Panasonic G7 Review

Introduction

The Panasonic G7 is another micro four-thirds installment to the companies backbone G series range. Initially released summer 2015, it replaces the previously released Panasonic G6. It inherits the same 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor and processor from its higher-end cousin the Panasonic GH4. In all respects, this camera is nearly identical to the Panasonic GX85 with the primary difference being form factor. Panasonic markets this as a hybrid camera that offers competitive performance for both photographers and videographers alike; one aimed to compete with Sony’s a5100 and a6000.

This camera has been touted as the “baby GH4,” offering similar performance with only minor reductions in contrast and saturation. Does the Panasonic G7 remain faithful to the original G series ideal, conveniently sized cameras that provide both capable performance and immense value their users? Is it a camera that’s even relevant years later as a satisfactory hybrid for the multimedia shooter? Today we dig up and dust off this long-overlooked Panasonic camera. 

What are some of the goods, bads, and the uglies of the Panasonic G7?

Pros:

Image Quality

Image quality is a particular strength of this camera, primarily because of the inherited image sensor from both the Panasonic GH4 and GX7.  

Dynamic range is also excellent as well. Users can recover up to two stops of correction in post-production. 

It has a 4K Burst mode that allows users to record a video using the central 8-megapixels of the sensor but delivers a burst frame rate of up to 30 FPS. The primary benefit from this mode, even though there’s a reduction in resolution, is that users can extract individual stills from this 4K burst. When shooting sports or action photography, timing is critical to capture the perfect moment. This feature makes timing an irrelevant component in these situations and allows users to focus on composition instead. Note: the recommended shutter speed to properly freeze action in this mode is 1/1000. 

Video Quality

Video quality is excellent and comparable to Panasonic GH4 in both overall resolution and quality. 4K recording on this camera is outstanding, especially under adequate lighting conditions. 

The camera also doesn’t suffer from rolling shutter.

It records 4K video at 30 FPS and 1080p video up to 60 FPS. Video recording time is maxed out at 29.59 minutes, which is the industry standard. 

Video customization and settings are quite extensive, and users can adjust: saturation, contrast, noise reduction, and gamma curves (highlights and shadows) to their specific styles. Not only that, but they also have complete control over dynamic range. Overall, the menu is comprehensive and allows users to adjust videos for better post-production grading. 

Low Light Performance

Low light performance is similar to the GH4. However, by the nature of this being a smaller micro four-thirds sensor, it is more susceptible to noise in low light and doesn’t perform as well as a similarly featured APS-C or digital SLR cameras in this regard. The camera has a native ISO range from ISO 200 to ISO 25,600, and while noise appears at ISO 3,200, the noise that appears on this camera looks akin to film grain and is a nice plus.

Display & Viewfinder

It has a live viewfinder (LVF) which is OLED and has a resolution of 2.3 million dots with100% coverage of the sensor. The addition of an LVF means that changes to settings and exposure get displayed in real-time. 

It has a fully articulating 3” touchscreen LCD. This LCD has a resolution of 1.04 million dots and provides fantastic viewing even during bright sunlight conditions. The touch screen supports: touch focus, drag focus, touch to shoot, swiping during playback, and navigating the menus. Touch focus and touch drag work incredibly well, though are a bit sensitive to touch. Overall, the addition of an articulating touchscreen makes this camera the ideal choice for VLOGging or self-composed videos. 

User Interface

It provides extensive customization and has a total of 11 function buttons that can be custom mapped via the settings menu. The quick menu is also customizable, further providing immediate access to typical shooting functionality. Overall, the user interface and menu layouts on this camera are superb. They’re a bit on the complicated side at first glance, but the level of customization available will significantly assist new users with locating desiring functions after initial familiarization. 

Physical layout and ergonomics

Size and weight are defined strengths of the Panasonic G series, and this camera continues this tradition. It weighs 410 grams, approximately 0.9 pounds, which is compact considering the performance delivered in such a small package. While it’s a midsized body more analogous to a digital SLR and not tiny, the overall weight is quite low for its size. 

The layout is good, and It feels solid with a good-sized front grip and thumb rest. The button layout is fantastic and well thought out, all routinely changed features and functions remain right at hand. 

It offers a good number of physical control dials and provides a total of 11 custom function buttons which total to 58 selectable functions. In terms of customization to tailor it to your needs, it is fantastic and offers excellent guidance to help users identify these buttons.

Battery Performance

Battery performance is reasonable and provides 90 minutes of video recording and is rated to deliver 320 stills on a single charge. These figures are on par with the competition and are comparable to today’s standards for mirrorless cameras. 

Niche features offered/Extras

It has a built-in flash.

The burst rate performance delivered is fantastic. When using the highest settings the mechanical shutter has a burst rate of 8 FPS, and the electronic shutter up to 40 FPS.

It has a built-in panorama mode.

It has an external microphone input port. Users can mount external microphones on its shoe mount as well.

It has a silent shutter mode.

It has manual focus peaking and built-in picture in picture, which, when combined, makes achieving critical focus with manual lenses incredibly easy.

It can display zebras for exposure clipping.

It has an internal 2x or 4x digital zoom and a 2x teleconverter. 

It supports Wi-Fi remote control, which allows users to adjust both focus and exposure from a paired smartphone. Manual control works in both photo and video modes. The camera can also automatically transfer images, once enabled in the setup menu. Overall, this feature is a joy to use, and both its setup and interface are both straightforward. 

It has a built-in RAW processing engine, which provides a wide range of adjustment options. This feature is perfect for users who lack the post-production software needed to make these adjustments at their leisure in post. 

It has an incredibly vast selection of both native micro four-thirds and non-native lenses available for use. Users can even opt to purchase a lens adapter to increase their lens availability further. Otherwise, the Panasonic ecosystem will be far sufficient as they’ve continued to strengthen the lineup of lenses for this platform. Bar none; they have the healthiest lead in lens variety in the mirrorless realm. 

It has built-in time-lapse and stop motion animation, both of which offer ample customization. The camera delivers time-lapse videos in 4K at 30 FPS as well, a nice plus. 

It displays audio levels during filming, and users can adjust microphone input gain as well. 

It has a custom mode, which allows users to create a custom shooting preset.

It has a feature called Post Focus Simulation, exclusive to Panasonic, which allows users to shoot with confidence, knowing that they can change the focus point later.

Cons:

Video Quality

Video time is limited to 29.59 minutes, while this is an industry-standard, and it doesn’t technically have an artificial limitation. Rumors have it that this is still a limitation considering the Panasonic GH4 has unlimited recording time, yet this camera does not. There are several proven workarounds online to increase the recording time to upwards of 90 minutes, so we know the camera is capable of recording more, from a technical standpoint. 

There are no F or S log profiles. The best profiles that are available are Cinelike D and Cinelike V, which have to be customized to achieve somewhat flat and comparable results to a dedicated log profile. 

Focusing Performance

While this camera has an improved contrast detection system with DFD technology, Depth from Defocus, which automatically calculates the distance between objects in the frame and drives focus accordingly, it only has 49 contrast-detect AF points. The result, well, excellent AF performance comparable to the Panasonic GH4 when shooting stills that’s accurate and fast. However, sadly, heavy focus breathing and hunting during filming. A gigantic letdown, unfortunately. When filming the focus motor hunts both in front of and behind subjects as it struggles to achieve critical focus, and, in many cases, never reaches it, especially when shooting in 4K. During 1080p, the focus, while not superb, will be adequate for casual use, however. The fact that this camera uses both contrast-detection AF and only has 49 AF points means that it does not perform as well as equivalent Sony or, even, Canon cameras in this regard. If you’re a serious or solo videographer, this camera will not deliver confident AF performance, and it is best to use manual focus instead. 

Low light performance 

When compared to both equivalent APS-C and digital SLR cameras, low light performance is below average. However, we expect micro four-thirds to experience this issue to a certain degree as they’re the smallest sensor of the lineup. Nonetheless, considering its price point is higher than much of the competition, low light performance is inadequate and sorely lacks.

Layout and ergonomics

Build quality is lacking; overall, the camera feels very plasticky in hand.

The battery compartment unnecessarily slows down workflow. Users must first remove a quick plate to access both the battery and SD card. If you’re shooting on a tripod or gimbal, prepare yourself for the tediousness needed to change either of these items. 

Features removed

It lacks a headphone output port. 

It lacks NFC. 

It lacks weather and dust sealing. 

It lacks in-body stabilization, users desiring this feature will have to upgrade to the Panasonic G85 instead.

You cannot record to HDMI, which rules out using an external monitor during filming unless it’s a dedicated recorder as well.

Bulb mode is limited to 120 seconds. For those shooting star trails or any night time photography for that matter, this camera is not for you. Admittedly, this is an artificial software limitation place on this camera. Why? We are not entirely sure, but it will undoubtedly alienate some users. 

Is the Panasonic G7 a good starting camera?

Yes, it is. While it has some gripes as mentioned previously, in all it’s a camera that serves well for both photos and videos. It’s an all-rounder, no questions there; a minimalist camera in many respects, featuring nothing unnecessary on its body only the critical elements needed to deliver. For the price, it offers both significant manual controls and customization. This camera makes an excellent starting point for those aspiring to produce in 4K, especially as it becomes mainstream. While many users may still lack the equipment required to both edit or properly view this file format, the video features offered by this camera are fully implemented and well integrated. We cannot debate, this is a feature-packed camera that can unquestionably serve a wide range of photographic needs and capabilities, for both beginners to enthusiast across the entire scope of both stills and videos. And one that still makes an excellent first choice for the multimedia shooter. 

What are the best lenses for the Panasonic G7? 

General Photography: 

LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm, F3.5-5.6 II ASPH

LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm, F2.8 II ASPH

Specifically for Macro Photography:

LUMIX G Macro Lens 30mm, F2.8 ASPH

LUMIX G LEICA DG MACRO-ELMAR 45mm, F2.8 ASPH

Specifically for Landscape Photography:

LUMIX G LEICA DG SUMMILUX 15mm, F1.7 ASPH

LUMIX G II Lens, 20mm, F1.7 ASPH

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

LUMIX G Lens 42.5mm, F1.7 ASPH

LUMIX G VARIO Lens, 45-200mm, F4.0-5.6 II

Best bundles for the Panasonic G7

g7 bundle

Is the Panasonic G7 a good camera for you?

Great focusing, image, and video quality are what we expect from late generation micro four-thirds cameras, and the G7 surely delivers to the best of its ability. If you’re looking for a cheap and economical way to get into both photography and videography, this could be an option for you. However, this camera is best suited for photography, namely, because its continuous AF performance is just not up to par to today’s standards. In all, it is a photo-centric camera that offers competitive video secondary. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for an all-in-one encompassing upgrade from your current setup, especially if you need 4K, consider this camera. Indeed, it is not a Panasonic GH4. However, at the same time, that wasn’t the intended purpose. At the time of release, it was bar none better than the competition. Moreover, in 2019, it remains competitive years later. Quite the feat indeed. 

For those who a professional level videographers and cinematographers, the Panasonic GH series cameras are superior. They feature more customization, unlimited recording time, a headphone jack, and better frame rates. You’ll get far more value and performance for the money spent. Nonetheless, for the home user desiring to delve into 4K for their first time, you will find the video performance and quality more than sufficient for your needs. While it’s undoubtedly pricer than the competition, it’s one that doesn’t cut any corners and still provides massive value today. It handles well and delivers high-quality video and excellent stills. If you’re looking to replace that bulky digital SLR, finally here is your camera.

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Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.6

Summary

Great focusing, image, and video quality are what we expect from late generation micro four-thirds cameras, and the G7 surely delivers to the best of its ability. If you’re looking for a cheap and economical way to get into both photography and videography, this could be an option for you. In all, it is a photo-centric camera that offers competitive video secondary. While it has its gripes, in all it’s a camera that serves well for both photos and videos. It’s an all-rounder, no questions there. This camera makes an excellent starting point for those aspiring to produce in 4K, especially as it becomes mainstream. We cannot debate, this is a feature-packed camera that can unquestionably serve a wide range of photographic needs and capabilities, for both beginners to enthusiast across the entire scope of both stills and videos. And one that still makes an excellent first choice for the multimedia shooter. No questions, even in 2019, it remains competitive years later. Quite the feat indeed.