I haven’t written anything about cameras in a while. For a fact that they have become a little bit expensive for me to afford, and I just got so busy with reviewing computer hardware that I completely forgot about camera reviews. Recently, I had the pleasure of using the Panasonic Lumix GX7; by far a camera with great design and amazing results.

Lumix with a high end lens installed on its body

2 weeks in with the Lumix GX7 camera – and I spent taking notes on every detail possible. I wanted to get an in depth look at how this camera can project amazing results, which filters work the best, which lens suits the GX7’s owners, what professional photographers need to know if they haven’t bought this camera yet – so on and so forth.

Above all, I took the liberty of comparing this camera with other available devices in the market. In my past experience, I have either owned or used Canon Rebel T3, the GH3, the E-M5 series and of course the old G1 camera, they are all great irrespective of what entrance level photographers think of them. I am of the view that the aforementioned models are probably the best within the large sensor category. But they are not the cameras designed to suit everybody’s needs;  they are not point and shoot devices.

Panasonic Lumix GX7 IQ Resolutions, FX Sensor and ISO Concept:

When we talk about any camera’s ISO settings, sensor exposure to light, environment, shadows and IQ resolutions, it becomes a thesis level learning material. Point and shoot cameras are different, but when you are holding a DSLM or a DSLR like Panasonic Lumix GX7, things get different. You have to know the camera inside out by spending endless hours and hundreds of shots at different settings.

JPEG Compression and Comparison 

JPEG size compression and RAW photo comparisons on the GX7

Some “professional” reviewers simply paste down the camera specs, and move on to discussing a couple of shots before giving the poor device a 3 out of 5 star rating. Even at CNET, the Panasonic Lumix GX7 only got 2 pages of content. If I were to evaluate that review, I will digress a bit because they left out so many important things.

Let’s say you have the GX series Lumix cameras and you are tied in between the FX sensor settings. Or perhaps you have another camera and you are thinking if the M4/3 sensor is preferable over the FX sensor, which in other words is known as the classic 35mm. You only need to buy the latter if you are looking for the following results, or your requirements are stated as the following:

  • You need to print your photos on the biggest size possible. In this case the 35mm sensor will help you print sizes bigger than 23 X 7. For small sizes, and with 16 Mp lens, you don’t have to buy the FX/ 35mm sensor.
  • Between the Nikon D700 and the GH1, I suggest you should go for the latter because of the shallowest depth of field settings. If you want to buy the FX sensor, make sure that you are capturing objects at shallow DoF settings. Sometimes these settings can be missed because of many other options running at the back of your head.
  • Even if you have the best camera sensor, you will not get great results. Some photographers confuse lenses with male sexual organs; “the bigger the better concept” does not fit in here. 35mm senor is not as good as the 75mm sensor. They are meant for different purposes.

Now we talk about camera resolution, iQ and High ISO ranges. So far, I have not seen Panasonic Lumix GX7 tested against DxOMark and other cameras – so I can’t say what the other elite models have to offer in this context. At higher resolution and high ISO, naturally you camera file size will be bigger. 10 images can take maybe hundreds of MBs data or perhaps 1 GiB easily if you are sparingly exceeding optimal settings.

After installing the NFC and setting up Wi-Fi, the GX7 can be controlled via a compatible smartphone for still shots on tripod.

With NFC and smartphone RC controls, the camera can be set up to shoot stills easily

However, bigger file sizes do not constitute best camera results. I have zoomed in on GX7 shots and the Mk II shots and sometimes find them bloated. Similarly, when you are looking to shoot family photographs or buying the camera for home use only, the highest you should go for is the Nikon D800. It will come with a DX sensor and serve the purpose.

But let’s say you heard someone talking about IQ camera sensor and all of a sudden you need one. Before spending your hard earned cash, here’s a piece of advice for you. IQ sensors, like other camera sensors, take up a huge chunk of memory on your device. At the moment, the monitors support 2.5 – 3 Mp photos, and that too in full screen or slide show mode.

CNET’s USA Reviewer thinks that the GX7 is purely a Rangefinder camera

CNET is confusing the Lumix GX7 with a Range Finder Camera

When you are taking shots at 300 Dpi with a minimal of 8 X 10 size, or processing photos taken from a 36Mp lens, you are sacrificing at least 27 – 30Mp results, by the time they are showcased on your computer screen. People buy these cameras and then take photos and process them through Instagram for Facebook or WhatsApp sharing purposes. If I could, I would smack them in the head because they are rendering the purpose of a DSLM or a DSLR camera useless.

  • Maybe the noise is the result of dust particles?

Like all cameras, Panasonic Lumix GX7 is not an exception as long as we are talking about lens dust issues. Whether it is a DX lens or an FX sensor, you need to protect it from dust. If you don’t have the means to invest in a decent lens dust removal kit, you can use low DoF settings to avoid issues.

At 200 ISO and Exposure 1-250 f-71 - Chess pieces during an Autumn day

Or perhaps you can use an ear bud soaked in a glass cleaning solution and use it to clean the lens surface. However, each cleaning solution comes with its own batch of chemical strains, so use it at your own risk. Camera lenses are expensive and if you end up streaking the surface with chemical, you know that the lens is screwed beyond “repair.”

Panasonic Lumix GX7 Review for First Timers:

Naturally, I wouldn’t call you a first timer if you are buying a DSLR or a high end camera. If you have made up your mind to buy the Lumix GX7, there is a high probability that you have washed your hands off with other hi-fi devices in the market. One thing that you must note is that this camera does not fall under the category of range finder cameras.

In other words, you will have to keep one eye parallel to the GX7 EVF, and scan the objects with your naked/ exposed eye. If your dominant eye is the right eye, you will find it easier to use this camera, as the movement of the object and coordination of your eye will come easily to you. Meanwhile, you can use your spare/ left eye, which is not behind the EVF, to survey the relative objects in your viewing zone. Having said that, this setup is typical of range finder cameras, which is why people confuse the Lumix GX7 Vario with RF devices.

top down view of the Lumix GX7 camera

This camera comes with a robust single autofocus feature. It is not good for multiple shots; but does a superb job when you are focusing on one shot at a time. You can purchase the 25mm F/1.4 sensor from Amazon or any other online retailer to see how the results work with the GX7 Panasonic. In darker environments, the camera takes a few moments to assess light bleeding, and then generates the results that are best suited by default.

In an environment where light is not an issue, the autofocus function is relatively fast. I have used inferior quality Sony cameras and in both cases, I’d say that if you are adept at manual focus, the AF feature is not needed at all. In the beginning phases of using the Panasonic Lumix GX7, however, I’d suggest that you enable the Autofocus EVF option.

It means that by the time you have raised the camera to place your eye next to the EVF, your object will already be in full focus. All you need to do is “click.” Well, that is the easiest approach. But to work with it, your object needs to be in the camera’s viewing zone and the option has to be enabled before the eye reaches the GX7 EVF.

My only gripe with this camera is that it has the standard 1 card memory slot. Olympus cameras also have 1 memory card slot, which makes it hard for photographers to store images in bulk. Let’s say you are in a concert or a paid event, you will need two cards inserted at the same time for flawless and uninterrupted photography.

Side view of the Panasonic Lumix

Especially when there are moments when the bride is kissing the groom and you are unknowingly running out of memory, things could become a hassle. By the time you have re inserted a fresh memory card in the Panasonic Lumix GX7, the moment will be lost. Not to forget the fact that your clients will surely cuss you for missing out the most important things; I could have used a second card slot in the GX7 to avoid such situations. Sigh…

  • Setting up Wi-Fi in Panasonic Lumix GX7 is easy:

Some people encountered issues when setting up Wi-Fi and NFC in their GX7 cameras.  You just need to download the NFC application from Google PlayStore through your camera’s Wi-Fi connection. After installation, this camera can work through a smartphone remote control connection. The process can come in handy when you have the device set up on a tripod and you want to shoot some selfies. During the process, you can also transfer the results to your phone, but it will take a long time.

  • Build quality of the GX7:

Panasonic Lumix cameras generally bear a good build quality. They are solid, and feel heavy like all DSLRs when held in your hands. The weight factor in my opinion is nice because it kind of gives an authoritative persona to the camera. The switches and buttons are tightly held in place and it looks like they won’t be getting any lose within the first few years of rigorous use.

The main difference with GX7 is that now it has got two adjustment push wheels. In the older models, there used to be only one wheel which made it easier for me to select the right settings. With 2 at my disposal, I have to spend time setting up aperture and focusing. On the contrary, since you will be activating most of the functions through the Panasonic Lumix GX7 touch screen, you will not need to go back to wheel adjustment modes that much.

Good stuff about the Panasonic Lumix GX7 camera:

  • Fastest Auto Focus system. If the EVF and Autofocus options are enabled, the camera will focus on the object after detecting your eye next to its EVF area. This will make your job easier during early stages of photography.
  • Solid build quality and tight button placement.
  • 2 push to click setting wheels are introduced this time.
  • If you are left eye dominant, the EVF system will come naturally to you because the camera was made as a type of range finder device.

To date, I think the Panasonic Lumix GX7 Vario is one of the greatest cameras I have ever owned and reviewed. I have tested the IBS, focus peeking and with the M4/3 lens, the GX7 is capable of generating images that are beyond an ordinary DSLRs league.

Bad stuff about the GX7:

  • This camera needs a couple of firmware upgrades. Some features, such as the AWB and its tweaking is not unlocked to full potential. I am also sure that Panasonic can perform a firmware rollout to better optimize the camera’s battery life. Guys behind Nikon S3100 did it, and its battery life became quite effective.
  • Only one memory card slot. If there was support for two slots in this camera, it would have been great.

By this point, if you have decided NOT to buy this camera, I have alternatives to suggest. You can go for the Panasonic G6, i.e. as long as you are willing to compromise on shutter speed. You can save the money and buy a decent lens for the G6. Also, if you are not into Formula cards or sports photography, the slow shutter speed is okay.

Another nice option is to buy Olympus EM5. Back in the days when it was released, it was considered an expensive but an excellent camera. When the Panasonic Lumix GX7 came out, I am thinking that both have somewhat close calls if the current market price is compared. Feature wise, the EM5 Olympus will always be one step behind the GX7 because of difference in their models and release dates.

Last but not the least, I mentioned the NEX 6 and relevant lenses a few times in this article. Therefore, it would be a nice decision to buy the NEX 6. It is slightly cheaper at some online retailer websites and comes with a bigger by-default sensor. Therefore when you are at a high ISO setting, this camera will give you smooth results.

The NEX 6 has compatible with a wide number of lenses. The body of the camera could be a problem because some lenses are bigger and heavier than the camera. If you are afraid that the NEX-6 or any other NEX series device will tip over or fall down because of lens weight, you can move to heavier DSLR models.

Word from Panasonic:

The Panasonic LUMIX GX7 DSLM brings an artisan’s vision to life with a color accurate tilting viewfinder built into a discreet body design. Its many creative tools empower hybrid photographers to seamlessly switch between photo and video with exceptional quality under demanding shooting conditions.