Panasonic DMC-G2 Review
(lens section by Andy Westlake, additional content by Richard Butler and Barnaby Britton).
Panasonic's G1 was not only the first product of the Micro Four Thirds standard, it was also the world's first interchangeable lens camera to turn its back on traditional optical viewfinder designs and take a more compact-camera-like live view approach. The outward appearance may have been pure DSLR, but the G1 is likely to be remembered as the camera that marked the beginning of the end for the half-century-long dominance of the single lens reflex design in interchangeable lens cameras.
Whilst the G1 was praised for its feature set, handling and overall responsiveness, the lack of video recording capability seemed odd at a time when movie modes were starting to appear on conventional SLRs. The irony that conventional SLR designers wanting to add a movie mode have considerably bigger hurdles to jump than Panasonic with the all-digital, mirrorless G1 was compounded by the arrival of the GH1 and GF1 models a little later - both sporting movie modes.
But that was then, and this is now, and in March Panasonic announced not one, but two successor models (both with movie mode) to the G1, splitting the line into a budget version (the G10, to be reviewed later) and the model featured here, the G2. The thinking behind the decision is simple - cutting back on the expensive stuff like a super-high resolution viewfinder allows Panasonic to compete with the cut-price DLSRs that dominate the big box retailers' shelves. The G10 adds little to the G1 beyond a (MJPEG) movie mode, but loses several of the G1's defining features (big, high res EVF, swivel screen), so for us the G2 is by far the more interesting model. In both cases the physical design and the sensor inside are essentially unchanged in this upgrade.
The G2 is an evolutionary - but nonetheless solid - upgrade to the G1, that answers some of the criticisms of the original model, adding the aforementioned video mode (720p AVCHD lite or MJPEG) and tidying up and expanding the external controls. The other big news is that the G2 gets touch screen technology (seen on several Panasonic compact DSCs) - not exactly high on our list of ways in which the G1 could be improved, but in the era of the iPhone something that undoubtedly looks good on the marketing materials, if nothing else.
Touch screen cameras aren't a particularly new idea (it could be argued that they started appearing before the touch-sensitive technology or user interfaces were really ready), but this is the first interchangeable lens camera we've seen to add the feature. Crucially, the G2's touch-screen options are in addition to, rather than a replacement for, traditional controls.
Key features at a glance
- 12.1 million (effective) pixel 4/3 LiveMOS sensor
- Venus Engine HD II with intelligent auto and Intelligent Resolution
- Movie capture (720p) in AVCHD Lite or M-JPEG formats
- 3.0" multi-angle 460,000 dot touchscreen display
- 1.4 million dot Color Electronic Viewfinder
- External mic connection
The G2 features a touch-sensitive screen that can be used to select focus point, adjust camera settings and even fire the shutter. However, no conventional controls have been removed, so it can still be operated almost exactly like a G1. An oddly-shaped stylus is provided but we found the pressure-sensitive screen responsive enough to not need it.
The G2 uses the eye sensor to the right of the electronic viewfinder (inherited from the G1), to detect when your face is close to the viewfinder and disables the touchscreen, to prevent unintended nose operation.
A new kit lens
Along with the G2 and G10, Panasonic has announced a new kit lens - a lighter, larger, less rangy 14-42mm F3.5-5.6. It loses its O.I.S image stabilization switch, passing control to the camera body. Despite the lens body being 5mm longer, a plastic mount and other materials changes have helped the 14-42mm shed 30g compared to the 14-45mm's 192g.
The optical design has changed, but the basic specification of 12 elements (1 of them aspherical), in 9 groups is retained. Panasonic says the performance should be to the same standard as its predecessor; we'll look at this later in the review.
Join DPReview editors Rishi Sanyal and Carey Rose on Facebook Live as they share their experience and answer your questions about the new Sony a9, Wednesday at 9:30 AM Pacific time. Click here for additional details and time zones
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
How does the iPhone 7 Plus stack up against the Arri Alexa cinema camera? Watch this short video to find out.
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.
Brent from ShareGrid rounds up the 10 most common products filmmakers are renting from one another for productions; chances are good you own one or more of them.
DaVinci Resolve is making strong moves to compete with Premiere and Final Cut Pro, including affordable control panels for colorists. According to Premium Beat, they're really good.
If you are not planning to fly your drone commercially you are not required to register it with the FAA anymore. This decision was handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.