Don't you love it when you rediscover something you really hadn't seen for some time? It's like meeting an old friend you haven't seen in ages. This happened to me when I went through my camera gear as my interest was re-vitalized again after a long break. I came across the Panasonic GX7 and realized it really feels good in my hand. Looking through the viewfinder (which isn't the best) and realized it tilts up 90 degrees, fits nicely into the street camera niche. It is small, unobtrusive and perfect for the small MFT lenses offered by Olympus (I just can't get used to calling them OM Systems) and Panasonic.
Back on the computer I searched for some images from this camera and was impressed with what it produced. It still produces the same quality to day of course but I haven't taken it out for some time. Build quality is good and mine is in perfect working condition. I tend to take care of my equipment. Researching the GX7 on the Internet I was astounded to see it was introduced back in 2013. That's nearly a decade ago! I couldn't get used to the idea I've had this camera for so long and not using it for city work. Time to change that I think.
I prefer the 4:3 format to the 3:2 format of APS-C and Full Frame cameras. 3:2 images just seem too long somehow although I do have APS-C and Full Frame cameras. I keep coming back to MFT. It has the older 16MP sensor but quite acceptable in my opinion. All newer MFT cameras have the excellent 20MP sensor.
It has a tilting 1 million dot LCD screen and a 2.7 million dot viewfinder with 100% coverage. I can't complain about that. It weights 402gr (nothing really) and feels good in the hand. Personally I prefer a camera that has a little more weight to it, but not too heavy. Measurements are 123 x 71 x 55 mm which means it doesn't quite fit in your trouser pocket but will fit in a large coat pocket.
As you can see from the images above, that small Panasonic 25 f1.4 looks positively huge on the GX7.That strap is a cheap Peak Design imitation that I bought on Amazon. Much cheaper than Peak Design but you can tell the difference in quality. Still does the job though.
I also have the GX8 so I got that one out too. I was really interested in these cameras now. Same sort of camera except slightly larger and has a bit more heft to it. The GX8 was introduced in 2015 (why does time just fly when you get older?). It weighs in at 487gr compared to the 402gr of the GX7. That doesn't sound like a lot but it really does make a difference. You know you have something in your hand when picking up the GX8. It is also slightly larger at 133 x 78 x 63 mm. It also sports the newer 20MP sensor (which is now old of course). Not certain if sensor has been updated since then because all the recent MFT cameras also have a 20MP sensor in it. I'm sure someone out there could tell me if they have updated this sensor. I would be interested to know. It has a similar viewfinder to the GX7 but has a fully articulating OLED screen (perfect for vloggers). Number of focus points increased to 49 from 23 of the GX7. This is when a battery change was implemented. damn! It's actually still the basic camera as the GX7 with slight changes and updates.
If the sensor hasn't been upgraded then this could be the last of the MFT sensors. Whatever happens I'm staying with the format. I have a lot invested, the cameras and lenses are second to none and I like the format. Some people would say "OK you like the format but you could switch to a different system and set the aspect ration to 4:3 on those cameras". Well yes I could, but am I really going to sell off all of my MFT gear just to invest it all again in a new system? No, I don't think so. But then again I also have some Fujifilm cameras which are APS-C cameras. Those are staying as they produce some wonderful images.
The lovely GX8 sporting the fanatastic Olympus 17 f1.8
Liking these two rangefinder style cameras a lot, I seem to remember they have another, newer one in their lineup in the form of the GX9. This was introduced in 2018, 3 years after the GX8. That's over 4 years ago as I write this post. I think Panasonic had a rethink on their GX series strategy here because the GX8 didn't sell as well as expected, hence the GX9 having the same body format as the GX7. The got rid of the articulating TFT screen, kept the viewfinder as a tilting one and went back to the GX7 battery. They increased the viewfinder to 2.7 million dots and brought it in as a TFT. It weighs 450gr and measures 124 x 72 x 47 mm, putting it right in the middle between the GX7 and GX8. You could actually call this a GX7 II as it is nearly exactly the same. I didn't have one when I started this post so I looked for a second hand one for a good price and found one after searching for some time. I still haven't found the time to go out with it yet, but it's only a matter of time. The GX9 can still be had today (body only) for €600. GX8 on the used market goes for €420 and the GX7 can be had for €250 new! What a steal that is. I might buy one as a spare. This type of body should be good for 95% of users. The Pros might need something a little more substantial.
Panasonic GX9 sporting the wonderful Panasonic 15 f1.7
I just love these rangefinder style cameras and can wholeheartedly recommend them. I know they have a lot of competition out there but all three of the cameras mentioned here are still viable today. No need to go all out on the newest and greatest. Take the GX7 which came out a decade ago. It doesn't mean it takes bad pictures today or that you can't enjoy using them. I still use and enjoy mine, and that's the main thing.
The GX9 is still in the Best Family and Friends camera list as of November 2022 on DPReview.com, and that says something about a camera that came out in 2018.