The Panasonic Lumix G2 is the world’s first ILCC with touch-control shooting with moveable LCD. It ships with an 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspherical Mega O. I. S. kit lens (equivalent to 28-84 in 35mm parlance).
At a basic level, the G2 provides what the G1 didn’t – video capability. The camera is available in black, red, and blue.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Panasonic Lumix G2 is an interchangeable lens Micro Four Thirds design, similar to the Lumix G1. The body construction is engineering plastic that appears to be reasonably tough. Appearance wise, the Panasonic G2 looks (and feels) the same as the G1 except for few small changes. The letters AVCHD Lite and HD are mentioned on the camera body front. Secondly, the Control Dial has been removed from the hand-grip, to the rear of the camera, at the thumb position. The third difference is that the Quick Menu button has been shifted from the top plate to the rear of the camera, next to the Display button. The intelligent Auto mode has been taken off the Mode dial and placed on the top plate.
The G2 is a 12-megapixel (effective) Interchangeable Lens Compact Camera (ILCC) utilizing a Four Thirds (17.3 x 13mm) LiveMOS sensor. Like the G1, the G2 also sports a electronic viewfinder. A Focus Mode lever on the top left of the camera allows us to choose between manual focus (MF), autofocus continuous (AF-C), and autofocus-single (AF-S). The Autofocus Mode Dial sits atop of the focus mode selector and allows the user to set Face Detection, AF Tracking, 23-area focusing and 1-area focusing. In Face Detection, the camera automatically detects a human face, which could be anywhere on the screen (max. 15 areas). Focus and exposure can then be adjusted to fit that face. In Focus Tracking (Dynamic Tracking), focus and exposure will keep on following the subject. 23-area AF is effective when the subject is not in the center of the screen. Any one of the 23 areas could be selected and focused upon. With 1-area focusing, the position and the size of the AF area can be changed. Auto exposure lock can be used for tricky lighting situations. A dust reduction system is built-in. Though the user manual is not clear about how the dust reduction system operates, I presume it uses a Supersonic Wave Filter which vibrates at high speed to dislodge any dust sticking to the sensor.
The intelligent Auto mode (iA) is designed for beginners. In this mode the camera automatically sets the most appropriate settings to match the subject/scene. When the camera identifies the optimum scene, the icon for the scene is displayed in blue for 2 seconds, after which it turns
The Mode Dial offers shooting modes for advanced users. To start with, it offers the usual P (Program, including Program Shift), A (Aperture Priority), S (Shutter Priority), and M (Manual) exposure modes. The other exposure modes are: Custom mode (allows you to take pictures with previously registered settings), Motion Picture mode, Scene mode (Sunset, Party, Baby 1 & 2, Pet), Peripheral Defocus – blurs the background so that the subject stands out, and My Color mode. Advanced scene modes are also available: Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Close-up, and Night Portrait. Exposure compensation up to +/- 3EV in 1/3EV steps is possible. Auto exposure bracketing can be used to provide up to a maximum of 7 pictures at varying exposure.
The Lumix G2 provides 3 metering modes: Multiple, Center-weighted, and Spot. The kit lens (14-42mm) is provided with an image stabilizer but the lens itself does not have a stabilizer on/off switch. You have to engage the stabilizer through the recording menu. You can control the amount of sharpness in your images (Panasonic calls this Intelligent Resolution Technology). The settings available are Off/Low/Standard/High. Similarly, the user can set what the manufacturer calls Intelligent Exposure Adjustment, in which image contrast and exposure are automatically adjusted when the variation in the lighting is high. Auto ISO can be set too (on the G2 it is known as ISO Limit Set). In intelligent ISO, the ISO sensitivity is adjusted according to the movement of the subject and the brightness. If you wish to change the look of your photo (the same way photographers used different types of films to produce different looks), you can do so on the G2. The following settings are on offer: For color pictures – Standard, Dynamic, Nature, Smooth, Nostalgic, and Vibrant; for B&W pictures – Standard, Dynamic, Smooth, My Film 1 and 2 (the saved setting is used), and Multi-film (takes up to 3 pictures simulating the effect of various films). White Balance on the Lumix G2 can be set to Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Flash, Custom 1 & 2, and Kelvin settings. Color space can be set to either sRGB or Adobe RGB. ISO sensitivity can be set to Auto or manually set from ISO 100-6400.
The camera can be set to various aspect ratios: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or 1:1. The following picture sizes can be selected:
An interesting feature of the G2 is the Touch Shutter function. After setting the function, you simply touch the Touch Shutter icon on the LCD to automatically take the shot. A built-in pop-up flash. having a Guide Number of 11 meters at ISO 100 offers the usual flash features (Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Forced flash On, Forced flash On with red-eye reduction, Slow sync, Slow-sync with red-eye reduction, and Forced flash Off). When using the built-in flash with the 14-42mm kit lens, on Auto ISO, pictures can be taken from 45cm to 6.2 meters at 14mm and from 30cm to3.9 meters at 42mm position. The flash also allows 2nd curtain sync.
Images can be recorded in RAW, RAW + JPEG Fine, RAW + JPEG Standard, JPEG Fine/Standard on SD/SDHC/SDXC card. The camera body weighs 379 g; and 580 g with the 14-42mm kit lens.
Those not used to touch-screen LCDs may initially feel a bit odd about using the G2. But then, the camera can also be operated using the buttons and dials. Note that the user manual clearly states that the touch panel may not operate if the hand holding the camera is touching the touch panel. The built-in electronic viewfinder is crisp. I would say it is as good as any optical viewfinder.
The camera is easy to operate and the buttons/dials feel positive. The balance (with the 14-42mm kit lens) was just perfect.
The Panasonic Lumix G2 is a pleasure to use, though personally, I am not a fan of touch control shooting. Autofocusing was quick, a shade quicker than the G1. The metering was good too, though I did notice occasional highlight burnouts in multiple metering. At a personal level that does not bother me because I mainly use Spot metering. Like with the G1, the White Balance performance of the G2 was also very nice. Colors were spot on most of the time. As with the G1, we observed some corner darkening at the wide-angle end at open aperture. Chromatic aberration was also noticed in strong against-the-light shots.
Pictures shot using the G2 with the 14-42mm kit lens were crisp and sharp. Panasonic does not reveal the image processor it uses, but I understand it is the Venus Engine HD II. Noise control on the G2 is great. The native image size (at 4:3 aspect ratio) is 10 x 13.3 inches. At 16.7 percent screen size, we observed no noise at any ISO sensitivity. You can comfortably use up to ISO 3200 (if you have to) and if your picture size stays approximately 8x 12 inches. However, the lower ISOs provide the smoothest tonalities. Since the camera does not have a reflex mirror (which can contribute to loss of sharpness), images out of the box were sharp enough but using the Mega Optical Image Stabilizer definitely improved upon the sharpness. Video quality was very impressive. The overall performance was above average.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Panasonic Lumix G2 body is available at an MRP of Rs.44,990. Its MRP with the 14-42mm kit lens is Rs.54,990. At this price the combo is definitely expensive. The same is available for cheaper( circa 40 percent) in Singapore or Dubai.
+ Excellent still image quality
+ High quality video
+ Compact design
+ Superb electronic viewfinder
– Buffer limited to 7 RAW captures
Design and Build Quality 17/20
Key Features 17.5/20
Performance Autofocus 4/5
Noise Control 4/5
Value for Money 6.5/10
Grand Total 80/100
The Panasonic G2 is definitely a good performer, but due to its high price, it loses out on the Best Buy tag. Given a choice we would go for the GF2. Recommended!