Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 Review
Operation and controls
Like its predecessor, the FZ7 packs a wealth of features and functions into its compact body, offering everything from point-and-shoot scene modes to advanced manual photographic controls. The new joystick means that everything you need for everyday shooting gets its own external control, and of course you now get manual focus too. The challenge for designers of such sophisticated cameras is to minimize the inevitable complexity of operation resulting from offering so many options and controls. The good news is that the guys at Panasonic have learnt many lessons over the last few years, and - though you need a few days to truly master it - the FZ7 is surprisingly easy to use - and if you are a total novice there's even a friendly 'Simple' mode with fewer controls and simplified displays.
Rear of camera
All the camera's controls are placed to the right of, the new, larger 2.5-inch LCD screen.To the left of the newly-centered electronic viewfinder is the pop-up flash button, to the right the viewfinder/LCD toggle and the main power switch. Below this, to the right of the screen are the new joystick (which does away with the need for the FZ5's 'Exposure' button) and Display button (changes the amount and presentation of on-screen information. Next down is the four-way controller, now with a central 'menu / set' button. In record mode three of the four arrow keys have a single function; Quick Review (look at the last image saved), flash mode and self-timer. The top (up) arrow cycles through AE-Compensation, Flash Exposure Compensation, AE Bracketing and (if you are not using Auto White Balance) Panasonic's nifty White Balance Adjustment (a 20-step slider from more red to more blue). At the bottom is a final button used to delete images in playback mode (or in Quick Review) and to change drive mode when shooting.
Top of camera
|The top of the camera shows the slight redesign of the grip since the FZ5 - it's a smidgeon larger (and there's more finger room by the lens barrel. Also new is an AF/MF button (where the drive button was on the FZ5).|
Display and menus
No major changes here (though the menus have had a slight facelift) - and why would there be when the existing system worked so well? Of course FZ5 users will welcome the quick access to stuff like ISO offered by the new joystick, and the inclusion of a useable manual focus mode.
|The most basic preview screen in record mode is completely free of any overlays or icons. You can also, by pressing the Display button, get a simple grid to aid framing.||Half-press the shutter release and the camera will calculate exposure (AE) and focus (AF) indicating the AF area used and the aperture/shutter speed chosen. You'll also get a warning if camera shake is a danger.|
|If you want all the information, but like to see your preview without all the clutter, choose the 'out of frame' mode - designed to mimic a professional SLR viewfinder.||One more press of the display button gives you the full monty; full shooting information, plus a live histogram. The joystick now controls apertures and shutter speeds (and program shift) in manual and semi-automatic modes.|
|The biggest and most welcome change to the interface is this 'quick menu' - activated by pressing the joystick. This gives fast access to white balance, ISO, shooting size and image quality.||Pressing the 'up' arrow repeatedly cycles through Exposure compensation, Flash level, White Balance adjustment and AE Bracketing. The left/right arrows change the actual settings.|
|Manual focus - with an option to magnify the central area - is also controlled by the joystick.||The four-page record menu covers options such as white Balance, sensitivity, picture size/quality, metering and focus modes and image adjustments. It's roughly the same as the FZ5, though it's been prettied up.|
|There's a few new scenes in the SCN mode, but otherwise it's all pretty familiar.||In 'High Sensitivity' mode (one of the scene modes) you get the option to set the ISO to 800 or 1600.|
|Switching to the 'Simple' mode (indicated by a heart symbol on the mode dial) gives you a friendlier, simpler OSD with larger icons and less information.||The menus for simple mode are - naturally - much simpler, and there are far fewer options on offer to trip up the inexperienced user.|
|As when in record mode you can choose the amount of information displayed in playback mode - from nothing at all to full data and histogram (as shown here).||Moving the zoom lever to the left ('zoom out') to view nine thumbnails. New for the FZ7 is the option to view 5x5 thumbnails.|
|Another new option is a calendar type display for browsing images by date||. Moving the zoom to the right enlarges the playback image. There are only four steps (2x, 4x, 8x and 16x), but it's very quick. The four arrow keys are used to scroll around enlarged images.|
|The three page playback menu offers the usual array of printing, erasing, protecting and slideshow options.||The setup menu - accessible from either playback or record mode - has four pages of basic camera-related settings, from monitor brightness and auto review settings to power management, sounds and date and time settings.|
|Owens Valley Milky Way by ed rader|
from Sign, sign, everywhere a sign..
|Break by Hank3152|
from Motion blur
|Camp by T bird|
from A Big Year - birds
|The Maasai Shepherd by cgravel|
from - African Man - (Portrait in Black and White + A Border)
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.
Brent from ShareGrid rounds up the 10 most common products filmmakers are renting from one another for productions; chances are good you own one or more of them.
DaVinci Resolve is making strong moves to compete with Premiere and Final Cut Pro, including affordable control panels for colorists. According to Premium Beat, they're really good.
If you are not planning to fly your drone commercially you are not required to register it with the FAA anymore. This decision was handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.
Whether you're syncing a flash, wondering why banding is appearing in your image or getting strange images from your camera's silent shutter mode, the way your shutter works has a role to play. Here's what happens when you press the shutter button. Read more
William Vazquez travels all over the world documenting humanitarian work. He spoke to us about the challenges of his work, the importance of research and why a multitool and duct tape are your best friends in the field. Read more
These ten film cameras stand the test of time. They are easy to find, affordable and capable of excellent results. Read more
Photographer Aydın Büyüktaş uses a drone, 3-D rendering and Photoshop to create mind-bending landscapes.
They're offering tips for composing selfies and converting to black and white.
Whether you're seeking ultra-high resolution, first-rate autofocus or 4K video capture, there are some supremely capable 'semi-pro' cameras available. Find out which models we liked best in our updated semi-pro camera roundup. Read more
With composition specified by the director, drones may one day be able to navigate a movie set on their own.
Canon has made the previous version, 1.1.0 available for download again.
Impossible? Not if you have a fast lens and 5 stops of stabilization.
This 'strictly limited edition' is a refurbished original Polaroid 600 redesigned with a custom two-tone paint job.
Nikon today announced a reorganization of its corporate structure which will see several divisions and business units closed or merged. Read more
High school students from New York got he chance to shoot along with award-winning photojournalist Ron Haviv in Morocco.
VentureBeat reports that Monday's Surface Pro announcement will bring evolutionary updates to Microsoft's high-end Windows 10 tablet.
The Japanese Camera Journal Press Club has awarded Olympus three out of its four annual prizes after voting by photographic magazine editors and readers.
The photos are great, but whether drones should have been flying in a couple of these places is debatable.
It's not dead yet! A few years ago several high profile filmmakers convinced Kodak to keep making motion picture film. Now they need more facilities to process it.
We made a vlog about vlogging with the M6 (which we used to make the vlog).