Panasonic GX7

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gx7Panasonic continues its long streak of delivering high performance mirrorless cameras with the Lumix DMC-GX7. One of the things which sets this camera apart is its tiltable viewfinder. Let’s see what Panasonic has to say about a camera it says will appeal to advanced photographers.

It features a newly developed 16-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine, and can hit a high ISO of 25600.

The Contrast AF System exchanges digital signals between the camera and the lens at a max of 240 fps, improving AF speed. Other functions including Low Light AF, Pinpoint AF and One-shot AF.

The 3.0-inch touch-control rear monitor tilts up and down.

Maximum shutter speed is 1/8000.

The Optical Image Stabilizer [which Panasonic says is as effective as its standard lens-based MEGA O.I.S.] is built in to the GX7’s body, which opens up a whole optional world of using other lenses.

The GX7 is also compatible with focus peaking for more precise control of focusing.

The camera features full HD 1920 x 1080, 60p (60 Hz) / 50p (50 Hz) smooth, high quality video recording in AVCHD Progressive and MP4 with stereo sound. Full-time AF and tracking AF are available in video recording. Also available are cinema-like 24p video with the bit rate of up to 24 Mbps.

The GX7 incorporates Creative Panorama, Time Lapse Shot, Stop Motion Animation, and Clear Retouch in addition to Creative Control mode with a total of 22 filter effects.

Using Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, users can connect the camera to their smartphone / tablet anywhere for image sharing. It is also possible to use a smartphone / tablet as a multi-capable remote shutter with a monitor. With the Instant Transfer function, photos are automatically sent to the smartphone / tablet right after shooting. On the other hand, photos and video can be archived to registered digital equipment such as a PC automatically via the wireless access point (router) at home.

The camera has a magnesium alloy full diecast frame and comes in black or silver.

Now for a more detailed look at the GX7’s offerings.

Panasonic’s new 16-megapixel sensor achieves both higher resolution and higher sensitivity image recording with less noise in comparison with the predecessor GX1. The photodiode in each pixel is enlarged by using Semiconductor Fine Technology to improve colour saturation by approximately 10 percent and the redesigned on-chip lens enhances light condensing to achieve approximately 10 percent higher sensitivity. Noise generation is minimized in both pixel and digital signal readout circuits to provide better S/N ratio by about 25 percent, the company claims.

The Venus Engine image processor features advanced noise reduction systems. The controllable area of noise is expanded by about 64x in size, notes Panasonic, making it possible to remove large noise blocks which were previously hard to detect. This helps produce clear, smooth images especially for nighttime shooting.

In addition, the Multi-process NR (Noise Reduction) works in two separate steps allowing even finer control over noise level. The texture of noise itself, regardless of the noise size, is improved with this control, resulting in the reproduction of smooth human skin even in high sensitivity recording.

The design of the newly adopted Detail Reproduction Filter Process enhances the limit resolution by up to 3 percent and the contrast of middle to high range by a max of 5percent. Intelligent D-range Control offers wider dynamic range while maintaining smooth gradation. Suppressing both blocked shadows and blown highlights, every part of an image is faithfully reproduced, the company claims.

The combination of the Digital Live MOS Sensor and the Venus Engine achieves approximately 10 percent finer detail reproduction, a boon in lower light situations.

Compared to the Phase difference system AF, Contrast AF boasts higher accuracy especially when shooting faster lenses.

Light Speed AF makes it possible to capture even fast-moving subjects clearly.

Panasonic says the GX7’s AF speed surpasses that of high-end DSLRs using Phase difference AF.

The GX7 delivers high speed burst shooting at 5 fps and will even hit 40 fps using some electronic shutter magic. AF Tracking enables consecutive shooting to capture moving subject in sharp focus at 4.3 fps.

Low Light AF, found in the G6 and GF6, is incorporated in the GX7 making it possible to set focus on the subject more precisely even in moonlight, without the AF assist lamp. It further enhances performance allowing shots at -4EV, which is as dark as a starry sky with no other light source.

Pinpoint AF has been improved, allowing users to set magnification from 3x to 10x in 0.1x steps.

Picture-in-picture display is available and the magnification ratio is selectable from 3x to 6x seamlessly, allowing the setting of precise focus on the target point while seeing the whole image composition.

One-shot AF enables using AF even in manual focus mode to set rough focus.

The GX7 takes only about half a second to get ready to shoot after startup.

Compatibility with the UHS-I (Ultra High Speed I) SDXC/SDHC Memory Card standard allows faster data writing even in RAW recording mode.

gx7 viewfinderLet’s get back to the trick 90-degree tiltable LVF (Live View Finder) with high resolution and approximately 100 percent colour reproduction; this is a first for mirrorless cameras, says Panasonic. The 16:9 wide screen viewfinder boasts 1.39x / 0.7x (35 mm equivalent) magnification and 100 percent field of view.

The tiltable viewfinder has an eye sensor that automatically turns it on/off depending on the location of the photographer’s face. Eye Sensor AF starts autofocusing by just looking into the LVF.

Image output between the LVF and the rear monitor is switched automatically with the eye sensor, which also offers sensitivity options – high, low and off – to reduce false operation. A useful optional accessory for this viewfinder is the Eyecup DMW-EC1.

The new 3.0-inch high resolution static-type touch monitor offers 100 percent field of view and tilts up by 45 deg. and down by 80 deg.

The front panel is directly attached to the new LCD without an air layer between them, suppressing the reflection of external light dramatically, says the company.

LCD resolution is increased 13 percent and colour reproduction is improved by 20 percent, which Panasonic says delivers higher visibility even in sunny outdoor conditions.

Attenuation of transmitting backlight is minimized to achieve a wide angle of view and a 25 percent power saving.

The Touch AF immediately lets users set focus by just touching the screen, and you can even release the shutter. Touch Pad AF is improved for higher sensitivity and quick response.

Silent mode switches the shutter from mechanical to electronic and turns all sound (AF, operation) off, also suppressing the AF assist lamp and flash.

Panasonic has been developing an avid video following for its G-series cameras. The GX7 doesn’t disappoint. It records smooth, high-resolution full-HD 1920 x 1080 60p / 50p videos in AVCHD Progressive or MP4 (MPEG-4 / H.264) format. It also supports 1080/24p native mode with 24 Mbps in AVCHD format. In addition, the P/A/S/M modes are available for video recording.

Full-HD 1920 x 1080 60p / 50p video can also be recorded in MP4 at 28 Mbps.

Panasonic says that the improvement in sensor sensitivity for improved sharpness and clarity are improved in video, also.

In addition to full-time AF, Touch AF in video recording also lets users enjoy professional-like rack focusing. AF Tracking works in video, too.

High quality sound can be recorded with Dolby Digital. A Wind Cut function is also available to block out most of the noise from background wind. The Extra Tele Conversion function virtually extends the zoom range 4.8x.

Time Lapse Shot automatically starts recording photos once the start time, interval and the number of pictures to shoot are set. The Stop Motion Animation function enables producing a stop motion (stop frame) video in camera.

Two separate dials on front and back offer direct control over aperture, shutter speed or exposure, which achieves smooth manual shooting. The One Shot AF function can be allocated to AF/AE Lock Button (AF/MF Switch Lever) for more flexible control over focusing.

The Live View function is also advanced digitally making it possible to adjust highlight / shadow separately with the front/rear dial. Fn (Function)is now integrated into the menu, which means a total of 9 functions can be assigned.

Flash synchronized is up to 1/320 sec. for the built-in flash, 1/250 second for external flashes.

Creative Control mode is upgraded by increasing its filter option to 22, and the effect parameter of each mode is also adjustable. With the new Creative Panorama function, it is possible to shoot a horizontal / vertical panoramic image and to put on a filter effect using Creative Control.

Photo Style, which enables changing the texture of a photo, is also upgraded in the GX7 with the inclusion of Monochrome Filter (Ye/Or/R/G).

No information on availability or pricing of the Lumix DMC-GX7 has been announced.

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