A Perfect 10
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
Don’t call it a comeback. No, seriously, that’s what Panasonic means with the GX lucky number seven. The ‘7’ is supposed to represent a significant leap from the previous GX1, so far ahead that it’s almost an entirely new series altogether.
So what’s new? Three key features stand out immediately. The first is the built-in Live Viewfinder (LVF); the GX7 adds a twist by being able to tilt upwards to 90 degrees. The second key feature is the built-in optical image stabilization (OIS), a first for Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras. Again, it’s not new technology, but in the mirrorless system camera world, only Olympus’ and Pentax’s cameras come with built-in OIS. The third key feature is built-in Wi-Fi (with NFC) - which I think every digital camera should have had two years ago. lens mounted, the camera still felt balanced and easy to hold.
The grip turns out to be important, as the GX7 is slightly taller and longer, noticeably wider, and 88g heavier than the GX1. Compared with the GX1, the GX7 does more: It has that built-in LVF, the 3” touch-screen LCD now tilts (but doesn’t swivel), and there are twin control dials instead of just one.
A physical MF/AF switch now sits on the back, enabling you to quickly switch focusing styles - manual focusing is made easier with focus peaking, which means you can finally blow thousands of dollars on those gorgeous Voigtländer prime lenses. It’s not all physical that’s new, an Fn (Function) tab is now integrated into the menu, which means you can customize a total of nine controls (five on-screen, four dedicated buttons) on the camera. And the GX7 it has a tougher magnesium alloy body, which makes it more resistant to bumps than the GX1.
In the streets, the GX7 handles like butter. The camera sits nicely in your grip, the controls within easy reach, with a host of customization options. There are four physical function buttons on the body alone for you to play with, and you can program more into the digital screen. The Q.Menu button brings up the Quick menu, where you can quickly adjust important settings.
The best bit about the touchscreen is how the controls complement, and not replace, the physical controls. For example, you can throw up the Q.Menu using the button, and then just tap the setting you want on the screen instead of using the d-pad. Touching the screen is especially useful when you want to dictate the focus area, and another tap on an icon smoothly brings you back to your previous AF mode.
And when it comes to the on-screen UI (user interface), Panasonic has one of the most intuitive designs around. That’s no small feat when you try the interfaces on the competition, and it’s worth giving extra bonus points for. The LVF’s feed is smooth, and there’s little lag even in low-light, with minimum rainbow artifacts. Panasonic says it reproduces nearly the entire AdobeRGB color space. As to why that’s a big deal, consider that many smartphones today still can only display up to the limited sRGB colour space.
There is one problem; when you set the camera to automatically switch between it and the rear LCD