Tuesday 6 December 2016

Tech review: Weckler on the latest gadgets including the GX80

Published 12/11/2016 | 02:30

Lumix GXS
Lumix GXS
Sony MDR-1000X

Our Technology Editor reviews the Panasonic Lumix GX80 and the Sony MDR-1000X  headphones.

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GX80 gives pro cameras a run for their money

Panasonic Lumix GX80

Price: €599 (plus lens)

Rating: 5 Stars

There's so much competition for premium mirrorless cameras these days that it's difficult to know which one to choose. The short answer (and I'm not just saying this) is that they're all good. Their main advantage is that they give the same type of quality as big non-professional DSLR ­cameras in a much smaller body, meaning you can bring them about and use them without looking and feeling awkward.

If you want the latest model on the market, Panasonic's Lumix 16-megapixel GX80 ticks all the boxes. It's fast, compact, smart and takes very good photos. I used it for two weeks with two lenses, a 45-175mm (90-350mm equivalent) telephoto and a 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent). This period included work assignments abroad at the Web Summit in Lisbon (for which, see my Twitter or Instagram feeds).

It barely let me down at all on any score. It can handle very low-light situations (its ISO now goes up to 25,600, a huge jump from the GX7) and its built-in stabilisation is about the best I've ever tested. Indeed, Panasonic now has stabilisation both in the camera body and in its newer lenses, meaning you really do have far less chance of blurry, hazy photos.

Like its predecessor, the GX80 has a flip-out screen, which is great when snapping something from down low or, in portrait orientation, at arm's length to your side (such as in a church aisle to get the bride's walk, unobstructed). It's nice and silent, too, meaning you don't make a racket when taking photos in hushed situations.

The GX80 has Panasonic's 4K Photo mode, which essentially lets you take stills from the camera's 4K video-shooting capabilities.

It goes without saying that the camera has Wi-Fi, too, which lets you send images to your phone or tablet automatically while shooting or transfer them afterwards.

There's even a new 'post focus' feature that lets you decide after taking the photo where you want the sharp bit to be. It's very smart, but takes a bit of setting up and is too slow (for me) to be very useful.

All of this comes at a price, of course: the GX80 isn't cheap. But it's a pleasure to use.

Quietly does it with Sony's new headphones

Sony MDR-1000X  

Price: €429           

Rating: 4 Stars

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I use noise-cancelling headphones all the time: I find they help restore calm and concentration in a sometimes cackling world.

So I'm pretty impressed with the technical standard that Sony has reached in its newest 1000X headset, a wireless Bluetooth active noise-cancelling model. This thing is incredibly quiet. Once on your head, at least 80pc of all you can normally hear is muffled right out. It works especially well for ongoing external rackets such as loud hums or whirs. It also works reasonably well for human voices, which are harder to deaden because of their intermittent, piercing nature.

The market for these headsets is fierce. And for €400, you're getting into Bose Quiet Comfort territory, which is the market brand leader. So it's just as well that Sony has loaded up on some other tricks. One is the ability to pause sounds temporarily when you touch your finger on the side of the speaker. This is intended as a shortcut for when someone comes over and asks you something or you walk into a shop and need to talk to the person behind the counter.

Another nice touch is what Sony calls 'Sense Engine': a variety of personalised adjustments you can make to the noise-cancelling features.

The quality of the audio is top notch, too. Sony has packed a lot of its latest drivers and audio quality in, and you can hear it in the results.

As you'd expect, there's a microphone on board, which means you can make or take calls when paired to a phone. And it comes with a nice case and a 3.5mm lead for non-wireless connections.

The headphones aren't absolutely perfect. I found that when I swivelled my head, the position of the cups budged a small bit, letting in some external noise. But this is a minor quibble. With really nice leather, these headphones are an excellent choice if you want decent noise-cancelling cans.

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