The new Panasonic GF7 goes straight for the selfie market

Panasonic's GF series cameras are designed for compact system camera first-timers. They're small, light, inexpensive and beginner friendly. The new GF7 will replace the existing GF6, though the older camera will remain on sale for a while.

These models fit in just below the Panasonic GM1 and GM5 models, which are more expensive but – amazingly – even smaller. Next up is the GX7, Panasonic's top square-shaped compact system camera, and beyond that you're into the DSLR style G6 and GH4 models.

Stylish selfies

The GF7 has a more angular, classy design than the GF6, but otherwise the specs are pretty similar. Don't be fooled by the pentaprism shape on the top, though – this camera has no viewfinder, so you rely solely on the rear LCD for composing your shots.

The big story is the GF7's hands-free selfie mode, which you can activate simply by flipping up the LCD screen. You can now see you and your friends from in front of the camera, and Wi-Fi is built in, so you can control your camera remotely using a smart device.

And if you decide your selfies need a little cosmetic enhancement, you can try out the GF7's Soft Skin, Defocusing and Slimming modes.

Under the skin

Inside the GF7 is a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, but although the resolution is the same, it's not the same as the sensor in its predecessor, the GF6. Panasonic says the sensor and the processor have been upgraded to match those in the bigger and more advanced GX7. This also allows a high-speed 240fps sensor readout which boosts the autofocus speed.

The GF7 shoots 1080p video at up to 50fps in the AVCHD format but you can also shoot MP4 files. There are Time Lapse and Stop Motion modes too, for those who want to get a little more creative with their video. You can use the touchscreen display to pick your focus point and use the subject tracking option if your subject is moving around the frame.

Stills photographers aren't left out. They get 22 Creative Control options including Retro, Dynamic Monochrome and Toy Effects – and you can capture a regular version of the shot at the same time, just in case.

Underneath its novice-friendly exterior, the GF7 is a powerful and capable camera, with a full set of program AE, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual exposure modes, and the ability to shoot raw files for processing later.

Pick a colour

The GF7 comes in two colours – silver and brown – and goes on sale in March 2015 at £429 (about US$650/AU$790.