Panasonic G7 Technical Info
Panasonic G7 Technical Info
by Mike Tomkins | Posted: 05/21/2015
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.
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.
By default, the Panasonic G7 offers a sensitivity range covering everything from ISO 200 to 25,600 equivalents, compared to the ISO 160 to 12,800-equivalent base sensitivity range of the earlier G5 and G6.
Those cameras could reach the G7's maximum sensitivity if they used ISO expansion, but Panasonic now feels that image quality at this upper limit is now good enough to include in the base range. And while the G7 is bested just a little by its predecessors at the bottom end, you can enable the ISO 100 expansion on the newer model if you don't mind sacrificing some highlight headroom.
With a full-resolution burst performance of eight frames per second with focus fixed from the first frame, or six frames with AF between frames, Panasonic claims an increase in performance of around one frame per second overall.
Using the Panasonic G7's electronic shutter function, performance can be increased still further to a maximum of 40 frames per second. However, Panasonic has yet to state the image resolution in this configuration.
The Panasonic G7 offers up a standard Micro Four Thirds lens mount, compatible with lenses from Panasonic, Olympus, and their Micro Four Thirds partners. Including optics from companies such as Cosina Voigtländer, Kenko Tokina, Leica, Schneider Kreuznach, Sigma and Zeiss, the selection of lenses for the Micro Four Thirds mount is very healthy indeed. (And frankly speaking, well past the point that we can easily give a figure for the number of different models available.)
The Panasonic G7's lens mount ring is crafted from metal.
Like its predecessors, the Panasonic G7 relies solely on contrast detection autofocus, eschewing the on-chip phase detection pixels of some rivals. Don't take that to mean it's slow to focus, though!
Courtesy of Panasonic's clever Depth from Defocus technology, the G7 can determine the distance and direction to a focus lock using an intimate knowledge of the attached lens' bokeh characteristics. That's the same information that would be provided using phase detection, and it allows the G7 to focus very swiftly indeed.
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.
The Panasonic G7's AF system can also operate in extremely low ambient light conditions, with a working range of -4 to 18EV. That allows for a rather cool feature: Starlight AF. Yes, really -- you can now 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.)
The Panasonic G7 sports a brand-new electronic viewfinder that's better than those of its predecessors in a couple of ways. For one thing, it provides a significantly sharper view, courtesy of a new Organic LED panel with an extremely high resolution of 2,360k dots. (In comparison, the OLED panel in the G6 had a resolution of 1,440k dots.)
Panasonic still rates coverage at 100%, with a magnification of 1.4x (or 0.7x if you're comparing to a 35mm full-frame camera). Both a -4 to +4 diopter correction and an eye proximity sensor are included. 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 is also a new design. Its 1,040k-dot resolution is, as near as makes no difference, the same as that in the earlier camera, and it retains the same 3.0-inch diagonal as well.
What's new is a much more powerful backlight, which according to Panasonic has allowed a 50% increase in panel brightness. Controls for brightness, contrast, saturation, red-green, and blue-yellow adjustments are all available.
Just as in the earlier cameras, the Panasonic G7 includes an articulation mechanism that allows for viewing the LCD monitor from a range of angles. And it's not just the more common tilt-only style, but rather a full tilt/swivel that allows for unobstructed selfie framing and shooting from awkward angles regardless of whether you're framing in landscape or portrait orientations.
Panasonic has also retained a touch-sensitive overlay on the G7's LCD monitor as in earlier models, allowing it to serve as an input device. This can be used for everything from selecting a subject on which to focus or set exposure to menu control.
As well as a full complement of Program, Aperture and Shutter-priority and Manual exposure modes, the Panasonic G7 also offers up a generous selection of 24 Scene modes, and both Intelligent Auto and Intelligent Auto+ modes for maximum simplicity.
Scene modes on offer include Clear Portrait, Silky Skin, Backlit Softness, Clear in Backlight, Relaxing Tone, Sweet Child's Face, Distinct Scenery, Bright Blue Sky, Romantic Sunset Glow, Vivid Sunset Glow, Glistening Water, Clear Nightscape, Cool Night Sky, Warm Glowing Nightscape, Artistic Nightscape, Glittering Illuminations, Handheld Night Shot, Clear Night Portrait, Soft Image of a Flower, Appetizing Food, Cute Dessert, Freeze Animal Motion, Clear Sports Shot and Monochrome.
All but Glistening Water, Glittering Illuminations and Soft Image of a Flower can also be used during movie capture.
Exposures are determined using a 1,728-zone multi-pattern metering system by default, with options to use center-weighted or spot metering. The metering system has a working range of EV 0 to 18 using an f/2.0 lens at ISO 100 equivalent, and determines exposures using the image sensor.
To tune the results, a generous +/-5EV of exposure compensation is available in 1/3EV steps. (Or +/-3EV for movie capture.) You can also bracket exposures inside a range of +/-3EV, with a total of three, five or seven frames in 1/3, 1/2 or 1EV steps.
Shutter speeds on offer range from 1/4,000 to 60 seconds, with a Bulb mode pushing this out to a maximum of two minutes. An electronic shutter function allows shutter speeds from 1/16,000 to one second.
If you need to throw a little more light on nearby subjects, the Panasonic G7 offers two options. There's a built-in, popup flash strobe with a guide number of 6.6 meters at ISO 100 (9.3 meters at the base sensitivity of ISO 200), and a hot shoe for external strobes.
Flash sync is at 1/160 second, and available flash modes include Auto, Auto with Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On with Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync. with Red-eye Reduction and Forced Off. Slow sync provides both first and second-curtain shutter options. Flash exposure compensation is also available, with a range of +/-3EV in 1/3EV steps.
The Panasonic G7 offers a number of creative options, should you wish to take your photos beyond the exposure in-camera. Both standard and wide panorama options are provided, and you can also shoot time-lapse series or create stop-motion animations.
The look of photos can be tuned with a choice of Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery, Portrait or Custom photo styles. In movie mode, you can also choose Cinelike D and Cinelike V photo styles.
A wide range of filter functions -- called Creative Controls -- are available, including Expressive, Retro, Old Days, High Key, Low Key, Sepia, Monochrome, Dynamic Monochrome, Rough Monochrome, Silky Monochrome, Impressive Art, High Dynamic, Cross Process, Toy Effect, Toy Pop, Bleach Bypass, Miniature Effect, Soft Focus, Fantasy, Star Filter, One Point Color and Sunshine.
All but the Rough Monochrome, Silky Monochrome, Soft Focus, Star Filter and Sunshine filters can also be used with movies. You can also shoot high dynamic range imagery in-camera.
The Panasonic G7 is relatively rare in being able to shoot not just standard-definition or high-definition movies in-camera, but also ultra-high def movies. Topping out at the consumer 4K video standard of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, the G7 uses MPEG-4 compression at a bitrate of 100Mbps, and offers frame rates of 24, 25 or 30 frames per second.
Dropping the resolution to Full HD (1,920 x 1080 pixels), the default compression is AVCHD, and frame rate options include 60, 50, 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, or 60 / 50 interlaced fields per second. Bitrates range from 17 to 28Mbps in this configuration. You can also opt for MPEG-4 capture at rates of 30p or 60p, with bitrates of 20 or 28Mbps.
At HD resolution (1,280 x 720 pixels), MPEG-4 is the only option, with a choice of 25p / 30p frame rates, and a fixed bitrate of 10Mbps. Finally, at VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels), you have a choice of 25p or 30p framerates and a fixed 4Mbps bit rate.
Note that in the US market, frame-rates intended for PAL video -- 25fps at 4K, 50p/i or 25 fps at Full HD, and 25 fps at HD or VGA -- are not possible, as US-market cameras lack PAL compatibility.
Audio comes courtesy of an internal stereo microphone, or external mics via a 3.5mm stereo mic jack. A wind cut function is provided, and now works even on stereo video. Three strength levels are available, as well as an auto wind cut filter.
The Panasonic G7 also includes the company's 4K Photo function. What this does, in a nutshell, is to record a 4K video clip and then let you browse through it to select individual frames you'd like to extract as high-res eight megapixel still images. In essence, it provides a 30 frames-per-second burst capture mode with a whopping half-hour burst depth. And it can even be configured to start capture two seconds before you press the shutter button!
You have a choice of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority or Manual exposure in 4K Photo mode, and shutter speeds are biased towards the shortest possible exposure time to freeze motion. That choice would lead to undesirably jerky video, but it's just what you'd want to do when shooting high-speed bursts of still images to avoid motion blur. Nor is that the only difference from regular 4K capture: In 4K Photo mode the Panasonic G7 uses a wider signal range, where in regular capture that range is curtailed just slightly at both the shadow and highlight ends.
There's a nifty new user interface for selecting 4K Photo stills, as you can see in the video below:
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 Lumix G7 features in-camera Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity. While it's no longer paired with NFC for easy setup on Android devices, Panasonic does offer the next best thing -- an on-screen QR code that works to pair both Android and iOS by aiming your smartphone's camera at the LCD display. Compatibility includes 802.11b/g/n networks on channels one to 11, and WPA / WPA2 encryption are supported, as well as infrastructure mode connections.
Once paired with your smartphone or tablet, you can control the camera remotely and options such as focus control or shutter release are available to you. Images you've shot can also be transferred for sharing with friends and family online. And while the camera itself lacks a GPS receiver, if you don't mind the significant hit on your phone's battery life, you can record track logs that allow your images to be geotagged after the fact.
Wired connectivity is, of course, also included. You have a choice of USB 2.0 High-Speed data or NTSC/PAL composite video output via a shared connector, and a Micro HDMI Type D high-definition video output. (Note, though, that US models don't support PAL output on the composite connection.)
There is, as we've already mentioned, also a 3.5mm microphone jack, and this doubles as a connector for the optional wired remote control.
As well as standard Secure Digital cards, the Panasonic G7 also supports the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, as well as the higher-speed UHS-I and UHS-II cards. Panasonic recommends a UHS Speed Class 3 card for 4K recording.
The Panasonic G7 draws power from a proprietary 7.2-volt, 1,200mAh, 8.7 watt-hour DMW-BLC12 lithium-ion battery pack. Battery life has increased by ten frames, to a total of 340 frames with the H-FS14140 Lumix G Vario 14-140mm/F3.5-5.6 Asph./Power O.I.S. lens mounted. A standalone charger is included in the product bundle, and in-camera charging via USB port is not supported.