Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 - a good travel camera? | The Family Without Borders

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Review: Lumix G7 as a travel camera

Panasonic Lumix G70 Review

I was very happy when Panasonic asked us if we wouldn’t like to test the new Lumix G7 (G70 in Germany) on a little trip to Portugal. Of course we agreed, because we love photography and traveling! Hands on a new camera.

Since a while I am observing the growing market of compact system cameras (DSLM). They really start to become an alternative to the big DSLR cameras of Canon and Nikon and many of my friends are switching to the more little, more compact ones.

So I was very happy when Panasonic asked us to test their newest compact camera: the Panasonic LUMIX G7/G70.


4k videos – Do I need that?

Review, Testing Panasonic Lumix G7/G770 in Portugal

The G7 is a compact camera with a 16 Megapixels resolution and one of the very few cameras on the market which can shoot 4K video (4096 x 2160 pixels resolution). First I thought “Why would I need 4K videos?”.

They files are getting very big (600MB per minute) and I had to go and buy a faster and bigger SD card first (UHS Speed Class 3). After the video editing I still export in 2k (1080p). So the only real advantage at the moment for me is the freedom of cropping videos without loosing any quality.

4k photo – That makes sense!

How many times did you take a group picture using the self timer, but in the very last moment, when the shutter is closing you are not there yet or somebody has just turned away when you here the “Click”. I whish to have not only one shot, but let’s say 30 to choose from. With a LUMIX G7/G70 you can exactly do that. That is where the 4K videos/photo suddenly make sense to me.

How? You basically don’t shoot one still image, but a 4K video and when you are done you can select the best frame and extract it as a single 8 megapixel image from the little movie. Just watch the video and see how it works.

It’s a cool feature. But I was sad when I later wanted to edit the image. You can only extract a compressed JPEG, but no RAW file. So editing options are limited (usually I do little correction on most of my pictures).

Shooting videos – in an easy way

Let’s still stay with the videos a bit. The LUMIX G7/G70 comes along with a big display. After my experiences with shooting videos on a Canon 6D I was even more happy about the video autofocus options combined with a touch display like everybody knows from the smartphones. You can even do face tracking and continous auto focus tracking of moving objects. Just have look.

But after this first happiness I noticed, that manually focused videos look somehow more real and cooler. Secondly the autofocus always has the tendency of an unnatural refocusing or focusing on the background, when your object is moving.

In the manual focus mode the G7/G70 is providing a focus peaking on the depth of field – i.e. highlighting the areas which are in focus. A really useful feature, not only for videos but also for photography.

More about the display in this little movie:

Handling – buttons and menus

Like on a professional DSLR the LUMIX G7/G70 has a mode dial for switching between modes like Auto-Exposure, P, A, T/S and another dial for single image, Burst, 4K images, 2 different self-timers and even a timelapse movie. I love this kind of stuff and I this little wheels for a fast switching. See more in this video:

So far so good. But the digital menus should be really improved. It’s sometimes really hard to find and change the settings. Sometimes I wish to have a search-the-menu-function to find the right option (which I use on my phone or laptop quite often).

Lenses – nothing more important

When people ask me, which camera to buy I tend to say “Spend your money rather on a good lens than on the camera body.” With the LUMIX G7 you can choose from a wide range of really wonderful lenses. Some of them even produced by Leica.

The G7 is shipped with a F3,5-5,6/14-42 lens. To be honest I wouldn’t really buy the camera with this lens. Better to buy just the body (saves you a 100 Euros) and buy the 12-35mm F2,8 (image on the left). In my opinion this is the perfect travel lens for the LUMIX G7/G70. This lens is comparable to the classical 24-70mm for my Canon, but it’s still much cheaper. Thanks to adapters you can mount also nearly any other lens on the G7.

What I love about the LUMIX G7

As I said, I loved the little mode dials and buttons which makes it feel like a professional camera. At the same time the camera is small, light but has a good grip. Good for traveling!

In many situations I was happy about the bright touch display which you can really move in all directions 360° – which gives you more creative space and flexibility in choosing interesting. This is something you can’t do with most of the most expensive DSLRs. And it’s also good for selfies ;)

It felt wonderful on the trip to have a choice of six professional lenses in my pocket – one for each situation, some of them with an aperture of 1.4. They are small but good. Now I miss them :(

The images in the G7/G70 have a decent quality, as long as you don’t use an ISO higher than 3.200.

What drives me mad with the G7

Did I tell you about the menus? They are as usable as the mobile phone menus on my first Nokia – just with touchscreen. Arrrrrrg! Do I really need to travel with a handbook in the year 2015 or could you please fix this? Invite me to Japan and I will help you!

The second problem is not so easy to explain, but it easily drives you mad. I will try explain you: Like on a phone you can focus touching on the display, let’s say on someone’s face in the top left corner of your image. But when you want to shoot the next picture the focus – instead of being in the center – stays in this corner. If you then want to make picture trough the viewfinder there is no way to move the focus back to the middle point. That’s a clear bug (= error/mistake for the non-nerds). I still hope for a firmware update which puts the focus in the center. Unfortunately the older LUMIX GH4 behaves in the same strange way and there are no firmware update so far fixing this bug.

The third problem is maybe a very personal one, because I am used to cameras with mirrors. But the G7 is mirrorless and has a little display in the viewfinder. Like on phone after shooting an image your viewfinder is blocked for a second or two with the image you just made. But in this time I can’t make another image and I might loose a good moment in this time. It would make more sense to show the result on the big display and not in the viewfinder. Maybe there will be an option like this one day hidden in the menus.

The Price – it’s a feature itself!

The price is one of the nice things about the Lumix G7. You can buy the body without lens for aprox. 700 Euros on Amazon. For all the features you get this is a very good price.

The big brother – the Panasonic Lumix GH4 has very similar features, but coast nearly twice as much. So it’s a good first, but affordable step into a professional photography.

And you? Did you try out other compact cameras? What’s your favourite camera?

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This post is also available in: German

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  • Kym Crowley
    Posted October 18, 2015 at 11:00 | Permalink

    Regarding the focus problem you mention. It is quite easy to shift the focus back to the centre. Press ‘9’ o’clock on the 4 way wheel on the back of the camera. Then press ‘6’ o’clock. Finally, press Display. Voila!
    Also, you can turn off the instant playback feature, and be instantly ready for your next shot…


    • Posted October 18, 2015 at 11:57 | Permalink

      Hey Kim, thank you very much for the tip. I will try that out
      But actually I wish to have an option where it’s back to the middle automatically.
      The non-review-option I already knew. But I like to have a review, but I whish to have an option to split the review: taking a picture in the searcher – getting a review on the big screen like all the DSLR do it.

  • MCFox
    Posted November 23, 2015 at 21:17 | Permalink

    I bought this camera in August specifically as a Travel Camera for a 3 week trip to Central Europe/Balkans in Sept/Oct ’15.

    The Good: It came in a package kit with two lenses (the one you mention and a 45-150 zoom; plus, tele/wide converter lenses and multiple other items) via Amazon for ~$1000 (US). It’s now on sale for ~$750; an AMAZING value.

    The Bad: I really wanted to like this camera, but I don’t. It’s not weatherproof, which makes it totally unsuitable for the elements (dust/rain). (I both the mini-boom mic and it has the same warnings as well.) We walked around Plitvice Lakes in the rain for 3 hours. I had to keep my hand/camer in a plastic bag the whole time and only take it out for quick snaps. I shudder to think what would have happened if it got wet, or was in a dusty environment (beach/desert). Also, I don’t think the ergonomics are particularly good. I found my point and shoot Canon G2 (about the same size profile) to be much better designed. There was never enough camera to hold left handed. Also, those little programmable dials are too easily moved. Finally, the two lens setup was annoying. Never the right lens at the right time. Also, the biggest fstop is 3.5 on the 14-42 lense (4.0 on the 45-150), never enough depth of field. The solution is the 14-140 Lumix Vario (~$600). Unfortunately, that one has significant “shutter shock” on this camera (see DPReview).

    The Ugly: The picture quality is only average, and, therefore, disappointing; especially with autofocus. Looking at 2000-4000 images, I see only 10-20% that are usable; the rest are not clear enough to use with a large print. 4K videos are also hard to edit without the proper set-up (expensive editors/substantial system resources/hard to get codec/format converters). Not what you want in a “consumer” camera.

    Verdict: Don’t get sucked in by all the features. Focus on what you really need. If I could do it again, I would get one of the more popular still cameras. You can take 4K video on an iPhone 6 now, so, this camera is not such a big deal IN MY HUMBLE OPINION. Your Mileage May Vary.

    • Posted November 26, 2015 at 13:11 | Permalink

      Hey MCFox,

      It’s a pitty you are not happy with the G7. The more waterproof and sealed version you will get with a GH4. That’s the price you pay with a cheaper model. But even my Canon5D i don’t take out in the rain.

      The quality of the images was really fine for me (but I also used excellent lenses). Well and about the 4K issue I share your opinion as written in the aritcle above. But times are changing – in 2 years everybody wants 4K.

      Cheers / tom

    • Jack
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 16:28 | Permalink

      Your comment saying you can take video on an iphone 6S means this camera isn’t a big deal is very misinformed. It’s not all about resolution, the G7 has nearly 3 times the bitrate of the iphone 6s. Meaning MUCH better video quality, even though they are both 4K. A larger sensor means much better performance in low light. Interchangable lenses means control over aperture, shutter, ISO etc. So much more than an iPhone can do. I have upgraded from a FULL HD Monitor to a QHD monitor (2560×1440) and 1080HD looks blurry.

  • Marco Tinman
    Posted November 25, 2015 at 18:12 | Permalink

    For you third issue, there is an option called Auto Review. If you set it to off then you wont see that freeze of the screen.

    • Posted November 26, 2015 at 13:14 | Permalink

      Hey Marco, i know, i know. but i like to have a review, but just on the back screen.

  • Posted April 12, 2016 at 13:38 | Permalink

    Greetings, having a few issue’s.. one is that my shutter dial doesn’t mov the shutter speed.. it stays at 0.0 Also focusing, not auto focusing. Have reset to fix problem, with no luck. Camera is 6months old, never been dropped or mishandled….HELP? NE 1

  • Jim
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 08:06 | Permalink

    I appreciated your review. What I am interested is whether you have experience with any other mirrorless cameras. If not the Lumix DMC G70, what camera would you choose? I like the option of the compactness of these mirrorless cameras over the DSLRs, so I want to find a camera and lens combo that is not bulky and yet gives great shots and good video.

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 21:55 | Permalink

      Sony alpha7 if you want to spend so much money. Cheers / tom


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