The Panasonic Lumix G7 camera gives you additional direct control of dozens of features with six assignable function buttons on the camera body and another five nested in a pop out window on the right side of the touch screen. Depress the Disp button a few times and you'll have all the key camera operations at your fingertips. Touching on Fn launches an intuitive drawing of the camera and all the assignable function buttons letting you program each with most of the camera's features. Yes, you are still digging a few levels down to make things happen, but Panasonic has made this process as intuitive as possible, even providing a description crawl at the top of the screen which is painfully slow but still helpful.
The Lumix G7 camera may be the first 4K camera you consider that makes you plan a vacation just to use its features. At about a pound and the size of a pregnant smart phone, it's one of the most capable budget cameras we've reviewed.
If you don't want to lug your Blackmagic Cinema Camera to shoot video on your next trip to the coast with the kids and dogs and you'd like to get some great stills too, take a close look at the Lumix G7. It’s small, lightweight, costs less than $800 and fits perfectly in that middle ground between your main camera and your smart phone. In fact, to be fair, the image quality and features make it come a lot closer to your main rig than you might expect.
The Lumix G7 features a micro four thirds 16-megapixel MOS sensor powered by the Venus Engine 9 processor built into an interchangeable lens camera package that fits nicely in your hands. The design is a bit retro, sporting large mode dials on the top but with direct access to many programmable function buttons, control dials, cursors and high resolution live viewfinder and articulating monitor, there is nothing old fashioned about the Lumix G7.
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For video, it takes a small crop from the center portion of the sensor then scales down to 4K, HD or VGA formats that give you a 2x crop factor. One of the most exciting developments of current cameras is increasingly capable autofocus in movie mode and the Lumix G7 features powerful and usable AF options for videographers. The G7 has four AF types: Single, Flexible, Continuous and Manual along with six modes; Face/Eye Detection,Tracking,49-Area, Custom Multi, 1-Area and Pinpoint. The G7 focus uses contrast rather than phase detection but Panasonic improves the responsiveness and accuracy with their Depth-from-Defocus technology that senses changing distances from the subject. It still may not be quite as quick or accurate as phase detection found in more expensive cameras, but it works surprisingly well under bright conditions. It will slow and hunt a little as light dims. To help us out in low light, we liked the ability to manually touch up focus after using the AF. The Lumix G7 is small, lightweight, powerful and while not perfect, it gives you good 4K video for an incredibly low price. AF is a real asset in most situations but low light video quality is lacking. The Lumix G7 has lots of features which results in lots of menus — perhaps too many particularly if this camera is designed for the casual user. For less than $800, the Lumix G7 is a great camera to take on your next vacation. Plus it's a snap to make your friends envious by instantly sharing your shots.