Lumix G7 Review // Still a contender in 2019?

The Lumix G7 in many ways was a revelation when it was first released. It was one of the most affordable ways to get 4k, and it all came in a brilliantly thought-out small camera body too. 

But it was released in (hold onto your hats!) 2015, which seems like an age in Photography Land.

So is it still worth a consideration in 2015? Well, I still have one. I still use my G7 — both professionally and personally — and I blummin’ love it. But of course, like any camera, it is far from perfect. So let’s dive in!

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Stats I care about most at a glance:-

  • 16mp micro four thirds sensor

  • Flippy screen

  • Mic input

  • 4k video 24p/30p

  • HD 50 or 60p (region or hack dependent)

  • Light as a feather. Seriously light. However light you imagine it to be, it’s lighter.

  • Very good battery life

What it lacks:-

  • Weather-sealing

  • In-body stabilisation

While the G7 is clearly aiming to be a hybrid photo/video camera, I’ll attack both points separately.

Is the Lumix G7 good for photography?

16 megapixels, to some, is quite conservative for photography, but it’s never given me any trouble. I’ve found the G7 a brilliant travel companion, and I use it as a second body during weddings all the time. I’ve had photos blown up huge on canvas prints and the resolution has held up just fine. Just be aware that with 16mp, it’s a good idea to get everything right in-camera as much as possible, as you don’t want to be cropping in too much in editing.

The weight of this camera is great for walks/hikes. I got my lazy butt to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park in 2017 with this lil’ guy strapped to my waist the whole time. Didn’t feel it. I had to keep checking it hadn’t fallen off somehow. It just doesn’t register.

The images I’ve found to be super sharp, and the Panasonic menus and dials are always a joy to use. They’re so user-friendly. You have a dial on the G7 to quickly toggle between Burst Mode, 4k Photo Mode, Time-lapse, and Timer. 

It’s the little touches like that that make me adore the Lumix cameras. With other systems these features are often buried in the menus.

Check out the Lumix G7 on Amazon.

No In-Body Stabilisation. Sad Face.

What this camera does lack, which is a real shame but understandable for the price, is in-body stabilisation. This means you might not be able to get to those lower shutter-speeds handheld unless you pair the G7 with a stabilised lens. I use it very regularly with the Lumix 12-35 f2.8 and 35-100mm f2.8, which solve the problem as they’re both stabilised. 

However, I just as regularly use the G7 with the Olympus 17mm 1.8 and the Olympus 9-18mm, which are not stabilised, but are light and sharp and perfect for travel. 

The lack of stabilisation is a shame, but that’s why the Lumix G80/G85 exists. That’s the G7’s big brother, and definitely worth checking out if you need in-body stabilisation and weather-sealing.

Speaking of… the other bummer is the G7 isn’t weather sealed. So while the weight and size is perfect for travel, if you’re going somewhere that might be rainy, dusty, sandy or snowy, you might have to put your camera away. 

I took my GH5 quad-biking in Bratislava for a stag do (yes you read that right) and the dust was all-consuming and got EVERYWHERE. The GH5 survived like a champ. I think the G7 would not have fared so well.

I’ve used the G7 in light snow in the past, but I wouldn’t recommend risking it past that.

Raw Files

As I’ve mentioned, I often edit GH5 and G7 files side by side for weddings and events. Honest, hand on heart, if I don’t check the file name I’d have no clue which file came from which camera. That’s a difference to the tune of about £1000, so I’d say that’s a great plus point for the G7.

Of course, the GH5 has the newer 20mp sensor, and some other bells and whistles, but in terms of dynamic range, sharpness, and colour, they’re level all the way.

Build Quality

This is a personal choice. If you’re glass half-empty, then this is the most plastic-y “Real” camera money can buy. I mean super plastic-y. If you’re glass half-full, then it’s probably the most portable and light “real” camera you can get. 

There have been concerns about build quality in other reviews, and rightfully so given it’s… you know… plastic-y. But I’ve taken my little G7 all over the place in the 2 years since I’ve owned it. It’s been in a Skunk Anansie mosh pit. It’s been to the top of Angel’s Landing, and caught in an Arizona snow storm. It’s been present for half a hundred weddings. It’s been thrown in my bag, stuck swinging on my dual-wielding camera straps. Knocked about, bounced about, etc etc.

It’s still going strong. If I were to sell it today (which I will not, thankyouverymuch, it’s my baby!) I’d honestly list it as “Used, like-new” because I can’t see any cosmetic damage at all. And believe me, Dear Reader, I am rough as all hell with my gear.

So, yes, be careful. I wouldn’t want to drop it from a great height. But with normal use, you should be perfectly fine.

Smuggle-ability. Yes that’s a thing

I’ve got the G7 into crowds that don’t allow cameras very often. It’s such a niche benefit, but no one takes this camera seriously! You can get into places with it easily, you can get great candid reactions without people being put off by a huge camera.

Photography in a nutshell

It’s great for so many things. Without stability, it isn’t too great handheld in lower light, but that’s what tripods were made for. Weather-sealing would be nice, but at this price point we can’t really expect it. 

The Lumix G7 for video

Perhaps more-so than with photography, the lack of in-body stabilisation is a real shame. If you want to shoot handheld with a non-stabilised lens, you’d better have steady hands. To be fair, most of the micro-jitters can be easily cleaned up with warp stabiliser in post, but it is definitely something to bear in mind.

If you have a stabilised lens, you’re pretty much golden. Although it does bear mentioning that if you had a stabilised lens AND a stabilised camera, you could utilised the lovely Lumix Dual Stabilisation, which is out of this world. (Again, check out the GH5 or the G85 if this is a necessity for you.)

The 4k is wonderful, and I’ve never had this camera overheat. And man, have I tried. It’s been Camera 2 for many a summer wedding — indoors and outdoors — filming for in excess of an hour.

There is a time limit on recording for the UK model, it stops at 29 minutes for legal reasons, so it is classed as a camera and not a camcorder for tax, I think? But it automatically just starts again on a fresh file when the time is up. You get a few frames missing, which is a pain, but it’s hardly noticeable really. And especially if you’re shooting with two cameras you can always switch to the other angle for those moments.

As I briefly mentioned, you have a 50p or 60p version, depending if you have the European or American version of the camera. I’ve followed a very easy to do “hack” on YouTube to make my 50p PAL camera shoot in 60p. It’s been “hacked” for over a year with no issues at all, so if that interests you, definitely give it a go. You can always switch it back at a later date.

Video Profiles

The Lumix G7 comes with my all time fave, the Cine D colour profile. This is a fantastic place for everyone, no matter your skill level. It looks just fine straight from the camera, but if you do want to dabble with some colour grading, there’s plenty of information in the file to push and pull the colours and contrast.

The Cine D profile merges brilliantly with the Cine D on my GH5, Mavic Pro, and my (hacked) GX80. It makes my workflow fast and streamlined.

There are other profiles available, such as Cine V — V for vivid I think — which are decent, but Cine D is where its at for me.

All hail the flippy screen

Honestly, at this point in the photography community, people’s love of the flippy screen — and lament if it is absent — is basically a meme. But it is handy dammit! Not only for vlogging and filming yourself in a home studio.

It’s also ideal for jobs where you need to put your tripod really high to see over people’s heads, for instance. You can angle down the screen and see what’s what. 

It’s also super handy for use with a gimbal. You can flip the screen out to the side and see everything just fine without the gimbal motor getting in the way.

So Video in a nutshell

If you can deal with the lack of stabilisation (gimbal, tripod, monopod, steady hands, or buy some stabilised lenses) then this camera is an absolute steal for the price.

The colours are great, the usability is great, and the shooting mode options are super generous. Shooting in 4k is so handy and I use it all the time, even if I intend to edit on a smaller 1080p timeline. Why? Because 4k footage is 4x as big as 1080p HD, so you can crop in 4x without losing any detail! You can make multi-cam angles from one camera. You can emulate sliders and vertigo effects in post. You can better frame things afterwards.

Unlike with photography on this camera, where you really need to make sure you frame things well in-camera, with video, you can be MILES off with your framing and still salvage it in post with the 4x crop. It has saved my bacon more times than I can count. For instance, I could be perfectly set for a shot during a wedding, and an overzealous photographer or guest could get in my way. I can crop around them with 4k. 

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back. Thanks for reading! Here’s my conclusion: this camera is still absolutely a viable option in 2019. It’s got a heck of a lot going for it.

Just be aware of the limitations of lack of stabilisation, and lack of weather-sealing, and you’re golden. 

If you have a bit more budget, and don’t mind a slightly larger and heavier camera, check out the G85, which solves both of these issues. But there’s a pay-off of price and weight of course.

If you’re after a first camera, a great hybrid camera, or a more portable travel camera, the Lumix G7 definitely ticks those boxes.

Lumix G7 on Amazon

Lumix G80/85 on Amazon