Though being the company with the most experience in mirrorless digital cameras, Panasonic has always neglected a bit the most classic kind of their cameras. The Lumix DMC-GX1, great in its time, felt outdated when compares to the models of other companies, so the new Lumix DMC-GX7 is going to catch on. It was announced just recently, and we could spend a few moments with a pre-production unit, and we must say we liked what we saw.
It may be because we like classic stuff, or maybe the total opposite –if you’re going to remove the mirror, its best to redesign the camera so it doesn’t look like a reflex-, but the Lumix GX from Panasonic has always been one of our favorite series from the company. Well, “series” may not be the correct word, since the GX1, announced back in 2011, is the only one.
The problem is that the market has changed a lot in those two years, and this kind of camera with an old-school feel and integrated viewfinder has its fans. The Sony NEX-6, the Fujifilm X-E1 or the powerful Olympus OM-D E-M5 are very popular and successful models.
And now, it’s time for Panasonic to catch up. Just by taking a look at the Lumix DMC-GX7 lets you know they’re really serious about this. While we wait to lay our hands on the finished product to see if they fulfill everything they’ve promised, we’ll review every detail of this new Lumix camera, the most interesting so far.
An adequate body
Panasonic’s tendency to miniaturize everything (even if it didn’t make much sense sometimes or was simply unnecessary) seems to have ended. The GX7 is a perfect example, because this high-end camera (it will cost a bit more than 1000 dollars, and it comes with the standard 14-42-millimeter zoom) is not worried about being bigger than its predecessor.
It has a great balance between size and performance; the bigger grip, the fold-out screen and the integrated viewfinder really do make it larger. However, this poses no problem at all, because the camera performs impeccably well.
Besides its magnesium-made body and its black and silver design (is there something more classic-looking tan this?), the GX7 features double dial, a lot of shortcuts, customizable function buttons, and a very comfortable switch to change the focus mode, among other features.
More details about Panasonic’s new GX7: the video recording button is a lot less relevant–and it’s in a quite uncomfortable position-. Also, the "iA" (Intelligent Auto) button, present in every interchangeable lens and mirrorless camera of the company (except the Lumix DMC-GH3) is nowhere to be seen here. All of this makes the GX7 a compact camera with a heavily classic feel, oriented to the flagship Panasonic photography market.
Integrated viewfinder, of course
This is one of the features we missed the most about the GX1, and it’s now back with the GX7: the integrated electronic viewfinder. Even more so when we saw it in the small Lumix DMC-LF1, which made obvious that is neither complicated nor expensive to include in smaller models.
The GX7, as of now, costs around 1000 dollars (1.200 with the Lumix G 20 mm f1.7, which works wonderfully with it), while the GX1 can be found for less than half of that. Although the two aren’t really related, this will be something to discuss in the following months, and to have in mind for the consumer.
What about the viewfinder? It’s excellent in refresh rate, color and image quality. It’s also very nice to be able to move it in a 90-degree angle, which makes it kind of a waist-level viewfinder. However, its size (17.5 millimeters) is smaller than most current models out there from other brands (23 millimeters), and this can be really noticeable.
The speed of the auto-focus system is also excellent, although this is nothing to be surprised about since Panasonic has always excelled in this regard. It’s still too soon to say anything about the image quality, although the people at Panasonic showed us some pictures comparing the results of the GX7 with similar models, and even full-format reflex cameras. Clearly, Panasonic is aiming big with this camera.
Although the new design and features are truly spectacular -like the Wi-Fi connectivity- and worth talking about a bit more, without a doubt the best and most interesting characteristics are the viewfinder and the mechanical stabilizer.
But, did Panasonic always use optical stabilizers? Well, yes. In fact, both systems (optical and mechanical) are featured in the new GX7, although the use of the optical one will be the propriety of the camera.
The idea behind this is very simple: habilitate the stabilization for the lenses that, with or without stabilizer, are used with this camera, to now be used with stabilization. To do this, you only have to introduce the focal length of the lens in the corresponding menu.
The Panasonic GX7 armed with the standard 14-42-millimeter zoom (in the upper picture) and with a Leica Summicron 35 mm f2 lens (with adapter).
This system is been used since a few years ago by Olympus, and now Panasonic aims to beat them in their own game with this double stabilization mode: optical stabilizer for Panasonic lenses, and mechanical for everything else.
This is a very interesting idea that the company showcased for us, by using the GX7 with a Leica Summicron 35 mm f2, with the help of an adapter. And if we’re using M.Zuiko lenses from Olympus for the Micro Four Thirds system, do we need to manually introduce the focal or the camera will automatically detect it? We asked this very same question to the people at Panasonic, and they didn’t know what to answer. This makes you realize the communication between both companies is not as good as it should be.
In any case, this double stabilization fits perfectly with a camera that wants to be a bridge between two generations: this is a classic-looking camera with great features and compatibility with older lenses, but at the same time offers Wi-Fi connectivity, filters and a vast array of modern features that have become essential in recent years.
We still have to wait for the summer to end to lay hands on it, but without a doubt the Lumix DMC-GX7 has everything to become one of the most interesting and important models of the year.