Panasonic GX7 Owner assessment - Part 2 - Design, layout, build quality.

Panasonic GX7 Olympus 17.5mm f/1.8 prime lens.

There are a lots of things I like about the GX7, but none of them are the tilting EVF. That I find pretty much a waste of time. Some people may like looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame when they take a picture, but I'm not one of them. I tried it but it's seriously uncomfortable and for the life of me I can't see a use for it other than setting it up on a tripod for a low angle shot in vertical orientation. For horizontal I'd use the screen. I'm also not interested in wi-fi, or the touch screen. So having got that out of the way what do I like?

Well I like the stuff that helps me as a photographer. The EVF is actually really nice and bright and clear. It's not OLED but it does work (just about) with my polarised sunglasses. It's also better than the GH3 EVF which is OLED but not that great. The GX7 finder is also built in, which is a great improvement over the previous add on versions in Panasonics cameras of this size. It's also on the left of the camera which I like. No nose jammed on the screen here. Incidentally I don't get this right and left eye thing. Unless they have a particular problem with one eye how come people don't use either eye in a camera viewfinder? I switch all the time. Usually depending on the angle of sun. If using my right eye means I get dazzled and can't see properly I switch and vice versa. With centre viewfinders I again use either eye. I can understand right and left handed but this I don't. And I wear glasses or sunglasses when I'm shooting.

The screen is nice, though sticking the 4:3 image in the middle of a 16:9 ratio finder isn't exactly the best use of screen real estate. I like the layout and the dials and it feels comfortable to use. It has a decent grip for a change. There are some nice touches, like the battery / card compartment angled and to the right when you're behind the camera, which makes it accessible when I'm using my Carry Speed viewfinder for shooting video. This is a much better position for this compartment. Video button is nicely out of the way as well. 

Having used a lot of Panasonic cameras I felt at ease with the layout and the menus, and it only took me a few minutes to have it set up how I wanted it. But the thing that impressed me the most was the build quality. This is by some distance the best build quality I ever seen in a Panasonic camera. The thing just oozes class and it's MUCH nicer than it looks in pictures. Most Lumix cameras are ugly suckers, but this one is actually rather nice. Again it looks better in 3-D reality than on a 2-D page. And it feels really good too. It was smaller than I thought it was going to be, but heavier which I like and for what is after all a small camera, it has a really sturdy, robust feel to it. Who knows what the metal / polycarbonate ratio is and in my case who cares. It's just nice to work with. I have to say it feels better built than my Fuji's, it's way better than any NEX I've used and the closest I can think of in terms of what I've owned is that it's a scaled down version of my late lamented Leica X-Vario, which for me is high praise. Now if only Leica had used this viewfinder instead of the Olympus one, I'd still have it.

So, all in all, why did I buy it? Well I wanted to stay with m4/3 and I wanted a smaller camera than the GH3. Plus I wanted focus peaking which the GH3 doesn't have (it works very well) and I will forgive a camera an awful lot if it has an electronic shutter. I just love those things and after having endured the A7r clunk for a while now it was a welcome relief. I haven't had a chance to get out with it yet since the weather here is abysmal. Cold and wet. Tomorrow there is supposed to be some sun so I could be busy. I have this plus my Sigma 20mm and Sony 85mm to check out on the A7r.

Incidentally fitted with the 14-140mm the GX7 is sublime. The lens doesn't 'overpower' the camera in any way. I did a real double take when I fitted the lens, picked it up and started shooting with it (indoors of course!) I suddenly realised that this small package was 16MP of superzoom and was almost the focal length equivalent of the Nikon D7000 I had fitted with an 18-200mm zoom. In a much lighter smaller package and at low ISO's just as good in terms of image quality. Nice to have a body that suits the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 I've only used a few times as well. I'm planning to fit that for my first excursion with the camera.

So all in all a very positive start. I certainly like it better than I thought I would. When it first came out I thought it was too expensive and I was disappointed by no OLED EVF. However it seems I can work round that and I'm quite excited by the thought of using it. Above all it feels like a 'photographers camera' and I haven't felt that way about a small Panasonic since the GF1, though it has to be said that with it's terrible EVF and lack of decent grip that camera was a bit of a pain to use. The GX7 is going to suit me a lot more I think. I can even put it in my pocket!!!!!

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