The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is a new Micro Four Thirds compact system camera that integrates 4K video recording capacity with a variety of 4K Photo functions. The G7 can record 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video with either 30p or 24p frames rates at 100Mbps in the MP4 structure. The Panasonic G7 features a 16 megapixel Digital Live MOS image sensor, high-speed dual OLED Live Watch Finder, 3-inch 1040K-dot Free-Angle touch screen display, 8fps continuous shooting, ISO 100-25,600, ultra-high velocity AF of just 0.07 sec, mechanical and silent electronic shutters, and Wi-Fi connection.
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Panasonic Lumix G7: Price
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Panasonic Lumix G7 Review: Ease of Use
The new Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is just a little larger than the DMC-G6 model that it succeeds, measuring 124.9 x 86.2 x 77.4mm, but weighs slightly more at 30g for the body only. Still styled very much in the DSLR mold, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 has a more angular design than the rounded G6. It manages to fit a 3-inch fully rotating, free-angle LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder into its diminutive measurements, yet is still comfortable more than enough for users with average-sized hands to operate. Apart from the handgrip, rear thumb grip and the right-hand aspect of the camera, which are all rubberized, the DMC-G7 provides a slightly textured plastic surface finish. It’s still very well-built with a high-quality aluminum chassis, metallic lens mount and steel tripod socket that belies its relatively affordable price point.
On the front of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 are a tiny focus-assist and self-timer indicator lamp, black lens release button, metal lens mount and a generously-sized rubberized hand-grasp with a sculpted indent for your forefinger, which is large enough to successfully aid your hold on the camera. Optical picture stabilization is built into the camera body, with the 14-42mm II kit lens that we tested the DMC-G7 with lacking a physical OIS switch. Instead, it can be turned on and off through the DMC-G7’s menu program. When enabled, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 immediately compensates for camera shake, which is a small blurring of the image that typically takes place at gradual shutter speeds when the camera is handheld.
On the still left flank of the DMC-G7 (when viewed from behind) is the MIC socket for use with an external microphone, hidden under a rubber flap. On the right of the body are three connection ports, including the AV Out/Digital slot, an interface for the optional remote shutter launch, and an HDMI interface for connecting the DMC-G7 to an HD television or monitor. Panasonic doesn’t include an HDMI cable as standard in the box, which means that you’ll have to purchase one separately to take advantage of this camera’s HD online connectivity. On the bottom are a steel tripod socket, importantly in-line with the middle of the zoom lens barrel, and the shared battery pack compartment and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot. The DMC-G7 manages around 350 pictures using the supplied 7.2V 1200mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery before needing to be recharged, about the same as the previous DMC-G6.
Found on top of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 are a new drive mode dial on the left which includes the burst mode/4K/bracketing/constant shooting/timer options, the external flash hotshoe and built-in pop-up flash, complete with a manual change to open it on the rear, twin stereo microphones, on/off switch, a handy one-touch movie record button, fresh Fn1/Exposure Compensation button, and a reasonably sized, tactile shutter switch that’s encircled by the first of two control dials. The second thumb-operated control dial changes the aperture by default, but cleverly includes a button at its center that allows you toggle to the white balance and ISO speed – very handy.
Completing the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7’s top panel is a traditional shooting setting dial that lets you choose the different exposure modes. This dial is a typical feature of SLR cameras and enables you to quickly change between the various modes. The usual selection of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Concern, and Manual are available for more experienced photographers, while beginner-friendly Scene modes are accessed via the SCN setting. Additionally, there is a custom mode, marked C, which allows you to configure three of your favorite settings and quickly access them.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7: Front of the Lumix G7
The DMC-G7’s range of Creative Settings, denoted by an artist’s palette, today offers a whopping 22 options. Some are even more useful than others, and you do shed control of the direct exposure and other key settings when using the Creative Handles, whereas the 6 obtainable Photo Styles still allow full control of the camera’s settings. The Creative Panorama mode allows you to apply any of the different effects to a vertical or horizontal panoramic picture, which is easily taken by ‘sweeping’ with the camera while keeping the shutter discharge depressed.
The clever Intelligent Auto mode, now selected via the shooting setting dial, tries to make things as easy as possible for the complete beginner, allowing them to point and shoot the camera without having to worry about selecting the most appropriate scene mode or configurations. Intelligent Auto Mode automatically determines several key criteria when taking a picture, including selecting the most appropriate scene mode (from 5 frequently used presets) and ISO rate, and turning face detection (up to 15 faces), image stabilization and quick auto-focus on.
The Intelligent Auto As well as Mode also includes Intelligent Direct exposure, which increases exposure only in the under-exposed areas of the picture, Digital Red-eye, which instantly detects and gets rid of red-eye, and AF Tracking, which continually tracks a moving subject and retains it in focus, without you have to hold the shutter key halfway down as on most other digital cameras. Intelligent D-range continuously checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows, while Intelligent Resolution mode makes a standard image look like a higher resolution one.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7: Rear of the Lumix G7
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is an intriguing prospect for would-be videographers, providing gain access to as it does to the same creative publicity P,A,S,M settings selectable when shooting stills. You also get access to all the Photo Style and Creative Control modes when capturing video. ISO settings, white stability, and AF tracking are also accessible when shooting movies. The normal bugbear of exterior location shoots is also dealt with thanks to a wind cut option among the four screen’s worthy of menu configurations in motion picture mode.
The DMC-G7’s Intelligent Car mode works for movies as well as for still photos. Simply select the iA shooting mode on top of the camera, then the Movie Record button. The Intelligent Picture Selector automatically determines the most suitable Scene mode from five choices – Portrait, Scenery, Low Light and Close-up or Normal settings. Face Detection immediately detects a face in the framework and adjusts the concentrate, exposure, contrast, and epidermis complexion. Intelligent Exposure constantly checks the ambient light level and adjusts the direct exposure setting as circumstances change to avoid blown highlights and blocked shadows. The Image Stabilizer helps prevent blurring from hand-shake when using a compatible lens or via the camera body. One great advantage of the touch-screen control system is that Touch Auto Focusing is available in movie recording, enabling pro-level rack-like focusing simply by pointing at the subject on the LCD display.
There are three 4K Photo features – 4K Burst Shooting, 4K Burst (Start/Stop) and 4K Pre-burst which all record continuous 8 megapixel stills at a 30fps shooting rate. 4K Burst enables you to continually record 8 megapixel images at 30fps, 4K Pre-Burst will the same but for one second prior to and one second after pressing the shutter switch in order, giving you 60 frames to pick from, and 4K Burst (S/S) allows you to playback your video, pause at the chosen second, and use the shutter key to mark a chosen body from the video and save it as a single 8 megapixel frame.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7: In-hand
Below this is the Playback and the Display buttons, the latter cycling through the various LCD views, like the user level gauge for making your horizons straight. Underneath again is a normal 4-way navigation pad system with a Menu/Place button in the center. Pressing left, up, right and down on the D-Pad control keys selects AF Mode, ISO, White Balance, and Fn3 options respectively.
The main menu program on the DMC-G7 is usually straight-forward to use and is definitely accessed by pressing the Menu/Set button in the middle of the navigation D-Pad. There are five main menus represented by huge icons, Record, Motion Picture, Custom, Setup, and Playback. For those who have never used a digital camera before, or you’re upgrading from a more simple model, reading the easy-to-follow manual before you begin is a good idea. Unfortunately, Panasonic has just chosen to supply a basic guidebook in printed format, with the full manual only offered as a PDF on the product CD.
The DMC-G7 employs the same Contrast Auto Focus system that is commonly used by compact cameras. Despite this, the DMC-G7’s auto-focus system is as fast, if not faster, than a standard DSLR camera’s, with a claimed speed of just 0.07 second when used with specific lenses, and a still-impressive 0.18 second with the 14-42mm kit lens. In practice, we noticed very little difference in speed between your DMC-G7 and a DSLR, and there were also very few occasions when the DMC-G7 failed to lock onto the topic, especially when using the center AF point.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7: Image Quality
All of the sample pictures in this review were taken using the 16 megapixels Fine JPEG environment, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. It creates noise-free pictures at ISO 100 to 1600, with limited noise that needs to appear at ISO 3200. ISO 6400 exhibits quite visible noise and loss of fine detail, and the faster setting of ISO 12,800 is even noisier but still usable for small prints and web make use of. We’d avoid using the headline-grabbing ISO 25,600 setting though.
The images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening level and ideally require further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don’t like the default results. The various Creative Controls and Image Styles permit you to quickly and easily customize the look of the camera’s JPEG images. The pop-up flash proved helpful well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure.
The night photograph was exceptional, with the maximum shutter speed of 60 seconds allowing you to capture plenty of light. We struggled to discover any differences between the Intelligent Resolution settings, but Intelligent D-range and the HDR setting are effective features for capturing more detail in the shadows and highlights.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7: Conclusion
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 may be the fifth Panasonic stills camera to offer 4K video and image shooting, following in the footsteps of the GH4, LX100, FZ1000 and CM1 models. “Introducing 4k to everyone” is the marketing angle that Panasonic is taking with the G7, and we’d agree that this DSLR-like, mid-range small system camera may be the best suited of all those products to expand the appeal of 4K to wider viewers, especially as it now offers additional 4K photo modes.
Even if you’re not on board the 4K train, the DMC-G7 continues to be a very appealing mirrorless camera, once again offering a lot of features and efficiency at an attractive price, although it lacks the more characteristic retro styling of the Olympus PEN vary or the Fujifilm X-series.
With a far more angular design than its predecessor, the DMC-G7 again falls into the mini-DSLR category of compact system cameras, filled with an excellent electronic viewfinder, LCD display screen, and both a pop-up flash and a hotshoe. The addition of the get mode dial and not one, but two control dials all help to improve the DMC-G7’s credentials as an affordable camera for lovers that delivers a lot of bang for your buck.
Image quality has also been improved since from the prior DMC-G6 (as this brand-new model uses the same sensor as the excellent DMC-GX7), in particular moving items on in the ISO stakes. Images shot at ISO 100-1600 are clean, with just a little noise appearing at 3200 and even more at the still extremely usable setting of 6400. ISO 12,800 is best reserved for resizing and smaller prints, while the top speed of 25,600 is really only for emergency use, but overall the G7 offers excellent still picture quality for a Micro Four Thirds camera.
Coming across such as a mini-GH4, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is a good addition to the Lumix CSC range, offering 4K video recording and useful 4K/8 megapixel still modes at a price-point that only the similar Samsung NX500 can match.