There’s always going to be a scenario where people want to move from an entry-level camera to a more sophisticated model. In reality, much of this decision-making is based on budget, which means manufacturers have to balance the cost against the feature set. It’s a juggling act between cost-effectiveness, high-quality features, but not treading on the toes of their top-end offerings. One camera in this camp is the Panasonic LUMIX G7.
At this point in time, it may not have the latest and greatest features, but the camera still packs a punch. Therefore, let’s dig into this compact unit and see what it’s all about.
The Panasonic LUMIX G7 follows a line of compact cameras going back to the G1. Each successive model has slowly been refined, providing overall better use, coupled with great image and video quality.
The G7 brings a bunch of updates to the table, most obviously on the camera body with two command dials. One of these for shooting modes, such as aperture priority and the other for drive modes. Function buttons can also be assigned to your own criteria and configured via the intuitive menus.
Although the body is made from a polymer material, it feels rocksolid and has a chunky grip for easy handling. It doesn’t feel too heavy in the hand and all the controls are logically laid out, with only the biggest of fingers maybe having a problem. In other words, it’s in the Goldilocks zone of not being too big or too small to handle on a full days shoot.
There’s a good degree of scope for customization of the buttons, which may seem over the top for the beginner, but the camera can be just as easily used in full auto mode. In this way, you can slowly ease your way into more manual shooting as your skill levels increase.
As for the basic features of this camera, everything is wrapped around a Micro Four Thirds 16-megapixel sensor. On the rear is a fully articulating touchscreen, which can be used for setting focus points and the like. There’s also 4K video at 25fps, a good range of ISO levels going from 100 to 25600, and everything weighs in at a reasonable 525g.
The viewfinder has also been increased in quality to 2.36 million dots. In reality, this means more saturated colors, rather than a massive difference in resolution. Burst mode has also been increased with RAW files being 6.7fps for 17 frames, while JPEGs can rattle off at 8.3fps or with continuous focus at 6.1fps.
4K video has also been given the once over, with the addition of 24 and 25fps. Panasonic is one of the leaders in this department and it’s no different on the G7 with lots of control for the average video guys, such as a Cinelike D color profile.
There’s plenty of manual control over things like focusing, shutter speed, ISO and aperture. The video features aren’t as comprehensive as more expensive Panasonic units, but there’s plenty in the box to please the enthusiastic videographer.
Video features have also been expanded with Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode, which can capture 8-megapixel JPEG images from 4K footage. There is a crop factor of 2.6x for each image and can be captured at different ratios along with the usual 16:9 video formats. This mode can also utilize 4K burst, 4K Burst start and stop and 4K Pre-Burst which gives one-second priority to the shutter release for 60 frames. Basically, lots of options.
Lastly, Wi-Fi functionality has been increased with more options for batch transfer and remote control via a smartphone. This increases functionality, so you have the option of using a tablet for wireless monitoring and the like.
Panasonic LUMIX G7 in Use
The Panasonic LUMIX G7 does produce very good images, but as the sensor is smaller than what you would find on APS-C camera bodies, it can be susceptible to higher noise levels. Although the ISO levels can be ramped up to 25600, it’s best to go no higher than ISO 3200. Otherwise, heavy-handed noise reduction starts to come in, smoothing off some of the details.
The sensor may be only 16 megapixels, but this is perfectly adequate for most situations. Using the included kit lens, images came out sharp and defined, with crisp detail and nice saturation.
In fully automatic mode, the camera does a good job of nailing the exposure and as long as you feed the camera reasonable light levels, moving subjects can be easily frozen in time. As we were using the kit lens, edges of images did suffer from softness, but this can be put down to the lens choice more than anything else.
Once ISO levels hit the 3200 mark, finer details start to suffer from detail smearing. Fine for sharing images online, but as per usual, it’s best to shoot in RAW format when possible.
The viewfinder and touchscreen can be used together to move autofocus points. The command dial can also be used to adjust the size of the focus area, with the only let down to the system being from an accidental nose press when your eye is at the EVF.
Summing up, the G7 produces high-quality images and videos, which should please the majority of users. Ok, it may not be as cutting-edge as higher-priced or more modern units, but considering today’s price point, you won’t be left wanting.
How Does It Compare?
Although the Panasonic LUMIX G7 is a solid performer, it has competition on both sides from the DSLR market and other micro Four Third cameras. Canon has the Rebel T6i (or 750D), which may be starting to show its age, but is still a great performer. It sports a 24-megapixel sensor, which gives arguably better image quality than the G7, but the G7 has a faster continuous mode and more physical controls.
On the flip side, there’s the Sony a6000 which is marginally better for its image quality. It’s also a lighter and a smaller camera, but for overall control, the G7 wins out.
|Panasonic LUMIX G7||Canon Rebel T6i|
As an overall package, the Panasonic LUMIX G7 provides a lot for the money. The video side of things can’t be faulted at this price point, with plenty of options for configuration. It’s got a very intuitive touchscreen and the autofocus system operation works better than both examples above.
In total, the G7 provides a lot of options and functionality for the money, especially if you can get a kit lens thrown into the deal.