In part 1, I gave you my opinion and rundown on the physical, ergonomic changes along with a couple of the key, new features to the GX lineup. Now, we can take a look at how this camera has evolved from a performance point of view compared to the GF1 and GX1. C’mon in for some videos and comparisons…
The body styling has changed pretty considerably in the hand, even if it doesn’t seem to stray too far from the lines of the GF1 and GX1. Simple, clean and well thought out.
As we’ve seen many times over from Panasonic and just about every other manufacturer, new models are often released that are merely warmed over versions of their predecessors. To me, this has not been the case from the GF1 > GX1 > GX7 which I see as the true line of succession. The other GF models have produced some interesting incremental upgrades, but to me, these three are really the true upgrades to, and for each other.
That said, let’s see just how they compare in a few functions that we tend to really need and use, or at least appreciate as photographers. Below are a collection of videos and images that I’ve put together. They’re not meant to be scientific or definitive, but they’re examples of how I’d use the camera, and observations along the way, so to me, they’re definitive enough for my needs. I’ll outline my process, lenses and settings used when applicable and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to answer. I love the continued conversation and always love what I learn from other’s perspectives.
AF SPEED AND ACCURACY
In the above video, I placed three targets at varying distances and exposure values which I measured with a Sekonic L-358 incident meter. The first, and closest was 3 feet away and measured in at +4.5EV, the second was 10 feet away at +2EV and the final was about 15 feet away and came in at -0.5EV. I didn’t compare the GF1 directly, but know that it is noticeably slower than the GX1. Still a fine camera, but slower in the AF department. I’m impressed, and while I don’t shoot a lot of quickly moving subjects, I would find it hard to say that this AF speed wouldn’t do for me in most situations I find myself shooting in. More than speed, I feel accuracy is the biggie. In low light, the GX7 has shown me that not only can it be decently quick, it is very accurate and for that I’m stoked.
The most impressive feat in my experience over the last couple weeks has been the ability by the GX7 to auto focus in extremely low light. I often hear people commenting on forums and the like asking why anyone would ever need to shoot at ISO 6400 or need a camera to focus in candle light… Well, I often find myself at smaller venues for live music where the EV borders on the negative, and I do need ISO 6400 and the ability to AF in very low light, so to me, this has been awesome. The above shot was taken on the GX7 with the newer Lumix 20mm f/1.7 II at ISO 6400, f/1.7 at 1/30 second which is pretty slow considering the appearance of a lot of light on stage. In reality, the metering was taken directly off the singer which I then overexposed by two thirds of a stop as I find this to allow a small amount of ambient light to creep back in giving the scene just a little detail for reference. It may not be often that a situation like this presents itself, but they do, and for me, they do more often that they do for most I’d guess. I can say that I have shot quite a bit in these situations, and I’ve not found any micro 4/3 camera that I’ve personally used to have done better than the GX7. I’ve always defaulted to my full frame and fast prime setup when shooting bands, and have even had some success with the EM5, but this GX7 has produced a new benchmark for me in the compact system camera arena. Just awesome.
I remember cringing when I needed to bump the GF1 up to ISO 1600, and whenever I did, it would require some post noise reduction. With the GX1 generation sensor, Panasonic truly increased the noise performance by about 2 stops allowing me to stay cringe free up through ISO 3200 for the most part. Below, I’ve placed 100% sized files (click on any to see them in their full size) with their respective settings on each. The exposures were the exact same, shot in RAW with the incandescent light temperature set in camera. All RAW files were processed through Adobe Camera RAW because it’s the only RAW converter (I won’t use Silkypix) that I have that will work with the GX7 files currently, so to keep it consistent, it’s how I did it. The GF1 files were shot in 3:2 while all others were 4:3 which will explain the slight variation on framing, but otherwise, exposure settings were all the same. The scene is lit by one single 60 watt incandescent bulb which was used in a reflector, where the EV measured in at 4.5 for reference (measured using that trusty Sekonic L-358 incident meter). The point of focus was the “120” on the bottom right of the Kodak 400TX box.
At lower ISO settings, the GF1 and GX1 were both entirely comparable (up to about 400) for my taste, and to save the time and space, I’ll start the GF1 and GX1 files at ISO 800 to see how they compare to the GX7. The GX7’s full range of full stops are listed below, and again click on any to see them full sized.
Comparison at ISO 800:
Comparison at ISO 1600:
Comparison at ISO 3200:
Comparison at ISO 6400:
Comparison at ISO 12,800:
And finally, the GX7 at ISO 25,600:
While the gap between the GF1 and the two GX models is significant, I am very surprised to see how well the GX1 does compared to the GX7 up through about ISO 3200 with both files looking very similar and workable for me. At ISO 6400 and up the GX7 pulls away showing me about a stop’s worth better noise performance and to be honest, the 25,600 file while noisy, has done well to maintain color accuracy and detail all things considered. I will be comparing the GX7 files against the Sony sensor in the OMD EM5 here soon, but back when I compared the Panasonic G3 (same generation as the GX1) sensor to the EM5, I found the EM5 to have about a stop on the G3 apparent above ISO 3200 or so, but from memory, the ISO 12,800 and 25,600 files from the EM5 were atrocious which basically gave me a single usable ISO setting benefit where I do think that I could use the GX7’s ISO 12,800 file if I needed that sensitivity, but time will tell as I’ll pit them back against each other here soon.
ISO125, xSYNC 1/320, 1/8000sec
Why is this important? Well, for me, the combination of ISO 125 and a 1/8000 top shutter speed is just awesome. This gives us 1 2/3 stops less sensitivity than most all previous models. Some Pana models have employed ISO 160 (the GF1 did have a native ISO 100 setting which I wish never went away) but most micro 4/3 models bottom out at ISO 200, and top off in the shutter speed category at 1/4000 second. So, why is having this a good thing? Shooting in a lot of light, while nice in ways, can be difficult to decrease your DOF, or in cases of subject motion (when you want to allow some blur), any light cutting you can accomplish in camera is really handy.
Let me paint two scenarios where this is really beneficial to me.
- 1) When shooting portraits in open shade or mid day light. I like to separate my subject from background elements much of the time, and doing so requires a larger aperture, which of course lets in more light requiring a faster shutter speed and a lower sensitivity setting. 1 2/3 stops doesn’t sound like much, but can make the difference, and would be equal to being able to shoot at f/1.4 as opposed to shooting at f/2.5 on a body that maxes at ISO200 and 1/4000sec.
- 2) Out and about in nature, I come across a stream. I like allowing an exposure of a second or more, and to do so, I need to cut as much light sensitivity as possible. ISO125 isn’t going to do it on its own, but even if I need to use an ND filter to cut light, 2/3 of a stop is the difference between 1 second and 1/3 of a second, or 1/15 sec and 1/25 sec. This may seem insignificant, but when introducing a 3 stop ND filter for instance, that 1 second vs 1/3 second difference turns into 8 seconds vs 2.5 seconds which becomes a much more substantial difference for motion.
The flash sync at 1/320 second vs the micro 4/3 standard of 1/160 second again cuts a full stop of light out which comes in handy for two things that I can think of.
- 1) While it’s not going to freeze a cheetah at full tilt, 1/320 is enough for many sports, or at least enough for a well timed shot to freeze action. Be that skate boarding or biking, the difference a stop makes can be big.
- 2) Cutting light when shooting outside and wanting to balance for ambient light is also a situation where a stop can make a pretty big difference. If I’m shooting in and trying to over power full sun, while wanting to drop the background to be underexposed for drama’s sake, I’ll take a stop anywhere I can get it.
DETAIL AND RESOLUTION
Detail and resolution charts will show graphs and the like, citing the amount of lines per picture height that a sensor is capable of resolving. I don’t do those tests, but I do appreciate those tests. What I can do, and do with my cameras is see how they look when shooting a target or controlled subject to compare how they look next to each other at high magnifications (see: pixel peeping). Below are shots straight out of each camera after using my best manual focusing technique with a 200% crop to show detail in each. I used the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 lens stopped down to f/2.8 because it is largely regarded as the sharpest lens for the system, and it happened to be sitting right next to me. Click on any to see a larger version.
While there may be a slight variance on my manual focusing technique, I did take multiple shots with each camera to give myself a sample size from which to choose. These are examples of the best I could get these to focus with the Oly 75mm. To my eye, all are acceptable, but the GX7 is noticeably sharper.
Here are three successive shots from the GX7, the GX1 and the GF1, all shot under identical conditions and at identical settings. For this shot, I used the Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4 lens on all three cameras. The target was an 8.5″ x 8.5″ sheet, shot three feet away. Point of focus was the center of the larger circle. Shot and converted from RAW files as above in the ISO test. Click to see full sized file.
As far as the chart goes, all seem to do a fine job at resolving detail, even in the corner. The center of the circle shows some moire, but take into consideration that the “black dot” in the center of the image measures in at 1/16″ or roughly 1.5mm, from three feet (.914m) away Some may say a lack of increased detail through the generations, but I’d say it started off great and has kept that resolution without increasing any artifacts through over sharpening which can be an issue with higher resolution sensors in the same format by comparison.
I’ve really enjoyed the micro 4/3 system, and having shot with various Panasonic and Olympus cameras over the last 4 years, I feel very comfortable and familiar with them. While I still feel there is room for improvement in certain areas, I do feel that the system offers a lot in a compact package. The GX7 is an evolutionary balance of size and performance, just what the system has always promised, and that promise has been delivered upon in spades. A fully featured compact system cam that with the 20mm or 14mm pancake can fit into a pocket. Watching how the quality has grown over the last few years as well has been fascinating.
Here are what I see as the Pros and Cons as far as the GX7 is concerned and taking into consideration what else has been and is available for the micro 4/3 system.
- Compact yet full featured with external access to key adjustments
- UI and menus are simple, streamlined and logical
- EVF is high quality, and while the tilt is strange, being able to tilt by even 15% or so to keep your nose off the screen is cool.
- Touch interface is better than any camera I’ve used
- AF/MF switch is just straight up handy
- Focus Peaking is well implemented and the sensitivity is adjustable (and available in all shooting modes, not just Auto)
- WiFi is more handy than I thought it would be and is easily set up
- 1/320sec sync, 1/8000 max shutter speed and ISO 125 are all very nice and handy upgrades
- AF is very fast, and accurate in staggeringly low light
- Color fidelity to my eye is far more true than the Sony sensor
- IBIS is very nice and hopefully included in every Pana body from here out
- The grip is just the right size for my large hands
- Good video options
- Battery life certainly should be better by this point, not as horrible as the OMD EM5, but not near the GF1’s endurance
- Weather sealing would be nice at this price point
- While solid, it is a bit hollow feeling compared to the OMD EM5 or Pen series
- The DISP (display) button is placed directly under where you place your thumb which may lead to inadvertently changing your screen
- I’m still wanting to see a hybrid AF system throughout the m4/3 landscape… until then the universal usefulness and “pro” labels will be questioned from various angles
- While I personally can live without an external mic input, I can see why many are upset at its exclusion, and the lack of IBIS in video is ridiculous, c’mon firmware update!
As far as features, the integrated EVF is wonderful, IBIS a welcome inclusion, the focus peaking is well implemented and the WiFi is one of those features that give you wireless control through existing tools (assuming you own a modern phone) which is remarkably handy in various situations (studio, event, wild life, sport shooting, selfies, etc.) That the sensor has incrementally progressed as well is icing. It’s not a quantum leap (as perhaps the Old Oly to Sony sensor was), but it has continued to get a little better in a couple areas while not introducing some of the short falls that some sensors can introduce. The video is nice as is normally the case with Panasonic, but the intentional hampering of the mic input and IBIS in video is just odd. I know that these newer cameras pull a lot of juice with IBIS, high res screens and EVF’s and the like, but seriously, the battery life needs to do better, OR stop charging $50-75 per battery and offer them at a reasonable price. My suggestion? $25 for a battery, no more, done.
The $100 price drop is nice for those who’ve not yet bought one (thanks Panasonic for screwing your fervent supporters/pre-orderers/early adopters). While we expect price drops 6 months in or so, the near immediate drop screams that you had this camera priced too high and you knew it. Feel free to compensate those of us with a gift certificate or discount on Panasonic goods… 🙂
You can now get the GX7 just about everywhere. Hit the links below to see them at B&H:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 (silver body only) $898 at B&H
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 (silver w/14-42 kit) $998 at B&H
All things considered, this is a great camera that offers photographers almost everything you need. While environmental sealing would have been nice, I’ve only ever owned one interchangeable lens system camera (out of dozens) that has been “sealed” and I live in a very, very wet place. I’ve never had an issue even shooting in a downpour and have always found ways to work around it, or not been too bothered by a little moisture. Still though, at this price, it should be included for the “top of the line” compact body in my opinion.
Next up will be my comparison between the GX7 and the OMD EM5. Has the Panasonic offering come far enough to outbid the quirky EM5 for my undying love? Stay tuned to find out 🙂 Follow on Twitter, Facebook or enter your email at the top right of the page to receive alerts when new articles post.
Finally, here are a few snaps from the last two weeks with the GX7.
GX7 + Oly 75mm f/1.8
GX7 + PL 25mm f/1.4
GX7 + Oly 75mm f/1.8
GX7 + PL 25mm f/1.4
GX7 + Oly 75mm f/1.8
GX7 + PL 25mm f/1.4
Thanks all and happy shooting,
Really nice review and wonderful photos at the end! Boy, the GX1 holds up better than I thought it would. There is one here locally ‘like new’ for $180…might be a good buy to just paste my 14mm to the front…a poor mans Ricoh GR =). The GX7 really looks great but a little tough to justify the price for me with an E-M5 still in the house. Thanks for the review and have a great weekend.
Yeah, IQ wise, the GX1 holds up really well I feel. For $180, as long as it’s in good shape, that is a steal! The EM5 and GX7 are much more closely related as far as features go though. The IBIS, AF speed, EVF, tiltable LCD, and then the other bells and whistles that the other doesn’t have, make for a pretty compelling discussion.
I am a great fan of mFT and I have been using it since the GF1 . I also have the GX7 and GH3 and had the gx1 .Sadly I simply do not see a two stop advantage comparing the GX7 to the GF1 let alone the GX1 .Did you actually look at the images you posted. With regards to high ISO the GF1 was simply atrocious the current gen are merely terrible , this is unimportant to me as I so seldom use high ISO. The sensor performance of mFT has advanced very slowly and is if anything further behind the best APS than it started
thanks for the comment. I do feel that the GF1 at ISO 800 has a similar s:n to the GX7 at ISO 3200, but where I do feel the GX7 has gone even further is its color fidelity which is the best I’ve seen yet in a m4/3 camera.
Now that I’ve been able to shoot the GX7 more extensively, I will say that I feel I’m able to get very usable shots at ISO 3200 with very similar performance in post processing as the GF1’s ISO 800 files. I’m also shooting RAW, so I can’t really speak to the JPEG performance, but I’d hope that the newer processors and sensors are at least 2 stops better in noise, fidelity and resolution.
I do think that the generations have made very slight steps to get to where they are over the last 4-5 years, but I do feel they are substantially better at responding to and handling post work. Another area I feel the newer Pana sensors, especially the GX7 has shown growth compared to the GF1 is in dynamic range. Again, not a huge difference, but I’d say perhaps a stop if I had to guess and I see it especially in the upper end/highlights of the red channel making recovery of nearly blown highlights much more possible and truer to real skin tones.
I’d love to hear if you’ve seen much of a difference or had a different experience.
Will you be doing a full test/review of the EM-1 anytime soon???
Unless Olympus, or B&H ask me to, I don’t think I’ll have an opportunity to unfortunately. I would love to give it a test run though.
Great Saturday morning read Tyson. Those shots from the last week look fantastic! Great in depth review and nice video, really added to the page. I’m insanely impressed with how the gx1 stood up against the gx7 and damn glad i have one now. (going to play with it today). The gx7 seems remarkable and the low light shooting impresses me no end, i find myself shooting low light more often than id like living in England which I’m sure shares weather similarities (cloudy, wet,grey etc) with Portland. It these places where great low light technology really pays off. I know everyone has to shoot at night but that’s a different battle compared low daylight. Sorry to rant, i look forward to seeing the head to head with the em5.
P.s thanks for the lowlight work with the gx1, i appreciate it!
You bet Chris! I was impressed with the G3 and then very happy to pick up a GX1 when the prices plummeted. Still a great cam with a great sensor, especially if shooting in RAW as there is very little difference to any of the current m4/3 sensors. I think the newer generations of processors have done a little bit to help distance the newer cams and sell “upgrades” but for all intents and purposes, I think the GX1 is still a huge amount of bang for the buck.
Yeh i’m loving it so far. The 14-42x lens isnt all that great but I think the 20mm has spoilt me no end. Now cant make up my mind if I’m ok with the lens 14-42x) or not! good grief it never ends. I must get an LVF2 though. i Can deal without the moving screen but sometime I like to have an evf to peer through. However, im loving the Gx1 and its feels great in my hand.
The GX7 would be perfect for me I feel. Best start saving up!
In the mean time, the GX1 will serve you well 🙂
Looking forward to the em5 comparison, the Internet is crying out for an ibis face off if you have the time and effort!
IBIS is on the agenda 🙂
great review, tyson! the gx-7 ticks an awful lot of boxes and i think even the right ones 😉
from your video i get the impression that focusing might even be a tiny bit faster than on my e-p5. thanks for sharing!
Thanks! It’s certainly fast enough for me and in good light it really is very quick to lock. Tracking on the other hand…
tracking seems to be another story. i tried it with the e-p5 and i could not even track a pedestrian reliably so i guess it must be at least in part be me…
but i have to admit i don’t even have an idea where tracking would help me with my style of shooting 😉
I think that tracking is just an achilles heel of the contrast based AF as it can’t do 3 dimensional movement well or consistently, especially (in my experience) when that movement is toward or away from the camera directly. I know that there are shooters who have done really well with the micro 4/3 system when shooting quick paced activities and the like, but when hearing how they’ve set the camera up, it has always seemed to me to be a situation where they’ve gotten used to working with the shortcomings as opposed to a simple setting or two whereas in many current cams with phase detection AF, you can switch it to AF Servo/Tracking and it does noticeably better, out of the box as it were.
Not a deal breaker for me in any way, but I would certainly find it harder to justify a mirrorless system that didn’t have a really good hybrid AF setup versus a more traditional DSLR if I did shoot sports or birds, et al.
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Good to see more about the GX7! I’m interested in how it compares to my GH3 and my Olympus E-5. I had an Olympus E-M1 in hand Thursday, so I can see that a lot of micro Four-Thirds is changing for the better.
I have a love-hate relationship with the GH3 in gyms. The other night, I was photographing volleyball, and the purple uniforms were blue in the EVF. Not a huge deal but disconcerting. The Auto White Balance will shift from shot to shot, so obviously, I need to set it at each event. If what I’m reading is correct, that isn’t really a problem with the GX7.
The GH3 photos are fine at ISO 3200 and below but I mostly just trash everything at higher sensitivities. “Gotta have” photos had better be impressive in some way or another for me to keep. Hopefully, the GH3 replacement will incorporate the GX7 improvements you have mentioned.
Oh, and the continuous AF problems? I’ve managed to work around them, shooting cross country fairly well somehow.
I was very tempted by the GH3, just as I seem to be intrigued by the EM-1, but I’m still at a place with the micro 4/3 system where my main priority is size reduction. If and when I eventually ditch my full framers, the larger, pro spec’d bodies will come into play for me. If I could get my hands on a GH3, I’d happily run it through it’s paces comparatively vs the GX7, or at least as far as my shooting style goes… (*anyone in Portland with a GH3? I’ll trade for the day 🙂 )
The AWB on the GX7 seems to vary, just as any other camera I have does when trying to balance from frame to frame, but with a preset locked in (the incandescent for instance on the ISO test) I’m pretty amazed at how consistent it is throughout the entire ISO range. Pretty amazing, and this is a great thing for anyone who does shoot auto ISO for sure. Better than most any camera I can remember shooting with in this regard.
I’m planning on doing some high ISO stuff with the GX7 and EM5, and doing a before and after with a noise reduction plugin just to see how usable the files would, or could be.
I’d certainly be interested in hearing your AF approach to tracking. For me, with moving subjects, I have gotten the best results from Single AF, pre-focusing and just timing my shots. Bursts are a different story.
I recently used the GH3 and 35-100mm f/2.8 for a cross country meet where it’s a bit darker, since the Olympus E-5 always struggles. I did the estimates and had focus set before the runners arrived, similar to car racing. Burst mode or single shots, my success rate was good, and not much of that nasty blur from being too dark or too slow. Of course, I threw out some as the body had shifted to ISO 5000 or 6400.
The GH3 is incredibly comfortable and relatively intuitive, especially compared to the E-M1. The stills image quality is not as good as it should be but it doesn’t suck, either. The E-M1 was the least intuitive of any Olympus body I’ve ever used and the shutter release was mushy.
That has been my personal fear for the EM1 after my time with the EM5. I do hope the Pana/Fuji relationship starts bearing sensor based fruit in the next generation of sensors.
Nice series on the GX7! It really looks like an all-around winner! After reading the first installment… and lots of other stuff… I pulled the trigger and expect delivery of one soon.
I completely agree about ISO125 and 1/8000 shutter speed. It’ll be fantastic with fast lenses like the Voigtländer Trinity!
How do you find shooting with longer lenses, like the Oly 75mm, and the offset viewfinder/lens arrangement? I do a lot of macro shooting and it seems it may be a bit odd, since I’m used to the SLR/DSLR vertical lens to VF alignment. Have you tried it with the 100-300mm?
Thanks man. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed, unless you try and bring the GX7 in the shower or something 😉
The 125/x320/8000 bumps are really an understated boon. While I do wish they’d figure out ISO 100 again, it’s still very useful and I’ve already benefited many, many times from being able to use the ISO 125 with 1/8000 combo. With the Voigts, that 1 2/3 stops is going to be very handy.
The offset EVF takes a little getting used to, for me especially as I’ve always favored my left eye (which is better than my right). But.. that said, one thing that I do really like is being able to tilt the EVF up just a little bit, use my left eye and it actually centers the camera/lens more on axis to what I’m facing if that makes sense, and keeps my nose off the screen. I do need to ever so slightly tilt my head down to compensate, but I’m getting more comfortable shooting that way. When I’ve used my right eye, it’s just a slightly different feel, but I’ve also enjoyed keeping my left eye open in certain situations which allows me to kind of track stuff, or see the framing differently. Again, has taken me some getting used to, but for all the weirdness, I’ve actually found it to be pretty beneficial and remarkably diverse.
I have shot quite a bit with the 75, and a little with the 100-300. The 75 does well, and I’ve had no problems viewing through the EVF, or balancing that I didn’t or haven’t had with the EM5. The 100-300 is a little bit more imbalanced, but after getting used to it, (mostly the lighter, smaller body of the GX7 compared to the EM5) I was feeling just fine with it as well.
Cheers and enjoy!
According to the operating manual, which is on the Web at http://tda.panasonic-europe-service.com/docs/2z52521268z3z39ac3z656ez706466z22z4701a2884e50352d9aded632be23ca8cad4d7ab4/tsn3/data/ALL/DMCGX7EB/OI/911693/vqt5b27.pdf, “If you set the shutter speed to [B], the shutter stays open while the shutter button is pressed fully (up to about 120 seconds).” [page 95]
This implies that the longest possible exposure is only about 2 minutes. That would mean no star trails or very low light photos. Could you check this out to see if you can take a longer exposure – like a couple hours (just kidding). Maybe something like 5 minutes would be sufficient.
Thanks so much for your ongoing review of the GX-7. I’m looking forward to your comparison with the EM-5.
I’d never thought about it, but unfortunately I’m only able to get 128 second exposures in bulb, consistently. I’ve tried a couple times both on camera and via the wifi app, same result. Maybe a hack or fw update will come our way, although personally I’ve never shot anything longer than about a minute… but now you have me thinking 🙂
Thanks for experimenting Tyson. Hard to believe Panasonic put a time limit on bulb exposures.
Very nicely done review Tyson. I cannot see that I will be trading in my G3 anytime soon, but someday.
Thanks Steve! I do think that the GX7 is kind of like a G3/5/6 on steroids with the new features, but hasn’t done a ton from what I’ve seen to make huge strides in IQ, which isn’t a horrible thing seeing that the IQ from the sensors of the last two years are still very competitive.
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I’ve had the GX7 for a few days now, I’d say I have normal size hands and my thumb falls between the ae-lock button and the rear wheel. I’ve not been able to hit the display button while holding it there even if I try. Holding it with my thumb directly on the display button results in an awkward grip and I cannot hold the camera safely.
Good to know Owen. My thumb/finger pad from the top knuckle joint up to the tip measures about 1.5″ and there just isn’t enough room on most of these cameras for my large paws. I’ve begun to adjust my grip, resting my thumb almost directly on the rear dial with my thumb essentially curling over the top and onto the mode dial. Not ideal, but it works. The OMD EM5 has a more cramped button layout on the back, but it does have the raised thumb rest which I find to be nice, and wish Pana would implement something similar.
Hi Tyson, much enjoyed your review. Can you comment on a few items? One: there’s already a firmware upgrade 1.1 and the camera is only out for a week. What’s that about? Also, the electronic shutter is supposed to eliminate shutter shock, much like the Olympus 1.8 sec delay antishock feature, but without the delay. Any idea whether this is effective? and finally, any comment on the oft-heard critique of panasonic JPEG’s being cooler that olympus, which has been more vibrant and warmer in the past.
The FW update was released before I’d even received the camera 3 weeks ago or so. From my understanding it was to remedy a couple odd electronic quirks as is often the case with newly released cameras, and personally, I applaud companies that immediately remedy these issues as all cameras have them to some extent and the more rapid the response, the more honest I think. I immediately updated the firmware when I received the camera and have not had any problems personally, although I would like to see Panasonic update things like IBIS in video through a FW update soon 🙂
The electronic shutter, and further the silent mode is awesome. I’ve not witnessed the “shutter shock” issue that has been talked about with the EP5 or whichever cameras, but there is always the possibility of the shutter mechanism causing slight vibrations, especially in slower shutter speeds, so this is a very welcomed feature. I doubt I’ll use it a ton, but when needed it is great to have.
About the JPEG rendering, I wouldn’t say “cooler” but certainly more muted to my eye. I think that the Panasonic defaults take a more conservative tack, which I don’t mind personally as I can always add saturation, contrast or a bump in temperature, and conversely you could certainly dial down the Oly default presets as well. I shoot RAW though, so I’m not really too bothered one way or the other with JPEGs 🙂
Thanks for the comment Michael!
Nice review, Tyson. So now that you’ve put the GX7 through its paces, I just have one final question (which, admittedly, is a rather subjective one) — is it a ‘keeper’? Are you going to keep it and make it part of your normal daily photographic arsenal?
Absolutely. Not to ruin anything with the comparison post between this and the EM5, but the GX7 is just about perfect for me. It’s not as good in ways to other cameras, and is better in others, but all around it is a wonderful camera that I’m very happy to have, although I’m a little pissed that Panasonic had priced it high, then immediately dropped it down. That’s a little suspect in my opinion. If the camera is a $900 camera, put it there and don’t try and gouge. I do feel that to really stay competitive, the micro 4/3 system is going to have to be very aggressive on camera body pricing and I feel that $900 for the GX7 is just that. $1000 is the top end for the feature set IMO, but $900 is a value for all that it offers.
after a few weeks now of playing…..
the GX7 is a step up in Image Quality if you need to push the ISO, if you shoot in the ISO 100-400 range then well you have to want the built in view finder, much better AF, better grip….
I’m not wholly convinced by the viewfinder. I need to compare it more to the viewfinder in the G5 and the add on to the GX1. in some light I think it does worse in others better. the screen is much better though.
never used the olympus 5 axis stabilisation but that in the GX7 works so a plus point for me.
overall its a better camera than the other pannies I’ve used for me a worthwhile upgrade…..
for the future? Panasonic really must go down the PDAF route for continuous autofocus.
amusingly I was looking at some pics from the GF1 with the 20 f1.7 and 45f2.8 and in good light that camera took some cracking pics
Thanks for the insight Pete.
The EVF is one of the things I’m looking at comparing between the GX7 and EM5. The IBIS in the Oly is pretty amazing, not just for still shots, but through the viewfinder and on screen which I feel provides a far more “stable” view for composition. As to the results, I’ve not seen a huge difference as the Panasonic IBIS has done well as far as the finished shot.
Love the telephone pole shot, so cool!
Hello, new to the whole comlex camera scene, did research and was in NYC B and H store, they helped me and now I am excited with my new GX7 and really want to learn the ins and outs!
-any book, blog, web site you recommend that I can learn about all the different aspects of photography at this level?
-What type of telephoto lens would recommend for sports/bird/nature photos with this camera
-can you recommend a good case/bag as well…looking at one i can take on my road bike here in Sonoma county, and lloked at saddlebag type of carriers as well.
Welcome to the wonderful world of micro 4/3!
As far as learning, there are quite a few sites but I’ve always preferred a good book. One I’d suggest is “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson. I also have a few tutorials on this page: https://tysonrobichaudphotography.wordpress.com/tutorials/
Check out the “exposure trifecta” post for a basic intro.
Regarding tele lenses for the system, currently in a proprietary mount, the longest and fastest (at that focal length) is the Panasonic 100-300 f/4-5.6 and for the price is pretty great. The bigger challenge for birding or the like will be focus accuracy when tracking, but you may be able to employ a decent manual focus technique with the peaking function on the GX7 if and when you come across a situation where the AF struggles. I reviewed the 100-300 here:
There are a couple other lenses fort he system that will give you some reach, but none will get you to f/5.6 at 300mm which luckily in these situations is a 600mm equivalent field of view! Not too shabby. Any longer any you may need to adapt other lenses which is another cool aspect of this system. I use an older Canon FD 400mm f/4.5 which is fun, but also needs to be manually focused. I had written an article on adapted lenses a few years ago which largely got my blog going. You can see a few more examples here:
As far as bags, there are so many out there. I’ve preferred to use existing shoulder bags (usually far more affordable if they’re not “camera” bags) and then add either foam/Velcro inserts from an old bag that I’ve adapted, or buy something like this:
Hopefully this gives you a bit to help, but really just experiment and when you come up against a particular challenge, google it and I’m sure you’ll have a plethora of info presented for you 🙂
Cheers and enjoy!
Thanks so much…now to my homework!
I feel like homework has such a negative stigma, maybe fun time research 🙂
thank! i loved your review.
What ISO is about pics of bottle?
Thanks! All three were shot at ISO 200.
Thank for your reply.
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“The flash sync at 1/320 second vs the micro 4/3 standard of 1/160 second again cuts a full stop of light out which comes in handy for two things that I can think of.
1) While it’s not going to freeze a cheetah at full tilt, 1/320 is enough for many sports, or at least enough for a well timed shot to freeze action. Be that skate boarding or biking, the difference a stop makes can be big.
2) Cutting light when shooting outside and wanting to balance for ambient light is also a situation where a stop can make a pretty big difference. If I’m shooting in and trying to over power full sun, while wanting to drop the background to be underexposed for drama’s sake, I’ll take a stop anywhere I can get it.”
The above statement doesn’t make much sense. I shoot a lot of strobe and don’t think they are true.
1) If you are going to use flash as main at night, the flash will freeze the motion. You actually drag the shutter to take in more ambient light. Maybe you’re into a different kind of shooting, but I never found a need for fast sync speed useful in nighttime shooting and I honestly can’t think of one.
2) Yes, the only situation where high sync speed will matter is when it is used as fill in daylight. But even at 1/320, you are not going to overpower the sun with a shoe-on flash. No way. You’ll need a camera with a leaf shutter that can go 1/2000 or 1/4000 (like Fuji X100), and then you can match or overpower the sun a bit. With a FP shutter camera like GX7, you need massive external strobe like Alien Bee, and with massive strobe, it doesn’t really matter if it’s 1/160, 1/250 or 1/320.
I think you’ve misread my initial statement.
1) I’m not talking about night time shooting, nor did I mention it at all. The first point is about motion. If you’ve ever shot skateboarding, biking, etc, and use strobes, using 1/160 can often cause ghosting due to subject movement. While the strobe, if balanced properly, will help freeze the motion at the point of exposure, if the shutter speed isn’t fast enough, you can get ghosting either in front of the motion (in first curtain) or behind (in second curtain) which can be frustrating as it can look like an image is out of focus, depending on the direction of motion.
2) I’m certainly not talking about using the on camera flash, and absolutely mean this statement to be about how I shoot outdoors in full sun, which I mean to say incorporate actual strobes (AB’s, et al) and I wouldn’t consider an Alien Bee “massive” and certainly not very expensive as they’re cheaper than most proprietary, high powered shoe flashes. 1/320 at f/11 and ISO 125 will do quite a bit to kill sunlight/ambient, or at least bring it down a lot. I could even get away with shooting at f/8 in this scenario essentially, where if my max sync is 1/160, and my base ISO is 200 for instance, I’d need to stop the lens down to f/20 to gain the same exposure as I would in the above scenario at f/11. You can begin to see where this helps to A) have more control over the DOF, and B) better avoid diffraction. Add ND filters to further decrease your DOF and add stop for stop with your strobes and you’re golden.
You don’t NEED to use the max sync speed, and often when shooting in low light/night/shows, etc, I will drag the shutter, sometimes up to a second for effect. They’re all just tools, and the more available, the more diverse the skill set of any particular camera.
Thanks for the clarification. It makes sense.
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Mr Robichaud! I only went and picked myself up a GX7 in Black. I opted for the 14-42mm as I want to keep my 20mm MK1 and build up the lens collection a bit. The new standard kit lens is tiny compared to the old one and feel its going to be nice to have on me in case I need a bit of wide or a touch of zoom without going crazy. I should be able to claim a free 45-150mm lens as that’s the deal Panasonic are rocking at the moment so thatll be a great bonus. Thanks again for your in depth reviews here as they made me take the plunge. I cant wait to play around with this, having taken a few shots it feels insanely superior over the GX1, G5 and G3 I have used previously. So many buttons and switches and dials!!!! I’ll throw my wrist strap on as soon as I get in too!
Cheers man, hope alls well
Congrats man. I still feel it’s the best overall camera out there for this system. It has a bit of everything (aside from weather sealing) and does everything really well. It’s intuitive and the IQ is great. Enjoy it man, can’t wait to hear how you get on with it!
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