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Panasonic Lumix G7 Review – DSLM Mirrorless 4k Camera DMC-G7

by on January 5, 2016
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Overview

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 camera has 16 megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor in combination with the newly developed and reconfigured Venus Engine which means incredibly high quality image capture with super-fast signal processing. This combination of quality and speed is uncommon in a camera in this price range. Further, the G7’s high quality noise reduction system means you can capture stunning, sharp images even in extremely low light environments. The G7 shoots native 4K UHD video and has a brilliant 4K photo capture mode which lets you turn any frame from a 4K video into a pin sharp JPEG, this unleashes a whole new world of creative freedom.

The G7 is not without its faults however. Firstly, the camera has a somewhat plasticky feel to it and lacks the robustness of other cameras in its price range such as the magnesium alloy FujiFilm X-T10 or the more robustly designed magnesium Sony A7. Further, the camera has an average dynamic range and has a frustratingly slow “start up to shoot” time. Finally, even though the camera has intuitive and robust controls there is a small issue with the main dial in that it switches/turns too easily which means you can occasionally flick it unintentionally, thus changing the option, when you didn’t intend to.

Overall, however, we feel the cameras good points outweigh the bad by quite some way and often the bad points are a matter of perspective, especially in the case of the cameras plastic like feel as some may not be bothered by it, or may in fact prefer it.

The Good

4K UHD Video & Photo Capture.

One of the, if not the biggest, stand out feature of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is its ability to shoot in glorious native 4K (3,840 x 2160) resolution. But something that got us even more excited is the 4K photo capture feature which allows you to easily extract frames from a 4K video sequence (filmed at 30 frames per second) and save them as photos. This enables a whole new level of creative freedom, allowing you to essentially turn any scene in a video into a set of sharp, vivid photos.

Further, the Lumix DMC-G7 4K photo capture feature has three 4K burst modes. “Standard 4K burst” lets you take thirty 4K frames per second, all you have to do is hold down on the G7’s photo button and it will take a super rapid succession of shots from any 4K video. “4K burst (start and stop)” lets you scroll through any 4K video at 30 frames per second and choose the precise frame(s) you want to turn into a 4K picture. And “4K pre burst” lets you capture sixty 4K photos in two seconds flat - 30 photos before you press the shutters release and 30 afterwards. These three burst modes allow you to select any frame from a 4K video with surgical precision and turn it into a pin sharp, colorful 4K photo.

Stunning Image Quality From A 16MP Live MOS sensor & Venus Engine.

The G7’s 16 megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor in combination with the newly developed and reconfigured Venus Engine means incredibly high quality image capture with super-fast signal processing. A marriage of quality and speed that is rare in a camera of this price range. Further, the cameras high quality noise reduction system means you can capture stunning, sharp images even in extremely low light environments up to ISO 25,600.

Brilliant Auto-Focus System

- High Speed Auto Focus With Built in DFD Technology.

The DFD (Depth From Defocus) Auto-focus system in the G7 allows you to crisply capture even the fastest moving action. The way Panasonics proprietary auto-focus works is by instantaneously and accurately calculating the distance between the items inside the frame which then drives the focus in the lens in one swift continuous movement. How swift? Well, the camera autofocuses at speeds of up to 0.07 seconds (yes you read that correctly). The stability of continuous focus when shooting 4K video is also super-fast thanks to this proprietary auto-focus technology. The only thing the camera is lacking is the Motor Focus System present in the Panasonic DMC-FZ1000.

- Precise Auto-Focus Tracking.

We were going to mention this above, but we feel it deserves its own sub-section. The G7 has an all improved auto focus tracking algorithm. Now not just the color but also size and motion vector of the chosen auto-focus target is recognized, enabling you to lock in to your desired subject more quickly, accurately and securely. The outcome is a tracking performance that is around 200% or more when compared to the G6.

- Unrivalled Low Light Auto-Focus.

The Lumix DMC-G7’s superb low light AF allows you to focus in on your desired target more precisely and accurately than ever in -4EV low light conditions, an example being a moonlight with no other light source. But that’s not all, the camera also integrates seamlessly with “Starlight AF”, letting you capture a star in the night sky with great focus as the camera will accurately calculate the contrast value in a smaller auto-focus zone.

Stunning Screen & Exceptional Viewfinder.

The G7 has a 1040K-dot Free-Angle touch screen display, as the name suggests, the screen can be flipped and rotated (up to 270 degrees) extremely easily which allows a lot more creative freedom, enabling you to accurately capture shots that would be near impossible without a tiltable screen, especially overhead and ground level shots. Also, to answer the burning question on everyone minds. Yes, the tiltable screen allows you to take epic selfies.

The camera also has a 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder, markedly better than the 1.44 million dot view finder in the G7, although the G7 has the same magnification level as the G6 at 1.4x magnification. With the G7 you can switch to EVF the moment you put your eye to it thanks to an ingenious sensor just below the display. The viewfinder allows for extremely high visibility thanks primarily to a 10,000: 1 contrast and allows near perfect framing, even in high sunlight conditions.

Wireless Capabilities.

The camera is Wi-Fi enabled opening up a whole host of features and opportunities. The camera can be controlled with your smartphone or tablet using the Panasonic Image App. Using the App on your mobile device you can view images, set focus, release the shutter from a distance or even share images via social media. As you can imagine, this provides a greater amount of creative freedom and means you can use the camera to capture shots that were just not possible when you couldn’t control the camera with your phone as a remote device.

Accessible & Intuitive Controls

Something that can make or break a camera, but that, surprisingly, doesn’t get discussed as often as it should is the camera controls. A poorly placed set of camera controls can make it hard for you get the images you want in the way you want, even if you are using a camera that can take superb images and has a great lens.

Thankfully this is an area where the G7 really shines. It features a really extensive, intuitive and well thought out set of controls, with a body design that enables you to instantly and frictionlessly access key functions such as front aperture and shutter speed. Further, settings can be assigned to 6 simple to operate function buttons (FN-buttons) – this customizability adds a lot flexibility and means you can really tailor the camera to your way of shooting. In short the G7’s intuitive, well placed and easy to understand controls means less time wrestling with settings and more time capturing the shots you want.

Check the Price of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7KK DSLM Mirrorless 4K Camera on Amazon:

4.4 - 32 Reviews

The Bad

As you might have guessed from the above, we are pretty in love with the G7. 4K video, tiltabile screen, 16 megapixels, what’s not to love? Well, A few niggling things, unfortunately. The camera, as with almost all others, has its faults which we will discuss below.

Build Quality & Dial Control Issues.

Lets’ be honest here, the Lumix DMC-G7 isn’t much of a looker. They do say, however, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so there may some of you out there shaking your heads and disagreeing feverently. But we have been told by quite a few others that they don’t particularly love the look of G7. And although looks may not be high on the priority list for many that are looking to lay their hands on a new DSLR, we feel that if you are shelling out a decent amount of money, you should at least get something that looks the part, as well performing as you would expect it to.

When holding the camera, although it provides a good grip with a curved design and plenty of rubberized grip we can’t help but notice it doesn’t feel very premium and does in fact feel lighter and more plastic-like than we expected it to. The cheaper/plastic look and feel of the G7 becomes even more apparent when it is held up against the magnesium alloy FujiFilm X-T10, or the Sony A7 which is of a similar price to the G7 but feels and looks a lot more rugged and premium.

Further, the dials, although being well placed and intuitive (as we mentioned in the pros section above) do feel quite plasticky and cheap, and don’t provide much feedback when you twist to a new setting. It is also, unfortunately, quite easy to turn the dial to the next setting by accident – not what you want when you have it fixed on your required setting ready to snap a pic or video.

I guess what we find most disappointing about the G7’s looks overall is not that it is hideously ugly, but that its looks don’t much up to the premium specs and raw internal power this camera has to offer. It’s misleading in that way, but who knows, that could be considered a good thing?

Average Dynamic Range.

Although the G7 produces stunning, sharp images it’s dynamic range is somewhat limited by its sensor size. At ISO 100, an extended mode that typically gets you the best dynamic range results, the G7 scores in at 10.15EV. That may not sound too shabby. But for comparison, similar priced APS-C cameras perform markedly better. For example the Sony A6000 scores in at 12.26EV. Although, one redeeming factor for the G7, is that it holds onto its dynamic range surprisingly well as you go higher up the ISO range.

Pretty Slow “Wake Up To Shoot Time”.

The G7 takes 0.6 second to wake up and shoot, this might sound fast but its twice as long as the Nikon D5500 which is in a similar price range. This might sound a little petty to some, but we see it as a bit of an issue, especially for specific types of photographers. In some scenarios every millisecond counts in being able to capture a crucial shot. And the camera taking nearly a second from the moment you turn it on to the moment you can actually take a shot may actually be a little too long in some shooting scenarios. So this one is pretty dependent on your needs but could be a deal breaker.

Specs

TYPE

Type: Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera
Recording media: SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card (Compatible with UHS-I / UHS-II UHS Speed Class 3 standard SDHC / SDXC Memory Cards)
Image sensor size: 17.3 x 13.0 mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio)
Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds mount

IMAGE SENSOR

Type: Live MOS Sensor
Total pixels: 16.84 Megapixels
Camera effective pixels: 16.00 Megapixels
Color filter: Primary color filter
Dust reduction system: Supersonic wave filter

FOCUS

Type: Contrast AF system
Focus mode: AFS (Single) / AFF (Flexible) / AFC (Continuous) / MF
AF mode: Face/Eye Detection / Tracking / 49-Area / Custom Multi / 1-Area / Pinpoint/(Full area touch is available).

VIEWFINDER

Type: OLED Live View Finder (2,360k dots)
Field of view: Approx. 100%
Magnification: Approx. 1.4x / 0.7x (35mm camera equivalent) with 50 mm lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1

NOTE: For full detailed specs see; http://www.panasonic.com/uk/consumer/cameras-camcorders/lumix-g-compact-system-cameras/dmc-g7.specs.html

Highlights

The G7 has a lot to offer so it’s not surprising that it’s pretty damn hard to distill its good points down to just a few key highlights, but we think we have finally managed it, so check out the below.

We think it would have been a sin to discuss the highlights of this camera and not start off by talking about its ability to shoot native 4K UHD video. As you can imagine, the video this camera produces is superb. Video is tack sharp, vivid and balanced. What we find even more fascinating though is the G7’s 4K photo capture feature. You can now take any frame from a 4K video and turn it into a pin sharp JPEG with the click of a button, and as you can imagine, this opens up a whole new world of creative freedom. The photo capture feature has 3 4K burst modes so you have an even better chance at capturing the precise still you want from any 4K video shot on the G7.

The second big stand out feature for us is the cameras autofocus abilities. The camera has a lightning fast auto focus system with built in Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology. The way DFD works is by instantaneously and accurately calculating the distance between the items inside the frame which then drives the focus in the lens in one swift continuous movement. And when we say swift we are talking about autofocuses at speeds of up to a blistering 0.07 seconds. The G7 also has a markedly improved auto focus tracking algorithm with the tracking performance being around 200% faster than the G6. Finally, the G7’s low light auto focus lets you focus on your desired object quickly and accurately even in -4EV low light conditions.

The third big highlight for us is something that we think is unfairly overlooked but makes a big difference to how well you shoot with a camera. We are talking about the cameras controls. The G7 has some of the most intuitive controls we’ve seen from any camera in this price bracket. It has a body design that lets you efficiently and frictionlessly access key functions such as front aperture and shutter speed with minimal hassle. Further, you can assign your own setting and/or commands to the cameras six simple to operate function buttons (FN-buttons) – this customizability adds a lot flexibility and means you can really tailor the camera to your way of shooting and your workflow. Put simply, the G7’s intuitive, well placed and easy to understand controls means less time wrestling with settings and more time capturing the shots you want.

Check the Price of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7KK DSLM Mirrorless 4K Camera on Amazon:

4.4 - 32 Reviews

Image Quality and Resolution

The image quality of the G7, is in a word, stunning. The cameras 16 MP Digital Live MOS sensor combined with the newly revamped Venus Engine means the G7 means incredibly crisp, detailed image capture with super-fast signal processing. A true marriage of both quality and speed that is becoming ever rarer in cameras in this price bracket.

The camera produces noise free images at ISO 100 to 1600, with only slight limited noise creeping in at ISO 3200. However, it must be said then we reach ISO 6400 there is definite visible noise and loss of fine detail, and the faster setting of ISO 12,800 is even noisier. In short, we would definitely avoid using the much touted ISO 25,600 setting this camera has.

It must also be noted that at the default sharpening levels the photos look noticeably soft. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on the look you are going for and what you are used to. I guess we are obsessed with the pin sharp look. Thankfully the sharpness levels are easily adjustable and it wasn’t long until we had the look we were searching for.

The G7 has brilliant Image Stabilization technology built in allowing you to take sharp, clear photos at much slower shutter speeds than comparable cameras in this price range. The camera also has a HDR mode allowing us to take three images at different exposures and combining them together create one image with a noticeably better dynamic range than a single image would have.

Further, we were very impressed with the cameras auto focus system. The G7 features high speed Auto Focus with built in DFD (Depth from Defocus) which allows you to easily focus on and capture even the fastest moving action. The way this proprietary DFD auto-focus works is by instantly and accurately calculating the distance between the items inside the frame which then drives the focus in the lens in one swift continuous movement at speeds of up to 0.07 seconds. The stability of continuous focus when shooting 4K video is also ultra-fast thanks primarily to this DFD AF technology.

The G7 has a significantly improved auto focus tracking algorithm. Now not just the color but also size and motion vector of the chosen auto-focus target is recognized, enabling you to lock in to your desired subject more quickly and accurately than ever more. The G7 has a tracking performance that is around 200% or more in comparison to the G6.

The quality of video with the G7 is just as good, and arguably even better than its photo quality. The G7 shoots in native 4K resolution (3840 x 2160), but it must be noted that the 4K it shoots is in fact UHD, not broadcast level 4K (4096 x 2160). 4K shooting is a feature that is central to the marketing of this camera and we can see why. The 4K video this camera produces is absolutely superb. There is also the added benefit of the G7’s “4K photo” mode which allows you to select any frame from a 4K video and turn it into an 8 MP pin sharp photo. The “4K photo” mode has three burst options; 4K burst, 4K burst (start and stop) and 4K pre-burst.

Pricing

The Panasonic LUMIX GMC-G7KK retails for $697.99 on Amazon with the 14-42mm lens.

Check the Price of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7KK DSLM Mirrorless 4K Camera on Amazon:

4.4 - 32 Reviews


The Not So Great

We have covered what we feel at the biggest issues with the G7 in detail above but we thought it would be useful for you guys if it was summarised for it to be easier to digest.
So in our view the biggest issues with the G7 is firstly that it has a somewhat cheap/plasticky feel to it and does not feel as robust and as well made as some of the other cameras competing with it such as the magnesium Sony A7. Secondly, the main dial of the camera, although well positioned, doesn’t provide much feedback when you change the setting which means it’s not uncommon for you to accidently change the setting when you didn’t intend to.

Thirdly, the dynamic range of this camera is just about average for a camera in this price range which is a tad disappointing, similar priced APS-C cameras in this price range provide a much better dynamic range. Fourth and finally, the camera has a noticeably slow “wake up to shoot” time of 0.6 seconds, this may not sound like a big deal but if you need to capture a crucial shot then every millisecond counts and the wake up to shoot time of this camera is noticeably slower than competitors.

Positives

4K UHD Video Capture
Fast & Accurate Auto-Focus System
1040K Tiltable Screen
Intuitive Manual Control System

Negatives

Plastic Like Feel
Main Dial Issues
Average Dynamic Range
Slow Wake-Up-To-Shoot Time

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Bottom Line
 

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 has a 16 megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor in combination with the newly developed and reconfigured Venus Engine which means it provides a combination of really high quality image capture with super-fast signal processing. Furthermore, the G7’s high quality noise reduction system means you can capture stunning, sharp images even in really low light environments. The G7 shoots native 4K UHD video and has a brilliant 4K photo capture mode which lets you turn any frame from a 4K video into a pin sharp JPEG, this unleashes a whole new world of creative freedom. Finally, the camera has some of the most well thought and intuitive controls we have seen from a camera in this price range which allows you to take the shots you want in the way that you would with the constant fiddling and frustration.

The G7 does have some issues. Firstly, the camera has a somewhat plasticky feel and lacks the robustness of other cameras in its price range such as the magnesium Sony A7. Further, the camera has an average dynamic range and has a frustratingly slow “start up to shoot” time. Finally, there is a small issue with the main dial in that it switches/turns too easily which can be frustrating and occasionally causes undesired results.

 
3 comments
 
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  • Kitsune
    February 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Hi!
    Thank you very much for your review!
    I bought this camera a month ago and noticed that there is a lot of noise coming from the lens. I immediately gave it up for repair under the warranty and I received it today with a brand new lens but it’s still making the noise. The repair team decided that this is normal for this camera because they replaced the old lens with a complete new one.
    Is this really normal and ok?

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      February 17, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Hello Kitsune, to our recollection, the Lumix G7 lens did make noise but nothing that indicated unusual functionality, at least in our view. Or are you referring to “noise” in the photographic sense?

      Reply

  • Angel G Padilla
    February 8, 2017 at 12:05 am

    I own it and love it. I use Metabones S Booster and sigma lens 17-70mm 2.8 and metabones gives extra stop of light and helps with crop. I use my camera all the time and love it. I can do this with it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7CjdCxEa7I

    Reply

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