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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Review

November 2013 | By Jeff Keller
Buy on Amazon.com From $589.00


Review based on a production Panasonic GX7 with firmware 1.1

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-GX7 is arguably the company's most enthusiast-focused mirrorless camera yet to hit the market. Back in 2011, Panasonic released the DMC-GX1 in a move to appease those who grew more and more disappointed as the promising GF-series got smaller and simpler, with fewer controls as the series progressed. The GX1, however, seemed like an interim move, adding minor enhancements to the original GF1 design and changing the badge, while fans watched as Sony's NEX-7 and the Olympus E-M5 offered more controls and sophisticated features, including built-in EVFs.

While few of the GX7's specifications stand out as innovative (aside, perhaps, from its built-in articulated electronic viewfinder), it's still comfortably the most enthusiast-orientated 'G' model, as well as the first to include in-body stabilization - key to shooting with non-native lenses. And beyond the headline specs it contains plenty of small tweaks and features sure to entice more advanced photographers.

Key specifications

  • 16MP Live MOS sensor
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Flip-up, 1024 x 768 pixel (2.3M dot equivalent) electronic viewfinder
  • 3-inch tilting LCD
  • Front and rear control dials
  • Magnesium-alloy frame
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • 3-level focus peaking
  • 1/8000 second max shutter speed, 1/320th flash sync speed
  • Highlight and shadow curve adjustments
  • 1080 video at 60p/60i/24p in MP4 or AVCHD format
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC

It's hard to know whether to think of the GX7 as being a post-NEX-7 or a post-E-M5 camera - but to an extent that's the point: unlike the GX1, which appeared to be a rather-too-late, warmed-over GF1, the GX7 is a camera that has learned from the increasingly impressive cameras it will have to compete with.

Despite Panasonic producing an extensive range of image-stabilized lenses, the GX7 incorporates in-body stabilization. This will be a welcome move for anyone hoping to use either Olympus's Micro Four Thirds lenses, or legacy lenses via adapters. Combined the GX7's 'focus peaking' manual focus aid, it promises to make the GX7 one of the more capable options when it comes to shooting with adapted lenses.

The GX7 has a lot to offer keen photographers, including a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec and a flash sync speed of 1/320 sec. The camera is also in unexpectedly exclusive company when it comes to offering a DSLR-like twin-dial control system. There are several mirrorless cameras with two control dials, but remarkably few that make it easy to simply set one to control aperture or shutter speed, and the other to control exposure compensation, which makes the semi-auto aperture and shutter priority modes enjoyable to shoot in.

Additional enthusiast-friendly features include tone curve adjustment, 3-level focus peaking, and a whopping seven customizable buttons. So is the GX7 the mirrorless camera that enthusiasts have been waiting for? Keep reading to find out.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 578
1234
cruz031

What's worth having a gold award camera if your imagination is ony worth a bronze? ;)

1 upvote
SirSeth

Or if the opinion of a reviewer is going to sour your milk because he dosn't validate your bias.

0 upvotes
JudgeDread

These silver/gold awards certainly are the most absurd ratings a technical review could ever use. This camera paired with a 20/F1.7 is really an excellent (maybe the best) sub FF mirrorless combo, really small, excellent rendition of human skin at high iso.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
petr marek

Agree, it is best M43 camera to date...

0 upvotes
Pixnat2

Why you people bother with Gold or Silver awards? This is very subjective.
The most important is reading the review and make your own mind.

2 upvotes
John Driggers

Oh yeah...the flash doesn't work in silent mode as a criticism???? Why, pray tell, would you want the flash to fire when you are being "stealthy?"

In fact, if the flash would fire, THAT would be a valid criticism.

There are just too many really dumb observations in this review.

40 upvotes
intruder61

exactly.

2 upvotes
Jeff Keller

I don't see how pointing out a trade-off of the e-shutter feature is a 'criticism'. It's not listed as a 'con' and rest assured that we're not knocking points off of the score because you can't use the flash in silent mode.

6 upvotes
MikeInRomsey

In fairness the review states that the flash wont work when the electronic shutter is selected. The electronic shutter can be used outside of the 'silent' mode.

2 upvotes
Raist3d

Because it's not a trade-off. It's part of the concept of silent mode as a feature.

A trade-off happens when you are losing something, compromising- whereas losing the flash in this context is not a disadvantage, but a complete advantage, as designed.

There is probably some photographer in a parallel universe that would have required the flash to fire in silent mode but that's probably one in several billion humans :-)

2 upvotes
babalu

Or, that the flash would be fired, but without light, as deems in silent mode.. :)
Really, the review tends to belittle the camera .

2 upvotes
M Irwin

If a flash goes off in silent mode in the woods, would anybody see it?

4 upvotes
Digital Suicide

Exactly. The same thing with cameras having "clickless" ring. Why on earth would you want to manual focus with ring that has steps...?

0 upvotes
Jorginho

I did notread the whole review, but I did read the part of the negative points. However: I cannot understand that this cam just gerts one point more than the Oly EP5. EP5 does not have an EVF (so no rainboweffects there..), EP5 has far worse video. EP5 has a shuttershock problem. And if EP5 menu is anything close to my EPL5 menu, it is clearly worse than even my GH2 menu. By far (can work with it though).

A remark like ËVF adds bulk to the camera...come on! That applies to any camera with any VF!

30 upvotes
alendrake

Now I get it - as long as Olympus didin't release a rangefinder styled calera, DPreview considers GX7 as a competitor for E-P5. And not to hurt the sales of Olympus, they had to give similar marks.

3 upvotes
John Driggers

Panasonic makes great cameras that are the be all, end all for video. Then they make a stills oriented camera (the GX7) and everybody moans about it not having every video capability (mic inputs, etc). If you want a video oriented camera go buy the one that's video oriented--that's not what this camera is supposed to be.The new Nikon doesn't even do video so it should get a score of 50-bet that doesn't happen. This effort to list as a disadvantage an aspect of a camera that's not part of it's design brief happens too often.

You don't know why a tiltable EVF is useful, as the LCD tilts? Guys, how useful is a tilting LCD when you are doing a low level shot in bright light and can't see the LCD? I bought this camera via preorder because it had both a tilting LCD and EVF. I was tired of using my tilting EVF from my PENs on my OMD-EM5 when the tilting LCD washed out in bright light. If you don't why having both viewfinders tilt is useful, don't embarrass yourself by telling us.

13 upvotes
yabokkie

very like GX1, marketed as a high end with compromised features.
don't know if it has same capacity for deep price plunge as GX1.

0 upvotes
panos_m

If you want to be successful in bashing a camera you have to say something that is believable, something near the reality but a little uncertain or something that can be difficult to prove. Saying that GX7 has compromised features won't work. Try harder.

15 upvotes
yabokkie

should stand in user's shoes and look for them again.
then you will see more and understand more.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Raist3d

So yabokkie- what exactly are the compromised features of this camera?

3 upvotes
Impulses

Well, it does have a worse EVF than the G6, and IBIS could be more advanced... But I guess that's what the next GX model's for! Just hope Panasonic keeps the line alive.

0 upvotes
Raist3d

How does the EVF is worse than G6? (not a rhetorical question).

0 upvotes
Impulses

G6's OLED EVF suffers much less from the rainbow effect visible to some on field scanning EVF, and it's better sized for stills (vs video).

1 upvote
Raist3d

Thanks. I would have expected them about the same on that. Good to know.

0 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah

Should had a Gold Award, from what I have seen on other camera reviews.

But things are not linear in this reviews world.

17 upvotes
cornellra

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

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller

Fixed, thanks for the catch.

0 upvotes
Najinsky

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

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

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

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

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

4 upvotes
cheddargav

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

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
HelloToe

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

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

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

0 upvotes
jerrysdean43

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
Olymore

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

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

0 upvotes
Olymore

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

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

you are free to just ignore the scores

25 upvotes
Digital Suicide

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

0 upvotes
panteraaa

I always ignore the score.

1 upvote
babalu

Yes, I might ignore the scores from now on.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
1 upvote
LWW

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

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
35 upvotes
BJN

And Panasonic does the touch interface very well.

8 upvotes
alendrake

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.

12 upvotes
alendrake

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

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

4 upvotes
Treeshade

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

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

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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 upvotes
marike6

> 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: 578
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