Panasonic believes that 4K video could change the way that still photographers make images, which is why they have brought it down from their flagship GH4 camera into the more affordably-priced the Lumix G7,. We got our hands on a pre-production model of the camera to put these new modes to the test.
The three new 4K shooting modes on the G7 are 4K Pre-Burst, 4K Burst Shooting and 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop)—all of which are designed to help still photographers capture the perfect frame in a very fast-moving situation. 4K Pre-Burst records 60 images before and after the shutter release, 4K Burst shoots continuously for 30 fps as long as you are holding the shutter down and 4K Burst S/S mode records consecutive images with one press of the shutter and stops with a another press. Once the 4K file is captured individual frames can be extracted in-camera and saved as 8-megapixel JPEGs.
All of the images in the below gallery were captured in one of the new 4K Photo modes. The first three images were extracted from the MP4 video file in Adobe Lightroom, while the final four images were extracted from the MP4 video file in-camera. I spent the majority of the time flipping between 4K Burst mode, which Panasonic recommends for using with fast-moving subjects, and 4K S/S mode, which they say is best for unpredictable moments—like when you are shooting animals or children.
When shooting in these modes you can select aperture priority, shutter priority or go fully manual, I mainly stuck to shutter priority mode, but because it was a bright sunny day even in aperture priority mode the shutter speed stayed at a relatively fast 1/640 sec.
For me, shooting in each of these modes came with a slight learning curve. Your shutter speed needs to be fast to freeze a moment, but when that is cranked you are going to produce a very strange looking video file. Keep in mind that when you are shooting in 4K photo mode your shutter is going to be fast enough that your video footage isn't going to look particularly good. As someone who regularly shoots both video and photo this way of thinking took some getting used to. My time with the G7 was limited, but I found my pictures were most successful when I framed a shot as if I was getting ready to take a traditional photo, but steadied my body like I was attempting to shoot hand-held video footage.
The ability to precisely select frames and save them as JPEGs in-camera was a little tedious initially, but once I got the hang of it I found it to be a pretty convenient way to quickly edit in-camera. You can still select frames individually once you’ve loaded the files onto a computer, but having the ability to simply select as soon as you shoot seems like it would be an excellent time-saver for any post-production work you may be doing on your images. If you edit in camera you're images will also include metadata info about shutter speed, ISO and aperture. This info does not appear if you extract images after the fact on your computer.
The G7 will be available in mid-June and with a 14-42mm lens for $799.99 or with a 14-140mm lens for $1099.99. Look for a full test of the Lumix G7 in the coming months.