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|Category:||Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera|
Panasonic Lumix GF2 Mirrorless Camera Review - Joshua Waller reviews the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 - the compact mirrorless camera from Panasonic sits in the middle between the popular GF1 and the tiny GF3.
The Panasonic Lumix GF2 is an update to the Panasonic Lumix GF1, the GF2 compacts the camera by 19%, removing the mode dial and introducing a touch screen, which was seen as a backwards step by many. People loved the GF1, and wanted a more advanced compact from Panasonic, but instead had to look at the G2/G10/GH1, GH2 or the Olympus PEN series instead, but perhaps the GF2 still offers what they're looking for?
The GF1 has been so popular with photographers, we even covered it numerous times: Panasonic Lumix GF1 as a Landscape camera, Panasonic Lumix GF1 with Sigma 10-20mm Lens, Olympus PEN E-P1 vs Panasonic Lumix GF1, and Olympus PEN E-P2 vs Panasonic Lumix GF1.
The GF2 features are improved over the GF1 is some ways, with a touch screen, stereo microphones, dedicated "iA" (intelligent Auto) button, 3D photos, Full HD video, improved ISO range (upto 6400), and increased shooting speed giving you 3.2fps continuous shooting, as well as a lower price. But the GF2 also has shorter battery life, doesn't feature a mode dial, removes the switch for continuous shooting mode, and removes a number of other buttons from the back.
Panasonic Lumix GF2 Back
- 12.1 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor
- 14mm kit lens f/2.5, 28mm equivalent
- 3 inch touch screen, 460k dots
- Optional EVF accessory port
- Dust removal system (SSWF)
- Creative / My Colour Filters (GF3: Creative Control): 9 vs 6 on GF3
- Colour adjust: Colour, Black and White, Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise Reduction (+/- 2)* (* Called Photo Style in the GF3, and comes with presets: Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery, Portrait, Custom)
- 17 scene modes
- AF-assist lamp
- Dynamic range expansion: iContrast
- Full HD Video, Stereo sound
Panasonic Lumix GF2 Sensor Exposed
Difference between the GF1, GF2, and GF3, with the highlight features in bold:
|Panasonic Lumix GF1||Panasonic Lumix GF2||Panasonic Lumix GF3|
|3inch 460k dots screen||3inch 460k dots touch screen||3inch 460k dots touch screen|
|23 area focus points||23 area focus points||23 area focus points|
|720p video||Full HD Video||Full HD Video|
|Built in Flash + Hot shoe||Built in Flash + Hot shoe||Built in Flash / No Hot Shoe|
|380 shots (CIPA)*||320 shots (CIPA)*||340 shots (CIPA)*|
|119 x 71 x 36mm||112.8 x 67.8 x 32.8mm||107.7 x 67.1 x 32.5mm|
|£449 with kit lens||£419 with 14mm lens||£449 with 14mm lens|
|7 Digital filters (My Colour), 9 Film modes plus Custom||8 digital filters (My Colour, added cinema) + Custom, 2 Picture adjust presets (customisable)||6 digital filters (Creative Control), 6 colour modes + Custom (Photo Style)|
|3D Photos||3D Photos|
The GF1 features digital filters called "My Color", this was renamed "Creative Control" on the GF3 / G3, the GF1 also featured "Film modes" this was changed to "Picture Adjust" on the GF2, and then "Photo Style" on the GF3/G3 etc. It's clear from the table, above and below, that the GF1 had the most options and presets, although the GF2 adds Cinema, but has drastically less presets for picture adjust.
|Digital Filters||My Colour: Expressive / Retro / Pure / Elegant / Monochrome / Dynamic Art / Silhouette / Custom (Colour / Brightness / Saturation / adjustable)||My Colour: Expressive / Retro / Pure / Elegant / Cinema / Monochrome / Dynamic Art / Silhouette / Custom (Colour / Brightness / Saturation / Contrast adjustable)||Creative Control: Expressive / Retro / High key / Sepia / High Dynamic / Miniature|
|Film / Colour Modes||Film Modes: Colour: Standard / Dynamic / Nature / Smooth / Nostalgic / Vibrant, Black and white: Standard / Dynamic / Smooth, Others: My Film1 / My Film2 / Multi Film||Picture Adjust: Colour / Monochrome / Customisable: Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise Reduction||Photo Style: Standard / Vivid / Natural / Monochrome / Scenery / Portrait / Custom: Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise Reduction|
The handling, design, and build quality of the Panasonic Lumix GF2 is very good, although the front grip is a little slippery and a rubberised grip would be better. The buttons are quite good, although there are less buttons that the predecessor, due to the touch screen giving access to these controls instead. The layout of the buttons on the back is pleasing with the camera feeling very easy to use, the four way control giving access to some of the most commonly used features such as ISO, WB, Continuous shooting, focus, and the Quick Menu button can be setup as a custom function button. Another neat feature of the way the flash is designed to pop out of the camera, is that you can use it at a bounce flash, simply by tilting the flash to point straight up.
|Panasonic Lumix GF2 Pop up flash||Panasonic Lumix GF2 Pop up flash pushed back|
Menus - The touch screen gives quick access to a number of controls, and also lets you switch the modes. Alternatively you can enter the full menus with the Menu button on the back, and then use the 4 way controller to go through the options and select what you want. The quick access buttons on the back of the screen can be customised to show your favourite options, and you can drag and drop the icons from the top of the screen to the bottom if you don't like the default options presented. The touchscreen also has the added benefit of letting you precisely control what area you want to focus on.
Panasonic Lumix GF2 Battery
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 320 shots according to CIPA standards, we were able to take 400 shots before the battery went flat, this is better than expected, although your mileage may vary depending on use, and whether you shoot with continuous shooting, or regularly switch the camera off and on.
Speed - we tested the Panasonic Lumix GF2 and compared it to the Panasonic Lumix GF3, and the Samsung NX11. You can also compare the results to the new Panasonic Lumix G3 as well.
||Panasonic GF3||Samsung NX11|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.2*
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.2*
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||1.0
|Shot to Shot (without flash)||0.6s
|Shot to Shot with Flash||1.5s
(full resolution, shots before slow down)
||4fps (13 shots)^||3fps (15 shots)
|Continuous Shooting (with flash)||N/A||N/A||2fps (infinite shots)|
|Continuous Shooting (RAW)||3fps (5 shots)
||4fps (6 shots)^||3fps (5 shots)
* 14-42mm Olympus M Zuiko 14-42mm II R lens used for all m43rds cameras, ^ tested with new Samsung Class 10 memory card.
Performance was very good with extremely quick focusing, shutter response, and excellent shot to shot time even with flash. Continuous shooting is very good at 3.8fps, and the performance with a high speed card is excellent allowing 35+ shots before the camera slows down when using a Samsung Class 10 SD card.
Panasonic GF2 Sample Photos
1/500 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 100
1/400 sec | f/6.3 | 14.0 mm | ISO 100
1/60 sec | f/4.8 | 29.0 mm | ISO 100
1/500 sec | f/10.0 | 32.0 mm | ISO 100
Portrait flash shot - low red eye. The camera lets you bounce the flash, and has built in red eye reduction. The GF2 produces images with good detail and good colour.
Panasonic GF2 Other sample images
iContrast Off - 1/500 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 100
iContrast Low - 1/500 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 100
Dynamic range can be enhanced using the iContrast options, which are Off, Low, Standard, and High, and this has turned a photo that was mostly a silhouette of ruins, to a photo with detail in the shadow areas.
Panasonic GF2 Lens test images
1/500 sec | f/7.1 | 14.0 mm | ISO 100
1/500 sec | f/10.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
1/125 sec | f/4.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 100
Macro with Panasonic 14mm Lens - 1/60 sec | f/3.5 | 14.0 mm | ISO 200
Macro telephoto background blur (Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm II R) 1/320 sec | f/5.6 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Macro telephoto (Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm II R) 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
These example photos show the camera is capable of producing pleasing images with good colour and detail.
Macro performance - with the 14mm f/2.5 lens the camera isn't ideal for macro photos, although the lens does focus with the subject 18cm away from the lens. The 14-42mm kit lens from Panasonic or Olympus is much better for macro shots, and we've used the Olympus kit lens for some of the macro shots shown.
Panasonic GF2 ISO test images
1/13 sec | f/5.6 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
1/25 sec | f/5.6 | 42.0 mm | ISO 200
1/50 sec | f/5.6 | 42.0 mm | ISO 400
1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 42.0 mm | ISO 800
1/160 sec | f/6.3 | 42.0 mm | ISO 1600
1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 42.0 mm | ISO 3200
1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 6400
ISO Noise - There is very low noise at ISO100 and ISO200, with slight chroma noise starting to appear at ISO400. Noise increases at ISO800. There is more noticeable noise at ISO1600. At ISO3200 noise levels are borderline acceptable, with some loss of colour, although with some additional noise reduction could produce usable images, or with resizing would be suitable for web use. ISO6400 is best avoided with high noise levels, and noticeable loss of colour, particularly the darker shades in our test charts.
Panasonic GF2 White-balance test images
AWB Tungsten - 1/40 sec | f/4.2 | 22.0 mm | ISO 200
Tungsten Preset - 1/40 sec | f/4.2 | 22.0 mm | ISO 200
AWB Fluorescent - 1/13 sec | f/4.2 | 22.0 mm | ISO 200
Auto White Balance performance - Auto White Balance performs well under both tungsten and fluorescent lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a warmer result. There isn't a preset for fluorescent lighting on the GF2 or Panasonic cameras in general, as the auto white balance does a good job (and often does a better job than presets on other cameras as well). Some moire is visible in the crumpler bag in the first two shots, although we did not see this effect in any other shots.
Panasonic GF2 Digital filters
Expressive - 1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Retro - 1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Pure - 1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Elegant - 1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Cinema - 1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Monochrome - 1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Dynamic Art - 1/500 sec | f/10.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 400
Silhouette - 1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 100
Lenses available: The GF2 and GF3 are sold with the 14mm f/2.5 kit lens as the preferred lens as this maximises the small size of the cameras, and unlike Olympus, Panasonic don't have a collapsible zoom lens, so the 14-42mm lens looks quite large on these cameras, taking away a lot of the pocket-ability. The 14mm f/2.5 lens is a good lens generally, but does has softer corners than the Olympus 14-42mm II R kit lens, but has very sharp detail in the centre. Giving a 28mm wide angle view it might be a bit limiting for some and to give the camera more versatility a zoom lens is recommended. As it's part of the Micro Four thirds system, there is an abundance of lenses to choose from, from both Olympus and Panasonic, and others! There is also a number of adapters available to allow you to use DSLR lenses, as well as a lot of third party "toy" lenses like the Pinhole PenWide, Holga, and others.
The Panasonic Lumix GF2 records full HD video with stereo sound, and has a number of useful options such as continuous or manual focus, digital telephoto converter, wind reduction, microphone level display, and flicker reduction for TVs.
Value for MoneyThe Panasonic Lumix GF2 is great value for money, cheaper than the GF1, and as it's older than the GF3, it's also cheaper than that. The camera is around the same price as the Samsung NX11, and Sony NEX-5, and costs less than some of the Olympus PEN models, such as the Olympus PEN E-PL2.
|The Panasonic Lumix GF2 offers DSLR quality and controls in a significantly smaller package.
Panasonic Lumix GF2 ProsGreat value for money (cheaper than the other GF cameras)
Compact without removing too many controls or features
Extremely fast focus, continuous shooting
Good controls / buttons on the back
Good build quality with metal body
Low noise up to ISO1600
Flash direction can be altered
Panasonic Lumix GF2 ConsSlippery front grip (front grip improved on GF3)
14mm kit lens not great for macro
No mode dial
IS is lens based
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Panasonic GF2 Specifications
|CCD pixels||12.1Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Type||Live MOS Sensor|
|Sensor Size||Micro / Four Thirds|
|Sensor Size (width)||17.3mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||13mm|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/4000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||60sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 6400|
|Viewfinder Resolution||No Data|
|Video FPS||No Data|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Box Contents||Battery Charger, Battery Pack, Battery Case, Body Cap, Hot Shoe Cover / AV Cable, USB Connection Cable, Shoulder Strap, Stylus pen, CD-ROM|