Enthusiast's dream


Panasonic has crafted a mirrorless camera that will appeal to shutterbugs with the Lumix GX7.

THE original Lumix GF1 was one of the first Micro Four Thirds cameras introduced, and it was a solidly built camera for enthusiasts.

But along the way, Panasonic’s subsequent models lost their way, adding more consumer friendly features that pros didn’t need and ultimately watering down the experience.

Well, Panasonic finally addressed the issue when the Lumix GX1 was released earlier this year. It was a step in the right direction and we believe they have gotten it right this time with their latest camera, the Lumix GX7.

Retro meets modern

Panasonic has taken a cue from other camera makers that retro is the “in” thing among mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (MILC) right now.

The two-tone silver and black colour scheme invokes the spirit of a retro camera but with modern features.

Don’t worry, if you don’t fancy this colour scheme, Panasonic has an all black version too.

With a magnesium alloy frame, the GX7 is a solidly built camera that feels stylish and classy.

It isn’t very portable though, no thanks to the protruding EVF eye piece. But it will still fit easily in a small camera bag with the 14-42mm kit lens attached.

The faux leather texture around the handgrip feels nice in hand and provides a firm hold on the camera so you can use it comfortably even single-handed.

The GX7 does not overwhelm users with lots of buttons and dials — we liked how Panasonic cleverly integrated a second control dial just beneath the shutter button.

Minor Inconvenience: We had to flip out the LCD screen in order to access the camera's various input and output ports.
Minor inconvenience: We had to flip out the LCD screen in order to access the camera's various input and output ports.

The highlight of the GX7 is its integrated 90° tiltable ­electronic viewfinder (EVF). The high ­resolution screen offers sharp image quality that is almost as good as looking at the actual scene.

Speaking of which, the touch ­enabled LCD screen can also be tilted, though not to a degree where you can take a selfie. Still, it comes in handy when you need to take high- or low-angle shots without needing to climb a ladder or lie on the ground.

There’s also a little pop-up flash that does an adequate job of lighting up subjects, and can also be used to control compatible external flashes wirelessly. There’s also a flash hot shoe next to it if you possess an external flash.

Feature-packed

Panasonic has certainly squeezed as many features as they could inside the GX7, many that will please enthusiasts.

In-camera stabilisation has been a feature long sought-after by Lumix MILC fans and the GX7 is the first among the Panasonic’s MILCs to feature it.

This enables any lens the GX7 uses to benefit from image ­stabilisation and reduce instances of shaky and blurry photos.

Yes, even old lenses attached via an adapter can benefit from this. The only downside to the feature is that it does not work when recording videos.

Focus peaking is another ­useful feature that we are glad to see ­introduced in the GX7. An essential tool in manual focus mode, focus peaking highlights the outline of subjects in-focus.

Pop goes the flash: The GX7's pop-up flash comes in handy when the lighting is too dark.
Pop goes the flash: The GX7's pop-up flash comes in handy when the lighting is too dark.

There are also plenty of other features like stop motion/time lapse, panorama mode, and High Dynamic Range (HDR) that help spice up the types of images you can take.

WiFi is a commonplace feature on many cameras, and the GX7 is no different. First things first though, you will first need to download the Panasonic Image App for iOS or Android before you can transfer images or control the camera from your smartphone.

Once that is done, ­connecting the GX7 is fairly easy and ­straightforward. If you have a NFC (Near Field Communication) device, you can just tap your phone on the camera to establish a WiFi Direct link.

Aside from transferring photos and videos between your camera and tablet or smartphone, you can also control the camera remotely via WiFi. Great for taking self portraits with the camera.

We were pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of options available for remote shooting with your smartphone — you can adjust settings such as the white balance, ISO, aspect ratio and even the aperture and shutter speed. Of course, continuous usage of the WiFi function will drain your camera’s battery much quicker so use it sparingly.

Performance and quality

We can’t complain much about the GX7’s picture taking capabilities. The camera starts up very quickly, to the point that we were ready to shoot than two seconds upon switching the camera on.

The autofocus speed was also near instantaneous under bright ­conditions, with only minor slow down in dim lighting.

That’s not all, the GX7 has a rather high continuous shooting speed thanks to its electronic shutter which can take at 9.5 frames per second (fps) for JPEGs and 9.2fps for RAW images.

The GX7’s ISO performance is also pretty decent. We managed crank the level up to ISO 6,400 and found images still looking good.

Full HD videos captured lots of detail and the sound quality is also good from we could tell from ­recorded footage. You can even apply the effects of the various art filters in your videos to add some funky effects.

What’s more, you can even snap pictures as the camera is recording a video, though it will be output at a lower resolution. They do however look acceptable for print still.

Still it is a shame that there is no external microphone input, which would have made the GX7 a pretty respectable video camera.

As far as ­battery life goes, the GX7 is about on par with other cameras. We managed to shoot about over 300 photos before needing to recharge the battery.

Conclusion

Panasonic has finally made a MILC that the ­enthusiast crowd can love. The Lumix GX7’s ­excellent build quality, myriad ­features and great handling make it a great choice for photographers ­looking for a camera that has it all.

We were quite impressed by the Lumix GX7’s host of features that include in-body image stabilisation and a tilting electronic viewfinder.

We also like how easy it was to transfer pictures via WiFi Direct and remotely control the camera using our smartphone.

The ­inclusion of in-body image ­stabilisation is a big plus as it ­benefits any lens attached to the ­camera body. Unfortunately, we can’t take advantage of the image ­stabilisation in video mode.

The GX7 would have been a great video camera if not for the fact that it lacks a microphone port to connect an external microphone.

On a whole, the Lumix G7 packs a lot of value for a premium MILC camera and is one of the best we have tested to date.

Pros: Looks great and shoots great; lots of add on features; WiFi connectivity; highly customisable; electronic viewfinder.

Cons: In-body image stabilisation does not apply to videos; no external microphone port.

LUMIX G DMC-GX7
(Panasonic)
Mirrorless interchangable lens camera
SENSOR: 16-megapixels Live MOS sensor (4,592 x 3,448-pixels)
VIEWFINDER: 3in tilting touch LCD (1,040k-dots) LCD live view finder (2,764,800 dots)
SHUTTER SPEED: 120sec to 1/8,000sec
ISO RANGE: 200 to 25,600
SHOOTING MODES: Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, Manual, Intelligent Auto, Creative  Control, Movie, Scene Mode
VIDEO MODE FORMAT: AVCHD or MP4 1080p 60fps (1,920 x 1,080pixels)
BATTERY: Lithium-ion pack (7.2V, 1025mAH)
STORAGE: SDHC/SDXC memory card
INTERFACE: USB 2.0, mini HDMI Type C, AV out Remote WiFi and NFC connectivity
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 122.6mm x 70.7mm x 54.6mm
WEIGHT: 402g (body only)
WEBSITE: www.panasonic.com/my
PRICE: RM3,399 (body only), RM3,599 (with 14-42mm kit lens), RM3,999 (with 20mm f /1.7 lens)
RATING: 4 stars
Review unit courtesy of Panasonic Malaysia Sdn Bhd, (03) 7953-7600

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