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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Comments

The electronic shutter movement distortion is similar to the distortion caused by a focal plane shutter's traveling narrow slit. This distortion was usually seen on older large format cameras where a narrow slit was used to give a "high shutter speed" but it took a while for the slit to travel across the whole film plane.

Here is an old race car photo that really exaggerates the effect...
http://maisonbisson.com/post/10531/focal-plane-shutter-distortion/

In case no one else has said, thank you very much for this.

What about the rear screen? The screen on my relatively new GX1 is peeling or flaking off at an alarming rate starting from the edges. Very soft and easily scratched.

Thank you Carl. It has been so helpful to read a detailed response to the GX7 from someone whose work impresses me as much as yours does.

My only complaint about the responsiveness is that if you make the EVF come on when you bring your eye up, it takes a split-second (maybe a 1/2 a second?) to turn the EVF on. If you're REALLY reacting fast that delay can cause you miss the shot. However, I give the camera credit for letting you shoot the frame even if the EVF is awake yet - you just have to accept the potential of a very loose frame if things appear so fast.

"Testing with a 20mm ƒ/1.7 I found the stabilization began to improve my results consistently at 1/30 sec., and by 1/8 sec. it was much better than me, though not entirely reliable."

Other testers have found it to be particularly effective, compared even to the Oly 5 axis IS, at low speeds down to about 1/8 sec. I speculate that this may be intentional tuning for the ~1/10 second it takes for the electronic shutter to read the sensor.

It seems odd to me that the first, and often only, thing testers do is test IS at very slow speeds with short focal lengths. I'm much more interested in how it does at moderate shutter speeds and longer focal lengths. How does it perform at 150 mm and 1/60 or less or 300 mm and 1/120 or less?

These are common speeds with slowish long lenses and subject to either shutter shock blurring or the delay necessary with Oly's Anti-Shock settings. The electronic shutter completely eliminates the shutter shock, but one also needs good IS at these focal lengths.

'I think Panasonic should have made the GX7 "splash-proof."'

In some reviews and blogs, the difference in the buttons on the GX7 and E-M5 has been attributed to the weather sealing of the Oly. The Oly buttons feel sort of squishy, with a relatively long throw; the Panny buttons are short and crisp in action.

I don't know what a splash proof Panny implementation would be like, nor does the difference bother me, but apparently it does others. Free lunches are uncommon.

"I don't like to use continuous autofocus, but a nice touch is that in single AF, as you raise the camera to your eye, when it switches to the EVF the autofocus is automatically triggered, as though you had half-pressed the shutter."

In case anyone thinks this might bug them, this feature may be switched off. Mine is off at the moment.

Thanks for the review.

Moose

Thanks for the interesting review Carl. Not sure if this will work as well with the GX7, but with a Nikon 1 I find if I put a finger over the eye sensor while raising the camera, the EVF is usually ready by the time the camera is at eye level.

The thing that's impressed me the most about my GX7 is the ability to recover highlights from a RAW file. I'm sure it's a sensor generation thing but it's light years ahead of my former Olympus e-pl3, and not far off my full frame D700.

Great review. For me, a feature that adds to the responsiveness of the GX7 is its touchscreen. You can use it like a trackpad to position the AF point anywhere in the frame, even when you are looking through the EVF. Other Panasonic cameras have this feature. But, as far as I'm aware, no other camera brand has it. I'd much rather have this than faster AF on a DSLR, as being able to position the AF point speedily is more useful to me.

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for the life of me I don't why the GX7 is referred to as a handsome camera. It reminds a lot of the Sony NEX series, which have all the appeal to me of a dishwasher.

Now the Fuji X100S, or even the little X10/X20s, those are handsome cameras.

Even the Olympus OM-D E-M5 appeals because it reminds me so much of my OM-1, which I personally think was the most beautiful SLR ever made.

@Steven Scharf: I think my GX7s are some of the nicest looking cameras I've ever had.

I also think that the GX7 (I have two of them) are, for my purposes, the best cameras I have ever had. Not the highest IQ, but my criteria don't lean too hard on IQ.

Like Carl says, I wish they were at least splash-proof; I also like to shoot on rainy days.

Three more things:

I have fairly large hands, and the lugs for the straps and the straps themselves can get in the way.

I don't know why I do this, but I sometimes want to get my eye close to the LCD screen to look at what I've shot. (I often unconsciously cock my wrist when shooting vertically, and the horizon gets tilted.) But when I look closely, the eye sensor picks that up, and turns the screen off (and turns the EVF on.) I do that at least 9 times a day; I wish the detector were slightly less sensitive.

The second-shot time is way too slow. More than a second, I think. So, I keep it in burst mode, where the response is much faster, but I don't really want a burst, but just a quick sequence of frames. You can actually shoot a single frame in burst mode, by pressing the shutter release firmly, then quickly taking your finger away, but when I do that, I tend to press the right side of the camera down and I get the horizon problem again. A technique problem, true, but I haven't been able to completely fix it, and I wouldn't have to completely fix it if the second-shot response was better in single-shot mode.

Moose, interesting thought that the OIS may be optimized for short/normal lenses at really slow speeds. Partly to help with the silent mode, but also perhaps because Lumix longer lenses tend to be stabilized already. If you mount a stabilized lens, the camera defaults to that system, not the in-body one, with no apparent override possible, which seems an indication that the in-lens system works better. I have a 45-200, but I can't test it with the in-camera stabilization. I almost never use long lenses so I don't have anything else to experiment with.

Thank you for presenting such an elaborate and thoughtful review of the GX7' Carl. Much more experientially informative than most reviews.

OK, I have to confess to giggling at your praise of the camera's "responsiveness"; compared to the 50lbs of 19th century photo gear you normally use I would imagine that any digital camera would seem responsive!

Kidding aside, though, you make the keen, and perhaps most salient, point that the secret sauce of a camera's usability is how closely it can unobtrusively extend your senses. That, of course, was a big portion of what propelled the Leica M cameras to popularity during the least century. With practice the old film M cameras just became extensions of the eye.

My own rule is that when I find such a camera I never let it go.

"I'm sure it's a sensor generation thing but it's light years ahead of my former Olympus e-pl3"

All the E-Pens, from E-P1 through your E-PL3 and the E-PM1, have the same sensor and take the same images.

The E-M5 changed that, with much the same highlight recovery potential as the GX7. The following E-Pens then use that better sensor, so far.

I assume you were not using Oly's Viewer software? As it is hopeless at highlight recovery, and would make the E-Pens (and E-M5, E-M1) appear much worse than they are. ACR does recover highlights from them, just not as well as from the later sensor.

Moose

"when I look closely, the eye sensor picks that up, and turns the screen off (and turns the EVF on.) I do that at least 9 times a day; I wish the detector were slightly less sensitive."

There are two sensitivity settings for the sensor; low helps me. It may also be turned off.

Moose

"Moose, interesting thought that the OIS may be optimized for short/normal lenses at really slow speeds. Partly to help with the silent mode, but also perhaps because Lumix longer lenses tend to be stabilized already."

Makes sense. OTOH, the only comparison I've seen with a long lens, 400 mm, seems to show the GX7 IS outperforming the E-M5. I've not done any formal comparisons, but the Panny has worked well for me at 300 mm so far.

"If you mount a stabilized lens, the camera defaults to that system, not the in-body one, with no apparent override possible,"

I gather from reviews that some lenses have an IS off switch. Otherwise, correct.

"which seems an indication that the in-lens system works better.:

Panny are clear in saying that is so in their written material.

"I have a 45-200, but I can't test it with the in-camera stabilization. I almost never use long lenses so I don't have anything else to experiment with."

I wasn't really complaining, as you rely primarily on shorter lenses. Just commenting on something about which there is little info from any tests I've seen thus far.

Thanks again for the review.

Moose

Moose, "I gather from reviews that some lenses have an IS off switch"

That just turns off the lens OIS, it doesn't enable the in-body, which makes sense if you're going to use a long lens on a tripod and so want no stabilization active.

Ken, I started using Leica's in 1967, and while the GX7 can do a zillion things better, it's not as *responsive* as an M4.

John, it's almost impossible to let off a single shot in high burst, but with a bit of practice (aided by an abusive amount of marksmanship training in childhood) it's manageable in medium. There's also a slow burst setting which might still be more responsive than single. Also, the strap lugs aren't placed terribly well for large hands, but to quote "the 'Ol Man" once again, "you don't expect the tool to understand you, you learn to use the tool." Plus I can't really see where else they could have put them.

I'm posting late but thank you for the excellent review, Carl. It assisted me mightily in my decision to purchase a GX7. I just ordered it yesterday.

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