back to article Panasonic DMC-G2 interchangeable lens camera

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 is another addition to the growing Micro Four Thirds family of cameras. I think we know the drill now; cuter form factor for a traditional interchangeable lens system, similar features to a DSLR but no reflex mirror, and a bit more discreet. Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Touch and go: Panasonic's Lumix DMC- …

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I need to get one of these...

Sad but who spotted the guy checking his foot out on photo 4 ?

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Tried one...

I tried one of these at the Goodwood Festival of speed last month, Panasonic were handing them out for people to trial for a couple of hours.

If I didn't already own it's little brother, the Lumix FZ18, I'd be buying one of these in a heartbeat. It was astonishingly easy to use after just a couple of minutes instruction and I had lots of fun playing around with the touchscreen and folding it out to help me get shots over people's heads and so on. It even managed to get some fairly decent shots of cars screaming past at over 100mph.

Love it. Would seriously recommend this for someone who wants more than you can get from a regular compact camera but isn't quite willing to shell out for a full SLR.

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Stop

Shell out for a full SLR?

A full SLR would be cheaper. A new Pentax K-x is around £100 less on Amazon, for example. With this one you are paying extra for the touch-screen, smallish size etc.

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cd

K-x

Does it have a movable screen? I like Pentax, grew up with them, but the companies that skip the movable screen aren't even getting a look from me. If there's no reflex lens why do I have to put my eye up to the camera?

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Anonymous Coward

The K-x

The major reason that I never bought a K-x as a cheap backup camera (I'm a Nikon and Leica user otherwise) is that the f'king thing only takes AA cell batteries, not proper solid camera batteries. Even feeding the thing 2900mAh rechargables, the run time is pans,a nd spares are bulky.

Sure, give it the capability to take consumer batteries too- but let it run on proper camera batts. My Ricoh GR Digital 3 runs on the usual lithium camera battery- but can also take AAA cells in the same compartment if you remove the normal battery.. due to clever engineering.

Otherwise the K-x is a fine little camera, nice image quality, snappy focus (certainly compared to cheap Canons) and available in a load of cheerfully loud colours.

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What about manual controls?

No mention of what it's like in manual mode?! Is it possible to control aperture and shutter speed with a wheel somewhere? Is there one wheel for each or one between them, and what's it like to use? How about manual focus - is it entirely touch screen based, or is there a dial on the stock lens?

I found this review pretty disappointing - I'm after a 'small dslr' like this, but the review approaches it like a chunky point-n-click.

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Yes

Yes, it does all those things.

Look at the top view of the camera. The dial on the left controls the focus -- full continuous auto, auto, and manual (for manual you can get a handy zoomed in view via the electronic view finder for pin sharp photos). You focus by twisting the lens barrel.

The PASM wheel to the right allows both aperture and shutter priority, both adjustable via the jog dial on the back (it's on the front -- much better -- on the GH1).

I suggest you head over to DP Review for a full (very full) photographers perspective. I guess El Reg is catering to the general gadgetista's interest here.

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cd
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Focus

On my G1, there is a setting that focuses automatically but allows override with the manual ring on the lens. When you hold the shutter halfway to set focus and then twist the ring it magnifies the in-focus area and lets you set which sub-thing you want to focus on, depending upon how much DOF you have. I was using it this morning to take flower photos and with the anti-shake I was shooting down at 1/6th of a second.

The more I use it, the happier I am with it. I keep finding new things that make it easier. I come from using Leica M's for years, and the ability to use those lenses with an adaptor is yet another perk.

My upgrade would be the GH1 with the much nicer lens. Or the G2 and the nicer GH1 lens.

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Got one a couple of weeks ago...

and it is a great camera. I'm a point and shooter hoping to move on to understanding what all this aperture, ISO etc. all means, and so far have produced some superb photos.

All this without yet opening the user manual.

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Interesting review

I've had a GH1 for nearly a year now, and have been very impressed by it. I'm by no means a skilled photographer, but have found the intricacies of the Panasonic easy to get to grips with.

The GH1 is, however, significantly more expensive than the G2. The kit lens is a big part of that, with the GH1 coming with a superior 14-140 (28-280 equiv.) lens (with an actual OIS button!) that's worth about 600 quid on its own. The only other major difference externally is a stereo mic (though placed so close together, they have little effect). There's no touch screen on the GH1 either -- sounds like it might be handy for video, but a bit unnecessary for stills (really, who uses the screen to compose stills?). Other than that, some of the controls seem to have been moved around (I like the iA placement, the jog dial and video record, less so).

In terms of the internals, the GH1 can record video in the regular AVCHD format, meaning 720p at 50/60 fps, and 1080p at 25/30 fps. It would be interesting to know if there are any actual differences to the processing chips and other gubbins, or are the restrictions on video simply down to firmware. I ask, as some enterprising people have hacked the firmware of the GH1 so that you can a) use 3rd party batteries, and b) ramp up the AVCHD bit rate from 17Mbps to waaaay higher. Apparently the video you can squeeze out of it is now absolutely stunning. You'll need a pricey SD card though (I have a Class 10 8MB card -- great for video and shooting in JPEG+RAW). So, what chance that these guys could hack the G2 firmware to similar effect? Could make this camera a bargain!

Re TTL and flash -- Panasonic flashes are just rebadged Olympus models (and oddly more expensive). I bought a pretty powerful (and slightly oversized compared to the camera) Metz which supports Panasonic TTL. Seems to work fine, particularly when bouncing the flash.

All in all, the GH1 is a great camera, though maybe a little overpriced these days (I bought mine pre-EOS 550D). It looks like you can get 80% of the benefits of the GH1 for a little over half the price with the G2, with a lens far better at video than the Canon kit lens on the 550D.

I'm now very interested to see what Panny come up with for the GH2.

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cd

Who uses screen? I do

I won't buy a camera without a screen that moves. This morning I got a great shot of some swallow chicks waiting for breakfast, was on top of ladder with hand overhead, looking up at screen. A half-hour before that I found a box turtle and got a great set of shots from ground level without getting my knees dirty.

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Unhappy

Chipped batteries!

Pah!

That's just extracting the urine again.

Most Canon SLRs use the venerable BP511 battery, which is the same fitting as Canon camcorders have had for years. As a result, you can get a spare for £5.

Why is this useful? If you travel somewhere where there is no mains power, you can pack a few! Some friends of mine took 15 cheap 7DayShop ones on safari to Botswana, and so weren't looking for mains power in their tents.

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Boffin

We don't all know the drill yet

Micro Four-Thirds cameras aren't just DSLRs without the R. The sensor size is also quite a bit smaller. That matters for certain effects such as depth-of-field. All things being equal, smaller sensors exhibit more noise. The wikipedia article on "Image sensor format" is a useful primer.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm struggling to see the point.

You seem to be paying more for something with less functionality, slightly worse quality (due to the smaller image sensor), less choice in lenses (i'm assuming you're buying a dslr from "the big two") for the sake of a bit of portability (if i wanted something portable, id expect it to be around the size of a box of tabs otherwise i may as well be carrying my dslr), which is still too big to fit into a pocket, so it's kind of irrelevant really.

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Blinkers

That's if one considers DSLR to equal Canon / Nikon. Olympus, Panasonic and the mighty Leica have been producing jolly fine conventional DSLRs for years, with, oddly enough, exactly the same size sensor as the Panasonic G series.

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Everything is a compromise -- it depends what you're willing to compromise on.

The 4/3 sensor is only ~11% smaller than an APS-C sensor. With everything else going on (sensor design and sensitivity, quality of glass, image processing, etc.) it's not that big a difference.

Granted, a full frame sensor would be lovely; but the body alone for a Canon 5DII is about a grand more than the G2 with lens. There are other advantages to the m4/3 format when it comes to hybrid still and video cameras, as well -- including the fact that you can use the view finder, rather than being stuck in a tacked on 'live view'.

While not pocket sized, the m4/3 cameras are small enough not to be a hassle to take with you (remember, the lenses are much smaller too). Unless you;re very serious about photography, you're not going to take your not going to grab a 550D/7D (or Nikon whatever) just on the off chance of some photos.

My view is, that if you're mostly interested in stills, and don't mind the extra bulk, it's hard to beat a 550D (though the standard Canon kit lens isn't great).

If you're more of a keen amateur, and as interested in video as stills, then seriously look at the m4/3 cameras. Even more so if you don't have any legacy glass to worry about (there are adapters out there, but then you lose a lot of the benefits of the m4/3 system).

Personally, I'm glad there's some additional choice out there. And I'm glad that there are companies out there doing something a little different. Let's face it, if Panasonic just produced some standard DSLRs, they're never going to trouble the Canon/Nikon axis.

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Err no

The sensor size isn't that far from APS-C, which you find in low and midrange DSLRs- in quality and noise terms. Full frame is different, but then only bodies costing £1500 upwards have these in.

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Err no redux

You couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Leica are actually on record that they will NEVER make an EVIL (electronic viewfinder interchangable lens) camera, as the 4/3 factor doesn't suit their optics set up at all.

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re: "Blinkers"

No they haven't. They've made APS-C and fullframe 35mm shaped sensor cameras.

Christian Erhardt of Leica had this to say about micro 4/3:

“Our lenses our designed to work best with full format, the light can hit different pixels of the sensor at a very extreme angle–once you have that, the image may be slightly out of focus, or not as bright around the edges.”.

But he also explained why Leica choosed to not join the MicroFourThirds alliance: “One reason why we’ve decided not to move into Micro Four Thirds is that we have looked at the sensor size and realized that it cannot produce the image quality that we need. Therefore we decided to stick with the full format in addition to APS-C. It’s all about the ratios“.

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