Nikon D90 vs Panasonic GF7
The Nikon D90 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2008 and January 2015. The D90 is a DSLR, while the GF7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D90) and a Four Thirds (GF7) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D90 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D90 and the Panasonic GF7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF7 can be obtained in two different colors (black, pink), while the D90 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF7 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Nikon D90. Moreover, the GF7 is substantially lighter (62 percent) than the D90. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D90 nor the GF7 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D90) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF7). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GF7, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|2.||Panasonic GF7||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||266 g||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|3.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|4.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|5.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|6.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|7.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|8.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|9.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|10.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|11.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|13.||Panasonic GX850||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||269 g||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|14.||Panasonic G7||125 mm||86 mm||77 mm||410 g||350||n||May 2015||649|
|15.||Panasonic GM5||99 mm||60 mm||36 mm||211 g||220||n||Sep 2014||749|
|16.||Panasonic GF6||111 mm||65 mm||38 mm||323 g||340||n||Apr 2013||499|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GF7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 62 percent) than the D90, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D90 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GF7 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF7 is 40 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D90 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF7 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the GF7 offers a higher resolution of 15.8 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the D90. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.77μm versus 5.53μm for the D90). However, it should be noted that the GF7 is much more recent (by 6 years and 4 months) than the D90, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GF7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D90 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D90 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|14.||Panasonic G7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Panasonic GM5||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66|
|16.||Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the GF7 provides a better video resolution than the D90. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D90 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF7 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D90 and Panasonic GF7 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that is present on the D90, but is missing on the GF7 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The GF7 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D90 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the GF7 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The D90 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the GF7 uses SDXC cards. The GF7 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D90 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D90 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D90 has a hotshoe, while the GF7 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the D90 and the GF7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D90 was replaced by the Nikon D7000, while the GF7 was followed by the Panasonic GX850. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D90 or the Panasonic GF7 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon D90:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/500s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (850 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.8 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 12%.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/24p).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.8 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (107x65mm vs 132x103mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 437g or 62 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (62 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D90 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GF7 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D90 and the Panasonic GF7 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D90 or the GF7. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|2.||Panasonic GF7||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|3.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|4.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|5.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|6.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|7.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|8.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|9.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|10.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|11.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|13.||Panasonic GX850||..||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|14.||Panasonic G7||4/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||May 2015||649|
|15.||Panasonic GM5||3.5/5||+||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||749|
|16.||Panasonic GF6||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D90 vs Panasonic GF7
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D90||Panasonic GF7|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2008||January 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic GF7|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/24p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||73||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||977||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic GF7|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic GF7|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/500s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 shutter flaps/s||5.8 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic GF7|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic GF7|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||850 shots per charge||230 shots per charge|
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
107 x 65 x 33 mm
(4.2 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||703 g (24.8 oz)||266 g (9.4 oz)|
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