With a new 16-million-pixel sensor and a clever tiltable electronic viewfinder, the GX7 could be one of the best system cameras we’ve seen, says Phil Hall. Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 review...
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 at a glance:
- 16-million-pixel four thirds Live MOS sensor
- ISO 200-6400 (extended to ISO 100-25,600)
- Fujifilm X mount
- 3in, 1.03-million-dot tilting touchscreen
- 2.7-million-dot tilt-angle EVF
- 1920x1080p 30,25,24fps HD videos
- Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity
- Street price around £999 with 20mm f/1.7 II lens
- See Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 sample images
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 review – Introduction
Launched back in 2009, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 was the second compact system camera from the brand, but rather than the more traditional DSLR styling of its Lumix DMC-G1 stablemate, the GF1 sported a much more compact form that did away with the viewfinder. With a host of body-mounted controls, interchangeable lenses and DSLR-like image quality, the GF1 caught the attention of enthusiast photographers looking for a lightweight and discreet alternative to their DSLR kit.
With the arrival of the more consumer-orientated Panasonic Lumix GF2 in 2010, it was not until the GX1 was launched at the end of 2011 that we saw a natural successor to the GF1. While well received, the GX1 soon found itself eclipsed by a host of new competitors, such as the 24.3-million-pixel Sony NEX-7 and 16.3-million-pixel Fujifilm X-E1. These offered a number of benefits over the diminutive GX1, but perhaps most importantly for the serious photographer was that both models featured a built-in electronic viewfinder.
Facing such intense competition, Panasonic has gone back to the drawing board, and the result is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7. The jump in numbering reflects Panasonic’s feeling that this new model is a massive leap from the GX1 that it replaces, with a host of new and improved features. Promising to be the best Lumix model yet, how does the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 stack up?
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 review – Features
Panasonic has really started from the ground up, with a completely new sensor at the heart of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7. While it may share a similar 16-million-pixel resolution to the likes of the GX1 and pretty much every other recently announced Panasonic system camera, the company’s engineers have been able to increase the size of the photodiodes on the sensor by reducing the circuitry on the chip. This has been combined with a new micro-lens structure and the latest Venus Engine first seen in the Lumix DMC-G6, which has led to improved light-gathering capabilities over previous models, as well as a 25% improvement in signal-to-noise ratio and a broader dynamic range. This also sees the GX7 deliver a native ISO range of 200-25,600, which can be expanded to an ISO equivalent of 125.
Panasonic hasn’t just been concentrating on improving the senor, though, with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 featuring a raft of updates and developments over the GX1, most notable of which is the inclusion of a built-in electronic viewfinder that I’ll cover in more detail later.
With the GX7 keen to appeal to enthusiasts and pros, it is nice to see a top shutter speed of 1/8000sec, while the maximum flash sync is impressive at 1/320sec. There is also the ability to flick between the mechanical and electronic shutter, with the latter delivering near silent capture for discreet shooting. In this mode (accessed via the custom section of the GX7’s menu), flash, AF illuminator and all camera sounds are disabled, while the ISO range is restricted to between 200-3200. The GX7 can shoot at up to 5fps provided it’s set to single AF with its mechanical shutter, while it is also possible to shoot 12 frames at a rate for 60fps using the electronic shutter.
As we’ve seen with a host of recent Panasonic launches, including the Lumix DMC-G6 and LF1, the GX7 features both Wi-fi and NFC (Near Field Communication, by which a connection is established by tapping together two compatible devices) connectivity. In conjunction with the free Panasonic Image App for either iOS or Android, it is possible to transfer and share images out in the field, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 can be controlled and triggered using your smartphone or tablet.
Image: Raw files can be pushed reasonably hard without deteriorating