Compact and competent

Started Feb 27, 2016 | User reviews
rurikw
rurikw Veteran Member • Posts: 3,231
Compact and competent
3

Bought it used for 330€. As an object I find this camera immensely satisfying. It's a small, well crafted and dense chunk of metal where every square and cubic cm is put to good use. Very logical, no frills, no nonsense. Of course the switch from Sony R1's superb ergonomics to more cramped quarters has taken some getting used to, but I quickly came to like the GX7 and catch myself every day casting admiring glances at it. (My trusty old R1 has been resting on the shelf since I got this 8 months ago). The coolest new (to me) features are magnified view for manual and pinpoint focusing and this shimmering stuff, whose name I keep forgetting. The display and EVF are much bigger and more detailed than on the R1. On the downside, lack of live view highlight warning (zebra on the R1) and display turning around only 1 axis are clear downgrades but I have missed them much less than I expected. Which is proven by the fact that I haven't bothered with wi-fi yet (which is how you overcome the limited display movement).

What's surprised me most is the grain you can see in the files. While that sounds like a negative because obviously it's noise, it doesn't look it. Maybe because at 200 ISO it's almost purely luminance noise and is to photos a bit like the structure of fine grained aquarelle or drawing paper to water color painting or drawing. I have a Sigma DP3M as well so I know what a perfect file looks like, yet I don't have much of a problem with this. Nor with my iPhone 4S which at its best gives a similar look with slightly coarser grain. OK, let's not beat around the bush, it looks like film grain! Now that I got that out of my system: gain in ISO from R1 is maybe only one stop and from ISO 400 up chroma noise sets in as well, so definitely M43 is not the best for low light handheld, but that's not my cup of tea. The occasional noisy skies are easily taken care of: choose the blues with magic wand and denoise power 5. While the Sigma (that's one bench mark camera!) shows low contrast detail I didn't know was there, GX7 faithfully records what I have seen (at ISO 200 at least) and that's enough. Which means what's been repeated ad nauseam: the M43 system strikes a balance between IQ and portability that's very right for very many, me for one. And did I mention the other truism, the great diversity of lenses, many of which combine low cost with high quality.

 rurikw's gear list:rurikw's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 5000 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Sigma DP1 Merrill Sigma DP2 Merrill Sigma DP3 Merrill +28 more
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
16 megapixels • 3 screen • Four Thirds sensor
Announced: Aug 1, 2013
rurikw's score
4.0
Average community score
4.2
bad for good for
Kids / pets
okay
Action / sports
unrated
Landscapes / scenery
good
Portraits
good
Low light (without flash)
mediocre
Flash photography (social)
unrated
Studio / still life
good
= community average
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Sigma DP3 Merrill
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SC489 Senior Member • Posts: 1,285
Re: Compact and competent

I don't see any obvious noise from my GX7  in normal shooting conditions. Are you shooting in RAW mode and what RAW processor are you using? I've only seen obvious noise in very low level light at high ISO settings. In that case I use DXO Optics Pro Prime noise reduction which does a pretty good job in reducing the noise.

 SC489's gear list:SC489's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Mega OIS +4 more
rurikw
OP rurikw Veteran Member • Posts: 3,231
Re: Compact and competent

SC489 wrote:

I don't see any obvious noise from my GX7 in normal shooting conditions. Are you shooting in RAW mode and what RAW processor are you using? I've only seen obvious noise in very low level light at high ISO settings. In that case I use DXO Optics Pro Prime noise reduction which does a pretty good job in reducing the noise.

At ISO 200 it really requires pixel peeping at 100% so is largely irrelevant except maybe for the occasional noisy sky which can easily be taken care of. Not sure what size of print it would show up in. I shoot raw and process in ACR>Photoshop CS4. In camera noise reduction should be at lowest setting, only can't find it right now (not sure it affects raw anyway). I have tried DxO and while it handles noise very nicely and certainly better than I can with PS, it doesn't read RW2 or DNG files (the free version that is) so I'd need to convert to tif first but haven't got around to try that. My take on noise is from a 3 week trip to Hong Kong where I tried to get acquainted with the GX7 and shot in all kinds of different conditions and made lots of mistakes with exposure and learned that ETTR is the way to go. I did get some quite OK pics at ISO 1600 but wouldn't like to go any higher. Whether noise is a problem very much depends on the subject. Busy scenes with lots of high contrast detail look fine. Faces seem to suffer most. Back home I am in no hurry and can use a tripod so the noise issue is irrelevant for most of what I do. Don't want to make a big issue of the noise - it's not that bad - but if I did lots of low light people stuff I would probably go for a Sony A7 to be on the safe side.

 rurikw's gear list:rurikw's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 5000 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Sigma DP1 Merrill Sigma DP2 Merrill Sigma DP3 Merrill +28 more
Trevor Carpenter
Trevor Carpenter Forum Pro • Posts: 17,404
Re: Compact and competent

SC489 wrote:

I don't see any obvious noise from my GX7 in normal shooting conditions. Are you shooting in RAW mode and what RAW processor are you using? I've only seen obvious noise in very low level light at high ISO settings. In that case I use DXO Optics Pro Prime noise reduction which does a pretty good job in reducing the noise.

I see blue sky noise on my GX7 and G7 at low ISOs 400.  I also get some nose on backgrounds in my bird shots,  The latter especially is not what I would call bad noise.  It rarely affects the primary subject and in some cases I even like the affect.  It's easy to clean in both cases but it definitely exists.

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 Trevor Carpenter's gear list:Trevor Carpenter's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic G85 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S +1 more
SC489 Senior Member • Posts: 1,285
Re: Compact and competent

"I have tried DxO and while it handles noise very nicely and certainly better than I can with PS, it doesn't read RW2 or DNG files"

I have a GX7 and the current version of DXO Optics Pro handles those files fine.

 SC489's gear list:SC489's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Mega OIS +4 more
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