The Panasonic Lumix GF6 had been one of our favorite cameras of 2013 (see our review, Issue 405), and absolutely nothing came along to displace it in 2014. This compact system camera (CSC) had a large sensor and a wide selection interchangeable lenses delivering DSLR quantities of image quality and versatility. It had been just as fast as a DSLR, had a lot of features and, thanks to its straightforward controls and superb touchscreen interface, felt instantly familiar to anyone upgrading from a point-and-shoot compact camera. Best of all, it was certainly one of the littlest and lightest CSCs around, and among the cheapest too. Often there is room for improvement, though, and Panasonic hopes to do just that with all the GF7. Its appearance is quite a departure, with the GF6’s modern curves replaced by an even more retro, angular casing. Beauty is clearly very subjective, but we are not taken with Panasonic’s effort at retro chic.
Impressively, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 is also smaller than the GF6. The digital camera body has slimmed down by 5mm in width and level, and shed 57g within the process. The bundled 3x zoom lens is 40g lighter, too, and will retract in on itself for transit, offering a combined depth of 62mm. It’s not quite pocket sized, but it is extremely unobtrusive for a CSC with a big sensor and a 3x contact lens. The main casualty of this weight loss is the battery, which only can last for 230 shots. We found this wasn’t quite enough for a day’s sightseeing, and additional batteries are priced at a whopping £45. The brightness of this flash has also decreased and is only precisely good at extremely close quarters. We’re happy to report that the settings are virtually unchanged. There’s a dedicated mode dial to access car and manual exposure, a panorama mode, and modes tailored for different shooting conditions and people designed to offer your images a little artistic flair. Fully automated mode is via a passionate button. There’s also a dedicated button you can set as a shortcut to any feature you prefer (its default is to launch the Wi-Fi functions). You can wirelessly transfer photos to smart phones, pills, PCs and also straight to social-network sites. You are able to use smartphones and tablets as remote settings, showing you the camera’s view and permitting you get a grip on the settings. Various other buttons cover functions such as EV compensation and white stability, and there’s a wheel for quickly adjusting your selected setting. The touchscreen gives fast access to all or any the other key settings, and also makes it easy to define which part of the scene to target on. The screen is hinged at the top and can flip right over if you would like take some selfies. Unlike the GF6’s screen however, it can’t tilt down to provide an even wider range of shooting perspectives. Lumix G-series cameras have actually always excelled at video quality and this one is no exception, with pin-sharp details, life-like colours and incredibly responsive autofocus. However, it’s disappointing that manual-exposure control is not any longer available for video capture.
It’s a superb point-and-shoot video camera, yet not so good if you want to get creative. Photo speed and quality were beefed up though. Both the GF6 and GF7 are extremely fast in normal usage, nevertheless the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 is a little quicker in continuous mode, rattling along at 5.4 frames per second (fps) compared to the GF6’s 4.2fps. Photos taken in low light in the GF7 have less noise, although rival Sony CSCs produce even better results in low light thanks for their bigger sensors. The GF7 was hard to fault in bright conditions, with crystal-clear details and faithful colors, thanks to the expertly judged automated settings. We love the GF7’s petite dimensions, while photo and video quality are both exemplary. However, we’re disappointed that certain features have regressed since the GF6. Plus, with some superb CSCs from rival manufacturers available for well under £300, the GF7 is just a little overpriced.