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Panasonic Lumix G7K, a great video camera in 2018

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Why am I talking about Panasonic Lumix G7 when I already own GH5S and GH5?

The short story is that I am a tech journalist and I travel globally to cover Open Source events. I am evolving into a video journalist. And today a majority of my work is created in audio visual format. I record on-site video interviews with technologists and business leaders to tell stories.

My ideal multi-camera setup is comprised of one camera with a wide angle lens, as well as my trusted Leica 12mm 1.4, to capture my guest and It in the same frame.

The second camera, with the legendary nocticron 42.5, looks at my guest and the third camera with Leica 12-35mm 1.4 stares at me.

I am window shopping for my 3rd camera to accompany GH5 and GH5S.

I don’t want to spend another $2500 on GH5S as the 3rd camera. Even GH5 would be expensive at $1700. I already have 4 Leica lenses, so I don’t have to worry about lenses. All I need is an inexpensive camera body to capture the wide angle shot. After looking at Sony, Canon & Nikon, I have shortlisted two Panasonic cameras.

G7 and G85.

When I was playing with the G7, I realized this is an incredible camera at that price point. It could be a great camera for someone wants to start vlogging or a journalist who is evolving into a video journalist just like me. Or perhaps for an average user who is looking for a great affordable camera for videos and still photography.

Here are the Seven features of G7 that I love about this camera:

1) A flip out screen. As a solo shooter, I need to see the frame. I need to know the battery and recoding status when I am in front of the camera, either in a vlog mode or if am interviewing someone.

The flip out screen of G7 solves that problem.

It also allows you to shoot from different and difficult angles. If you are behind a crowd, you can hold the camera up and shoot.

It’s a full touch screen so you can use it for focussing or changing settings of the cameras. Panasonic is known for their user friendly e touch interface.

It’s a very bright screen, so you can work outdoors in the broad daylight without any worry.

And if you need, it also has EVF, electronic viewfinder, which you can use if you want to shoot stills. In fact you can also use it while recording videos. I prefer the screen but you do get that option with this camera.

2) 4K recording. I don’t shoot in 1080 any more. There are so many advantages of shooting in 4k. We can talk about it some other time. Here is not the right time or place for that discussion. As a 4K shooter, G7 does an incredible job.

3) CineD flat profile. CineD offers a few more stop so you do get some dynamic range which you can manipulate in post production. A flatter profiles also helps me in color correcting the footage that I shoot with all three cameras.

4) Microphone input. If you are going to use this camera for vlogging or interviewing, you need an external microphone. In fact you should never use built-in microphone for any serious recording. No matter how expensive the cameras is built-in mics suck. You can easily use Rode microphone with G7 and get the sound that the 4K footage deserves

5) Wifi capability of the camera. I use it heavily for my shoots, especially for the solo shows like these ones. I use the Panasonic Image app on my Note 8 and the iPhone X to control the camera remotely. It bring complete control of your camera at your fingertips. I don’t worry about focus, fstop or aperture. Imount the camera on my tripod and then enter the set with my guest. Even if the camera is 5 feet away from me, I have total control over it. I can’t live without this feature.

6) Great battery life. I get over 2 hours of battery life when recording videos on this camera. That means almost 4 interviews. Beat that Sony!

7) Interchangeable lens. G7 a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lens. It comes with a 14-42mm kit lens, which is OK in good lighting conditions. But if you are serious about videography and photography, I will suggest investing in some good Leica glass. You can continue to use these lenses as you upgrade your camera bodies.

G7 can also be a great photography camera

If you invest in good glass, G7 can take great photographs. You can also shoot 4K photo that creates an mp4 file and you can extract that exact moment that you want.

G7 can also does the post shoot magic where you can change focus *after* taking a picture.

Thanks to the wifi app, you can easily execute long exposure and bulb shots to explore your creativity. While CineD is not available for still photography, you do get a raw file with enough data to play with.

The camera also comes with a built in flash, which makes it a perfect family camera. The images will be far better than what you get on your $1000+ iPhone X.

Enough good stuff. We all know, no one is perfect and G7 is no exception. It has its own shortcomings and weaknesses.

G7 has a plastic body which is not weather sealed. If you are planning to work in extreme conditions, you might have to reconsider.

The video recording on this camera is limited to 30 minutes. The recording will stop automatically and you will have to hit the record button again. But do you really need to record something that lasts more than 30 minutes? In contrasts GH5S, GH5 and G85 can shoot continuously. As long as there is space on the SD card, it will shoot.

The camera uses Microsoft’s fat32 file system for the SD card, which means it creates multiple files of 4.26 GB each. So a ten minute long shoot would mean 5-6 files.

I have not noticed any dropped frames so it should not be a concern.

Some people criticized the placement of the SD card in the battery compartment at the bottom of the camera. I don’t see any problem with my Manfrotto mount place. I can easily replace cards and batteries.

That’s pretty much all the drawback that I found in this camera. But the benefits overweights these drawbacks.

Here are some closing thoughts: At the price of $597, you get an excellent camera that can record 4K videos. You can use the best lens out there from the Leica family. Flip out screen, wifi app, interchangeable lens, microphone inputs…it’s a steal. If you are searching for your first micro or third camera for vlogging or video journalism, I think you won’t be disappointed with G7.

It’s 2018, but G7 is still a great camera.

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