It looks like Fuji is not the only company with big news today, with Panasonic also officially announcing their new Lumix DMC-G7 Micro Four Thirds camera.
Just like the Fuji X-T10, this Panasonic starts at a hair under $800, which places it squarely in serious amateur territory and in direct competition with the aforementioned Fuji camera, as well as with the Olympus OM-D E-M10, which debuted at $699 but is now being sold dirt-cheap on Amazon for $449 body only.
The biggest features of the new G7 camera are, of course, 4K video recording at up to 30 fps and a very handy new mode called 4K Photo, which allows you to select individual frames of any prerecorded 4K video footage, resulting in 8 MP still images. This means you effectively get an 8 MP, 30 fps burst rate, which should ensure you always get the perfect shot. It also includes an electronic shutter option, capable of going up to 1/16,000th of a second.
Physically, the new G7 feels like a carbon copy of the Olympus OM-D E-M1, albeit only cosmetically. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include nearly as many features and its build quality isn’t quite up to the same standard, but that’s understandable.
A bit more disappointing is the fact that this new Lumix camera still fails to address the two biggest long-standing issues I have with most Panasonic bodies:
Still no In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS). Given how much praise the Olympus IBIS technology has received, you’d think Panasonic would take note but alas, not yet. Granted, most Panasonic-designed Micro Four Thirds lenses have IS built in, but the last few Olympus cameras have clearly proven that building IS in the camera body is clearly the best way to go in terms of performance and overall long-term cost of building a system.
No weather-sealing. Perhaps it’s too much to ask of an entry-level camera but still, it would have been a welcome addition.
Now, if the E-M10 was still being sold for $699, I’d perhaps understand wanting to purchase this new G7 instead, especially if you shoot a lot of video. There’s no doubt the Panasonic camera is the one to get for video, but I’m having quite a bit of trouble thinking of any other good reasons to buy it. And when you factor in the current price of the E-M10 well, the situation doesn’t get any better for the G7.
Honestly, with that kind of a price difference I’m not sure what to think of the G7. If you’re primarily a stills shooter, the E-M10 strikes me as a much better value, offering nearly everything the G7 does — except the electronic shutter and the 4K capabilities — for a little over half the money. Since I have no interest in 4K video or stills, that $350 difference is a pretty hefty premium to pay for an electronic shutter, if you ask me. And this is without mentioning the excellent 3-axis IBIS of the E-M10, which is incredibly useful in everyday shooting.
The landscape in the Micro Four Thirds system right now is incredibly interesting. On one hand, Olympus is making killer bodies every year, and now they’re kicking it up a notch with their PRO line of lenses. On the other hand, Panasonic has released several optical gems in the past few years, like the Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 and the Summilux 25mm f/1.4. I find it incredibly funny that one company seems to excel at making awesome prime lenses and the other at making awesome bodies.
If I had to choose today, I’d definitely go with an Olympus body and if money was no object, I’d take a serious look at those Panasonic primes, especially if you’re into fast glass. And if you’re more of a zoom person, the Olympus PRO lenses are definitely a no-brainer. Of course, your mileage may vary. In any case, at the end of the day having two major companies pushing each other and pushing the system forward can only be good for customers.
The Panasonic Lumix G7 will be released on June 15, 2015 for $797.99 body only. If you feel like it could be you cup of tea, you can preorder it on Amazon.