Panasonic G7 Conclusion

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In its press briefings when it launched the Lumix G7, Panasonic told us that it considers this entry-level mirrorless model to be a great family camera. That's certainly true: The Panasonic G7 would indeed make a great way to record your family's day-to-day lives. Shooting at the Indy 500, I was lucky to have the chance to take it well beyond that in my own usage, though, and it proved more than up to the task.

Really compact for a camera this fully-featured

The Panasonic G7's compact nature is probably one of its most important features. It's just fractionally larger and heavier than predecessor, but not noticeably so. For a fully-featured interchangeable-lens camera with viewfinder and proper handgrip, it's actually very small and light indeed. And yet it's also very comfortable in-hand, with a good control layout that helps keep you out of the menu system.

Panasonic G7 review -- Sample photo

600mm-equivalent, 1/640 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 1000

An entry-level pricetag that belies its capabilities

The Panasonic G7 is also very affordable. In fact, at current time it's the lowest-cost interchangeable-lens camera in Panasonic's lineup, in terms of list pricing. And that's complete with a sharp, fast-focusing 14-42mm lens which is equally compact and lightweight in nature. (You can also pay a few hundred dollars more and get a great 14-140mm lens with loads of reach, turning the G7 into an impressive long-zoom shooter.)

Panasonic G7 review -- Sample photo

64mm-equivalent, 1/250 sec. @ f/8, ISO 200

Great image quality and performance, day or night

It also boasts great image quality for its class. It might not have the sensor resolution of its APS-C rivals, but it still captures lots of detail at base sensitivity and offers surprisingly good high-sensitivity noise levels for low-light shooting too. And performance is also very good for this price point, with quick startup, blazing-fast autofocus that rivals what you'd expect from much larger, more expensive prosumer DSLRs, and a good burst rate as well. And for bonus points, the buffer is very generous too, so you can rattle off lengthy bursts of images and then choose the best ones to keep.

Panasonic G7 review -- Sample photo

420mm-equivalent, 1/1,000 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 200

A few minor quibbles, but that's to be expected at this price

That's not to say everything is perfect. The built-in flash is on the weak side, and although the Panasonic G7 is said to be compatible with UHS-II flash cards, it doesn't seem to take advantage of their greater performance to reduce buffer clearing times. The Wi-Fi radio also doesn't have the same range as some rivals, and the app used with it has a rather complex and obtuse user interface.

Panasonic G7 review -- Sample photo

40mm-equivalent, 1/13 sec. @ f/4.5, ISO 3200

A whole lot of camera for your money

But those are relatively minor quibbles for a camera in this class. Truth be told, you're getting a spectacular amount of camera for your money here, and one which gives plenty of room to grow if you want to expand beyond your role as the family documentarian, and really expand your photographic knowledge.

An easy Dave's Pick, the Panasonic G7 comes highly recommended if you are in the market for an affordable and relatively compact camera, but you don't want to forego the versatility of an interchangeable-lens camera.

Panasonic G7 review -- Sample photo

84mm-equivalent, 1/50 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 25,600

 

Pros & Cons

Image Quality

  • Generally very good image quality
  • Very good high ISO performance for its class
  • Experienced photographers will appreciate the accurate color out of the box, which isn't as saturated as that from many consumer-oriented cameras
  • JPEG colors are a bit muted for typical consumer tastes
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance are too warm in tungsten light
  • 16-megapixel resolution, while plenty for most uses, trails its APS-C competition

Performance

  • Autofocus is fast enough to be competitive with prosumer DSLRs
  • Low prefocused shutter lag
  • Excellent single-shot cycle times
  • Fast 8.1 frames per second full-resolution burst mode when shooting JPEGs with single-shot AF and mechanical shutter
  • Very deep buffers when shooting JPEGs with a fast card
  • Faster than average for a mirrorless camera to start up and capture a shot
  • Burst mode slows to 6.6 frames per second when shooting RAW files (though still pretty good)
  • Reduced buffer depths when shooting RAW files (though still reasonable)
  • UHS-II compliant, but doesn't seem to take advantage of the faster bus speeds (our UHS-I card tested faster)

Video

  • Excellent video image quality at 4K resolution, and good quality at Full HD resolution too
  • External microphone jack provided
  • Program, aperture / shutter-priority and fully manual exposure are possible
  • Redesigned 4K Photo user interface makes it simple to extract high-resolution stills from video clips
  • Rolling shutter is noticeable with fast-moving subjects
  • Brief viewfinder blackout makes it harder to follow fast-moving subjects in 4K Photo mode

User Experience

  • The lowest list price of any current Panasonic interchangeable-lens camera (as of December 2015)
  • Newly-designed body is comfortable and has good control layout
  • Twin control dials make for intuitive exposure control
  • Very customizable, with five user-configured physical controls, and five user-configured soft buttons
  • Very compact and light for an interchangeable-lens camera with proper hand grip (albeit fractionally larger / heavier than its predecessor)
  • Electronic viewfinder is tack-sharp and generously sized
  • LCD monitor is very bright and easy to see outdoors
  • Side-mounted tilt/swivel LCD monitor assembly is very versatile, and allows for selfies as well
  • Autofocus works in very low light
  • Touch-screen display makes autofocus point selection very quick and simple
  • Wi-Fi app allows you to switch between shooting and transferring images without having to reconnect like some cameras do
  • Handgrip is just a bit shallow for those with larger hands
  • Drive mode dial is too stiff to turn with just your thumb
  • Small body size means some rear-panel controls are very close to the edge of the camera body
  • 4K Photo mode / electronic shutter suffer from rolling shutter effect with fast-moving subjects
  • Battery life is limited compared to DSLRs; remember to buy a second battery pack! (It's about average for a mirrorless camera, though.)
  • Lack of an NFC radio means Wi-Fi pairing with Android devices isn't as simple as it used to be
  • Wi-Fi wireless connectivity has fairly limited range
  • Wi-Fi app, while fully featured, is very complex and doesn't allow full-screen live view

Optics

  • Two kit lens options, both of which are sharp, fast-focusing and well-reviewed
  • Excellent coverage accuracy from EVF and LCD monitor
  • Not sold body-only, so if you already have both of the kit lenses you'll have an extra one

Flash

  • Built-in flash can act as wireless commander to remote flash units
  • Weak built-in flash compared to most DSLRs

 



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