A Per­fect 10

Pana­sonic Lu­mix DMC-GX7

HWM (Singapore) - - Lab Test -

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

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