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Cameras

Panasonic boosts its entry-level mirrorless, the Lumix GF7

There's just enough new here to make this interchangeable-lens model worth a look.

Panasonic

Panasonic's update to its entry-level interchangeable-lens camera, the Lumix GF6, incorporates most of the newer tech that's in the tiny GM5 . This year's GF7 should have better performance and a more streamlined design, though it loses a couple of things in the process.

The primary kit is priced at $600, £430, or AU$700 and should be available in February in the US and Australia, and in March in the UK.

panasonic-lumix-gf7-top-43-mfr.jpg
Coupled with the more compact lens designed for the GM series, the GF7 has a slimmer overall profile. Panasonic

What's new

  • Better burst performance. Its 5 frames per second with autofocus brings it into parity with the better-specced competitors.
  • Enhanced autofocus. It now incorporates Panasonic's fast Light Speed AF system.
  • Selfie-friendly. It has a couple of new features targeting selfie-takers -- face shutter (triggered by a hand wave in front of your face) and buddy shutter (when it detects two faces in proximity to each other).
  • Updated video. It now supports MPEG-4, not just AVCHD.
  • Streamlined design. Panasonic swapped the locations of the mode dial and the iA (one-touch auto) button, and added a programmable function button to the left shoulder. The back buttons are also shuffled around a bit. It's also gone from curved to a little more retro boxy on the top. The record button has been relocated as well. Unfortunately, Panasonic also jettisoned the grip; that tends to make cameras look a little sleeker but harder to hold. And the two custom settings mode are no longer on the mode dial.
  • More compact. Part of the smaller footprint also includes switching to the smaller lenses designed for the GM series: to the 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 (24-64mm equivalent) kit lens from the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 (28mm - 84mm equivalent). The wider angle 12-32mm lens is more conducive to selfies and groupies, but it's just a little less broad of a focal range -- 2.7x vs. 3x. Australians will also be able to purchase a two-lens kit for AU$1,000 (denoted with WGN in the model name) with the other GM-designed lens, the 35-100mm f4-5.6 (70 - 200mm equivalent).

My take

There's just enough updated here that it doesn't feed like a complete retread of the GF6, and improved performance is never a bad thing. I hate it when manufacturers drop the grip, though.

Comparative specs

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 Sony Alpha A5100
Sensor effective resolution 16.1MP Live MOS 16.0MP Live MOS 16.0MP Live MOS 24.3MP Exmor HD CMOS
14-bit
Sensor size 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 2.0x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x
OLPF Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 160 - ISO 12800/25600 (exp) ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Burst shooting 3.5fps
unlimited JPEG/20 raw
(8fps with fixed focus and exposure)
3fps
7 raw/unlimited JPEG
(20fps with fixed focus and exposure)
5fps
7 raw/unlimited JPEG
(40fps with electronic shutter and fixed focus)
6fps
56 JPEG/23 raw
Viewfinder
(mag/ effective mag)
None None None None
Hot shoe Yes None None No
Autofocus 81-area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
179-pt phase-
detection; 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity n/a -3 - 18 EV -4 - 18 EV -1 - 20 EV
Shutter speed 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync 60 - 1/4,000 sec; 1/160 sec x-sync 60 - n/a sec; max 1/16,000 sec with electronic shutter; 1/50 sec x-sync 30-1/4000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 x-sync
Metering 324 area 1,728 zone 1,728 zone 1,200 zone
Metering sensitivity -2 - 20 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV -1 - 20 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p @ 24Mbps MP4
1080/30p
H.264, AVCHD
1080/60p, 50p, 24p (AVCHD only)
XAVC S
1080/60p/30p/25p/24p; 720/120p
50Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time per clip 22 minutes 4GB/29:59 minutes 4GB/29:59 minutes 29 minutes
IS Sensor shift Optical Optical Optical
LCD 3-inch/7.5cm
Flip-down touch screen
1.04m dots
3-inch/7.5cm
Flip-up touchscreen
1.04m dots
3-inch/7.5cm
Flip-up touchscreen
1.04m dots
3-inch/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, NFC Wi-Fi, NFC
Flash Bundled optional Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash Yes No No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 350 shots 330 shots 230 shots 400 shots
Size (WHD) 4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in.
114.9 x 67 x 38.4mm
4.4 x 2.6 x 1.5 in.
111.2 x 64.8 x 38.4mm
4.2 x 2.6 x 1.3 in.
106.5 x 64.6 x 33.3mm
4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in.
109.6 x 62.8 x 35.7mm
Body operating weight 12.9 oz.
364g
11.4 oz. (est.)
323g (est.)
9.4 oz. (est.)
266g (est.)
10 oz. (est.)
283g (est.)
Primary kit $600
£400
(with 14-42mm II lens)
$435
£300 (est.)
AU$700
(with 14-42mm lens)
$600
£430
AU$700
$600
£530
AU$800
(with 16-50mm PZ lens)
Release date September 2014 April 2013 February 2015 September 2014

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