Panasonic G7

The Perfect 4K Companion to the GH4?
By Sol March in Resources

Forget the hype, Panasonic’s new G7 will not replace the GH4– but could it be the perfect companion to the GH4?

While Panasonic’s GH-series of cameras (such as the GH4) are popular among video professionals, their G-series cameras usually don’t get as much attention due to their more photo-centric feature set.

That’s changed with the G7.

While the G7 won’t replace the GH4 as your primary video production camera, there are several reasons why this $700 hybrid camera may be an ideal B-camera for GH4 shooters.

We’ll dig into those reasons shortly, but first, let’s take a look at why the G7 won’t replace your GH4.

This is not the GH4 Killer You’re Looking For

There are a lot of exciting buzzwords floating around the G7 that can easily cloud our judgment, so let’s cut through the fog– the G7 is not a GH4-killer.

The G7 lacks certain key features that are essential for a primary video production camera:

  • No headphone jack — No way for you to monitor audio.
  • Video recording is limited to 30 minutes — The G7 stops recording at 29 minutes and 59 seconds, while the GH4 has no time limit (except for the EU model).
  • UHD only — The G7 does not shoot DCI 4K like the GH4.
  • Limited HD recording — HD video is recorded in AVCHD on the G7, which maxes out at 28Mbps, while the GH4 can record at bitrates as high as 200Mbps.
  • Limited slow-motion capabilities — The G7 maxes out at 60fps (2.5x slow-motion) when shooting HD, while the GH4 shoots at up to 96fps (4x slow-motion).
  • Not weather sealed — The GH4 goes anywhere, but the G7 goes back in the bag when it starts getting misty.
  • Cheaper construction — The G7 features more plastic compared to the GH4’s robust magnesium-alloy construction.
  • Not a world camera — The G7 only shoots in NTSC or PAL (depending on your region), not both like the GH4 can.

Simply put, unless you just want a camera for shooting home videos in 4K, the G7 simply isn’t going to cut it as your primary camera. In fact, the G7 is not even practical as a backup camera for the GH4 due to its limitations.

However, the story changes if you’re a GH4 shooter looking for an affordable B-camera to add a 2nd angle to your projects.

The G7 is Affordable

Panasonic G7 Product Page

The G7 costs only $699. That’s a whole grand less than the GH4. This means that you can buy two G7’s for the price of one GH4, and still have enough left over for some good memory cards and a comfy camera bag.

Unfortunately, the G7 is only initially available as $799 kit that includes a 14-42mm lens. This is not a great lens, so I would recommend selling it immediately and pick up something better. Here’s a few options to get you started:

Further Reading: Lens Options for the Panasonic GH4 — all of the guides in this series for the GH4 are applicable to the G7 as well.

The G7 Shoots 4K

Panasonic 4K

Say it with me: 4K for $700.

Indeed, this single feature is the reasons for most of the excitement around the G7, but it’s also what makes it a viable B-camera when shooting 4K with the GH4.

Despite its limitations when recording HD video, the G7’s 4K capabilities have somehow avoided the chopping block. You can shoot in 4K (UHD) at 24P and 30P at the same 100Mbps bitrate as the GH4. This means that the G7’s 4K image quality should match up well with 4K footage from the GH4.

The G7 is Easy to Match

Aside from image quality, matching the look of footage from different cameras can be a real issue, especially if the cameras are from different manufacturers.

However, the G7 uses the same picture styles as the GH4 (Standard, Natural, Cine-D, Cine-V, etc.), so there’s a very good chance that shooting with the same picture settings on both cameras will yield footage with a very similar look. At the very least, the G7’s footage should give you a better starting point for matching with the GH4 compared to a camera from a completely different manufacturer.

The G7 Uses the Same Lenses

Micro Four Thirds lens mount

Of course, one of the major benefits of picking up the G7 for any GH4 shooter is that the G7’s Micro Four Thirds lens mount means you already have a set of lenses ready to go for the G7.

Any lens or adapter that works with the GH4 will also work on the G7, saving you from having to buy a new set of lenses for the G7. You can just use what you already have.

The G7 has Familiar Controls

Panasonic G7 Controls

The G7 has many of the same physical controls that you already know and love on the GH4. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough to allow you to get up and running quickly.

For example, the G7 has 5 customizable physical function buttons in approximately the same locations on the camera as the GH4’s function buttons. The G7 also has 5 additional “soft” function buttons that are accessible via the touchscreen (just like the GH4).

Panasonic G7 Function Buttons

The G7’s mode dials are also very similar to the GH4. The main difference is that the G7 only has a single slot on the dial for custom profiles, while the GH4 has 3. That said, you can save up to 3 different custom presets on the G7 (versus 5 custom presets on the GH4), but it will just take a few more button presses to select the preset you want to use.

Panasonic G7 Mode Dial

In fact, the biggest difference with the G7’s button layout is that the white balance (WB) and ISO buttons are placed on the rear of the camera, rather than on the top as on the GH4. However, once you’ve acclimated to this, you should be able to access these buttons just as easily as you can on the GH4.

Panasonic G7 ISO & White Balance Buttons

The G7 has Good Displays

Panasonic G7 Electronic Viewfinder

It might just be your B-camera, but that doesn’t mean the G7 should be a pain to shoot with. Fortunately, the G7 has high-resolution displays that should make monitoring your footage and nailing focus relatively pain-free.

The G7’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) uses an OLED display with a resolution of 2,360K dots, which closely matches the GH4’s OLED EVF (2,359K dots).

The G7 uses a TFT LCD display for the rear monitor, but it should provide a good way to monitor the footage you’re shooting with its 1,040K dot resolution. The GH4’s OLED screen has a similar resolution of 1,036K dots, and it is very usable for critical focus.

Panasonic G7: The Perfect B-Camera to Your GH4?

In a perfect world, the perfect B-camera for the GH4 is…another GH4. If you have the budget, your secondary camera should be as capable as your primary one.

However, if you shoot a lot of 4K footage with the GH4 and simply need to add a 2nd angle to your projects without breaking the bank, Panasonic’s G7 is an affordable 4K-capable camera that should pair well with the GH4, both in terms of image quality and workflow.


More Panasonic GH4 Guides