Testing the Panasonic GX7 against the GX1

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
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tnphoto
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Testing the Panasonic GX7 against the GX1
11 months ago

Some thoughts on various usability issues with the Panasonic GX7 for those thinking of upgrading from the GX1.

1. It feels good in my hand. The body is a little wider than the GX1, and that allows the buttons to be laid out more efficiently. With the GX1, I was always inadvertently pressing buttons and getting unwanted dialogs I had to dismiss. With the GX1, my thumb covers the Fn1, display and ISO buttons. With the GX7, it covers the display button only. Pressing display by accident may change the look of the viewfinder, but you can still shoot. The iA (Intelligent Auto) control is no longer a button next to the shutter release but a setting on the mode dial that surrounds the release. No more accidentally blundering into iA mode!

2. It's not significantly bigger than the GX1, especially if you have a GX1 with the LVF-2 viewfinder. The new 14-42mm lens is quite a bit shorter. With the LVF in place, the GX1 is deeper front-to-back. Without the LVF the two cameras are almost the same depth.

3. The new lens is at its most retracted at the middle of its zoom range, about 25mm. If you're used to putting the camera away with the lens in the 14mm position, the new lens is about 1/4" longer that way.

4. I wondered whether the viewfinder position on the far left corner would feel strange. I got used to it right away, and the position eliminates nose prints on the LCD.

5. The LCD and live viewfinder are quite wonderful, bright and detailed with no tearing I've been able to find.

6. There does not seem to be any way to lock the flash in a bounce position. Too bad, since I'd like to hold an off-camera flash in my left hand and have it triggered by the bounce flash.

7. The GX7 takes the same remote release that the GX1 did. The hatch for it is on the left instead of the right, and the release is hidden behind the tiltable LCD. To open the hatch, move the LCD back a bit. Reach under at the top left and find the cutout that lets you open the hatch. It uses the same flimsy plastic-band "hinges" as the GX1, but they're a little more robust. I did not find the variation between the LCD view and the LVF view that another poster complained about.

8. Shooting RAW with the GX1, I found I needed an exposure compensation of +1 for correct exposure of average subjects. The GX7 is about the same.

9. With the GX1, the blinking overexposure warning actually activates at a brightness of about 245. On the GX7, it's a little brighter, about 250. In either case, you want to expose so that textured highlights just begin to blink if you're shooting RAW.

10. There's no sign of shutter shock.

11. If you change ISO a lot, you'll find the GX7's setup more difficult. The GX1 shows a matrix of speeds, and you can use the 4-way controller to jump sideways or down as needed. The GX7 puts them in a row and you have to use the controller or the front control wheel to move sideways. It's a long way from Auto to 25,600, especially in third-stops! On the other hand, you can set the ISO limit all the way to 25,600. The GX1 only lets you set a limit of up to ISO 3200, and the control is buried in the Record menu.

12. Exposure compensation requires a finger dance the manual does not describe. The REAR control wheel activates exposure-compensation but the FRONT wheel changes it. If you're changing compensation quickly, here's what you have to do:

A. After the last shot, half-press the shutter release to get out of picture review and back to live view.

B. Press the rear control wheel to activate exposure-compensation mode.

C. Rotate the front dial to the compensation you want.

D. Shoot. There's no need to do anything to accept the new compensation.

You get used to the top-back-front rhythm pretty quickly.

13. The camera writes to the card noticeably faster than the GX1. It also has much better low-light performance. I was dismayed to find my GX1 wouldn't even display a live view under very dim illumination, much less lock focus. The GX7 display is much brighter, with more shadow detail, and focus is faster and more accurate.

14. I was a little disappointed in focus peaking. It works, but you only see it on the thickest, most high-contrast elements of a scene. However, I love the direct switch to manual focus and the enlarged view for focusing. I haven't tested the IBIS but it and focus peaking should make shooting with manual lenses a lot more fun.

11. I'm still testing, but I haven't found the new 14-42mm kit lens to be significantly sharper than the old, nor the new sensor to have significantly finer grain or longer dynamic range than the old one. There may be differences, but I doubt you'd see them in everyday shooting.

I'm keeping the GX7 and selling the GX1, though the choice is close. The GX1 was a little too small for my hand, annoying me by triggering actions from random button-pushes. The new EVF and LCD are great. Manual focus is terrific and I trust the IBIS will not disappoint. Low-light performance is wonderful, and I have ISO 25,600 if I'm in really low light.

 tnphoto's gear list:tnphoto's gear list
Nikon D3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 OIS Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS +2 more
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