The just-announced Panasonic DMC-G7 carries a lot of the features and abilities of its older (and more expensive) cousin, the GH4, including 4K video recording, at less than half the cost. However, there are things you should consider before plopping down your dough on a pre-order.
If you haven't been staying up on all the camera news coming from Panasonic, you may be pleased to learn that the company spent last year refreshing its product line with models featuring 4K video recording. Kicked off by the GH4 in February of 2014, Panasonic has released or announced cameras that shoot some variant of 4K in all form factors and price points, from the top-of-the-line professional Varicam 35 to prosumer compact ENG camcorder, the HC-X1000, the diminutive fixed lens pocket shooter, the LX100.
Panasonic continued that trend of going 4K with NAB 2015's introduction of the DVX-200, the 4K-shooting spiritual grandchild of one of the company's most popular cameras ever, the DVX-100. The DVX-100 was noteworthy at the time for bringing progressive 24P recording to mini-DV tapes for the sub-$5000 market. Although the form factor resembles the DVX-100, the naming convention is the clearest attempt to tap into the nostalgia people feel for that camera from yesteryear.
If you think Panasonic is ready to give it a rest until IBC and Photokina in the fall, think again. While Panasonic's latest camera announcement may not strike the same emotional chords as the DVX-200, it's still a promising camera which may be an appealing option for budget-conscious shooters of photos and videos.
Panasonic DMC-G7: GH4's powerful sibling?
The just-announced Panasonic DMC-G7 replaces the discontinued G6, but those familiar with the GH-series will see an immediate resemblance. The G7 has a smaller body than the GH4, but is yet another compact mirrorless camera in a DSLR-form factor. It is an interchangeable lens camera that shoots UHD 4K at either 24 or 30 fps onto SD card. The ability to swap lenses differentiates it from the similarly-priced LX100.
The 4K Photo modes are standout features being implemented in all capable Panasonic cameras, G7 included. Photogs should delight in shooting 4K video at 30 fps and extracting still images from the footage. 4K Burst Shooting allows continual shooting of images at the above resolution and frame rate while the shutter button is held down. For those who fear hitting the shutter button too late, there's the 4K Pre-burst mode. When this option is activated, the camera will record the 30 frames before you hit the shutter and the 30 frames at the tail end, effectively giving you a one second buffer at both ends of your burst.
The G7 also employs the same focusing system as the GH4, Depth from Defocus (DFD). Using lens data and analyzing contrast in defocused areas apparently yields faster and more accurate autofocusing, as the G7 finds focus in .07 seconds (according to Panasonic), against the .14 seconds of the G6.
Buying a G7 over a GH4?
The Panasonic DMC-G7 is currently up for pre-orders at popular retailers like B&H for $797.99 with an included 14-42mm f3.5-f5.6 kit lens, yielding an equivalent full-frame 35mm focal length of 28-84mm. With the above features and more (which you can review in the included press release), the G7 certainly seems like a lot of camera for the money and, for some, a better value than the GH4, which is more than double the price of the G7 (and that's without a kit lens).
If you're deciding between the two, there are a few differences between the cameras that should be considered. First off, the G7 is using the same two year old sensor as the now-discontinued GX7, whereas the GH4 sports a newer sensor. They may have the same quad core processor, but the GH4 also records DCI 4K at 24 fps, which is not an option on the G7. The biggest difference may be the lack of 4K out through the HDMI, meaning that you won't be able to pair an external recorder/monitor like the Atomos Shogun to it to get 4:2:2 10-bit UHD 4K, which is definitely a major selling point of the GH4.
(Correction: We have received conflicting reports about 4K HDMI out for the camera. However, the popular retailer B&H has the physical unit on hand and confirms that the G7 DOES have clean HDMI out at 4K resolution, although its unclear if that's 10-bit or 8-bit, 4:2:2 or 4:2:0.)
Just basing on specs, the Panasonic DMC-G7 makes sense if you need 4K recording, but not necessarily DCI 4K and you never intend to go out to an external recorder for 4K acquisition. For the fashion-conscious, the sleek LX100 or even the retro-syled Fuji X-T10 (although the Fuji caps video recording at 1080 60p) could be contenders. However, for certain run-and-shoot photogs who need fulfill the occasional request for video on the cheap, or those who need an inexpensive 4K B-cam that takes MFT glass, the G7 could be just the thing. And for $800 with an included lens, it shouldn't take very long to get your money's worth (if the camera's performance lives up to the specs).
When we get our hands on a G7, we'll compare it with the Samsung NX500, another 4K interchangeable shooter for around $800.
For more information on the Panasonic DMC-G7, check out the full press release on Page Two!
Full Press Release
LUMIX DMC-G7 Never Lets You Miss a Photo Moment and Delivers a Superb Photographic Experience
Newark, NJ (May 18, 2015) - Panasonic is proud to introduce the LUMIX DMC-G7. The revolutionary Panasonic LUMIX G7 offers Panasonic’s exclusive 4K PHOTO feature that taps the high resolution of 4K Ultra HD video to improve the speed of photo capture. With the exclusive 4K PHOTO feature you are able to pause and extract high resolution pictures from 4K video so you will never again miss that one special moment. The LUMIX G7 is also compatible with over 24 compact lens options and is built on the next generation interchangeable lens camera standard (Micro Four Thirds) that is “Changing Photography” and pioneered by Panasonic. The “Mirrorless” Micro Four Thirds design enables a lighter, more compact camera body, while also offering cutting-edge 4K video, audio, creative controls, wireless, super-fast intelligent-focusing and exposure technologies not possible with traditional DSLRs. The LUMIX G7 will be available at shop.Panasonic.com and LUMIX authorized retailers.
4K Capability Delivers a Change in Photography – 4K Video and 4K Photo
The LUMIX G7 records stunningly smooth, high-resolution QFHD 4K video in 3840x2160 at 30p or 24p in MP4 in addition to the Full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 60p video in AVCHD Progressive or MP4 (MPEG-4 / H.264) format with practical full-time Auto Focus (AF).
Taking advantage of 4K video recording capability, users can lock in on a split-second photo using the exclusive “4K PHOTO” feature on the LUMIX G7. With 4K PHOTO, users can extract fleeting photo moments at 30 frames per second in printable 8-megapixel equivalent resolution, by playing back and extracting a precise photo frame of a special moment from the 4K file to save as a photo. Three new exclusive functions are offered to make 4K photography even easier; 4K Burst Shooting, 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) and 4K Pre-burst. The 4K Burst Shooting allows almost *unlimited shooting at 30 fps, which can be initiated by pressing the shutter button and releasing it once you are satisfied the image has been captured. The 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) mode starts consecutive shooting with a single press of a shutter button and stops it with the second press, which is more suitable for the shooting opportunities requiring longer waiting time. And the 4K Pre-burst automatically records a total of 60 images right before/after the shutter release. All of three 4K Photo modes allow you to save images in 8-megapixel equivalent high resolution; 3840x2160 (16:9), 3328x2496 (4:3), 3504x2336 (3:2), 2880x2880 (1:1) without missing that unique photo opportunity.
Motion pictures with their file size set to [FHD],[HD]or[VGA]in[MP4]:
Recording stops when the continuous recording time exceeds 29 minutes and 59 seconds or the file size exceeds 4GB.
-Since the file size becomes larger with [FHD], recording with [FHD] will stop before 29 minutes 59 seconds.
Motion pictures with their file size set to [4K] in [MP4]:
Recording stops when the continuous recording time exceeds 29 minutes and 59 seconds.
(You can continue recording without interruption even if the file exceeds 4GB, but the motion picture will be recorded and played back in separate files.)
*Max.29 min 59 sec.
High Photographic Performance – Picture Quality and Response
The LUMIX G7 integrates a 16.00-megapixel Digital Live MOS Sensor that achieves both higher resolution and higher sensitivity image recording with minimum noise. The Venus Engine image processor with quad-core CPU enables high speed signal processing. The advanced Multi-process NR (Noise Reduction) applies effective noise reduction and detail processing according to each component frequency. Plus, newly added Random Filter reduces chromatic noise in the image even more naturally. As a result, ISO 25,600 is achievable. The Venus Engine also improves accurate reproduction of each color not only in color phase but also in saturation and luminosity. In addition, the Venus Engine in LUMIX G7 excels in diffraction compensation making the resulting image crisp and clear even when shot at a small aperture.
The Top Level of AF Performance Among Conventional DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras
The LUMIX G7 uses Contrast AF for its focus system that excels in both speed and accuracy. The LUMIX G digital interchangeable lens is capable of digital signal communication at max. 240 fps, allowing focusing that is impressively quick and smooth. The Contrast AF system in the G7 is further enhanced by Panasonic’s integration of DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology, originally introduced in the now legendary LUMIX GH4, which even shortens the time to focus. It calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating two images with different sharpness levels while consulting the data of optical characteristics of the current lens at that moment. As a result, the LUMIX G7 achieves ultra-high speed AF of approx.0.07 sec*2. This improvement becomes even more beneficial as focal length increases. The speed of burst shooting is dramatically faster than its predecessor the G6, boasting high speed burst shooting at 8 fps (AFS) / 6 fps (AFC) to capture fast moving subjects accurately in-focus.
The Low Light AF makes it possible to set focus on the subject more precisely even without an AF assist lamp in extremely low-lit situations all the way down to -4EV, which is as dark as moonlight. Furthermore, the LUMIX G7 newly integrates Starlight AF which allows users to shoot a star in the night sky with auto focus. This can be achieved by accurate calculation of contrast value in each tiny AF zone.
In addition to the conventional Face Recognition AF, the LUMIX G7 incorporates Face / Eye Detection AF which automatically sets focus right on the eye of human face. With the Pinpoint AF, users can magnify the target area to set precise focus. With the new algorithm of AF Tracking, not only the color but also the size and motion vector of the target are recognized, enabling the camera to lock on the subject even more securely. The result is AF tracking performance of approx.200% or greater which prevents the camera from losing the subject*3.
*1 Contrast AF with DFD Technology works only with Panasonic Micro Four Thirds lenses.
*2 In AFS, With LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. (H-FS14140)
*3 Panasonic comparison with DMC-G6.
Improved Mobility Supported by Mechanical Advancements
To further enhance the ease of use in capturing 4K photos, the LUMIX G7 comes with a new drive mode dial in addition to the front/rear dials for the first time among all LUMIX G cameras. The drive mode dial enables activating 4K photo mode very quickly. Users can change settings such as aperture, shutter speed with the front/rear dials and can also customize the assignment of functions as well as on Fn buttons. It is also possible to make a temporary shift of dial functions with Dial Operation Switch. For example, users can adjust white balance with a front dial and set ISO with a rear dial while choosing the shutter speed or seeing the noise effect, which is helpful in complex lighting situations. Either AFS/AFC/MF can be switched with the dedicated focus lever.
The LUMIX G7 boasts a high-precision, high-speed dual OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) displays for the LVF (Live View Finder). Increasing the resolution of display area to 2,360K-dot, the LVF boasts approx.1.4x / 0.7x (35mm camera equiv.) magnification and 100% field of view and eye point of approximately 17.5 mm. Thanks to the newly designed large eyecup, the visibility of LVF is dramatically improved. The image output between the LVF and the rear monitor is switched automatically with the eye sensor on the LVF. Adoption of OLED achieves high speed response with minimum time lag while enhancing the resolution. Notably, the OLED for the LVF in the LUMIX G7 boasts 10,000:1 high contrast for superior color reproduction. Now the excellent visibility comes closer to the Optical View Finder. On the other hand, live view image can be displayed in monochrome through the LVF which enables shooting concentrating on contrast.
Adopting a static-type touch control system, the 3-inch free-angle rear monitor with 1040K-dot high resolution features approx.100% field of view. Notably, it boosts the maximum luminance by more than 50% compared with the predecessor. As a result, the LUMIX G7 secures higher visibility even in the sunny outdoors.
Last but not least, the LUMIX G7 is equipped with a large, ergonomically designed grip. It fits well in the users hand and offers stable grip even in one hand.
UHS-II SDXC/SDHC Memory Card Compliance NEW
The G7 features the compatibility with the SDXC/SDHC Memory Card of the highest performance BUS class UHS-II in addition to the conventional UHS-I.
Max.1/16,000 sec High Shutter Speed NEW
The GF7 offers a shutter speed at max. 1/16,000 sec (electronic) not only to capture spur-of-the-moment of a fast moving subject but also to use a high-speed lens with open aperture even in outdoors, to give impressive defocus.
Easy Wireless Connectivity via Wi-Fi® with Smartphones ADVANCED
The LUMIX G7 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) to offer a more flexible shooting experience and instant image sharing with easy operation. Once connecting the camera and smartphone/tablet installing Panasonic's dedicated application software Panasonic Image App for iOS / Android, users can shoot, browse and share images remotely.
The LUMIX G7 also integrates Jump Snap. By holding the smartphone in your hand or having it in a pocket, the smartphone detects the highest position when the user jumps and releases the shutter of the camera. It lets users to photograph themselves jumping as if they are flying in the air.
Creative Panorama (ultra wide) ADVANCED
The Panorama Shot function allows shooting horizontal/vertical ultra-wide panoramic image by shooting sequent pictures easily. This is in addition to the standard Panorama function.
3.5mm Microphone Socket
WB (White Balance) Bracket
Creative Control with 22 Filters
Time Lapse Shot / Stop Motion Animation
P/A/S/M mode for Video Recording
iA+ (Intelligent Auto) Mode for Photo and Video
Scene Guide with 20 Sample Situations
The LUMIX G7 will be available mid-June in three configurations. Black with a 14-42mm kit lens, pewter/ gun metal with 14-42mm kit lens at $799.99 and in black with a 14-140mm kit lens at $1099.99.