The Lumix GF7 is a interesting development of the compact system camera format. Making it easier and more fun to shoot selfies is something that many people will welcome and with features like Jump snap, Buddy and Face mode, the GF7 really has something fresh to offer.
Of course Panasonic isn’t the only manufacturer trying to court selfie shooters with an eye for something that’s more advanced than a phone or a compact and fashionable looks rather than (or perhaps as well as) photo nerd credentials. Both the Olympus PEN E-PL7 and Samsung NX3000 have forward facing screens but neither offer the ease of selfie shooting or innovative features of the GF7.
As well as facing forward, the PEN E-PL7 has a touch screen, but while you can tap to focus and shoot, Olympus doesn’t make nearly as much of its touch-screen as Panasonic. There are no special selfie shooting modes and no screen controls. For example if you want to set a self-timer on the PEN E-PL7 you’ve got to press the controls on the back – quite a tricky manouver when you’re holding the camera at arms length with the screen facing forwards. And even then, though the options are displayed on the screen, you need to use the rear controls to select them.
Like the Lumix GF7, The NX3000 goes into Self shot mode when you flip its screen up into the forward-facing position, but it lacks a touch screen, so once again, if you want to change anything you have to turn the camera around and use the rear controls. To be fair, the NX3000 does have smile and wink detection, so its possible to take selfies without having to press the shutter release.
There is of course much, much more to all of these models than selfie shooting and even if you never point it in the direction of your own face, the Lumix GF7 has a lot to offer. It’s one of the smallest compact system cameras on the market and is pretty pocketable when fitted with the 12-32mm kit lens which produces excellent results in combination with the GF7’s 16 Megapixel sensor.It has a good range of exposure modes with intelligent Auto at one end of the scale and PASM modes at the other, plus a wide selection of customisable effects filters, a panorama mode and time-lapse and stop motion animation features. As a video camera it surpasses both the PEN E-PL7 and the Samsung NX3000 with a 1080p50/60 best quality mode and the choice of AVCHD or MP4 video codecs. And for casual movie makers there’s the new Snap movie feature that assembles a series of short clips into a single movie.
You can tap the GF7’s screen to focus during movie shooting, something that’s also possible on the Olympus PEN E-PL7. The E-PL7’s best quality video mode is 1080p30, though it does offer PASM exposure control for movies, as does the Samsung NX3000. Another advantage the PEN E-PL7 has is a movie position on the mode dial which allows you to frame up your shot properly on screen.
The Lumix GF7 is wifi equipped and it’s possible both to upload photos to sharing sites, transfer images to a phone and remotely control the camera. Panasonic’s Image App is one of the best, providing easy transfer of images and a high degree of control over the camera. Add to that the new Jump snap feature, which uses the accelerometer in your phone to fire the shutter when you leap into the air, and it’s a hard act to follow. That said, both the Olympus PEN E-PL7 and Samsung NX300 Provide Wifi connectivity too. Although the PEN E-PL7 allows you switch modes from the remote app, it doesn’t provide quite the same degree of control, nor does it allow you to upload to sharing and social networking sites, though that’s arguably a little superfluous as you can do that once images are transferred to your phone.
The Lumix GF7 is a great little camera and I really enjoyed using it. If you take lot of selfies it is, without doubt, the best option, combining ease of use and fun, innovative modes while at the same time offering most of the things you’d expect from an advanced mirrorless compact system camera. The lack of a viewfinder, or the means to fit one, and the absence of a hot shoe are things that the target audience can probably live without. The poor battery life is disappointing, but not enough to deprive the GF7 of a well-deserved Recommended award.
Forward facing touch-screen.
Self shot and Jump snap modes.
Wifi with smartphone remote control.
Compact and lightweight.
Lacks an electronic viewfinder.
No hot shoe.
Poor battery life.