Panasonic LUMIX G7 hands-on first look

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We got our hands on the Panasonic LUMIX G7, a camera that lets you freeze the action with 30fps 4K photos

CSC camera
The Panasonic LUMIX G7 is a versatile camera

Following up from the LUMIX G6 launch just over two years ago, Panasonic has announced its successor the LUMIX G7, a mid-range, 16MP CSC aimed at enthusiasts. It sits below the GH4 in the line-up, but just like this model, the focus is very much on 4K.

The three 4K shooting modes each have their own benefits, but the S/S mode is useful for longer periods of shooting

4K functionality
Using the 4K mode you can shoot at 30fps, but file sizes drop to 8MP (a perfectly usable value for smaller prints and web use). Stills can be extracted from these video clips easily by pressing up and scrolling through frame by frame. You simply select the frame to capture as a still and press Menu/Set. It’s an extremely easy process that makes capturing action incredibly easy. Three 4K photo functions are available:

4K Burst Shooting allows up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds of continuous shooting at 30fps, and you just have to hold down the shutter like you would with a traditional burst mode.

4K Burst (Start/Stop) lets you press the shutter to start recording and press it again to stop, so is much better suited to longer periods of shooting (again, a maximum of 29 minutes and 59 seconds).

4K Pre-burst automatically records 30 frames the second before and 30 frames the second after the shutter has been pressed. During our hands-on test, the Preburst mode took a while to get used to, as you feel like you’ve missed the shot while using it. In actuality, however, it works very well.

4K Burst Shooting and 4K Burst (Start/Stop) allow image ratios of 16:9, 4:3, 3:2, and 1:1 and all options can be used in any exposure mode, so you can take full manual control over your footage.

Palma, bubbles
The focusing system and frame rate allows the camera to keep up with moving subjects

The G7 uses the same 16MP Live Mos sensor as the GX7; we would have hoped for an update, as it’s been two years since that release, but it did produce great results on that model. This is teamed with the Venus Engine 9 image processor (as found in the GH4) with quad-core CPU for faster processing. This combination lets you shoot at 8fps in AFS mode or 6fps in AFC, which is 1fps faster than the G6. On top of its frame rate and 4K functionality to help capture action, it also has a fast shutter speed of up to 1/16,000sec.

During our hands-on time, this camera’s focusing proved to be really fast and accurately locked onto subjects. It uses Depth from Defocus autofocus technology, which calculates the distance from the object in a unique way. It considers two images with different levels of sharpness while analysing the optical characteristics of your scene. Panasonic claims this means the G7 can focus in just 0.07sec and it certainly seemed quick, only struggling a little in low light.

To help in dark environments, however, the native ISO has been increased from the G6’s ISO 160-12,800 (with an expansion setting of 25,600) to a native sensitivity range of ISO 200-25,600 (with a low expansion setting of ISO 100).

As well as 4K, other key features include a Silent Mode, 22 creative filters and Wi-Fi for quick transfer of images and remote shooting. There’s no NFC, however. Other highlights include Time Lapse Shot/Stop Motion Animation, 3.5mm microphone port and Focus peaking. A new wide Panorma mode is also present and it allows you to fit in more of the scene.

Panasonic G7 LCD touch screen
The clear and bright viewfinder and flexible screen help in different shooting scenarios

Design and Build
Physically, it’s smaller than GH4 and is fairly light at 410g. The design is more angular than the G6, with a deep, textured handgrip for improved handling. It was very comfortable to hold, fitting perfectly into our hands.

The 3-inch 1040K-dot free-angle display is also a touch screen. It was very responsive indeed and is very helpful when you’re scrolling through 4K video frames, or for quickly setting your focus point.

The resolution of the OLED electronic viewfinder has increased to 2,360k-dots, almost double that of the G6. It is very bright, clear and packs in plenty of detail, with a 100% field of view. The improved eye cup also helps make it a more comfortable experience.

The G6 had one command dial but the G7 now has two so you can control the shutter speed and aperture separately. This is a much easier control mechanism than the G6’s function lever, making it very user friendly. There are also two mode dials, one for shooting modes and one for drive modes, including quick access to the 4K video mode.

The plastic dials and general build quality is lower than the GH4, and there’s no weather sealing, but overall it feels like a sturdy model.

Panasonic LUMIX G7 top
The black version of the LUMIX G7

Pricing and availability
The LUMIX G7 will be available from mid-June for £599 body only for the black version. It’s available in silver exclusively from Jessops.

Test shots
Check out some test shots below, but please bear in mind that the sample we used may not reflect final image quality.

The new wide panorama mode
Panasonic LUMIX G7
Colours seem bright and saturated – we look forward to reviewing the final image quality in our full review
A still taken from 4K video has frozen the action
Panasonic 4K
The 4K Pre-burst mode ensures you don't miss the key moment

Head to Digital Photographer issue 163 where we’ll be asking what a pro photographer thinks of 4K and how it can help their particular shooting needs.

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