My Love Affair with The Panasonic Lumix G7
I've owned a great many cameras over the years (Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Casio). Just like most photographers, the battle between price and quality has always been one I fought with both extensive research and immense frustration. I can honestly say, however, that I've finally landed on a setup I'm truly satisfied with. Enter stage left, the Lumix G7.
It's odd that I write this now, given that this camera came out almost 3 years ago... but it's just that good.
Now, I could spend a bunch of time explaining why micro four thirds sensors can deliver exceptional image quality (on par with larger sensors). I could dive into all of the camera features in comparison with the competition (of which there is plenty). Or, we could spend the next 10 minutes comparing pixel by pixel samples of images from different cameras. Honestly, all of that sounds pretty boring.
I'd rather just tell you what the experience of shooting with it is like, why I think it's a perfect travel camera, and what kinds of results you can expect.
What It's Like to Shoot
I love physical controls and despise having to drill into nested menus in order to change my camera settings.
Shutter speed, aperture, shooting mode and iso control are all really accessible with the G7. Perhaps the thing I love the most, though, is the speed at which all of the operations execute. There's hardly any lag in the viewfinder, the shutter gives a satisfying "chunk" when pressed, and the auto focus is shockingly fast for a camera under $800 (I bought mine used for $450 USD). As if that wasn't enough, the body size and grip size allow plenty of purchase for my large hands (without it being a huge camera).
There is one downside to the overall feel, however. Honestly, it feels like a pretty cheap camera. It's almost entirely plastic and very light. Though this suits me well for traveling, I have to admit it's not the most reassuring to hold in your hand and feels a bit like a toy. With that said, the impressive performance and usability allow me to happily overlook what feels like a somewhat cheap build. And, this brings me to my next point.
The Perfect Travel Camera
What is the prefect travel camera? That answer is going to be a little different for everyone, but this is what I look for:
- Low cost (you never know who might decide to take your stuff)
- Lightness (that backpack gets heavy fast)
- Size (the smaller the better)
- 4k Video (I do a lot of Youtube Videos and I needlessly like them to be in 4k)
- Image Quality (I want as much of the above items as I can get, while still getting images I'm happy with)
And, this is where the G7 really brings it home.
Image Quality and Results
16 Mega-pixels and 12+ stops of dynamic range are both more than enough for my image needs.
I can create larger than poster size prints and I have plenty of shadow and highlight detail to work with in Lightroom (where I edit my images extensively). Don't let anyone tell you that you have to have a larger sensor camera. You can get amazing results with micro four thirds sensors these days. Steve Huff did a great write-up on this, so I'll just leave that alone for now.
The G7 has an anti-aliasing filter, which concerned me initially as I am admittedly a bit of a sharpness freak, but I've not found my images to be excessively soft. They're quite sharp, actually. Perhaps not quite as good as I used to get out of my LX100 (a true work of art, camera wise), but still pretty detailed.
A final note on image quality pertains to lenses.
The G7, being mirrorless, can utilize almost any lens under the sun. I've used it with my Nikon glass, vintage Olympus and Pentax lenses, and even a medium format Mamiya lens. You have to remember that the image crop from the smaller sensor means your 50mm prime will give you a 2x frame of view (similar to what you might experience with a 100mm lens on a full-frame camera), but I actually quite like that for my uses. I don't care much for wide angle photography, so the crop isn't much trouble for me. The Lumix 25mm f1.7 (50mm equivalent), being cheap and having excellent quality, takes care of 90% of my shooting. I also use my vintage Olympus Zuiko 50mm 1.8 quite often.
Well, I think this is where I will leave you. I simply love this camera. And, as a final note on quality, all of the product shots in this post of the G7 and lenses were shot with my 3 year old Nexus cell phone... so just remember, it's the light and composition that matter, not the camera.