The Lumix GX7 is Panasonic’s latest hybrid camera and a serious one at that. Panasonic has gone through great lengths to listen to the needs of both enthusiast and pro photographers to create the GX7. There’s a lot to talk about with this one, so I’m breaking the review into multiple parts.
Part 1 of this review I’ll go over the exterior features that stand out to me such as the LFV, battery and build quality.
Part 2 will be going deep, examining the new Panasonic made sensor, shutter and in body stabilization which is a first for a Lumix camera. We’ll also cover the Venus Engine which controls functions such as AF, built in effects though creative control settings, custom JPEG control focus peaking and more.
Part 3 is hands on shooting, looking through the entire menu and examining the in camera processing (preprocessing) options of this camera. This is a very robust camera and one that deserves the attention it’s getting.
Is Panasonic back with a vengeance to the market it created or is the GX7 marketing hype? We’ll have a pretty good idea after this series.
Disclaimer - I am sponsored by Panasonic. This means I get loaner gear, express repair and advanced knowledge of their releases. This does not mean I am an employee. I am free to speak my opinion in any way I see fit. It is only because of the freedom within my sponsorship as a Lumix Luminary that I feel comfortable with writing this review.
Body and Design
The GX7 design reminds me of the Lumix classics I remember years ago, in particular the LC1. Although our first look is on the silver GX7, you can really tell the similarities to the LC1 when looking at the black GX7.
I kinda hinted at the GX7 in a post about my tour of Panasonic’s old HQ in Jersey. Now we can compare that classic LC1 to the Gx7 -
The GX7 has a similar style to many of the current classically inspired cameras out today. The chassis of the GX7 made with the same process of the GH3 which is from magnesium alloy. In addition to the chassis of the GX7 being extra sturdy it also acts as a heat sink. This feature keeps the internals of the camera cool, helps with operational speed and decreases the chance of image noise being introduced into the images during extended use.
The main control dials are crafted from solid pieces of aluminum. This adds to the solid feeling of the GX7 and gives me a sense of confidence that I’m holding something well crafted and built to last. Of course, this does not directly affect the photo making capability of the camera, but when I have a camera that is well built it inspires me to shoot more often.
In addition, on top of the camera you’ll see a hot shoe, stereo mic, pop-up flash and video record button. On the main control dial, there are three custom setting slots for storing your own color/B&W recipes, aspect ratios and custom menus. I use this feature a lot on my GH3 since the formulas work for stills and for motion. Once you have your C1-C3 setup for your tastes moving from color to B&W to a creative filter is as easy as turning the dial.
This is a BIG DEAL shooting in time sensitive situations such as street portraits. When trying to capture something spontaneous, fiddling with camera settings will cost you the shot. When I lose a shot, it burns into my mind all day…all I can think about is how I lost the shot. However, if I have my camera preset with my preferred settings, not only am I more likely to capture the spontaneity of the moment, I can do it with multiple looks for both still + motion.
The built in flash of the GX7 can come in handy when you want a splash of light for fill but like any other on-camera flash don’t expect it to be your main light unless you are looking for that particular look similar to what Terry Richardson is known for.
What the built in flash can do however is wirelessly control the FL360L (or FL600R) units. Wireless flash control from the built in flash unit is a feature that the GX7 has that many cameras, including the NEX7, are lacking. What should be noted here is that with a GX7, one FL360L and a small tripod you could shoot studio quality portraits anywhere and in a tiny bag. I’m very much looking forward to shooting like this, using my MeFoto as a light stand when its not being used as a tripod.
Pick up the GX7 and you’ll quickly notice the layout of buttons which, similar to the GH3, can be reprogramed to different camera functions. The rear dial can control various exposure options such as aperture, shutter or exposure compensation. Like many cameras today the dial can be pushed inwards to access additional features.
The LCD and LVF (Live View Finder)
I’m big on shooting with the LCD. I really enjoy the touch capabilities of modern cameras for things such as focus, creative control and the ability to shoot from various angles. Most of the time, I shoot with camera below eye level which allows me to be face-to-face with my subject, directing and overall being aware of my scene. When I shoot, I need a screen that is articulating, works in daylight and is responsive to touch. Shooting with cameras such as the OMD, GH3 and G6 have spoiled me to expect high quality LCD screens on cameras. I’m happy to say that the screen in the GX7 takes things to the next level.
The LCD on the GX7 is what’s called an “In Cell Touch” LCD which means that the front touch panel is directly attached to the LCD removing all air gaps between the touch surface and the LCD. This results in approximately 20% wider field of view and has increased sharpness. Also since the screen does not have to use as much power to illuminate for outdoors it saves on power too.
What makes a LVF special is that with select Lumix cameras you get a true live view of how your image will be captured. This means you’ll see the depth of field, shutter effects, focus and any filter effects you may have designed so there’s no guessing if your shot will turn out or not. If you like the way the image looks in the LVF then capture it and you’re done. Shooting like this is a very simple and straightforward way to create.
While most cameras on the market with an EVF simulate the scene being captured only select cameras with the right processing power and refresh rates of the electronic screen can display a true live view.
Having a LVF in a camera requires a huge amount of processing power which the GX7 shares with the GH3. Live view works on both the LVF and LCD of the GX7.
Underneath the GX7 you’ll see the usual stuff with one nice surprise. The tripod socket is in line with the lens which helps if you’re shooting panos on a tripod and there’s the battery/SD card door which inside holds the surprise. The GX7 is powered by the same battery as the GF6! This means that we’ll not have to play the waiting game on getting extra batteries and furthermore you’ll be able to get aftermarket batteries at great prices. While I don’t expect the battery life on the GX7 to be the same as the GH3, which lasts forever, I do suspect that we’ll get good battery life from the new GX.
Don’t miss Part 2 where I dig into the sensor, IBIS, Venus engine and more!
Want to see more of the GX7 now? Circle me on Google + where I have been posting loads of great GX7 photos.