Panasonic GF7 Tech Info
Panasonic GF7 Technical Info
by Mike Tomkins
At its core, the Panasonic GF7 has the same 16-megapixel Live MOS image sensor used in the GX7, a camera that costs almost twice as much as the GF7. Compared to earlier designs, Panasonic says this chip improves saturation thanks to use of what it terms Semiconductor Fine Technology -- essentially, larger wells that can collect more photons. It also sports more efficient microlenses that increase light-gathering capabilities -- and hence sensitivity. Finally, signal to noise ratio is improved further thanks to in-pixel and digital signal readout tweaks.
Data from the sensor is processed by a Venus Engine-branded image processor which includes Panasonic's Multi-process Noise Reduction technology.
The base sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 25,600 equivalents is identical to that provided by the GX7. Interestingly, the GF7 actually bests its more expensive sibling just slightly in terms of expanded range, though, able to reach down to ISO 100 equivalent where the GX7 stops at ISO 125.
Performance is much the same as that of the Panasonic GM5, with a manufacturer-rated 5.8 frames per second when using single autofocus, or five fps when using continuous autofocus in single-point mode. When using an electronic shutter, it's possible to boost this to an extremely swift 40 frames per second at 4-megapixel resolution or 10 frames per second at full resolution. See our Performance page for actual lab test results.
Although it lacks phase-detection autofocus or the clever Depth From Defocus technology found in some of Panasonic's higher-end models, the GF7's contrast-detection autofocus is nevertheless pretty capable. Panasonic says that its new model will focus down to an impressive -4EV, and provides five frames-per-second shooting with autofocus tracking. This is achieved with 240 frames-per-second info from the image sensor, and the company also says the system can determine a focus lock in just 0.06 seconds.
Autofocus modes on offer include face detection (including eye detection to focus specifically on your subject's eyes), pinpoint, low-light and one-shot, and for manual focus both an assist and focus peaking function are provided. Interestingly, the eye-detection function shows a picture-in-picture display of your subject's face, allowing you to choose which eye to focus on.
Images are framed and reviewed on a high-resolution 1,040,000-dot LCD monitor with a diagonal size of 3.0 inches. It's the same display as used in the GF6, and just as in that camera, it's both a touch-screen for input, and mounted on a 180-degree upwards-tilting articulation mechanism for selfies.
Flipping the monitor up all the way automatically launches selfie-shooting mode, and selfies can be triggered using face detection. For a single person, you can wave your hand in front of your face to trip the shutter once your hand is back out of the way, and for two people you can have the shutter tripped when your faces are close together. A variety of beautification tools are also offered to give your selfies some pep: Soft Skin, Defocusing mode, and Slimming mode.
The Panasonic GF7 uses the same shutter mechanism as the GM5, and as in that camera couples it with an electronic shutter. That means that it has the same range of shutter speeds -- 1/16,000 to 60 seconds -- as well as the same, rather slow flash sync speed of 1/50 second.
Exposures are metered using a 1,728-zone multi-pattern metering system, and a generous +/-5EV of exposure compensation is available in 1/3EV steps. Exposure modes include Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority or Manual as you'd expect, and there are also Panorama, Scene, Portrait, Child and Landscape modes provided. Exposure bracketing is also possible within a 3, 5, or 7-frame range with a 1/3, 2/3 or 1EV step size.
As a camera aimed at consumers, it's not a surprise that there's no external flash connectivity on the Lumix GF7. There is, however, a built-in popup flash strobe with a guide number of 5.6 meters at ISO 200. That's quite a bit weaker than the GF6's strobe, though, which had a guide number of 7.1 meters at the same sensitivity. And as noted previously, maximum flash sync is at just 1/50 second.
Like to keep your creative options open? The Panasonic GF7 has quite a few to choose from, including one pretty unusual option: Jump Snap mode. This relies on the accelerometer in your paired smartphone. Set everything up, jump in the air, and at the moment the phone detects that you're reached the top of your jump, the camera will snap a shot. (Just be careful that your phone doesn't fall out of your pocket while jumping!)
There's also an Intelligent Auto mode for no-fuss shooting, plus a Scene Guide that helps you sort through the selection of scene modes on offer to make your picks. And there are a total of 22 different filters to choose from, including monochrome (a new option), plus stop motion animation, time lapse and clear retouch.
Like the GF6 before it, the Panasonic GF7 includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless networking that helps get your photos off the camera, onto your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet (using the Panasonic Image App that's provided free of charge), and from there online. Although there's no NFC support, the pairing process has been smoothed to no longer require a password be entered.
Once paired, you can control your camera remotely (complete with a live-view feed to help with framing), transfer photos automatically after shooting, or transfer them at will after the face. You can also connect to your home wireless router, and have images and videos transferred automatically for archival on your network.
Although there's no built-in GPS radio for geolocation, the GF7 can also piggyback on your phone's GPS radio to geotag images with the location at which they were captured, so long as you can live with the hit on your phone's battery life.
As well as still images, the Panasonic GF7 can shoot high-definition Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) movies at rates of up to 60 progressive-scan frames per second. You have a choice of 28Mbps AVCHD Progressive or MPEG-4 / H.264 capture with Dolby Digital stereo sound, and a native, cinema-like 24 frames-per-second mode is also available at 24Mbps.
Full-time autofocus is available during movie capture, including the ability to touch to select subjects on which to focus. That's a great way for relative beginners to handle smooth rack focusing between subjects, and autofocus tracking is also possible during capture.
There's also a new Snap Movie mode, which allows you to shoot short clips of two, four, six or eight seconds, and then have them assembled in-camera to create a movie with your choice of fade effects. Time-lapse or stop-motion videos are also possible, and a wind cut filter is provided.
Note that European models have a 30-minute clip length limit for tax reasons; in other markets there's no such limit.
As well as the Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity of the GF7, several wired communication options are available. There's a USB 2.0 High Speed data connection, a high-definition Type-D Micro HDMI video output, and an NTSC / PAL composite video output. Note, though, that there is no external flash or microphone connectivity.
The Panasonic GF7 stores images on Secure Digital cards, including both the higher-capacity SDHC / SDXC types, and the higher-speed UHS-I types.
Power comes courtesy of a proprietary 7.2V, 680mAh, 4.9Wh lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. The Panasonic GF7 is rated as good for 230 shots on a charge with the H-FS12032 kit lens, or 210 shots on a charge with the H-PS14042 14-42mm power-zoom lens to CIPA testing standards.
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