Panasonic G7 Review
|Full model name:||Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7|
(17.3mm x 13.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||200 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/16000 - 60 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
4.9 x 3.4 x 3.0 in.
(125 x 86 x 77 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Panasonic G7 specifications|
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With the Panasonic G7, the company offers up a whole lot of camera at a really great price. Ostensibly a camera aimed at the family documentarian, the Lumix G7 is also a whole lot more than just a family camera, with great features like super-swift autofocus, a really great viewfinder and tilt/swivel LCD, in-camera Wi-Fi and more. And the ability to easily extract high-resolution stills from ultra high-def 4K video makes it easy to get the shot, no matter your reflexes. Should you buy one? Find out now in our in-depth Panasonic G7 review!Pros
Compact and lightweight for a fully-featured interchangeable-lens camera; Really fast autofocus; Good all-around performance too; Generous buffer depth; Versatile tilt/swivel LCD and high-res viewfinder; Touch-screen controls; Very affordable pricetagCons
Out of the box, colors are muted by consumer standards; Warm white balance under incandescent light; Handgrip is a little shallow for those with larger hands; Wi-Fi is overly complex and has limited rangePrice and availability
Available since mid-June 2015, the Panasonic Lumix G7 is priced at US$800 or thereabouts with a 14-42mm kit lens, while an alternate kit with 14-140mm kit lens lists at around US$1,100. The 14-42mm kit is available either in silver or black versions with a matching lens, while the 14-140mm kit ships only in a black version.Imaging Resource rating
4.5 out of 5.0
Panasonic G7 Review -- Now Shooting!
by Mike Tomkins
05/21/2015: Technical Info report added!
05/25/2015: Initial Gallery shots posted!
06/05/2015: Field Test Part I: High-octane excitement at the Indy 500!
12/29/2015: Field Test Part II: Once more unto the night with this very capable mirrorless camera
12/31/2015: Image quality comparison and print quality analysis added!
With the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 compact system camera, the company offers a sequel to the G6, a well-received camera from the 2013 model year. Like its predecessor, the follow-up Panasonic G7 is packed with a generous helping of features at a very competitive price. Panasonic is aiming the camera at photographers who need a capable camera with which to document the day-to-day life of their family.
The Panasonic G6 was a mid-term update to the earlier G5, sporting a restyled body and newer image processor. It also updated the LCD monitor and electronic viewfinder, and introduced some handy firmware tweaks. Interestingly, the Panasonic G7 again replaces the body with a ground-up redesign sporting even more controls than before. A particularly welcome addition is a true twin-dial design, something that's extremely intuitive if you like to manually adjust exposure variables, but which is relatively scarce in cameras at this price point.
Both electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor have also been upgraded again in the new model, as has not just the processor, but this time the sensor as well. Sensor resolution is essentially unchanged at 16.00 megapixels, where the G5 and G6 shared a 16.05-megapixel chip. The sensitivity range is wider, though, now starting from ISO 200 equivalent and reaching out to a maximum of ISO 25,600 equivalent without any expansion needed. An ISO 100 expansion is also available, besting the G6's sensitivity range of ISO 160 to 12,800 equivalents with an expanded range that topped out at ISO 25,600 equivalent.
The Panasonic G7 (left) is much more angular and aggressive-looking than the earlier G6 (right). Its body has grown ever so slightly in all dimensions, and its weight is just a little greater too, but you're unlikely to notice either difference unless comparing the cameras side-by-side as we did.
Burst performance is also said to have improved by one frame per second, now reaching a manufacturer-claimed maximum of eight frames per second at full resolution with mechanical shutter, or six frames per second with autofocus enabled between frames. And according to Panasonic, image quality should be noticeably better than that from the G6, thanks both to a better sensor and improved algorithms in the new Venus Engine image processor.
The new electronic viewfinder has an extremely high resolution of 2,360k dots, up from 1,440k in the G6. The eyepoint of 17.5mm remains unchanged from that of the earlier camera, as does the magnification of 1.4x (or 0.7x equivalent for a 35mm camera). The Panasonic G7's LCD monitor, meanwhile, has as near as makes no difference the same resolution as that in the earlier camera, and retains the same size as well. Here, the change is a much stronger backlight, allowing a claimed 50% increase in panel brightness.
Another valuable change is the inclusion of Panasonic's Depth from Defocus technology, which is said to roughly double autofocus performance. We first saw DFD autofocus in the Panasonic GH4 in early 2014, and described the technology in great depth at the time, but here's the executive summary: Courtesy of a detailed knowledge of the bokeh characteristics of its lenses, Panasonic can determine the direction and magnitude of the focus adjustment needed to obtain a focus lock, much as does a phase-detection autofocus sensor. However, it doesn't need to dedicate sensor pixels to this task like most mirrorless cameras would, nor use a separate phase-detection autofocus sensor as would a DSLR. The result is much faster AF adjustment when using Panasonic's own lenses; third-party optics revert to standard contrast detection AF.
Panasonic says that DFD technology in the Lumix G7 will allow confirmation of a focus lock in as little as 0.07 seconds, down from 0.15 seconds in the G6, which used only contrast detection AF. Of course, results will vary depending on the lens in use. That figure applies to the H-FS14140 Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 Asph. Power O.I.S. lens, specifically.
High-res stills from 4K video: The Panasonic G7 now sports the company's 4K Photo mode, which allows users to extract high-resolution eight-megapixel still images from 4K video clips. The touch-screen user interface for the function has been updated, making it easier to choose and extract the frames you're after.
The Panasonic G7's AF system can also operate in even lower ambient light than in the past, with a working range of -4 to 18EV. That allows for a rather cool feature: Starlight AF. Yes, really -- you should be able to focus just using a brightly starlit sky! This rather nifty trick is achieved by using a slower shutter speed while determining autofocus in low light. Autofocus tracking is also said to have been improved, with the Panasonic G7 now using not just subject color to track motion, but also calculating a motion vector and using this to estimate the subject's motion, a change that allows tracking of faster-moving subjects. (This, says Panasonic, is the first Lumix model with this capability.)
Another significant change between the Panasonic G7 and its predecessor is support for 4K video capture in-camera. Available frame rates include 30 and 24 frames per second for NTSC regions. There's a new wind cut function which is compatible with stereo audio capture, not just monaural capture as in past models.
And even if you're exclusively a stills shooter, Panasonic's 4K Photo mode offers a compelling reason to consider 4K capture. That's because you can go back and extract still images from the 4K video clip at a high resolution of around eight megapixels. You have a choice of output aspect ratios for your extracted stills -- 4:3, 3:2 or 1:1 -- and and Panasonic stores the necessary information in its videos to provide an EXIF header for the extracted stills too, allowing you to review capture info. And as you can see in the video clip above, there's a great new user interface with which to select and extract as many stills as you like from each 4K clip.
There are plenty of other new firmware features in the Panasonic G7, too. For example, the electronic shutter function of the G6 has been improved, and now tops out at 1/16,000 second. The Panorama function now lets you trade off image height to get a wider panorama, and creative filters can be applied to panoramic images in-camera. You can also now use creative filters with program, priority or fully manual capture modes, and there are new monochrome filter functions. Highlight and shadow gamma curve adjustment is also now possible.
Perhaps most intriguing is a feature that's been in some of Panasonic's fixed-lens cameras for a while now, but which slipped by under the radar.
The Panasonic G7's Clear Retouch function allows you to select unwanted objects and then erase them in-camera, much like the Content-Aware Fill tool in Adobe Photoshop. The Panasonic G7 also now sports compatibility with not just UHS-I Secure Digital cards, but also the even faster UHS-II cards, another first for the Lumix line.
And Panasonic has managed a 10-shot improvement in battery life versus the earlier Lumix G6, with a total of 350 frames possible with the H-FS14140 Lumix G Vario 14-140mm/F3.5-5.6 Asph./Power O.I.S. lens.
There are a couple of areas in which the Panasonic G7 doesn't quite match up to its predecessor. The built-in popup flash strobe on the top deck has a rather lower guide number of 6.6 meters at ISO 100, versus 8.3 meters for the Lumix G6, but it's possible that the company has merely tightened up its standards for specifying flash output. Our in-house testing suggested the figure to be fairly accurate, if slightly optimistic.
Panasonic has also removed the near-field communications radio of the G6, meaning that you'll have to pair your smartphone or tablet using a QR code shown on the camera's LCD panel, instead. That's of no import to iOS device owners, since Apple doesn't allow third parties access to the NFC radios in its latest products, but for Android users, it's a slightly less swift method of pairing and establishing a Wi-Fi connection, which is a shame.
Panasonic G7 Field Test Part I
High-octane excitement at the Indy 500!
One of the perks of my job is that I get to shoot some very cool cameras, and so I like to seek out equally cool shooting opportunities with which to put them to the test, whether it's hiking in the Colorado mountains, flying in an 85-year old Ford Trimotor, or searching for shipwrecks on the rocky coast of Hong Kong. For the Panasonic G7, though, I had the most awesome subject I've had in years, shooting at the world-famous Indianapolis 500!
For those of you who aren't well-versed on your motorsports, the Indy 500 is a motor race that's famed worldwide as the fastest venue in the Triple Crown of Motorsport! Alongside my fellow members of the photo press, I attended the Indy 500 as a guest of Panasonic. That got me much closer to the action than I'd have been on a standard ticket, including behind-the-scenes access to both the pit lane and garages, and a spectacular view from top of the recently-renamed Panasonic Pagoda.
How did the Panasonic G7 fare shooting one of the fastest sports around?
Panasonic G7 Field Test Part II
Once more unto the night with this very capable mirrorless camera
My first field test for the Panasonic G7 was a rather unusual one, thanks to a really great shooting opportunity: A chance to shoot trackside at the Indy 500. That event told me quite a bit about this interesting camera, but it also resulted in a very long writeup, and so I left some things for the second field test that I'd ordinarily touch upon right off the bat.
A quick recap
As I said in that first test, I really loved the Panasonic G7's compact size, as well as the trim proportions of its lenses. This camera really plays to the strengths of mirrorless, and because of that it's more likely to be with you when you need it. (In my experience, even if the image quality can be spectacular it's just too easy to leave a larger camera and its various accessories sitting on the shelf at home. The result, when an unexpected photo opportunity arrives, is an unsatisfying photo from a smartphone, and a whole lot of regret that the proper camera wasn't to hand.)
I also found myself really liking the Panasonic G7's 4K video-related features. For one thing, the videos themselves are clean and crisp, and even in a non-4K workflow like mine they allow generous cropping, post-capture stabilization and (with a suitably good video editor) a noticeable improvement in video quality even after downsampling to Full HD resolution.
What did I think of this totally-overhauled shooter?
Panasonic G7 Walkaround
See what's changed since its predecessor!
Panasonic has crafted a brand-new body for the Lumix G7. Where the body of its predecessor, the G6, was smooth, flowing and curvy, the G7's is angular and entirely more aggressive-looking. It's also grown just fractionally in all dimensions (approximately two millimeters greater width and height, and six millimeters in depth), along with a slight (20g) increase in weight.
Although it's clearly a brand-new camera, a look at the front deck of the Panasonic G7 shows a layout that is almost unchanged. The only control on the front is the lens release button, and there's still an autofocus assist lamp tucked alongside the top of the handgrip. One feature is notable by its absence: The microphone input that used to sit under a flap at the top left corner of the G6 (as seen from the rear) is gone in the Panasonic G7, having been moved to the camera's left side.
Take a look around the updated body of the Panasonic G7
Panasonic G7 Technical Info
Find out what's inside this feature-packed camera!
Sensor. At the center of the Panasonic G7 sits an updated 16.00-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, replacing the 16.05-megapixel chip used in the earlier G5 and G6 models.
The new imager is the same as that used in the Panasonic GX7, and compared to the earlier design, it's said to have a better signal to noise ratio, yielding lower noise levels at ISO 800 and above. Dynamic range is also better, according to Panasonic. These improvements were achieved courtesy of larger photodiodes, better microlenses, an improved on-chip amplifier design, and on-chip A/D conversion.
Processor. Panasonic has also upgraded the Venus Engine image processor of the G7, bringing it up to the same spec as that used in the FZ1000 and LX100. It's the same processor design as used in the GH4, but running newer algorithms that provide for better detail and gradation.
Find out what's in store for the prospective Panasonic G7 shooter
Panasonic G7 Image Quality Comparison
An entry-level shootout against its predecessor and rivals
Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Panasonic G7's image quality to its predecessor, the G6, as well as its nearest rivals, the Fujifilm X-T10, Olympus E-M10 II, Samsung NX500 and Sony A6000. With the exception of the even-more affordable A6000, all of these mirrorless cameras hit roughly the same affordable price-point, but how does their image quality compare? Read on and find out!
NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Panasonic G7, Panasonic G6, Fuji X-T10, Olympus E-M10 II, Samsung NX500 and Sony A6000 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Panasonic G7 to any camera we've ever tested!
Panasonic G7 Print Quality
Find out how your photos will look on paper
The 16-megapixel Panasonic G7 fares rather well in our print quality testing. The camera manages to impress with large, nicely detailed prints all the way up to 24 x 36 inches at ISO 100/200. Towards the mid-range of ISOs, the G7 manages to keep noise in-check, offering a nice 11 x 14 inch print at ISO 3200 and a usable 8 x 10 at ISO 6400. At the top end of the ISO scale, the Panasonic G7 manages to squeak by with usable 4 x 6 at ISO 12,800, however we'd recommend avoiding ISO 25,600 for prints.
Panasonic G7 Conclusion
So much more than just a family camera
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.
Buy the Panasonic G7
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