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Handling & Operation

Panasonic has clearly put a lot of effort into making the DMC-GX7 a very enthusiast-friendly camera, although it's still made it very accessible to the less experienced user. If you want seven customizable buttons and three spots on the mode dial for your favorite settings, they're all yours but there's enough redundancy that you don't need to customize everything in order to get at the setting you want to change. There's also the same 'make-the-decisions-for-you' iA mode that Panasonic offers to users wanting to simply point-and-shoot.

In addition to all the customizable buttons, you can place the histogram anywhere on the frame, which comes in handy when it's blocking your subject.

You can also see the dual-axis electronic level in this screenshot.

There are two ways in which you can control the GX7. There are the traditional buttons - concentrated mostly on the rear panel, to the right of the LCD - plus the touchscreen LCD. You can shoot exclusively with the buttons, but the touchscreen provides some useful additions.

Rear Controls

The four-way controller has direct controls for ISO, white balance, focus point selection, and drive mode. The center button enters the menus or confirms your selection. Above the controller are buttons for entering playback mode or toggling what's shown on the EVF and LCD.

The remainder of the buttons that surround the four-way controller are customizable. By default, Fn1 enters the Quick Menu (described below), Fn2 deletes photos and backs out of menus, and Fn3 activates the Wi-Fi feature. There's also Fn4, which normally toggles between the LCD and EVF. If that's still not enough, there are also three 'virtual' buttons available on the touchscreen.

This screen is the jumping-off point for customizing the nine function buttons on the camera (four physical, five on the touchscreen).

The options are the same for all of the buttons.

Here are the options available for the four physical Fn buttons. the options for the touchscreen buttons are virtually the same, with the exception of the options marked with an asterisk.

• Wi-Fi
• Q. Menu
• One-push AE
• LVF/Monitor Switch
• AF/AE lock
• AF-on
• Touch AE
• DOF preview
• Level gauge
• Focus area set
• Zoom control
• Photo Style
• Aspect Ratio
• Picture size
• Quality
• Metering mode
• Highlight/shadow
• i.Dynamic
• i.Resolution
• HDR
• Electronic shutter
• Flash mode
• Ex. Tele Conv.
• Digital zoom
• Stabilizer
• Motion Pic. settings
• Picture mode
• Silent mode
• AFS/AFF/AFC
• Peaking
• Histogram
• Guide line
• Rec area
• Step zoom
• Zoom speed
• Sensitivity
• White balance
• AF mode
• Drive mode

If you really want to customize the button layout, you'll be thrilled to hear that you can store up to five sets of Function button layouts by using the three 'C' spots on the mode dial.

Shortcut Menus

There are two ways to easily access the most important settings on the camera. The first option is to use the Quick Menu, which has been a feature of Panasonic cameras for a very long time. The Quick Menu has a preset selection of options, which line the top and bottom of LCD or EVF. The other is a customizable version of the Q.Menu (you can choose between the two in the Custom menu).

At left is the preset Quick Menu, which can be navigated with buttons or your finger. The menu runs above and below the field-of-view in this mode.

On the left is a customized Quick Menu, which runs along the bottom of the screen.

Creating your very own shortcut menu, once you've engaged the Custom Q.Menu option, requires a little drag-and-drop.

To add an item to the customizable Q. Menu, just drag it from the bar on the bottom to the section above it.

To remove an item, do the opposite.

There are ten slots for icons, ranging across two pages, and 26 options that can be slotted into them.

While there aren't as many options available for the Quick Menu as there are for the Fn buttons, nothing important has been left out from the 26 choices.

Another method for quick setting adjustment is via the 'recording information' screen. This screen is designed to be shown when you're using the electronic viewfinder, and it shows virtually every major camera setting. Given the fact that the GX7 has a touchscreen, it should come as no surprise that you can touch on the displayed settings to adjust them.

The rec info screen, which you can see by pressing the Disp. buttons a few times, shows exposure information and commonly used settings.

You can adjust almost all of the settings (save for exposure info and shots remaining) by tapping them with your finger. Doing so takes you off to another screen - you can't just tap and turn the dial.

While the GX7 offers a lot of customization (though no more than we've come to expect from Sony and Olympus models at this level), there is at least one feature missing - the ability to choose which display screens you want in live view mode. This means that, if there are two levels of information you like, you have to cycle through them all to get to the ones you want.

Main Menu

For the full selection of camera options you'll need to head into the main menu. The menu is divided into five tabs, covering record, movie, custom, setup, and playback options. We'll get into the most interesting features found here later in the review.

The recording tab is one of five in the main menu. When you select one of the menu items, a description of it is displayed at the top of the screen.

Like the Quick Menu, the main menu can be operated with buttons or fingers. It's smooth and easy to navigate regardless of how you're operating it. Most of the options are fairly obviously categorized, so it shouldn't require too much hunting.

Touchscreen

Since it's been mentioned several times throughout this review, you've probably figured out that the GX7 has a touchscreen LCD. Above you saw menus which can be operated with a finger - but what else can you do?

The first two touch-related features are pretty obvious: you can tap the screen to focus or take a photo. In playback mode, you can swipe from photo to photo, and double-tap to zoom in and scroll around.

If all of the menus described above weren't enough, there are two 'tabs' on the right-hand side of the LCD than you can open. The first tab has control for using a power zoom lens, turning on the 'touch photo' or 'touch AE' features or engaging focus peaking. To access the five on-screen function buttons discussed further up the page, open up the lower tab and you'll find them.

Perhaps the coolest touch-related feature is called Touch Pad AF (engaged under 'Touch Settings' in the Custom menu). With this feature on, you can use the touchscreen to select the focus point while you're looking through the electronic viewfinder. Touching the LCD panel doesn't really work on most cameras but, particularly if you flip both the screen and EVF upwards, it becomes pretty usable.

The Touch Pad AF system has two options - Exact and Offset. In Exact mode, you tap in the position on the LCD screen where you want to focus - in Offset mode the movement is relative to wherever the cursor is currently positioned.

One problem with Touch Pad AF is that it really isn't suitable for left-eyed shooters - they'll be using their nose to select the focus point, rather than their finger.

Handling Summary

When using the DMC-GX7, you sometimes get the feeling that Panasonic went a little too far, throwing every possible feature into the camera. If you're using it with default settings, then everything is pretty straightforward, with logically laid-out controls, and an easy-to-use touch interface. The camera is easy to hold, and the GX7 felt 'just right' in my hands.

Things get more complicated when you start to customize those nine buttons. This reviewer found that it was difficult to remember which function was mapped to a given Fn button, which resulted in some trial and error. This will probably get easier as more time is spent with the camera. The on-screen function buttons are easier to use, as they show you exactly what feature you're adjusting.

There was one button that I wanted to redefine right away, and that's the one which enters Wi-Fi mode. It's a feature that takes a while to load - locking the camera while it does so. After pressing it accidentally on several occasions, and waiting for the feature to load (so I could back out of it), it was time to map another function to it.

While out shooting, the LCD was my preferred method of composing photos. Besides the obvious increase in size over the EVF, it's also easier to see outdoors. As mentioned earlier in the review, the relatively small finder eyecup means there's quite a bit of light leakage around the EVF (especially when you're wearing glasses), which required me to shield it with my hand so I could see anything. Since the EVF uses field sequential technology, I found the 'rainbow effect' to be very hard to look at, which was another reason why I usually relied on the LCD.

I also struggled to figure out the purpose of the tilting EVF. If I want to compose photos from above, I've got a nice big LCD to do that on - and it tilts down, too. Still, there are likely some photographers who prefer using an eye-level finder who will appreciate this feature.

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Comments

Total comments: 561
1234
cornellra
By cornellra (10 months ago)

Noted that the daylight and lowlight comparison pages are identical. Can that be fixed?

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (10 months ago)

Fixed, thanks for the catch.

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (10 months ago)

Remember Guys, the scores and awards are just DPR's own take on how it all comes together.

The real gem in these reviews is the effort DPR put into making it, and time spent documenting it in all those pages before the conclusions.

I remember the Ricoh GXR review, where it got a shockingly low score (bad DPR)

I had the GXR/A33 APS-C and it was fantastic. Great IQ, a belter of a lens, superb ergonomics with the twin control dial and grip. It was a great camera hidden inside an unusual and for some, flawed, concept.

The conclusions and scores were as much a reflection of DPR's take on the concept and what they chose to treat as its peers. But behind the scores it was all still there, in the detail of the review. Great IQ, great ergonomics and so on.

And so it is with this GX7 (which has hardly been given a bad score).

There's plenty in the review to help you reach your own conclusions. So just be happy all this work has been done for you, look at the detail and take what you need.

15 upvotes
Joel Halbert
By Joel Halbert (10 months ago)

First, I want to thank DPR and Jeff Keller for posting this review, despite the fact that "my camera" didn't quite get a Gold.

We all weigh pros and cons differently. For example, no Panasonic before (or Nikon or Canon or Fuji) has missed a Gold because it _has_ IBIS (in addition to most of its lenses having OIS) - but just not in preview or video mode(?!)

I do see most of the listed cons as minor - the pros may have been slightly under-appreciated.

Now specifically regarding the tilting EVF - it's a bit frustrating to read reviewers who can't fathom this feature. I find it to be a great help. Here is a thread where several of us addressed the topic:

Whys and Wherefores of a Tilting Viewfinder
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52233239

Also, I find the EVF to be very relaxing to use at the height of a sunny day here in AZ, clearly more so than using the screen. I have family in Seattle though; from my travels I understand that the screen may typically be more usable there.

3 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (10 months ago)

The minutiae of the GX7 is debatable but for people really interested in image quality, compare the only Pentax there, the K500 with anything in APS and smaller sensors and it's just far above them in all in RAW at ISO's of 400 and up. It's probably the one non-FF that you can set on Auto ISO and not worry about it.

2 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (10 months ago)

I was looking anxiously for an upgrade to my GF1 but I think I may have to wait or get the E-P5.

I am not so concern about having an EVF but having one may be useful at times if it is good. In this case, the EVF is only "so-so" and worse, even suffer from "rainbow effect". Besides, the protruding eyecup gets in the way when one is trying to put it away in a pouch.

Panasonic's first attempt to include IBIS is not too good so the additional feature is a waste of time.

Although I shoot in Aperture Priority mode most of the time but I do shoot in P or Auto mode sometimes. Its tendancy to choose unnecessary smaller aperture while at these modes is disappointing.

Overall, its not too bad but would not convince me to rush in to buy one. Meanwhile, I will carry on using my faithful GF1 for Micro 4/3. The Oly EM-1 is tempting but maybe just a bit big for the format.

I may consider an E-P5 once I find out more about the "shutter shock" problem.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ageha
By ageha (10 months ago)

The IBIS in this one is actually pretty good, not a waste at all.

4 upvotes
cheddargav
By cheddargav (10 months ago)

No disrespect, but it's kind of sad that you would read this review and decide that the camera is not for you. It's really very very good. And the negatives they throw at it (as others have said, the comment regarding the added bulk of the EVF is just bizarre?)

1 upvote
G Davidson
By G Davidson (10 months ago)

I think you should try it out in a store and see if the viewfinder is as bad (for you) as you fear. I personally prefer the E-P5/EM1 one a lot more, but you pay a price in size.

0 upvotes
Dennis
By Dennis (10 months ago)

I tried both the Oly EM1 and the GX7 at Photoplus in October - the first time I'd seen either. The EM1 had a confusing array of buttons, like the EM5, but was more refined and the EVF was really nice. The GX7 was unimpressive and the EVF was very mediocre. It did not feel like a $1000 camera. Autofocus was sluggish and uncertain compared to the snappy EM1. I also tried the GM1 and thought it was too tiny with really fiddly controls. To my mind, Oly *is* micro 4/3 these days, at least for stills, with Panasonic appealing to video-oriented shooters.

2 upvotes
HelloToe
By HelloToe (10 months ago)

Now if only Olympus didn't charge an extra $300 to put an EVF on an E-P5. (And if you want a viewfinder that doesn't stick out from the body, forget Olympus entirely.)

1 upvote
blohum
By blohum (10 months ago)

Oly are currently running an offer for a free VF4 with an EP5 in the UK at the moment...

0 upvotes
HelloToe
By HelloToe (10 months ago)

Fat lot of good that does the rest of the world. I remember hearing about Oly UK running a free prime lens deal a while back, too.

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
jerrysdean43
By jerrysdean43 (10 months ago)

I totally agree it does not feel like a $1000.00 camera, I returned it after 1 day, I thought the efv was terrible, and the tilting feature added bulk to the camera. To be fair though this was my first and last experience with an evf, I just don't like them, if this is one of the best, they have a long way to go IMHO. I am looking at a 5ti, I miss an optical viewfinder. IMHO mirrorless is overpriced & only has a size & weight advantage.

0 upvotes
HelloToe
By HelloToe (10 months ago)

Gosh, that must mean that a lot of us really like having a smaller & lighter camera!

0 upvotes
jerrysdean43
By jerrysdean43 (10 months ago)

I like a smaller and lighter camera also but I want the viewfinder to actually work and for $1000.00 I expect more quality. If I need to carry a larger bigger camera to use a working viewfinder and can track moving subjects that is the price one has to pay. Smaller and lighter and struggle with an evf or larger and heavier and able to use the optical viewfinder. Of course I am almost 70 years old and have been in photography for many years and have a lot of experience with optical viewfinders, a lot of photographers today probably have only used an lcd or evf to compose with. It comes down to a price/value ratio and for me the value does not outweigh the price.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dennis
By Dennis (10 months ago)

Nothing wrong with liking the camera - it has its own unique set of features that no other camera has. But some people are griping because it didn't get "Gold" and I can fully understand it not getting gold; it doesn't feel as well put together as other cameras. There's nothing wrong with that ... two out of my three cameras have "Silver" ratings from dpreview. And one of them barely deserves that !

Generally, I agree with jerrysdean's comment that mirrorless is overpriced. It might sell better if it didn't cost more to go small. The Panny G series is probably the best deal going. Sony tried with the A3000 but the result is - apparently (I could kick myself for not finding one to try while at the expo) pretty lousy (EVF & LCD).

0 upvotes
srados
By srados (10 months ago)

I do not own this camera and I agree there is review bias to some other brands.Sometimes DP is leaning to Fuji NIKON,Olympus cameras.I judge cameras by their picture quality and I do pixel peep.To my eye these sample images are comparable and better than Fuji...Fuji seem to me to be a hassle to operate with all mechanical failures (like stuck shutter leafs on some models unreliable WB and focusing). And this is all based from reviews and B&H and Amazon reviews as well...As I said I am not a troll, but I am trying to understand the sentiment of the testers and their preference towards cameras.All above brands,do pump up yellows and reds and maybe share similar sensors.

0 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (10 months ago)

Fuji is one of the benchmarks for APS-c
Look harder

0 upvotes
Olymore
By Olymore (10 months ago)

All the latest cameras with a large sensor are pretty good for IQ nowadays. In my opinion, unless you have specific needs (e.g. very low light) the important bits are things like the viewfinder, ease of use, functionality etc.
Coming from the film days I think Fuji have the best interface for basic functions (caveat, I don't own one) and I believe they have sorted a lot of the quirky behaviour in their earlier models with FW updates.

0 upvotes
lazy lightning
By lazy lightning (10 months ago)

Good point Olymore. Just think how popular a Olympus camera would be with a large sensor!

0 upvotes
Olymore
By Olymore (10 months ago)

Yes, it's only been the last five years that anybody has been able to take a decent quality picture. And then only with a FF camera. All those Nikon D70 and D90 and Canon APSC cameras were obviously useless as their sensors were the same or worse than current m43 cameras.

0 upvotes
Kurt_K
By Kurt_K (10 months ago)

Do we even need silly awards and percentage scoring? I'd be happy with just the pros and cons list and the IQ test results. Pretty easy to make up my own mind from there. Oh, but I guess I'm forgetting that most of the folks here don't want to make up their own mind; they want the camera aficionados to make it up for them.

10 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (10 months ago)

you are free to just ignore the scores

25 upvotes
Digital Suicide
By Digital Suicide (10 months ago)

Pros and Cons list is personal (DPR's) point of view as well. You might find them different.

0 upvotes
panteraaa
By panteraaa (10 months ago)

I always ignore the score.

1 upvote
babalu
By babalu (10 months ago)

Yes, I might ignore the scores from now on.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
1 upvote
LWW
By LWW (10 months ago)

I get my jollys just reading the comments - this font of knowledge is much more insightful than a any 'ole Dpreview review :-)

2 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (10 months ago)

I am it sure why this camera didn't get the gold. You get a built in evf at the usd $1k bracket, ability to focus in dark (-4 ev according to panasonic) and panasonic traditionally has the IS in their main lenses. Is ibis in light of this really that crucial? Is Ibis that crucial anyway?

Then it has the quite unique silent mode which as mentioned is great for street life- or even if you are shooting in a classic music concert or theater play. I don't get it.

Lack of in camera raw converter? (For the record, I love that feature myself but how many people really use it and is it really such a key feature to get out the gold?)

Don't understand.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
34 upvotes
BJN
By BJN (10 months ago)

And Panasonic does the touch interface very well.

7 upvotes
alendrake
By alendrake (10 months ago)

Totally agreed. This camera is a leap forward from all previous G GF and GX models, with everything on right place and finally an EVF in small body. And the reason for not giving Gold are a bit ... well, lousy.

11 upvotes
alendrake
By alendrake (10 months ago)

By the way, probably DP reviewer didn't know that Panasonic sells DMW-EC1 rubber eyepiece which "cuts extra light between the view finder and the eye and provides an excellent fit for both the naked eye and glasses".

http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/systemcamera/gms/gx7/optional_accessories.html#eyecup

It costs 15$ , adds more bulk to the camera, probably easy to lose, but anyway NEX-6/7 they both seem to have same issues and same rubber cup solution, however it was not mentioned as a negative point in their reviews.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
8 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (10 months ago)

alendrake- to be fair, the reviewer did mention the cup in the review.

3 upvotes
Treeshade
By Treeshade (10 months ago)

They do:
"...This makes the optional DMW-EC1 eyecup a must-buy, in our opinion."

About the award, it seems that DPR really don't like faults. Mediocre features get gold. Superb features with minor fault get silver.

6 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (10 months ago)

What is in-camera-RAW conversion most used for? I'm curious what situation in comes in handy where shooting RAW+JPEG isn't a viable alternative... Genuine question btw since I've never had a camera with said feature. If I was gonna ding the GX7 for *not* having something it'd be weather sealing... Makes the choice between it and the EM5 just a little harder.

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (10 months ago)

For me in-camera raw conversion is good for a few reasons. One, I don't want to shoot JPEG+RAW all the time- takes more memory on the card, takes more time for the camera to flush the shot (this depends on camera model in a way that it impacts me or not).
Two, very often I want to experiment with the RAW file in several ways with different settings and see how flexible it is for post processing in the camera. Or I may want to get a JPEG ready to send someone.

If the camera has filters and effects (say, the Pentax Q, K-5), I like to experiment with some of them to get an idea of some of the overall treatment of the shot, what would work better, less better.

It all depends. Finally I like the idea of a camera system that does not really ultimately in a computer in case you are not carrying one around.

0 upvotes
alendrake
By alendrake (10 months ago)

Raist3d, Treeshade - you're right, hence disregard the bulk of my second comment. However I still wonder, what makes the viewfinders of NEX-6/7 in terms of protecting from sunlight without eyecup.

0 upvotes
alendrake
By alendrake (10 months ago)

I can't stop coming back to this slightly unfair conclusions in review: "...It's marred by a so-so viewfinder, lack of in-camera Raw conversion, and a disappointing in-body IS system".
DPReview team was equally disappointend in GH3 viewfinder. Moreover, what is better - to have a nicely working IBIS in photography mode, which doesn't activate in video and in liveview (GX7), or not to have any IBIS at all (GH3, all Canon, all Nikon DSLRs, you continue)? So why these issues were not in GH3 conclusion?

0 upvotes
deleted-13120401
By deleted-13120401 (10 months ago)

Happy to see this - was waiting for the DR curve above anything else. Looks like a worthy upgrade to my trusty GX1 with nearly 2 stops more DR, and an i.Dynamic feature that actually does something measurable. Like the GX1 a lot and will keep it as backup, but the DR was starting to get on my nerves vs every other camera on the market today. Thanks!

0 upvotes
Baron LaCat
By Baron LaCat (10 months ago)

"This brings diffraction into place, which can noticeably soften images"

When does diffraction begin to appear ??
I just checked my GX7 jpeg images taken in P mode, and most seem to be around F7.1 to F8. At what focal length should I go into A mode and drop it down ??
Baron

0 upvotes
Brigcam
By Brigcam (10 months ago)

Nothing beats seeing for yourself, just go out on a nice day and take set of the same shot with different apertures.

Personally I felt that F8 was the sweet spot for 4/3s, the point of maximum lens sharpness before diffraction kicked in. That said diffraction up to around F16 isn't that big of a deal.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (10 months ago)

for m4/3 optimal is F4/F5 and you should not see any problems at F8. Once past that, you'll start noticing softness pretty easily.

A good rule is to stick below F8 for the format, preferably around F5; which already brings pretty much everything into focus any way.

0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (10 months ago)

For landscape, I shoot mostly at f/5.6. F/8.0 maybe stretching it a bit. For portraits, I would usually use the wide open aperture at f1.8 or f2.0 using the 20mm f/1.7 or 45mm f/1.8 lenses.

It all depends on the lens. Most Micro 4/3 lenses are optimised to be used at the wider apertures. The 75mm f1.8 is excellent when shot at f/1.8.

Even the older (but the best) 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 perform its best at the wide apertures below f/5.6.

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Hentaiboy
By Hentaiboy (10 months ago)

Still don't understand the awards. 79% & Silver when the Fuji X-M1 received 77% & Gold? And the Fuji had slow autofocus and mushy greens?

13 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (10 months ago)

Don't know if I agree with the GX7 scoring, but the X-M1 AF really is not slow, and it has superb IQ (Search Fujifilm X-M1 on Flickr).

No VF, but a great little camera.

X-M1 AF Test
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTXCJ9TmUIg

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Jimmy jang Boo
By Jimmy jang Boo (10 months ago)

Fuji X-M1 got silver.

Truth be told, the DPR gold, silver and bronze designations are definitively meaningless. There's no podium, no metal, no reason nor rhyme. Someone, much like a magician, reaches inside a hat and pulls out a make belief award.

3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (10 months ago)

I think the gold/silver thing distracts people from the individual scoring which really tells you something. For example, the Nikon Df will receive a gold award (with some reservations) so there's no point in sitting on the edge of your chair. What will be helpful is how the individual features are scored, and it's the same with this Panasonic.

3 upvotes
tsammyc
By tsammyc (10 months ago)

There is an error in the review. The built in flash can be used as a wireless master flash. I've successfully used it with the Metz MS-15. In the menu, there is a setting for "wireless flash"

4 upvotes
Danut Tiparu
By Danut Tiparu (10 months ago)

I think that GX7 score is unfair. Same thing has happend with GH3, too.

4 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (10 months ago)

> Fuji X-M1 got silver.

No, the X-M1 received a Gold Award (copy-paste link below):

http://www.dpreview.com/search/?query=Fujifilm%20X-M1&product=fujifilm_xm1

0 upvotes
Total comments: 561
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