by itself and these images can be used on the GX-8 but when used, the internal IBIS/dual I.S. is not available.

GX8 IBIS  works for me on the following lenses:

  • Lumix 14 mm (I can hear the IBIS internal “clicks” so its doing something)
  • Olympus 9-18mm wide angle lens (sort of works)
  • Olympus 45mm (maybe works)
  • and in conjunction with Panasonic lenses that have optical image stabilization (OIS)

(Update) GX8 IBIS does work on the following:

  • Lumix 20mm f/1.7 (no “clicks” nor evidence it was doing anything)
  • Lumix 25mm f/1.8

I did not hear internal IBIS noise with these lenses, plus the GX8 does not show the stabilization in real-time on the electronic viewfinder as is done on Olympus and other vendors’ cameras with IBIS. Not seeing the stabilized image means we do not have an easy way to know if IBIS is operating for the shot. But apparently IBIS is applied when the shutter is operated.

Some say IBIS operation is restricted to operating above certain shutter speeds such as faster than 1/15th or 1/25th of a second. I took a number of photos at an indoor event using both an E-M10 and the GX8 and the GX8 photos, when enlarged, showed minor pixel blur that was not present on the photos shot with the E-M10. The IBIS may have worked but not as well as the Olympus equivalent, which is said to provide up to 4 stops improvement. Some forums suggest that GX8 IBIS works best if you continue to follow the 1/focal length rule. That is, shoot at a minimum of 1/25th of a second with a 25mm lens. Shoot a 200mm focal length at 1/200s and the IBIS should work very well to improve that shot. Others suggest (and my own experiments seem to confirm) that the GX8’s IBIS combined with Lumix optical stabilized lenses (OIS) is better than OIS alone and is very effective when used on Lumix long zoom lenses.

IBIS does not work with 4k30 video although Panasonic lenses with OIS work great for this. Update: Have since read or watched some Youtube reviews and they confirm IBIS does not work on video.

Discovering this, I looked at online forums and found others with similar issues, although some suggested IBIS worked okay for them, including on one of the lens I tried (above).

I was spoiled with the Olympus IBIS which is excellent. I can mount my 135 mm f/2.8 full frame lens with a focal reducer (effectively about 100mm) on the E-M10 and get rock solid image stabilization in the viewfinder. Can’t do that with the GX8.  Test GX8 shots, outdoors in good light, did produce very sharp images with this lens indicating that IBIS was working for those shots.

On the plus side, the GX8’s 20 megapixel images are very nice when using a tripod or fast shutter speed . The camera shoots real 4K video (and can record longer than 30 minutes, which many cameras do not support) and includes 4K Photo, including 4K pre-shot mode (takes continuous frames so you can grab images from before you press the shutter) and 4K Post focus modes, which have interesting applications. 4K photo mode is actually a very neat feature.

The GX8 uses the same battery as the Lumix GH-2 and I had a stash of those batteries already on hand.

Used or refurbished GX8s are available for half the price of a new GX9. The GX8 has an anti-alias filter while the GX9 does not. Some prefer AA filters while others prefer the sharper image when AA filters are not used. The E-M10 mk ii does not have an AA filter and produces noticeably sharper images than a similar 16 MP sensor with AA filtering. The E-M10 mk ii, without AA filtering, appears to produce images on par with the sharpness of GX8’s 20 megapixel images – I intend to do some testing on this.

In pixel peeping (which may or may not matter to many), the GX8’s low light performance seems about 1-stop worse than the GH-4. In other words, an ISO 800 image on the GH-4 seem to have about the same noise/grain as an ISO 400 on the GX8. I suspect this is due to the higher pixel density of the 20 megapixel sensor. If the 20 MP image was resized to 16 MP for a direct comparison, they are probably comparable, however.  If you are mostly shooting outdoors this is not a problem, but if you shoot dimly lit scenes, it may be a problem.

The GX8 is a decent camera and it should be noted, is about 3 years old at the time I bought mine, used. The GH5 and the GX9 have both come out since then and are said to have outstanding IBIS. At current market prices, the GX8 is a very good value.

Update: Some years later, I bought a used G9. The Lumix G9 has excellent IBIS and even better when used with a compatible Lumix Power OIS (optical image stabilization) lens. The issues raised above about the GX8 are specific to the GX8. It seems that all of the newer model cameras have much improved IBIS and dual IBIS/OIS. I have since purchased a used Lumix G9 and am extremely pleased with the G9.

These comments are not meant to be critical of the GX-8. It’s a very good camera but due to its age, its IBIS is first generation – and IBIS has gotten far better on all cameras including many newer Lumix models. The GX-8 is still a good value as it is available on the used market at attractive prices.

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