Panasonic has just announced the successor to the Lumix DMC-GX1, but instead of going with the next number up, the new one is called the Lumix DMC-GX7. The GX7's notable new features include a 2,764K-dot tilting LVF (live viewfinder), a 1,040K-dot tilting rear touch-screen, optical image stabilization (a first for Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras) and a newly designed 16MP image sensor.
Other features include the ability to shoot at a maximum 1/8000th of a second, focus peaking for precise manual focus, 1080/60p/50p/24p video shooting with full-time and tracking AF. A new Silent Mode switches the shutter from mechanical to electronic and turns off all sound while shooting. The GX7 comes with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, and is built with a magnesium alloy full die-cast frame.
Two dials sit on the front (around the shutter release) and back to offer direct control over exposure settings, and a One Shot AF function can be set to the back AF/AE Lock button, which sits inside an AF/MF Switch Lever. Live View has been enhanced, you can now adjust highlights and shadows by monitoring the bright and dark areas in a frame separately. The Fn (Function) tab is now integrated into the menu, which means you can customize a total of nine controls (5 on-screen, 4 dedicated buttons). The built-in flash has a fast sync speed of 1/320th of a second.
The Lumix GX7 will be sold as the body alone, with the new 20mm f/1.7 II lens, or with the standard 14-42mm kit lens. The camera is expected to launch some time in late September or early October, with the price yet to be announced.
The LVF can tilt up to 90 degrees and is the answer for many who like the compact design of the GX1 and the Olympus EP-5 but felt the lack of a built-in viewfinder. The LVF comes with a 2,764K-dot resolution screen with approx. 100% color reproduction and field of view, curiously enough it has a 16:9 wide-screen orientation. It comes with an eye sensor which automatically turns it on or off according to whether your eye is held up to it or not, and once you look into the LVF the auto-focus starts working to capture the shot.
The 16MP Live MOS sensor inside the GX7 is brand new; which Panasonic says will produce both high resolution and high sensitivity with minimum noise. The photodiode in each pixel has been enlarged thanks to cutting-edge semi-conductor technology, and that results in a 10% improvement in color saturation and 10% higher sensitivity to light. Noise generation has also been minimized while detail reproduction has improved by approximately 10% when compared to the GX1. When combined with the Venus Engine image processor, the GX7's new sensor can achieve a maximum sensitivity of ISO 25,600.
And in a first for Panasonic's mirrorless system cameras, the GX7 comes with built-in optical image stabilization, which the company says works as effectively as its Mega O.I.S. technology. Panasonic has previously been relying on optical stabilization built into its MFT lenses, and this new move is no doubt in reaction to the edge Olympus has gained with the leading-class 5-axis image stabilization in its E-M5 and E-P5 cameras.
We've always lauded Panasonic's auto-focus systems on their MFT cameras, and the GX7 will come with the Light Speed AF technology found on their latest. The GX7's AF Tracking can work shooting up to 4.3 frames per second (fps), otherwise the GX7 can max out at 5 fps and 40 fps using an electronic shutter. Low Light AF, found on the Lumix G6 and GF6, makes it possible to focus in low-light up to -4 EV, even without the use of the AF assist lamp.
Pin-point AF is included, which allows users to set magnification from 3x to 10x, and picture-in-picture is also available. Focus peaking is available in manual focus (MF) mode, and you can use AF even while in MF mode by pressing the AF lock button to set focus on the subject once.
The GX7 introduces a tilting monitor to the GX line, with a 1,040K-dot high resolution touch-screen. The monitor tilts up by 45 degrees and down by 80 degrees. Reflection is reduced by directly attaching the LCD to the front panel without an air layer in-between, and with the 20% increase in color resolution, Panasonic says the monitor is more visible in the outdoor light.
Coming nearly two years after the GX1 means that the GX7 is going up against considerable competition, namely the Olympus Pen E-P5 and OM-D E-M5 (and whatever new OM-Ds might or might not be coming later this year) in the same Micro Four Thirds camp, the Sony NEX cameras with their small but growing stable of lenses, and the Fujifilm X-series which has a small but already great selection of lenses.
While the Lumix GX7 comes with a few advantages, like the built-in LVF and Panasonic's fast auto-focus system, it remains to be seen whether or not the new 16MP sensor can match the outstanding 16MP sensor found in the E-M5 and E-P5. If the GX7's sensor can at least match the ISO capabilities of its bigger brother the GH3, which we found to equal the E-M5 while shooting in raw, then the new camera might have a good chance. But then again, while the GX7 comes with modern features like Wi-Fi, it doesn't have the leading-class 5-axis image stabilization found in Olympus' latest mirrorless cameras.
But these are early impressions based on paper specs, keep in touch for a more fully fleshed out preview of the camera based on real-world use, coming soon.