Panasonic G7 and some really clever stuff

4K Photo still from above footage

Some of the 'innovations' digital camera manufacturers come up, complete with technobabble, are marginally useful to say the least. When they work that is. However, Panasonic, despite only being in the serious camera making business for a short while are one of the best in what they offer to serious photographers. As opposed to gear head leisure photographers that is.

OLED viewfinder, pin point focus, 4K photo and Ex Tele converter being some of the really useful stuff they have come up with. And now they gave another neat 'trick' which may seem gimmicky at first, but turns out to be very helpful. When looking through the EVF, if I have the screen flipped out to the side, I can move my finger or thumb around the touch screen to change the point of focus. It doesn't lock on or take the picture, the shutter button is required to do that, but it selects the focus point I want and since I have the camera set to spot metering it gives me the exposure I want to. All the stills and video shot above were using this method. And all are straight out of the camera, no editing. As you can see all the images and footage are exposed for the highlights which is what I wanted. It may sound fiddly, but it's not. It is in fact really easy to use. Once I discovered it I use it all the time and it saves time editing since I'm getting the exposure I want without having to 'Photoshop it' to get it right. 

Now when I have the time I'll be doing a comparison between the G7 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. And it's become apparent very quickly that the G7 has some advantages. 4K video being the obvious one and the others I've mentioned above. Certainly it's a better hybrid stills / video than the Olympus and from what I see, every bit the equal of the Olympus in terms of still image quality. I don't see any difference in AF speed either. Now the Olympus has IBIS and high-res mode. I'm not going to get into the lens versus body stabilisation debate again, but again I see little difference between the Panasonic lens OIS and Olympus IBIS. Whether that's important depends on the lenses you use and what and how you shoot. As to high-res mode, it's great for studio and still-life work, but for my outdoor work, pretty much useless in the windy UK. 

So the usual Panasonic > Olympus leap frog is going on. And in terms of what we all want there are some choices here. And certainly one of my choices is between Olympus and Panasonic menus. Now I've used both brands equally and I've never been able to get my head around how Olympus structure their manual and software controls. In fact it's the only make of camera where I'm actually unsure of what I might do to change things. For example, a couple of times I've ended up with a situation where the live view screen doesn't change with the EVF. The rear screen just 'locks up' showing the quick menu only. I've been through the entire set of menu items and the manual to see what I might have done and can find no answers. The camera was fine when I turned it off, but not when I switched it back on again. On both occasions I have to do the multi button pressing 'secret' way of completely resetting the camera. Also, unlike the Panasonic, when the articulated screen is flipped out fully to the side, the EVF goes off. I can't look through the EVF and have the screen fully out, which is useless for how I shoot hand held video. So for me Panasonic have the much better set up for controlling the camera and getting it to do what I want.

The G7 is a very impressive camera, for stills and especially for video, which is an area where Panasonic can claim, with some justification, to be class leaders. And, for me it may just be more impressive than the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. And that's exactly the way it should be. Because if new models being released doesn't mean that we get more for our money, then there is something wrong somewhere. So if you are interested in shooting some serious video on a budget, or if you just want a light small camera to do that, then do have a look at the G7. It's got a lot of really clever stuff beneath that polycarbonate exterior.