Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Review
Handling and Shooting Experience
The G7 does its best to behave and feel like a DSLR. It features two well-placed control dials and has generally positioned all its switches and buttons in positions where they can be reached when you have the camera to your eye. Details such as the focus mode switch and drive mode dial would be more at home on a mid-level DSLR than an entry-level camera.
|Lumix G Vario 14-42/F3.5-5.6 II
Brightened and contrast adjusted in Adobe Camera Raw to make the most of the camera's dynamic range. Exposure +1.25EV, Shadows 100, Highlights -52, deep shadows lowered with tone curve.
However, the in-camera 'iDynamic Mode' did a good job of getting close to this result without any additional processing. Click here to see the out-of-camera version.
On top of this, the G7 tries to extend this experience in a way that a DSLR can't easily match: it lets you use the rear touchscreen to quickly position the AF point even with the camera held up to your face. This is really well designed and lets you choose whether to position the AF point where you press or to move the point, based on which direction you swipe (though the larger screen on the G7 means that, as a left-eye shooter, my nose will sometimes move the AF point).
Equally, its mirrorless design means that the camera behaves in exactly the same way whether you're shooting through the viewfinder or with the rear LCD: there's no change in performance, no change in user interface appearance and no change in the functions you can access - making it a more coherent experience.
The net result is a camera that will be fairly easy to learn for anyone who's previously shot with a DSLR, but that doesn't take too muich additional learning to use for video shooting (it's the conceptual challenges of composing for movement and thinking in terms of video shutter speeds that are likely to be more of a hurdle than the technological or user interface challenges the G7 presents). However, this risks looking rather over-complicated to anyone not already used to shooting in aperture priority mode, for example.
So, just as the G7 looks and behaves like a scaled-down DSLR (or perhaps a scaled-down GH4), so its shooting experience will make more sense to someone who already knows how to take control of a camera, or someone who wants to learn, rather than the first-time ILC buyer.
|By default, the camera has three tabs down the right of the screen.
One of these lets you select an image processing effect, the middle one gives control over exposure settings.
Finally, the Fn tab contains up to five user definable custom functions.
However, Panasonic has possibly got a little carried away with the number of on-screen custom buttons that the camera offers. There are three on-screen tabs of functions, which can be a little bewildering. Unless I was trying to do something really complicated, I often found it easier to disengage the touch-screen Fn buttons. Equally, I'm not sure the camera needs its (increasingly dated looking) Q.Menu, in the light of how many custom buttons are available (though the customizable version can at least be pared-back to only include the features you want access to).
Despite the G7's tendency towards complexity, it lacks a couple of the more basic functions that can be really useful on some of its rivals. Given its occasional shake, it would be really useful to be able to zoom in to the chosen focus point in playback mode, to check focus and shake, sadly this is something this is absent.
Where the G7 really shines, though, is for video. The inclusion of focus peaking (to aid manual focus) and zebra (for assessing over-exposure), plus the flip-out screen, make it relatively easy to shoot good-quality 4K (UHD) or 1080 footage and the on-screen touch controls are well suited to the task. The 4K capability is also utilized to offer a 'catch-the-moment' stills mode called '4K Photo' mode, with the G7's being the most advanced implimentation we've yet encountered.
Auto ISO behavior
The G7 offers two Auto ISO modes: Auto ISO and iISO. Auto ISO is a very simple implementation: it doesn't let you specify a shutter speed (or relationship to focal length) at which the camera will increase the ISO setting but does let you choose an upper ISO limit. iISO is a little more clever: it doesn't allow any user input beyond setting the upper limit, instead trying to detect movement in the scene and increases the ISO to ensure a suitable shutter speed is used.
Auto ISO is available in manual exposure mode but the camera won't let you use exposure comp to specify how bright the image should be. Auto ISO is only available for video when shooting in P, A or S modes (so there's no way of setting your shutter speed and aperture, then getting the camera to maintain brightness).
We've been really impressed with the G7's autofocus. The camera can continuously autofocus at up to 6 frames per second (or 8 if you switch to electronic shutter mode). It also offers really impressive subject tracking and continuous autofocus - a simple tap on the screen is often enough to get the camera to fairly doggedly follow something around the frame, meaning it's realistic to specify the subject you want tracked. This is amongst the best performance in this class - in terms of both mirrorless and DSLR.
If you shoot with the mechanical shutter, you can choose whether to shoot in high speed or medium speed burst mode. High speed offers 8fps with single autofocus or 6 with continuous AF, but no live view between shots. Switching to medium mode continues to offer 6fps but now with live view, meaning you get a much clearer idea of what the camera is tracking.
The electronic shutter mode tries to offer 8 fps shooting with continuous autofocus but in our testing this appears to be a step too far for the camera: the tracking seemed to get confused/distracted more easily and we ended up with fewer shots focused on the correct subject. Dropping to the 6fps medium mode performs very similarly to the Mechanical shutter option, but with the risk of rolling shutter effects with fast lateral movement.
Generally our recommended settings for continuous shooting would be: E-shutter off, Focus Priority, Burst Rate medium (since you still get 6fps but gain live view between shots). Sadly the G7's buffer will only allow for around 13 Raw images to be shot in a burst, so we'd tend to recommend shooting JPEG-only.
|Autumn by valenttin|
from Harvest Festivals
|Cardinal, Male by paul katinas|
from A Big Year - birds
|.. by Amar Vignesh|
from Unintentional Blur
|Sir Mick Jagger by HetFotoAtelier|
from - Concerts : When The Lights Come On -
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