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Panasonic tosses all its latest tech into the Lumix G7 ILC

Panasonic hopes 4K video and a multitude of ways to capture action will lure you away from an entry-level dSLR.

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Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
5 min read

Quite a bit of Panasonic's technology has changed in the two years since the Lumix DMC-G6 debuted. The G7 brings the company's midrange line of enthusiast and family-oriented interchangeable-lens models up to date with features like 4K/UHD (ultra high definition) video and the company's most recent autofocus and image-processing systems.

Panasonic's G7 is boxier and bigger than before (pictures)

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The G7 will be available in both black and a two-tone graphite and black, in a variety of kits worldwide: one with a 14-42mm lens, one with a 14-140mm lens, one with both lenses, and one with no lenses. The US will see two kits on sale, the 14-42mm single lens kit for $800 and the 14-140mm zoom lens kit for $1,100. The body-only kit will retail for AU$899/£599 and the 14-42mm single lens kit will be AU$999/£679. The 14-140mm zoom lens kit will retail for AU$1,499/£849. The 14-42mm and 45-150mm twin-lens kit will only see an Australian release for AU$1,199.

Shop for Panasonic Lumix G7 (with 14-42mm lens, black)

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What's notable

  • 4K video. Panasonic's betting a lot on its 4K features, particularly the 4K Photo Mode that's in all of the company's 2014 and later models. This mode lets you to pull decent 8MP stills from videos as an alternative to continuous shooting. (It differs from standard recording because it increases the frame rate off the sensor and the shutter speed so that it can stop action better, but it also increases battery drain.) My biggest issue with 4K Photo is that you have to decide in advance whether you're going to want pull stills and if it's worth possibly noisier video with clipped shadows; in order to increase the shutter speed in low light the camera has to boost the ISO sensitivity and remap the tonal range. The G7 also introduces a couple of new 4K modes that allow you to shoot bursts without stopping video recording, a 4K pre-burst (which captures a few shots before and after the shutter press) and a regular 4K burst mode.
  • Updated internals. In addition to incorporating Panasonic's DFD (depth from defocus) system, which calculates deviation-from-focus of two planes parallel to the focal plane to quickly get a rough estimate of the subject's distance for faster focus, the G7 debuts the use of motion vectors for theoretically improved continuous autofocus of moving subjects. The sensor is the same as that in the GF7 with the imaging engine that rolled out in the GH4.
  • New features. As with the GF7, Panasonic drops NFC in favor of password-free Wi-Fi connections, though it still offers QR codes for a more secure connection (you photograph the code with your phone or When connected to your phone you can kick up your heels; Jump Snap uses the camera's accelerometer to snap a photo while you're at peak leap. A new autofocus mode, Starlight AF, uses a grid of smaller areas to zero in on small objects like distant stars. Panorama junkies will appreciate the new mode that covers an 180-degree view, though the image is half the height of the standard Panorama. The company also debuts its me-too Impressive Art filter for that high-contrast HDR effect.
  • New design. It's bigger and heavier than the G6 -- in fact, it's one of the larger models in its price range. But when equipped with the 14-42mm kit lens it feels pretty light, because Micro Four Thirds lenses are smaller than those for APS-C cameras. It's also much boxier looking than the G6 or GH4. Panasonic has switched up the top dials, added a drive mode dial on the left shoulder, increased the size of the adjustment dials on the top and added an autofocus switch on the back.
Lori Grunin/CNET
Lori Grunin/CNET

My take

The feature set looks good for the money; a price-class step up would get you a more durable, weather-friendly body but a step down would lose the viewfinder. The Sony A6000, which launched at the same price, is over a year old now and due for an update, though. That model, with its larger APS-C sensor, will probably be the one for this camera to beat.

Comparative specs

Fujifilm X-T10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Sony Alpha A6000
Sensor effective resolution 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II 16.1MP Live MOS 16MP Live MOS 24.3MP Exmor HD CMOS
14-bit
Sensor size 23.6 x 15.8mm 17.3 x 13mm 17.3 x 13mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x
OLPF No Yes Yes Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/51200 (exp) ISO 160 - ISO 12800/ISO 25600 (exp) ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Burst shooting 8fps
8 JPEG/raw n/a
5fps
unlimited JPEG/9 raw
(7fps with focus fixed on first frame; 40fps with electronic shutter)
6fps
100 JPEG/13 raw
(8fps with focus fixed on first frame; 40fps with electronic shutter)
11fps
49 JPEG/49 raw
Viewfinder
(mag/ effective mag)
EVF
0.4-inch/10mm
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
0.93x/0.62x
OLED EVF
n/a
100% coverage
1.44m dots
1.4x/0.70x
OLED EVF
n/a
100% coverage
2.36m dots
1.4x/0.70x
OLED EVF
0.4 in/10 mm
1.44 million dots
100% coverage
1.07x/0.71x
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 77-point phase-detection AF
49-area Contrast AF
23-area contrast AF 49-area
DFD Contrast AF
179-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity n/a -3 - 18 -4 - 18 EV 0- 20 EV
Shutter speed 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync (electronic shutter to 1/32,000 sec.) 1/4,000 to 60 sec.; bulb to 2 minutes; 1/160 sec. x-sync 1/4,000 to 60 sec. (up to 1/16,000 with electronic shutter); bulb to 2 minutes; 1/160 sec. x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 x-sync
Metering 256 zones 1,728 zone 1,728 zone 1,200 zone
Metering sensitivity n/a 0 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 20 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p
AVCHD
1080/30p @ 28Mbps
H.264 QuickTime MOV
UHD/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50p, 25p, 24p @ 28Mbps
AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic (via accessory shoe)
Manual aperture and shutter in video n/a n/a n/a Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time per clip 14 minutes 29:59 mins 29:59 mins 29 minutes
IS Optical Optical Optical Optical
LCD 3 in./7.5 cm
Tilting
920,000 dots
3 in./7.5cm
Articulated touchscreen
1.04m dots
3 in./7.5cm
Articulated touchscreen
1.04m dots
3-in./7.5cm
Flip-up touchscreen
921,600 dots
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, NFC
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash Yes No No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 350 shots
(1,120 mAh)
350 shots
(1,200mAh)
360 shots
(1,200mAh)
420 shots
Size (WHD) 4.7 x 3.3 x 1.6 in
118.4 x 82.8 x 40.8 mm
4.8 x 3.3 x 2.8 in
122.5 x 84.6 x 71.4 mm
4.9 x 3.4 x 3.1 in
124.9 x 86.2 x 77.4 mm
4.8 x 2.9 x 1.8 in
120 x 66.9 x 45.1 mm
Body operating weight 13.4 oz (est.)
381 g (est.)
12 oz (est.)
340 g (est.)
14.4 oz (est.)
410 g (est.)
11.6 oz
330 g
Primary kit $900
AU$1,300
(with 16-50mm lens)
£450 (est.)
$750 (est.)
(with 14-42mm lens)
$800
(with 14-42mm lens)
$700
£700
AU$900 (est.)
(with 15-60mm PZ lens)
Release date June 2015 April 2013 June 2015 April 2014