I’ve been experimenting with my new camera, a Panasonic Lumix G7, for a couple days now. I have to say I’m impressed. This is the first camera I’ve had which included built-in wifi. I decided to name it “Galadriel.” Why? First, because I’m a nerd. Second, I find it humorous to designate a mirrorless camera after the fictional elf 1.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the move to a Micro Four Thirds sensor, but in my brief time with the camera I find the quality of images to be excellent. Colors are vibrant and images are sharp. Low light photos tend to show a good deal more noise than my Nikon D7000, as I expected given the smaller sensor size, but I’m also finding cleaning up that noise yields some very nice results. One feature of the system, which I was not expecting, is the way MFT 2 lenses from Panasonic or Olympus are handled in the G7’s raw files. The lens adjustments are embedded inside the raw data, removing the need to apply a lens adjustment in Lightroom 3. It’s a nice touch, and I wonder if Adobe’s competitors will function the same way, I’ll have to test this out moving forward.
I’m still growing accustomed to the G7 controls, but it’s not so different from my Nikon that I find myself lost. My two biggest struggles are the placement of the ISO adjustment and the touch to focus system.
The ISO button on the Panasonic is in the same position my older Canon body places it, as one of the cursor keys. It’s a bit cramped to find on the fly, and I find myself missing the left-hand placement that button has on my Nikon. This isn’t a frustrating deal-breaker, just something with which I must grow accustomed.
The touch to focus system is a bit more of a chore. In theory this is a great idea, I don’t have to keep pressing buttons to change my focal point on the fly. Instead, I tap and drag the focal point to the desired location. In reality, my focal point jumps around every time I touch the screen, especially with my nose. This struggle was why, in fact, I decided to go with the older G7 instead of the newer GX85 — I’m left eye dominant, and the placement of the view finder in the range-finder layout made it impossible for me to use the touch to autofocus feature. I find the jumping focal point to be a minor annoyance, which I will learn how to control, though if I never get the hang of it I’ll be able to return to cursor-button control of the focal point. If that happens I’ll need to remap some buttons so I’ll be able to control things like white balance and ISO on the fly. But the G7’s control layout is so customizable I’m almost looking forward to that prospect.
My biggest knock on the G7 is the included neck strap. Kit straps are bad, it’s a inescapable reality, but the G7’s was the first one I was afraid I’d break if I ever looked at it funny. It was short, light, and thin to the point of reckless. On Tuesday I picked up a Peak Design Carrying Strap from Best Buy. It’s as light as the pack-in strap, but the comfort and build quality are so much better.
Having a decent strap is important to me for my daily use, but also because the camera is so light I fear a weak strap could break and I might never notice! I never considered my Nikon D7000 to be a beast, not like a full frame camera anyway, but compared to the G7 it is monstrous. It feels more like a large point and shoot, than a serious camera 4.
Before I saw it side by side with my Nikon I hadn’t registered just how much smaller the G7 is. Panasonic’s offering retains a DSLR shape, which helps to create an illusion of “bigness” when seen on display or in photos. As soon as the camera is in hand without display tethers, however, the illusion is shattered. The G7 is small. Not as small as some range-finder style mirrorless cameras like the GX85 or the Sony A6xxx range 5, but still small. This will be an excellent camera to practice some street photography.
My Nikon isn’t going anywhere, but the G7 may be my “on hand” camera moving forward. It’s just so easy to pack up and carry. I’ll get a chance to do some night photography with the camera later in the week, and I’d like to get out and do some tests with the G7’s wifi capabilities, so I’ll be writing a bit more over the next couple of days.