*Ladies and Gentlemen, The Panasonic GX7: A first look.

Lumix GX7

When Panasonic started to leak the GX7 micro 4/3 camera, I, along with many micro 4/3 fans started to pine for what seemed on paper to be one of the best offerings for the system yet.  Compact, nice grip, IBIS, focus peaking, a step forward in IQ, good video options, integrated EVF, WiFi, rugged chassis… I’m no fanboy, but I will admit to feeling that Panasonic has done a better job at the interface side of things, compared to Olympus in my experience with cameras from both manufacturers.  If I could gain access to what I saw as Oly’s two benefits in IBIS and newer sensor tech in a Pana body with it’s more streamlined, yet still customizable interface, I had to see if it could live up to the hype.  I’ve long felt that if Oly could re-engineer it’s interface and remove some of the frustrating quirks that plagued the EM5, or, if Panasonic could take a step forward in sensor performance and integrate a decent IBIS system, either could have a quintessential micro 4/3 juggernaut on their hands.  Is the GX7 the answer to those desires?

GX7

(update: Here’s part 1 of the GX7 Review)

Well, this will serve as merely an introduction to the GX7.  I will put it through it’s paces in the coming days and weeks and will compare the performance between it and some of the other cameras I have around, namely the OMD EM5 and perhaps the GF1 and GX1 to see how Panasonic’s premium compact, rangefinder styled body has progressed over the years.  I’ll also do some lens comparisons between the new and old Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancakes.  Have a look at the quick unboxing vid below…

With the GX7, I hope to find a camera that offers me the benefits that the EM5, and to an extent the GH3 provide, without the drawbacks (menus, UI, size, quirks, et al), and only a little time will tell whether that is going to happen or not.  I purchased mine through the Amazon link that Ale had up on 43rumors.com a couple days back which is how I got the black kit, and how I now have it in my hands.

The features of the GX7 that I am most excited about are as follows.  Some are not quite as flashy, nor headline worthy, but all add up to a pretty solid machine.

  • 2 axis IBIS (not the 5 axis Oly stabilization, but seems to effectively be within a half stop or so, so, good enough? we shall see…)
  • Integrated, tilt-able EVF (other compact “rangefinder style” bodies require a $250+ add on EVF)
  • 1/8000sec max shutter speed (a stop faster than most every other m4/3 model)
  • 1/320sec flash sync speed (another stop increase from the norm)
  • ISO 125 (while it’s not ISO 100, it helps)
  • AF/MF toggle switch on the body… awesome.
  • Focus peaking
  • Silent shooting mode
  • 3 user definable Custom Settings on the control dial (one for silent🙂, one for a flash/studio setup😀, and the third…I’ll come up with something)
  • WiFi/NFC
  • Dual control adjustment wheels
  • 1080p at 60p (50p), 60i (50i) and 24p (25p)

There are many other bells and whistles that are included and when added to the above seem to provide many small steps forward making a bit more of a leap when you step back and view the whole package.  The GX7 isn’t environmentally sealed, or able to shoot full resolution at 9+fps like the OMD EM1 or the GH3, but it also provides a combination of other, (some unique) features as well as a lower price tag.  The GX7 also does not currently allow for in body image stabilization during video, which I find very odd, but hopefully that will be sorted in a future firmware update.

GX7 from the back

While I found myself a black version of the GX7, oddly, those of us in the US seemingly won’t have access to them, instead needing to be content with the also stellar silver option.  You can now peruse and purchase (or at least pre-order) these here in the states, or from most anywhere through B&H.  The following links are connected to my affiliate account which does give me a small commission if used.  If you are going to buy one, and find that B&H is the place you’d do it through, I’d always appreciate the support, but completely understand if you don’t🙂

Panasonic GX7 Body (silver) $999

Panasonic GX7 + 14-42 kit $1099

Stay tuned for the full reviews and comparison pieces in the weeks to come.  You can subscribe via email at the top right of the page, or check in with me on Facebook or Twitter as well.

Thanks as always for the read and happy shooting,

Tyson

23 thoughts on “*Ladies and Gentlemen, The Panasonic GX7: A first look.

  1. I’m mega excited about this review ty, i cant wait to see how you pit it against the gx1 and gf1 to show how Panasonic rangefinder esc designs have progressed. I’m hopefully gonna pick up a gf1 in the coming weeks as my carry around and a Lil old skool backup. The price is good here on those now and its the first mft cam i fell in love with albeit not being able to afford when it cane out. GX7 looks like such a solid camera and i wouldn’t take a second to purchase if i could. It seems to be what the what the system has been crying out for for a very long time!

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  2. thanks for the review. i held the gx7 in my hands at ifa berlin two weeks ago and was excited about the grip! it seemed so much more comfortable to hold than my e-p5. and the viewfinder is a really nice feature. i am very curious whether it will live up to your expectations. staying tuned😉

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    • It certainly has a lot going for it on paper, and just going through the menu last night before the battery crapped out made me remember how much I appreciate simplicity and intuitive menu layouts. The focus peaking is really nice as is the AF/MF switch. Simple, well designed, very useful external controls are always handy. With the new 20mm, it seems peppy enough, and one thing I found impressive already is the ability to AF in really, really low light, so it is gonna have to stink pretty hardcore in IQ, or AF accuracy or something to fall short I think🙂

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  3. Tyson, like Chris, I’m super stoked to hear your thoughts about this camera. I know we have talked in the past about Olympus’ f upped menus so it’s nice to hear that Panasonic has kept their logical menu system. It took me forever to retrain my brain going from the GF1 to the EM5. I would put in my preorder right now if they had included stabilization with the video – that seems like a really weird omission. Also curious if the grip is really comfortable, it almost seems like it’s so big that it might push your fingers up against the lens. Anyway, looking forward to hearing more! Cheers.

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      • I’m not a huge fan of silver cameras and I really like the black. No, no US warrantee so I may be stuck shipping this thing half way across the world, or paying out of pocket if something goes wrong… A bit of a gamble certainly, but hopefully all will work out better than the OMD EM5 did.

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    • Thanks Bill.

      I really hope that they remedy the IBIS in video issue, and I’m conservatively confident that they will. The camera is barely out and already it has gotten bashed on that one solitary omission. Not a huge deal because I don’t shoot much video (for me) and the other criticism on the video side is no input for an external mic which is also a bit odd, but honestly, for those who are serious about video they will more than likely pony up a couple hundred more for the GH3, or be tripod mounting and using an external audio recording device.

      The grip is nice for my hands which are large. It is similar to the concept of the GX1’s grip in that it is designed to wrap your middle finger over and down the contour of the grip which I find is really a brilliant design while still maintaining a relatively tiny profile. I think when I initially came over from the DSLR bunch, my instinct was to hold the GF1, G3, GX1, OMD, et al, with my fingertips (as I think many do), but with the Pana grips, they are designed to wrap your finger around it, getting your wrist more vertically oriented which is a far more natural, and stabile, position to shoot from with these little cameras in my opinion.

      Initial feeling is good, and I hope to have some real world examples this week, although I’m bummed that I’ll more than likely only be shooting in jpeg (largely because the silkypix or ACR workaround for me is laborious and my time is already so limited🙂 ). I may try to actually get Lightroom dusted off and going though… We shall see.

      Cheers,
      t

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    • Thanks Lew, but I doubt I’ll have my hands on the EM1 anytime soon. I wasn’t thrilled with the issues I had with my EM5, and Oly is going to have to work pretty hard to convince me to buy another of their cameras at this point. Not that it hasn’t produced great pictures because as an image making device, it’s been top notch, but as a mechanical piece of equipment, it has been rather poor. If Oly want’s to send me one though, I’d happily and objectively compare and review it. I’m sure they’ve worked out many of the quirks… I just don’t want to pay $1300 to find out🙂

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  4. i’m always amazed by how some bloggers say that the Oly menus are on more photographer centric…. like you I find Panny menus much more logical.

    the gx7 is now sitting in my bag, battery charged, for its first outing🙂 first impression I think I’d swap the flippy viewfinder for a fixed one with a fully articulating screen.

    tis a lot bigger than the GX1 but feels rather nice in the hand.

    what were your issues with the e-m5? I loved the IQ but found it felt awful in the hand. I keep being told that the grip solves that but….

    still if the E-M1’s Autofocus in continuous mode stacks up…….

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    • Thanks Pete,

      I, like you, had issues with the ergonomics of the em5, until of course I added a Really Right Stuff grip. Makes a huge difference. Other than that, and the menus, I just couldn’t wrap my brain around some of the interface and design issues. Why one custom button could have certain parameters assigned that others couldn’t, or how the focus assist button needed to be held, not pushed to engage or disengage the FA zoom, but wouldn’t work at all if you’d used the touch AF assignment via the LCD screen, which then required a “tap” to get out of that AF mode, or the fact that A) Oly didn’t provide a printed manual, or B) the PDF manual did a horrible job at explaining how to actually engage something as simple as the manual focus assist enlargement. I also had to send mine in after the electronics fried the sensor and various other crucial internal circuitry because I used the Oly FL100 flash that I got with the camera, on camera which somehow shorted the entire camera. The battery and hard sleep issues were really odd… I should stop.

      It really is a good camera, or is capable of great image files, but it just couldn’t get out of its own way in my opinion.

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      • ah! I can understand your frustration.

        first thoughts on the gx7. The autofocus is faster and more accurate. the g5 and gx1 sometimes seem to miss something in a busy scene the gx7 was more reliable.

        viewfinder is pretty decent better than the viewfinder for the GX1 and those in the G5 and Fuji XE1.

        image quality? well it won’t match the fuji xe1 at high iso but it is certainly a stop better than the gx1 maybe more. Gut feel? ISO 3200 is better on the GX7 than 1600 on the GX1.

        As I say high iso better on the fuji BUT the GX7 feels a more accomplished camera. better af (miles better) better view finder and I got frustrated about moving the fuji’s compensation dial taking it out of a bag.

        GX7 14f2.5, 20f1.7 and oly 45 f1.8 would be a streetshooters dream

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      • While I’d love to shoot with the Fuji X series cams, and unfortunately can’t comment on them, my initial gut feeling regarding the GX1 vs GX7 is right about in line. I’ve been primarily shooting JPEGS with the GX7, largely because Aperture (and LR3) don’t yet support the RAW files. I can run them through ACR and into PS which I’ll do for some of the tests, but after years of shooting RAW with the micro 4/3 cams, I’m amazed at how big a difference, and how much I lose compressing into JPEG in camera. Apple is notoriously slow on the uptick regarding RAW support, so I’m not going to hold my breath, but I’ll certainly try to compare like to like through ACR for the time being.

        Cheers,
        t

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    • I’m looking forward to testing the two different 20’s to see if there is any real world difference. I always loved the 20 v1, and even though, seemingly not much has changed, the newer, shinier version seems to be singing that same old siren song to me… Such a great combo of IQ and compactness, and really one of the two main reasons that convinced me to originally choose the micro 4/3 system in the first place.

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  5. It’s an interesting camera body, reminiscent of their Four-Thirds DMC-L1. It seems to be another soldier in Panasonic’s never-ending war against Sony. I’ve recommended it for the faster shutter speed and the tilting EVF and the multiple buttons.

    I wish that it was a different size. I’m not big but my hands cramp on such small bodies normally. The GH3 is the minimum that’s comfortable. I can’t imagine how the menus are any less worse (better is not an option) than Olympus’, but the Quick Menu compared to Super Control Panel is worse. I have to go into the menus. However, the GX7 is still really interesting and every step is a step in the right direction.

    Btw, “it’s” = “it is”–that’s why the apostrophe is there.

    You’ve always got good viewpoints!

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  6. Pingback: *The Panasonic GX7, an Evolution, part 1 | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

    • With the AVCHD I can shoot in 24p which is what I have all my other cams set up to, frame rate wise anyway. I am going to look into contacting Panasonic USA to either purchase or procure a firmware swap to NTSC if possible, but otherwise, I’m not entirely bothered by it because I shoot very little video and I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination a video guy so having the different frame and bit rates and the like aren’t crucial to my workflow.

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