The Lumix GF camera range was once the starting point for interchangeable lens compacts, but now that Panasonic has the tiny Lumix GM1 there were few reasons to step up to the almost two-year-old Lumix GF6. That changed in January when the company introduced the GF7, a successor with a smaller body and selfie-friendly flip-up touchscreen display.
The GF7 is available to buy now, but seeing as we hadn’t actually put one through its paces yet, we made sure to take a look when visiting the Panasonic stand at this year’s Photography Show in Birmingham, in order to get some first impressions.
Looking at the GF7 side-by-side with the GF6 shows just how far the range has come in a single generation. The GF7 borrows more styling from the GM1 and enthusiast-levelLumix GX7 than it does from GF models gone by, with retro-inspired looks, silver metal trim and a choice of colours. It’s also a lot smaller; you’ll still struggle to squeeze it into a pocket, even with the 12-32mm kit lens locked in its travel position, but it doesn’t weigh very much and won’t weigh down your camera bag.
The mixture of metals and plastics are a clear indicator that Panasonic has built this camera to meet a specific price, but it doesn’t feel cheap. You still get a built-in flash, and the lack of buttons on the back of the body aren’t really an issue on account of the wonderful 3in touchscreen display. It is clear, responsive and, of course, able to flip up 180-degrees for those all important selfies. You can’t flip it down or to the side, however, which may limit your creativity when it comes to more extreme angles. Naturally there’s no EVF, given the size of the camera.
Panasonic hasn’t skimped in terms of connectivity, with both Wi-Fi and NFC for quickly pairing a smartphone. We’ve used Panasonic’s Image Ap frequently in the past and it works just as well here, letting you download photos wirelessly to your phone or control the camera remotely. There’s no GPS built into the camera, but you can geotag your photos using your phone instead.
A pop-out flash is a welcome addition for low light shooting, but there’s no hot shoe for adding a more powerful flash at a later date.
Underneath all the connectivity and features, the GF7 is still a very competent CSC. A 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, Venus image processor, 200-25600 ISO range and 23-AF points are essentially a match for the rest of Panasonic’s Four Thirds cameras, so image quality should be on par with the likes of the GF6 and GM1 (depending on which lens you opt for).
Unsurprisingly there’s a fully automatic mode on the mode dial, as Panasonic is aiming the GF7 at photographers making the leap from a fixed lens compact. There are several fun modes and effects too, but more advanced users will appreciate ASM modes and full control over ISO, shutter, aperture and other settings.
The Lumix GF7 is available to buy now for around £429, putting it in direct competition with the Samsung NX Mini, Olympus Pen E-PL7 and Sony’s A5100. We’ll have to wait until we give it the full review treatment to see how well it stacks up to its rivals, but based on a short play with it at the Photography Show it certainly has potential, particularly if you’re after a very compact CSC that’s designed with amateurs as well as enthusiasts in mind.