- 1Body and Ergonomics
- 2Viewfinder and Screen
- 3Operation and Menus
- 4Performance and Autofocus
- 5Flash Performance
- 6In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
- 7Focus Peaking
- 9Electronic Shutter
- 10Other Key Features
- 11Image Quality: Dynamic Range and Color
- 12Image Quality: Noise
- 13JPEG Quality
- 16Image Samples
Image Quality: Dynamic Range and Color
The GX7 features a supposedly all new Panasonic designed 16 megapixel sensor. The camera can shoot from a low ISO of 125 to a high of 25,600. The sensor has excellent dynamic range, with especially notable ability for the shadows to be recovered with little to no color shifting, though noise is of course worse when recovering a lot of shadow detail. Overall dynamic range is similar to the GH3 and OM-D E-M5, which provides plenty of range to capture most any scene.
The GX7 has an excellent color response, which by default is biased a little on the warm side. As I quite like a slightly warmer color palette, the colors out of the GX7 provide an excellent starting point. Other than being slightly warmer than some other cameras, the colors out of the GX7 are quite accurate. One of the most amazing things about the GX7’s color response is that there is no discernible color shift at higher ISOs. Most cameras I’ve used will have a shift towards magenta or green as the ISO rises to extreme levels. The GX7 gets slightly more muted at higher ISO, but stays accurate and carries no visible color cast, even at ISO 25,600.
Image Quality: Noise
The GX7 controls noise very well, and is in line with the other recent offerings by Olympus and Panasonic. Noise control is very slightly noisier than the Olympus E-M5 (though these differences would be imperceptible in a print or web reduction), except at 25,600, where the GX7 is slightly better. Click on the thumbnail to the left to see a 100% crop comparison for noise between the Panasonic GX7 and the OM-D E-M5. After enlarging, you will need to click the green arrow at the bottom of the screen to view the image full size.
Noise is well controlled through ISO 3200, and even ISO 6400 is quite usable for 8×10 prints and screen usage. Even the higher sensitivities are quite usable for web shots or for situations where you absolutely must have the shot. One advantage, as mentioned above, is that the higher sensitivities maintain neutral color balance, so the ISO 25,600 shots can be used quite well for web use in a pinch.
I am predominantly a RAW shooter, but I tested out the Panasonic’s JPEG engine to see how it performs. Unfortunately, I still think the high quality JPEG output on the GX7 is a little overly compressed, and the color reproduction isn’t as robust as on some of its competition. One very nice feature, however, is that you can carefully tweak the contrast curve and other parameters to fit your desired style for JPEG output. This allows you to take control of your JPEG images, though unfortunately this can’t be applied after the shot.
As mentioned at the beginning of the review, I am a stills photographer and am not particularly qualified to evaluate the video capabilities of a camera. The GX7 does offer multiple video recording modes, including 1080p/60/50 and the much desired cinematic 24p. Video quality is very nice, with no obvious artifacting and low noise even at moderately high ISOs. You can shoot in all the main program modes for video as well as full manual, and autofocus is maintained during shooting. Videographers will lament the inability to use the IBIS during video shooting and the lack of an external microphone input, but overall video quality is on a very high level.