The Panasonic G100 has 'won' the dubious award for "Worst Camera of 2020" according to DP Review. Is that really fair, though?
Camera savants Chris Nichols and Jordan Drake from DP Review awarded (in a somewhat inebriated state, as you can see below!) the Panasonic G100 (opens in new tab) the tag of the year's worst camera, citing a number of shortcomings that they felt were particularly egregious.
However, we really believe that – although the shortcomings certainly exist, and we felt the same way about many of them in our own review (opens in new tab) – their indictment on the G100 is really says more about the camera industry as a whole and the high quality of products currently being released.
The fact is that there really weren't any truly bad cameras in 2020. As such, we think Chris and Jordan picking on the G100 is more a case of, 'everything's good, so what's been the least good' rather than 'this is a terrible camera' outright.
So then, looking at its warts under a magnifying glass, how does the G100 stack up against the best Panasonic cameras (opens in new tab) – and against the best cameras for vlogging (opens in new tab), given that this is what it was specifically designed for?
The main issues that DP Review had with the Panasonic G100 were fourfold: the innovative Nokio Ozo spatial audio that isn't very useful, the lack of in-body image stabilization (IBIS), the contrast-only autofocus, and the heavy 4K crop. These are certainly valid criticisms, but there is some context to add.
The G100 boasts very impressive a Nokio Ozo system for its internal microphones, which track and distinguish your voice whether you're standing in front of the camera, or voicing over while standing at the side or rear. Admittedly, for a vlogging camera you will be doing most of your recording while standing directly in front – so the idea of spatial recording isn't as useful as it seems.
We can't argue that the internal mics are indeed a little on the tinny side, and there's no ability to add a dead cat to reduce wind noise, but the camera does have an external microphone jack (and a hotshoe to mount it) – so this is no more an issue than it is for any other camera (which almost all have less than stellar internal mics).
The lack of IBIS is undoubtedly very notable (and baffling, given how Panasonic is renowned for its IBIS), and it leads directly to the 4K cropping issue. Because the G100 relies on electronic stabilization, it crops into the video frame – and this results in a severely reduced viewing angle.
Again, this is an issue for any camera that doesn't have IBIS, including some of the best bodies out there. And as good as stabilization is, serious vloggers know that you need one of the best gimbals (opens in new tab) to get steady, smooth footage.
Regarding the autofocus, that's something that the G100 does have to take on the chin. Panasonic is notorious for relying on its contrast-based DFD (Depth From Defocus) AF system, rather than the superior hybrid or phase-detect systems. Though we will say that the face tracking and general AF performance is very good – it is simply that the camera hunts and pulses (particularly with faster, wider aperture lenses), which has long been the bane of Panasonic users.
So then, is the Panasonic G100 really the worst camera of 2020? We think that's unfair. It's a good all-rounder, with some great video features, a viewfinder, fully articulating screen, and it even shoots in a V-Log L flat profile. So, no, we wouldn't call it the worst camera of the year. Though if we were to point fingers, we'd certainly be eyeing up a mark II camera from one of the big three manufacturers that was released recently…