Panasonic’s LUMIX GH7 Packs Focus, Stabilization, and Audio Advances

06/05/2024Link0

Proving once again that reports of MFT's death are greatly exaggerated, Panasonic is back with an all-new Micro Four Thirds camera, the Lumix GH7. An impressive continuation of the venerated GH line, the Lumix GH7 is loaded with new features and enhancements, including improved Phase Hybrid Autofocus, Active Internal Stabilization, and ProRes RAW recording—just to name a few. Along with its expanded range of capabilities, the GH7 maintains all of the important features that made its predecessor, the Lumix GH6, so popular, including its compact size and weatherized build. 

Smooth, Steady, and Sharp

At the camera’s core is a 25.2MP Live CMOS Sensor like on Pansonic’s GH6 and G9 II, but the Dynamic Range Boost mode introduced in those bodies gets a major upgrade here, as it’s now available in the GH7’s full ISO range. DR Boost combines a high-gain and low-gain image to capture more information in your highlights and shadows, adding one to two stops of dynamic range to videos and photos. In past iterations, turning on DR Boost raised your minimum ISO from 250 to 2000 in V-Log, which could be a major inconvenience in brighter situations and add grain to an image. The GH7’s DR Boost avoids that problem by combining a wider range of ISO values which lets it achieve an impressive 13+ stops of Dynamic Range in V-Log.

Panasonic Lumix GH7
Panasonic Lumix GH7

The GH7 also marks the first time this sensor’s been paired with Phase Hybrid Auto-Focus, so expect improved subject tracking in difficult-to-capture low-light scenarios. Phase Hybrid AF combines phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and contrast-based depth-from-defocus (DFD) to create Panasonic’s most robust and reliable focusing system. It’s better at differentiating subjects, overcoming harsh backlight or front light, and keeping up with fast moving subjects. Expect human, animal, car, motorcycle, train, and airplane detection, plus a Target Parts setting where you can specify exactly which part of a vehicle you want the camera to focus on.

Great stabilization has been a bedrock feature of the GH line, and the GH7 continues this trend with improved Active Image Stabilization Technology that can achieve 7.5-stop 5-Axis Body I.S. or 7.5-stop 5-Axis Dual I.S. 2 with compatible lenses. It’s especially handy for the super telephoto lenses that are extremely popular with MFT users. Electronic Image Stabilization (E.I.S.) can even be turned on to correct perspective distortion, but it comes at the cost of slightly cropping your image. Micro Four Thirds sensors are easier for a camera balance compared to their larger APS-C and full-frame siblings, so expect steady shots even at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds.

Capture or Stream

All those features wouldn’t mean much without great ways to capture the final image, and the GH7 has you covered with souped up versions of the formats and codecs Panasonic is known for. Expect internal recording at 4:2:2 10-bit C4K up to 60p (even while outputting over HDMI), 4:2:0 10-bit 5.7K up to 60p, 4:2:0 10-bit HFR 4K up to 120p, and VFR FHD up to 300p. Higher frame rates have always been popular amongst the GH user base, so Panasonic made sure to keep pace here with its competitors.

One of the most popular additions to the GH6 was internal Apple ProRes 422 recording, so it’s great to see Panasonic has upped the ante once again with internal ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ recording on the GH7. Users can record ProRes RAW up to C4K 60p or 5.7K 30p directly to a CFexpress Type-B card inside the camera or external SSDs up to 2TB. So long as you’re in relatively normal weather conditions, the GH7 should boast nearly unlimited ProRes RAW record times which is ideal for interviews, nature work, and long-form content.

The GH7 also makes streaming easy and flexible thanks to its ability to wirelessly stream with RTMP or RTMPS protocols which can be further configured in the Lumix Sync app. You can even tether the camera to a smartphone via USB for a more stable connection. If you’re in a controlled indoor environment, the best connection possible is streaming RTP or RTSP signals through a computer with wired LAN. These connection options should be excellent for mobile videographers frequently in situations with unpredictable networking capabilities.

Also new to the GH7 is Frame.io Camera-to-Cloud support which lets you set automatic uploads of proxy video or photos to the cloud via Wi-Fi or USB tethering. It’s perfect for quickly sharing material with offsite collaborators and clients. These Proxy recordings can also be written to an SD card in-camera, with the full-resolution video file recorded to the other slot. There are three levels of Proxy quality and bit rates ranging from 4 to 16 Mbps.

Panasonic also announced users will be able to add ARRI LogC3 recording via an optional paid upgrade. This is the same format used on many high-end ARRI cameras and should help footage shot on the GH7 better match up with material from those cameras. The feature will only be supported in 10-bit recording modes like ProRes 422 and ALL-Intra, not ProRes RAW. While the GH7 doesn’t have the dynamic range of a camera like the Alexa, shooting in this mode will give you a similar logarithmic curve and allow you to use LUTs from the ARRI Look Library. This is a great option for filmmakers using the GH7 as a B-cam, C-cam, or crash cam on larger productions. 

Monitor with Ease

The GH line is known for its sturdy filmmaker-first construction and the GH7 is no different. These cameras are built to withstand the demands of day-to-day production. Weather-resistant materials and a strong, silent fan mean you can take it into just about any environment and expect it to operate smoothly.

The LCD screen fully articulates and pulls out from the body to avoid blocking any important ports on the side which is a major quality of life update for people using external monitors and other accessories. Panasonic has packed all your classic monitoring tools into the body itself. Easily pull up waveforms, vector scopes, safety zones, frame markers, a luminance spot meter, zebra stripes, or even double zebra stripes. Anamorphic desqueeze is also easily accessible in the menu, as are the Real Time LUT options introduced in the Panasonic S9. That means you’ll be able to edit and import LUTs from the Lumix Lab smartphone app, burning them into your full-quality recordings, proxies, or both.

Expect full 3:2 Open Gate recording options, as well as cropped or overlaid aspect ratios like 1:1 and 9:16 to help compose content for social media. The GH7 is designed to satisfy both casual shooters and working professionals who could be crafting TikToks one day and slotting it alongside an Alexa the next, so the camera even includes a flash sync port that can bring in timecodes when paired with a BNC adapter cable.

Pro-Level Extras

In terms of optional accessories, the most popular for the GH7 is likely be the DMW-XLR2 microphone adapter. Though it looks like your standard issue hot-shoe audio adapter box, the XLR2 can capture advanced 32-bit float recordings that it sends into the camera and automatically syncs to your video files. If you’re not familiar with 32-bit float, it’s a super uncompressed audio signal that retains way more information than your standard WAV files, giving you massive latitude to raise or lower your gain while editing. That means no more worrying about setting your audio levels too high or too low. So much information is recorded (in still very manageable file sizes) that these WAVs are virtually un-clip-able, and quieter levels can be heavily boosted without audible quality loss.

DMW-XLR2 Microphone Adapter
DMW-XLR2 Microphone Adapter

This recording format has exploded in popularity for external audio recorders, but having it fed directly into the camera means no more tedious syncing in post. In addition, the DMW-XLR2 has two full size XLR inputs, a 3.5mm stereo mini jack, a cold shoe for wireless receivers, and a handy built-in microphone holder for shotgun mics. With the XLR2, you’re now able to record four channels of audio directly in camera, with even High-Res audio options available when shooting MOV or ProRes.

Don’t worry photographers and hybrid shooters, Panasonic hasn’t forgotten about you, packing higher burst rates into the GH7. Expect 60 fps with continues autofocus and 75 fps with AFS, as well as an impressive three-second buffer. The 100MP Handheld High-Res mode makes its return for situations where you need an extra resolution push, and Panasonic has even included a Leica Monochrome color profile for shooting in beautiful, high contrast black and white.

With so much attention on full frame, it’s easy to forget how many working videographers still happily utilize Micro Four Thirds systems. The 2x crop can be incredibly beneficial for capturing sports, events, or wildlife, especially when paired with affordable, high-quality super-telephoto MFT lenses. The GH7’s Phase Hybrid AF should go toe-to-toe with modern mirrorless titans, and users can expect stabilization and readout speeds better than what they'd find on most larger sensor bodies.

The GH7 is a workhorse, the kind of camera that can slot into any production environment and achieve strong results. Upgrades like 32-bit float audio and ProRes RAW are just icing on the cake.

For more information about the new Panasonic Lumix GH7 and DMW-XLR2 Microphone Adapter, including additional features, specs, and highlights, be sure to check out their detailed product pages. Or drop us a line below, and we’ll do our best to answer all your comments and questions.

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