A Review of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7KS 4K Mirrorless Camera
The Lumix DMC-G7KS 4K mirrorless camera is yet another excellent example of a recent convergence that’s been steadily going on in the world of ultra HD digital photography. Namely we’re talking about the trend towards superbly built, highly precise digital cameras in which advanced video capture capabilities are the case and in which video shots themselves offer the quality of still shots.
The DMC-G7KS is one of the newer players in the digital consumer camera market and it’s also part of a general newer type of photo/video shooter which is becoming more common in these recent years, that is the digital single lens mirrorless camera (DSLM). As a DSLM, the G7KS is also one of Panasonic’s newest releases and there’s plenty to appreciate about it. From razor sharp image quality to some truly awesome video and photo shooting features, all bundled together in one relatively compact and surprisingly modest looking package.
For both photographers and 4K or HD digital video recording fans, the G7KS has quite a bit to offer and it does so with few complications or many serious flaws. As we’ll see, this is a camera with the typical robustness we pretty much expect from Panasonic’s photo and video equipment.
First off the bat, the G7KS offers its users a very convenient package of video and image quality equivalent to that of some of the best DLSRs on the market today, especially 4K-capable SLR models. However, it does this in a body that comes without most of the bulk and weight of such cameras. This means superior handling, even better than normal portability and a greater simplicity of design that is typical of most mirrorless camera bodies.
This last point is the case because, as a mirrorless, the G7KS (and all such cameras) come with a viewfinder system in which there is no reflex-finder behind the lens. Instead, light enters directly, passing through said lens and directly into the camera’s image sensor. This means a lens that can sit more compactly inside the camera and thus a camera body that is generally smaller than what you’d see with a DSLR. Needless to say, we really do like this design characteristic, particularly when the camera in question manages to deliver a video and photo quality that’s the equal of a high-quality DSLR’s.
And speaking of said images, they are very good in our estimation. This camera pulls out 16 megapixel still shots which really pack in the visual information, color, vibrancy and HDR that lead to some excellent photography results under a wide range of conditions. Furthermore, there is the obvious and crucial (for this site) extra feature of being able to grab some great 4K ultra HD video at a rate of 30 frames per second, from which single 8 megapixel images can be extracted from each frame, meaning a maximal versatility for users who want to grab that perfect high resolution still shot from a quickly moving sequence of hard to photograph events.
Other excellent video and photo recording features that have been packed into the G7KS for very sharp shooting. For one thing, we love the G7KS’s depth from defocus technology, for excellent interpretation of spatial distances within a frame and their conversion to some highly usable photo data for a more precise automated measurement of exactly the focus needed even under low light conditions or when a capture subject is moving erratically and quickly. Augmenting these focus capacities even further is a powerful auto focus that can move at a lightning fast 0.07 seconds.
Additionally, we love the camera’s very fast maximum shutter speed of 1/16,000s on the 16 megapixel still shots, making this an excellent choice as a camera for event or drone photography, wildlife shooting and other field uses where your video or photo subjects are going to be moving in rapid and unpredictable ways. In basic terms, this is a great compact and relatively affordable field camera for amateurs, travelers and even professional users who want something that is highly portable but delivers quite a bit of high quality and a decent number of interesting features.
4.5 - 9 Reviews
No camera is perfect and the DMC- G7KS is no exception to the rule. It also has its share of rather minor defects that are worth noting, though none of these are by any means a deal breaker unless your standards for a mirrorless photo camera or highly portable 4K video shooter are deeply exacting.
First of all, and this is a general flaw that pretty much all Panasonic camera suffer from, we don’t like the company’s use of proprietary USB connectors. They’re annoying, using them is complicated and their design causes some pointless limitations on plug-and-play connectivity across a spectrum of devices.
That general criticism of Panasonic camera technology out of the way, there are the little problems that the G7KS specifically faces. Among these, the first and foremost is the camera’s weakness as a shooter in low light conditions. Panasonic claims that this camera is actually good for poor lighting conditions, the actual photo results created aren’t particularly good. Shooting in the twilight hours in outdoor settings often produces some very fuzzy imagery even if the camera is kept very still and despite the G7KS’s potential ISO of 25,600, the kind of grain this camera offers in shots captured in low light doesn’t look so much shadowy but clear as it does muddy and oddly hazy.
Despite its moderate range of flaws, we do recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC- G7KS as a great all-purpose field shooting camera and 4K video device. This little device offers some superb 4K video and 16 megapixel stills and is also excellent for field shooting of rapid motion, as long as your lighting conditions are relatively bright. Furthermore, even with its low-light flaws, the G7KS still manages passable photos and video –just not as finely grained as some we’ve seen in other devices.
Camera Type: digital single lens mirrorless camera (DSLM)
Video Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels
Max photo resolution: 4592×3448 (16 megapixels)
Sensor Type: 17.3×13.0mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio) Live MOS
Recording Formats for photos: JPEG (DCF, Exif 2.3), RAW, MPO (When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Thirds system standard)
Recording formats for video: AVCHD (Audio format: Dolby Digital 2ch), MP4 (Audio format AAC 2ch)
Focus: AF system
Recording media: SD / SDHC / SDXC
ISO range: 160 - 25600
Lens Mount: Micro four-thirds mount
Minimum shutter speed: 1/16,000 - 1
Viewfinder: OLED Live View Finder (2,360k dots)
Connectivity: USB 2.0, HDMI, Composite video/audio
Frame Rates video:
MP4*:NTSC area [4K] 3840x2160:4K/30p 100Mbps, 4K/24p 100Mbps
MP4*:NTSC area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/60p 28Mbps, FHD/30p: 20Mbps
MP4*:NTSC area [HD] 1280x720:HD/30p 10Mbps
MP4*:NTSC area [VGA] 640x480:VGA/30p 4Mbps
MP4*:PAL area [4K] 3840x2160:4K/25p 100Mbps, 4K/24p 100Mbps
MP4*:PAL area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/50p 28Mbps, FHD/25p: 20Mbps
MP4*:PAL area [HD] 1280x720:HD/25p 10Mbps
MP4*:PAL area [VGA] 640x480:VGA/25p 4Mbps
AVCHD*:NTSC area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/60p 28Mbps, 60p recording
AVCHD*:NTSC area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/60i 17Mbps, 60i recording
AVCHD*:NTSC area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/30p 24Mbps, 60i recording (sensor output is 30fps)
AVCHD*:NTSC area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/24p 24Mbps
AVCHD*:PAL area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/50p 28Mbps, 50p recording
AVCHD*:PAL area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/50i 17Mbps, 50i recording
AVCHD*:PAL area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/25p 24Mbps, 50i recording (sensor output is 25fps)
AVCHD*:PAL area [Full HD] 1920x1080:FHD/24p 24Mbps
The accessory kit for the Panasonic LUMIX G7 DMC-G7K that we’re reviewing here, sold on Amazon.com, includes a SanDisk 16GB Extreme SDHC Class 10 memory card, 2 extended life replacement BLC-12 batteries, a single AC/DC Rapid Home & travel charger, a single Micro HDMI cable, an insulated carrying case and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
The camera itself comes without a lens however, users who want to get started with the essentials of versatile video and photo shooting would do well to get their hands on a 14-140mm lens or a 14-42mm and 35-100 lens bundle.
The Lumix DMC-G7K has several interesting 4K video related highlights which are worth mentioning and beyond those has a number of still photo shooting technologies and features that we think are interesting camera performance enhancers.
First off the bat, there is the basic fact that this camera can manage 4K ultra HD video at 30 frames per second in two different formats (AVCHD and MP4). Not only does the maximum resolution footage captured by the G7K thus offer more than four times the resolution of normal Full HD, it’s also particularly high quality in this little mirrorless. The color saturation is excellent and video taken under decent to good lighting conditions comes out crisp and with sharp, evenly balanced dynamic range.
Furthermore, the G7K comes with a built in 4K Photo function by which any one of the 30 frames per second of video captured with the camera can be extracted and used as a single still photo of 8 megapixels. Accompanying this feature there is also a 4K burst mode for continuously capturing nonstop 4K photo stills from all video captured while the shutter button is depressed and a 4K Pre-burst mode that initiates a 4K video sequence one second before and one second after the shutter button is depressed, resulting in a total of 60 extra 8 megapixel still shots of a given action sequence. Of course, 8MP still photos can also be extracted from any given piece of 4K video captured by the normal record function in the G7K.
As for photo shooting highlights, we love the camera’s 2360K-dot OLED viewfinder. It’s 10,000:1 contrast and excellent framing offer some superb visibility and solid visual clarity even if you’re trying to watch the view finder screen at an off angle while taking a piece of video footage or capturing a still shot from an odd angle of use.
Additionally, there is the very fast auto focus tracking technology of the G7K, which as we said manages to work at high speed to track color, motion vector and size in a subject for extremely rapid and accurate focus lock. This means a minimal level of fuss when you’re looking for clarity in a fast action sequence, though on the other hand, the AF, for all its high quality in well-lit conditions, has a tendency to track more poorly in the dark, resulting in what in our impression is a hazy and sometimes even blurry level of focus.
Finally, the G7K from Panasonic also offers some great auto-focusing with depth from defocus technology, This spec lets the camera calculate distances to objects and adjust focus accordingly at a genuinely rapid-fire 0.07 seconds while also allowing bust shooting speeds of 6 frames per second during continuous auto focus (AFC). The same feature also offers some added stability during video shooting, something that comes in very handy during capture of the much higher resolutions in 4K UHD video.
We should also note that the DMC- G7K comes with WiFi connectivity and an accessory Panasonic Image App that can be used to control a number of its menu, photo and video functions from an Android or iOS smartphone, or tablet.
4.5 - 9 Reviews
On the whole, we’d have to say that the DMC- G7K is a very solid performer as a compact, highly portable and highly affordable single lens mirrorless camera. It’s also a great performer as long as you keep a few of its limitations in mind. This camera certainly isn’t on par with something like Panasonic’s professional GH4 and its price and relative simplicity reflects this fact. However, if you take affordability, ease of use and simplicity into consideration, then the G7K is a great mirrorless camera.
On the other hand, while we like the ease with which high quality photos and 4K (or lower resolution) videos can be captured with the G7K, we do think it could have managed a superior level of low-light performance. In this regard, the hype by Panasonic for the camera’s low-light chops doesn’t quite pan out as well as we’ve seen shooting in poor lighting done with other mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Despite a relatively high ISO of 25,600, the DMC- G7K still produces what we’d definitely call noisier than normal dark shots. Don’t let Panasonic’s hype and apparently darkness friendly specs trick you too much.
Under decent lighting conditions, the quality of the photos and video captures with this little mirrorless is definitely excellent. The 16 megapixel sensor on the G7K really loads its captured images with excellent levels of detail and colors in most shots look wonderfully vibrant. As far as mirrorless cameras go, the G7K delivers excellent goods and even 4K video stills look wonderfully crisp despite being extracted at a rate of 30 frames per second.
On the other hand, like we said, your low light shots with the G7K might leave you a bit disappointed. If you’re a complete newcomer to the world of high quality mirrorless and DSLR 4K cameras, the quality of photos captured with the G7K under poor lighting might not look so bad but a comparison with what other cameras like the truly excellent-for-darkness Sony 4K mirrorless full-frame Alpha A7s II camera will let you quickly see what real high quality low light shooting can look like.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7K is definitely priced to sell in our opinion. This camera is currently retailing on Amazon.com with the complete kit of accessories we mentioned above in our “accessories” section for a very reasonable $839.99.
4.5 - 9 Reviews
Most importantly of all, we’d say that the Lumix DMC-G7K suffers from less than decent low light shooting capacity, as we’ve already described. Aside from this one major oversight by Panasonic, this camera is pretty well rounded.
• Excellent 4K video recording options
• 4K Photo mode for 8MP stills at 30 fps
• Vibrant photo and video quality
• Great 16 megapixel still shots
• Reasonable price
• Not so great at low light photography or video
• Panasonic USB connections are a bit annoying