The Lumix G7 from Panasonic is a mid-range mirrorless system camera built to the Micro Four Thirds specification. It was released in May 2015 and replaces the Lumix G6, which was two years old. It sits between the GF7 and GH4 cameras currently in use. This also puts it roughly on par with the GX7, despite having a different form factor suited for people who like the shape of a traditional DSLR and having a lot of significant improvements over that model.
The Panasonic Lumix G7, like all recent Lumix G cameras, uses a 16 Megapixel sensor (the same sensor as the GX7, GM5, and GF7) and contrast-based AF system, which is improved by Panasonic’s DFD (depth-by-defocus) technology. This technology supports continuous AF by profiling the out-of-focus characteristics of Panasonic lenses. Burst shooting has increased from 7 or 5 frames per second on the previous G6 to 8 or 6 frames per second with continuous AF. Beyond the 1/4000 fastest mechanical shutter, the new electronic shutter option now enables the camera to shoot in quiet at shutter speeds up to 1/16000. This is excellent for shooting at big apertures in strong lighting.
Panasonic has always placed a high priority on movies, so it comes as no surprise that the G7 is the newest camera from the firm to handle 4k video (UHD at 24, 25, or 30p) in addition to 1080p at up to 60p. The G7 makes it simple to extract 8 Megapixel still shots from video, similar to other 4k Lumix cameras, giving you the equivalent of 30 frames per second burst shooting. One of the most feature-rich mid-range cameras available, but does it translate into one of the best in use? Learn more in my in-depth review, where I contrasted the Lumix GH4’s quality and handling with those of competing mirrorless and DSLR cameras, highlighting any discrepancies.
Panasonic Lumix G7 controls and design
Mid-sized mirrorless camera the Lumix G7 has a viewfinder hump over the lens attachment. Although the organic curves of the previous G6 have been exchanged for a more angular appearance and there are adjustments to the controls, which I’ll explore in a moment, it is fashioned like a compact DSLR.
It is nearly the same width and height as the Olympus OMD EM5 II, measuring 125x86x77mm and weighs 410g with battery, yet somewhat lighter and thicker due to a chunkier grip. While the G7 is still considerably smaller and lighter than most DSLRs, the flat-topped Sony A6000 is more compact and lighter in mirrorless standards, measuring 120x67x45mm and weighing 344g with battery.
It competes with products like the Nikon D5500 (124x97x70mm/470g) and the Canon EOS 750D/T6i (132x101x78mm/555g) in terms of specifications and cost. The discrepancies become even more evident when the kit zooms are included, notably for Canon since its EF-S 18-55mm STM doesn’t compress to conserve space. The difference in height and depth (with lenses) between the Lumix G7 and the EOS 760D / T6s is clearly noticeable in the comparison image below of the two cameras. However in my tests I found the Sony kit zoom to be the weakest performer of its competitors, turning fairly soft in the corners, it is still the smallest of the group with its notably tiny kit zoom. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that the Lumix 14-42mm kit zoom, shown below on the G7, works admirably given its size.
In fact, more than other mirrorless cameras in its class, the G7 offers a large grip with sufficient to wrap your fingers around. In comparison to devices from Sony and especially Olympus, the G7 feels less substantial in your hands than the G6 did, but it is still a reliable and well-made camera. There is no battery grip option, and neither the G7 nor any competitors with similar price tags can claim to be weather-sealed; for instance, the Olympus OMD EM5 II costs more than 50% more than the G7.
Comparing the Lumix G7 to the G6, Panasonic made a lot of adjustments to the controls. On the top panel, to the left of the viewfinder hump, there is a new dedicated drive mode dial that makes it simple to select between single, continuous, 4K Photo, bracketing, self-timer, and timelapse drive modes. With 11 custom function buttons (compared to five and two on the G6), the camera is also more customizable. Each of the function buttons on the G7 can be customized from at least 14 pages of possibilities.
The fully-articulated touch-screen, which can flip and twist to any angle, is another benefit of using a single-digit G-series camera. Since I can position them for high and low compositions when shooting in the vertical or portrait shape rather than just the horizontal or landscape shape, I prefer fully-articulated screens to ones that only tilt vertically. They also allow you to flip the screen back on itself for protection if the situation becomes dangerous.
The screen panel itself is identical to the G6 in terms of size at 3 inches, shape at 3:2, and resolution at 1040 k dots. Although the inherent 4:3 aspect ratio of the sensor prevents images from covering the screen width-ways, the 3:2 form is a popular choice for Micro Four Thirds panels. Instead, images are presented with thin black bars running vertically down each side. But, 3:2 is a reasonable balance for the screen since it prevents the larger 16:9 movie aspect ratio from being too tiny. Of course, you can always take images in the 3:2 aspect ratio if you’re ready to tolerate a slight crop and quality loss. I should also point out that the G7’s screen allows you to finely adjust the contrast, saturation, red or blue tint, as well as brightness. The default mid-brightness setting, I discovered, was generally suitable for photography outside, albeit it benefited from an increase in really bright situations.
Panasonic uses the screen’s touch-sensitive features well, much like prior generations. You can swipe through photographs and pinch-to-zoom in playback, and of course tap to move the AF region. You can even slide alignment guidelines and the live histogram around. With cameras without touch-screens, I truly miss having the rapid, one-tap ability to swiftly move the Focus area. Panasonic now allows you to tap to pull-focus while recording video. The touch-screen also unlocks five soft-function keys that protrude from a tray on the right and give quiet exposure adjustment in movie mode. There isn’t anything that the touch-screen can’t accomplish, but if you prefer, the abundance of physical controllers offers a more conventional option.
Strangely, despite the fact that most DSLRs might appear outdated in comparison to contemporary mirrorless cameras, the Lumix G7’s mirrorless competitors are really well-represented on the screen front. Both the Nikon D5500 and the Canon EOS 750D/T6i have fully articulating touchscreens, with the latter having the largest panel of the group at 3.2 inches. Nevertheless, neither of these DSLRs offers features like focus peaking, zebra patterns, or the bigger view provided by competing mirrorless cameras’ viewfinders. Hence, even though I applaud Canon and Nikon for including fully articulating touch displays in their DSLRs, I believe the G7 offers a superior composing experience overall.
The popup flash, which is activated by a button to the left of the viewfinder, has a Guide Number of 6.6 at 100 ISO, which is less potent than the GN 12 at 100 ISO of the Canon EOS 750D/T6i. A hotshoe is provided for external flashguns.
The Lumix G7 has a 3.5mm microphone input on the left, a USB / AV output, a Type-D Micro HDMI connector, and a 2.5mm socket for the optional DMW-RSL1 wired remote control hidden behind a flap on the right. While not having the 10-bit option of the flagship GH4, the HDMI output may give a clear signal (up to 4K), instead using the more conventional 8-bit. Also, there is integrated Wifi for wireless connections, which I will cover later in the review.
The DMW-BLC12E Lithium Ion battery pack is externally recharged in a provided AC unit, and Panasonic claims that under CIPA conditions, it can take about 360 photos per charge. Although Canon and Nikon claim 440 or 820 shots per charge for their EOS 750D / T6i and D5500 cameras, respectively, and keep in mind that this is when using their optical viewfinders—when utilizing Live View, their batteries run out considerably more quickly—this is less what Sony claims for the A6000. On a single charge, I captured 345 photographs with the mechanical shutter, 1800 more with the electronic shutter over two Timelapse sequences, and several minutes’ worth of 4K and 1080p video, for a total of more than 360 shots with the G7.
But I really wish Panasonic would include in-camera USB charging for their mirrorless cameras. I appreciate having the option to recharge a running battery while I’m out and about without having to remember to pack the charger and locate an AC outlet. In my opinion, Sony is the market leader in this area since it provides in-camera USB charging for all of its products, including full-frame mirrorless.
LENSES FOR THE LUMIX G7
The Micro Four Thirds standard is compatible with the lens mount of the Lumix G7. As a result, it has access to the largest and most reputable selection of native mirrorless lenses, which includes a wide range of high-caliber choices from Panasonic and Olympus. A major benefit over competing systems is the fact that Micro Four Thirds often offers two or three options at each common focal length, while many mirrorless formats lack a full range of lens possibilities.
Due to the two-fold field-reduction factor used by the Micro Four Thirds standard, lenses like the 14-42mm or 14-140mm kit zooms give coverage that is comparable to 28-84mm or 28-280mm, respectively. While not having a collapsible construction, the most recent Lumix G 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit zoom (H-FS1442AE) is still quite small, measuring 49mm in length, 56mm in diameter, and weighing 110g. Even the 14-140mm zoom is small and lightweight, being 75mm length, 65mm in diameter, and weighing 265g. Its size and weight are comparable to the EF-S 18-55mm STM kit zoom from Canon, but it has a 10x range as opposed to a 3x range. Below is the coverage you can anticipate from the 14-42mm kit zoom, which is optically stabilized like previous Panasonic zooms.
Several kit zooms serve as an entrance point into a system, giving you a place to start before upgrading to a more powerful lens. This is especially true of many collapsing kit zooms, which frequently compromise image quality for compactness. The Lumix G 14-42mm lens from Panasonic is an anomaly, as it is incredibly compact while not collapsing and gives considerably higher quality than you’d expect for the money, featuring remarkably crisp corners. That is, in a nutshell, the greatest little, affordable kit zoom I’ve ever used.
The tiny Micro Four Thirds format emphasizes the fact that, like other kit zooms, you won’t be able to produce particularly shallow depth-of-field effects due to the f3.5-5.6 focal ratio. I heartily recommend Panasonic’s Lumix G 42.5mm f1.7 or the Olympus 45mm f1.8 if you’re looking for an excellent portrait lens. Check out my Micro Four Thirds lens guide for these and my other suggestions.
Using a Panasonic Lumix G7 camera
The Lumix G7 is a capable, reliable mid-range camera that you can hold with confidence and feels snappy. As was already said, it is lightweight yet well-made, and the newly placed control knobs rest conveniently between your thumb and index finger, allowing you to operate the camera without averting your gaze.
With a plethora of extra shooting information and guidance, the viewfinder and screen provide bright, big, and detailed photos. It’s fantastic to have focus peaking and zebra patterns in addition to the standard leveling gauge, alignment grid, and histogram.
The touch screen and Q.Menu interface let you to operate almost every element of the camera, albeit you will need to use their corresponding dedicated knobs to change the exposure, drive, or focusing modes. I will discuss each in turn.
On the main exposure dial of the Lumix G7, in addition to the standard PASM modes, there are also Creative Movie mode, Panorama, Custom, Creative (which unlocks all the video options), Scene (which has 24 presets, including Cute Desert and Appetizing Food in addition to the standard suspects), and the reliable Intelligent Auto.
Long exposure photographers might find the Lumix G7’s mechanical shutter’s maximum Bulb time of two minutes to be restricting. It provides speeds between 1/4000 and 60 seconds. The quickest shutter speed on the G7 drops to 1/16000 when you select the electronic shutter option, providing you two more stops above the fastest mechanical shutter while also benefiting from completely silent operation. That enabled me to take the picture below at f1.4 in very strong sunshine without using neutral density filters. Notably, the electronic shutter has a shortest shutter speed of 1/8 and the same ISO sensitivity range of 100-25600 as the mechanical shutter.
Movie mode on the Panasonic Lumix G7
With 4K capture, complete exposure control, silent screen-based changes, flat profiles, focus peaking, and zebra patterns, the Lumix G7 is a highly proficient camera for video. Depending on the area, 24p, 25p, or 30p 4K UHD video is accessible at 100Mbit/s. As an alternative, you can record in 1080p at 25/30p @ 20Mbit/s or 50/60p at 28Mbit/s. There are other alternatives in 720p and VGA. For all models, whether in Europe or not, the maximum recording time is 29:59.
The red record button may be used to begin recording in any exposure mode, but for the greatest flexibility and possibilities, set the mode dial to Creative Video, which enables you to shoot in PASM modes with complete exposure control. There is an option for Auto ISO, but regrettably not while shooting in full Manual mode, and the sensitivity for movies may be set between 200 and 6400 ISO.
It is possible to tap to pull focus between subjects while shooting, either automatically if Continuous AF is set or as soon as you half-press the shutter release if it is deactivated. The touchscreen is frequently utilized for movies. Depending on the setting, tapping the screen also brings up a tray of controls that let you discretely change the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, or microphone level while recording.
The Picture Styles allow for the adjustment of a number of processing factors, including sharpness, contrast, saturation, and noise reduction. Moreover, there are the Cinelike V and Cinelike D profiles carried over from the GH4, with the latter providing relatively flat output for later grading (plus you can dial-it down even further if desired). Moreover, you have two options for the Luminance Level: 0-255 and 16-255.
The built-in stereo microphones or an external microphone linked to the 3.5mm port are used to record audio. There is no headphone connector, however stereo level meters may be shown and the volume can be changed in tiny steps.
With the exception of 4K modes, the Additional Teleconverter option takes a 1:1 cut from the center of the frame at the specified video resolution to give a closer view without sacrificing clarity. Neatly, the 1:1 crop also does a better job of preventing moire effects. The Additional Teleconverter essentially applies a 2.39x field reduction while recording in 1080p. Screenshots of video taken in 1080p with the Leica Lumix 25mm f1.4 are shown below, with the teleconverter turned off below left and on below right. The areas in the centre of the frame, where it is obvious that the Additional Teleconverter option is giving truly higher detail rather than merely cropping and expanding, are 100% cropped in the images below.