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If you’re passionate for a mirrorless, interchangeable lens digicam, this Micro Four Thirds model may be your opportunity. World’s smallest and lightest Digital Interchangeable Lens System Camera? Panasonic thinks so.
The review camera was supplied with a 14mm near-pancake lens and an 8mm fisheye. Neither of these lenses have an optical image stabiliser (OIS); however, the f3.5/14-42mm zoom does have such a function, selectable via a menu option, which probably makes it a better general purpose lens for GF2 owners.
Using an aluminium body (in black or white), the GF2 is much smaller and lighter than the earlier GF1, so it is in fact quite a different camera. It’s also cheaper.
The GF2 is noticeably bereft of external controls, instead relying on an excellent touch screen system to get you into the operational options. I suspect the touch screen, along with a redesigned lens mount and a reduction of physical controls, helped shrink the camera.
An obvious new touch is the pop up flash, with its trapezoidal bracket lifting the illumination centre about 55mm above the lens centre. Depending on how close the shot is, this elevation should reduce red eye and avoid vignetting.
The Live MOS sensor has 12.1 megapixels, producing a maximum image size of 4000×3000 pixels, or 34x25cm as a print.
Movies are in the ascension with AVCHD capture up to 1920×1080 pixels in 25p, rendered as 50i. You can also record 1280×720 and smaller video in Motion JPEG, if you’re still wary of editing AVCHD files. There is a top-mounted stereo microphone, with its audio levels adjustable. The movie record button is on top, next to the stills image shutter button.
The GF2 has a 7.6cm LCD screen and you can buy an optional Live View Finder (DMW-LVF1), to provide a full-time live view function and clips into the accessory shoe.
I was unable to investigate this, but the camera can accept Panasonic’s new interchangeable 3D lens, allowing users to shoot their own 3D still images and watch them on a 3DTV at home. The format appears to be MPO, similar to Fujifilm’s 3D routine.
Following other makers, Panasonic has introduced a set of eight presets which may not only enhance your images but help avoid toiling over post work in Photoshop to attain that clever ‘look’: there’s Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Cinema, Monochrome, Dynamic Art, Silhouette and a Custom mode, in which you can manually set colour, brightness, saturation and contrast.
Added to this are 17 scene modes, most of which can be used in shooting video. Personally, I am not so sure about the invasion of scene modes into video shooting, when many people still have trouble holding a camera steady in extended video runs! Let alone bizarre screen depictions!
There is an on screen helper that is on display when you move from easy-peasy Program AE shooting to the wilds of shutter and aperture metering: it shows you when you are too far under or over in exposure.
The camera has reasonably useful continuous shooting options: 2, 2.5 (with Live View) and 3.2 fps. Up to seven RAW images can be reeled in or unlimited numbers of JPEGs (with a high rating card).
(insert Boat 14mm 3, Tree and boats 14mm)
I found the 14mm review lens to be free of barrel or pincushion distortions.
The 8mm? Look at these examples. It’s a fisheye! Nuff said!
(insert Panasonic DMC-GF2 ISO 100 to ISO 6400 shots)
To my eye you could use up to ISO 1600 without too much trouble.
ISO 3200? Yes, OK in certain situations.
ISO 6400? Forget it.
Quality: excellent in every respect. I would be quite happy to use this camera in every situation.
There is no image stabiliser, so many people will feel ill at ease when shooting stills. Oddly, movie shooting is aided by the absence of a steadying action that can, in other cameras, cause havoc when the camera is moved.
If you are manually dexterous you can guide the AF system when shooting stills or movies. I like it!
Why you would buy it: you want a budget, compact digicam that takes interchangeable lenses; small size is important.
Why you wouldn’t: you need more operational features; you’re happy with your current GF1; you want in-body image stabilisation.
For me, this is an excellent way to enter the wonderful world of interchangeable lens cameras. And don’t forget, this means you can tangle with lenses made by Olympus, Voigtlander (Cosina), Carl Zeiss, Schneider, Sigma … and Leica (via an adaptor).
Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multiple, centre-weighted and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.0mm Live MOS.
Lens Factor: 2x.
Compatible lenses: Micro Four Thirds.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: Bulb, 60 to 1/4000 second. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.
Burst Speed: 2, 2.5 (both with Live View), 3.2 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000 to 1440×1440. Movies: 1920x1080i/p, 1280x720p, 848×480, 640×480, 320×240 at 25/50/30/60fps.
Viewfinders: 7.5cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, AVCHD Lite/QuickTime Motion JPEG, MPO (3D).
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 1600 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 112.8×67.8×32.8 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 475g (inc body, lens, card and battery).
Prices: Price – get a price on the GF2 at Amazon in the following configerations: