GX7 owner review from a former G3 user

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by greenjp, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. greenjp

    greenjp Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2014
    Here's a review for my fellow cheapstakes and deal-seekers. About 2 years ago I bought my first "real" camera (aside from an old Canon rangefinder that I used as a teen), a Panasonic G3. It was a 3 year old model at the time and I got an excellent condition example for $150. Paired it with a 20mm 1.7 initially, then added a 45-150, 45 1.8, and 14-42 v2. Enjoyed using it very much and took many nice photos.

    Got the hankering for something new after a while, and set my sights on the GX7, on account of its improved sensor and expanded feature set. I actually quite like the mini-SLR format of the G3, but unfortunately Panasonic didn't really update the sensor with the G5 or G6, and while they did with the G7, it's still selling at a fairly high price.

    So I kept my eyes on ebay and the Buy & Sell board here and eventually found a very nice condition GX7 on the buy & sell forum, with another 14-42 v2 that I didn't need, for a very attractive price. Pulled the trigger on that, and then turned around and sold my G3 and one of the 14-42's to a local craigslist buyer. Put a screen protector on the GX7 and my total outlay = $155. Not bad.

    Initial impressions:
    - The GX7's rear screen is a huge improvement. The resolution increase is very apparent. I think they've been using this res screen since the G5 so this is nothing new for most, but a big improvement for me.
    - The GX7's viewfinder's resolution increase is welcome, but the decreased size is not. Now, it's not small exactly (seems very comparable to my buddy's Canon 7D's), and the resolution makes the various text and graphics much nicer to view, but I did not realize how large the G3's was.
    - GX7 is much nicer in the hand. It's only marginally wider, but that little bit of extra width and the bigger grip makes for a much better overall handle.
    - The little tiltable built in flash is great, much better results when using it to bounce than the G3's forward-only one.
    - I can see why some people prefer the tilt-only rear screen to the full articulating one. For waist level shooting (which is great when the subjects are short kids) the tilt is great, but I did use the articulating screen for all sorts of uses. I'm not sure what camp I'm in.
    - GX7 is overall more responsive and the dual control wheels are great.
    - The G3's focusing speed was in retrospect really quite good! By all reviews the GX7 is faster yet, but in practice it doesn't seem much different to me.
    - I am a left eye shooter so the cool touchpad AF when using the viewfinder is going to be difficult to do on account of my nose touching the screen, but I'd like to figure it out because it's a great feature.
    - I like having IBIS for my non-stabilized primes. Wish it stabilized the viewfinder and worked for video though.
    - electronic shutter/silent mode is pretty cool. I have a few of the custom modes set up for it and am having fun experimenting with it to learn the pros and cons.
    - I was using Optics Pro 8 to process the G3's raw files, but the GX7 is only supported by versions 9 and up. So there's an additional outlay coming, but I am cheap :) so I will wait for the next half price sale. In the meantime I'm shooting jpg and will endeavor to get the settings dialed in as best I can.
    - GX7's "premium" type build is nice, the G3 was a little less fancy but by no means "cheap" feeling.
    - manual focus aids are definitely better on the GX7, so fooling around with old lenses might be in my future.
    - haven't shot enough in too many different conditions to draw many conclusions about the image quality, and it's not exactly a fair comparison to compare the Optics Pro-rendered G3 pictures vs. the GX7's OOC JPEGs, but I'll be taking a closer look as I take more photos.
    - GX7 is much more stylish than the G3. I sorta liked the G3's functional blandness but I'd be lying if I said the GX7's looks aren't part of the experience. My wife asked me why the new camera looked older than the old one :)

    So in summary, I do quite like the GX7 so far and find it a worthwhile upgrade. But it does give me a great appreciation for how nice a little camera the G3 is. People on a budget, or just wanting to dip their toes into the format, or maybe somebody looking for a spare body or for something for kids to learn on, would really be well served by a G3 (or 5 or 6 I'm sure).

    I'll post more thoughts and some pics as I get more time with it.

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
    • Like Like x 8
  2. JensM

    JensM Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 6, 2016
    Oslo(ish), Norway
    Real Name:
    As screename
    I am in the process of dipping my toes in the format with the GX7, and your post just seems to cement that my reasoning around this, has been sound.

    Thanks for the posting. :)
  3. Estrellas321

    Estrellas321 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 19, 2015
    Vancouver, BC
    I more or less share the same sentiments as you with the GX7.

    In the meantime while you don't have a RAW processor, try using a custom photo style to your liking. Lots of different setups out there but it's all preference.

    I'm also finding used G7's to be quite cheap! I think I recently saw a used one for around $400, body only. That is around the same price I am seeing for used GX7's, maybe just a tad more. But the GX7 will serve you just as well if you don't need 4K!
  4. Lieven

    Lieven Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 7, 2016
    Raw Therapee is for free and does a great job. It's all I use for my Panasonic G5 and GF1 + Fuji X100 files.
  5. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    I'm in a similar boat, except that I have a (older, bought at a low clearance price) G2 and a (newer, purchased second hand) GX7. I like them both for different reasons, but I find myself grabbing the GX7 more than the G2. Maybe that will change when the novelty wears off.

    I'm always a bit puzzled by the strong aversion many have to the fully-articulating screens. I'm used to the one on the G2, and I was worried I'd miss it on the GX7. But as you point out, the tilt screen works well for waist-level shooting, which I do a lot of.

    The main thing I miss is using the articulating screen to turn the EVF on & off. I hate the auto-sensing EVFs, which are always either too sensitive or not fast enough to switch when you want them to. On my G2, I fold the rear display inward to turn on the EVF, and fold it outward to turn off the EVF.

    That said, adapting to the lack of that on the GX7 hasn't been as bad as I had feared. I use the auto-sensing setting on that camera, and I flip the EVF up when I don't want to trigger it by accident. That's the only use I've found for the pivoting EVF so far, but it's very useful for that purpose.

    I've had trouble getting used to the touch screen. I find more often than not, it just causes me to move my focus point by mistake. So I have it turned off by default and have used the C1 custom setting for use of the touch screen in those rare cases when I want it.

    I'm loving the e shutter, too. That, in common with waist-level shooting, makes it much easier to get candid pictures of people.

    I've had to learn I can't use the e shutter indoors when there's fluorescent lighting, but other than that it's a sweet upgrade over the G2.

    I'm still very happy with the image quality from the G2, and the difference between 12 and 16 megapixels doesn't seem to matter for me. But I do notice that ISO 1600 and even 3200 are more usable on the GX7 than the G2.

    Happy shooting.
  6. hillwalkinggirl

    hillwalkinggirl Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2011
    Real Name:
    Hi Jeff. Why don't you use the free Adobe DNG converter to convert your RAW files into DNG format. This is what I do and then you will be able to import them into your old software. The RAW files on the GX7 are far superior, although don't appear so until you develop them a little in software. Don't bother with Silkypix which comes with the camera though - it's absolute rubbish.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. greenjp

    greenjp Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2014
    Thanks for the thoughts everybody.

    On the RAW converter, I quickly went through a few of the freebies and did not like any of them too much - Silkypix is indeed rubbish, just weird language and interface. Rawtherapee was rather daunting (I have 3 kids under 7 including a 5 week old so not much time to climb the learning curve), and hadn't thought of converting to DNG and sticking with v8. Then OpticsPro 10 "elite" went on sale for $140 (down from $200), not quite the half price deal that comes around occasionally, but I said what the heck and bit the bullet. It's improved over v8 in a number of ways, most noticeably with better responsiveness and much faster loading. So with that out of the way...

    c5karl, love the idea of using a custom setting for playing with the touch pad AF - great idea, thanks. I will have to do that. Right now I have them set up for aperture and shutter priority w/electronic shutter, and one for HDR. So I've got two more and this will be a nice use for one.

    My experience with the screen, EVF, and eye sensor is very similar. I wish the EVF was quicker to come up, there is definitely a noticeable delay. On the G3 you had to press a button to switch (or flip the screen around as you discuss), which was annoying in its own way but worked fine and the button itself was in a convenient spot, unlike the GX7's.

    Still not enough shooting experience to comment on the image quality vs. the G3, gonna try to look at similar shots with the same lenses at some point to check that out more carefully.