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|Panasonic Lumix G2: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.|
Panasonic's latest entry to the Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) market sports a 12.1 megapixel Live-MOS sensor, Dual Live View via the swivelling LCD screen or built-in electronic viewfinder and high definition video recording costs around £590. The compact size and SLR-like styling will appeal to those who find digital SLRs just too bulky, but still hanker after the extra quality a larger sensor can offer over compact or bridge cameras. Here Gary Wolstenholme takes a look at whether EVIL is just an acronym, or whether it relates to the performance in some way.
Panasonic Lumix G2: Features
A 17.3 x 13mm 12.1 megapixel sensor lies at the heart of the Lumix G2 camera, which should be capable of producing images suitable for large prints. The ISO sensitivity range has been expanded to ISO6400 since earlier Panasonic G-series cameras, which should improve the camera's ability to take pictures in low light, and may appeal to those interested in street photography, or those who simply want to capture the ambience as it is.
Alongside the swivelling LCD screen, an electronic viewfinder is also included for those who hanker after the SLR viewfinder experience. A proximity sensor on the viewfinder eye-cup automatically switched between viewfinder and screen as you put your eye to the finder, saving you from fiddling to try and change between them in a hurry. The LCD screen isn't the highest resolution available at the moment, with 460,000 dots providing adequate resolution. It isn't the brightest screen I've used lately either and I occasionally had trouble seeing it well in bright conditions. The EVF is quite clear and easy to see, even when wearing glasses. A dioptre adjustment to the left of the eye-cup allows for easy quick adjustments of up to four dioptres either way.
Support for SD, SDHC and the new SDXC memory cards is included, although the newer SDXC cards aren't exactly commonplace yet. At least it is future-proofed in this respect. Video recording is also possible with the G2 at a maximum resolution of 1280x720, which equates to 720p high definition recording. A quick-access record button is placed on top of the camera so it is unnecessary to change modes when you wish to record a quick video.
Panasonic Lumix G2: Handling
Despite the camera's compact dimensions, there is plenty of room to achieve a decent hold with the finger grip providing plenty of purchase. The controls have been well enough thought out for the most part and most can be operated with one hand leaving your left hand free to steady the camera and operate the zoom and focus controls on the lens. I did find some of the buttons on the rear a little too small for my fat fingers, resulting in the camera booting me out of the menu on several occasions as I mashed more buttons than I intended with my thumb. Those with more dainty hands shouldn't have too much to complain about here.
The body of the G2 on its own weighs a paltry 371g, which is lighter than some bridge cameras. With the standard 14-42mm lens attached the camera still weighs in at under 600g, which coupled with the compact size should appeal to those on the go.
Panasonic Lumix G2: Performance
A whopping 144 metering segments take care of judging exposures in the G2. I found that in most cases the camera is capable of providing good exposures, even in quite strongly backlit situations as meter tends to prefer preserving detail in the shadows. This can cause issues with high contrast subjects as the camera has a tendency to blow highlights often and I found myself dialling in negative exposure compensation as a matter of course. The face detection system appears to assist the exposure system when a face is detected, resulting in pretty much flawless portrait results.
Exposure compensation can be applied across a range of stops stop either way, which is a slightly wider range than many cameras of this level offer, but not as much as the five stops either way some SLRs offer. Applying compensation can be a bit of a faff as there is no dedicated control for the task. Instead you have to dip into the quick menu and navigate to the exposure compensation section.
A focal plane shutter controls the length of each exposure between a range of 1/4000sec to 60secs. Bulb exposures of up to four minutes can be taken in manual exposure mode. I'm not sure why the four minute limit exists but those wishing to indulge in night photography may find this a little limiting. The maximum flash sync speed is only 1/160sec, which may limit your options when attempting to use flash in bright conditions for fill. As the shutter first has to close before making an exposure, I did notice a little lag before the image was taken. This may pose problems for those taking images on the spur of the moment in some cases, but it isn't so bad that I would say it is a major issue.
Panasonic’s contrast detection autofocus system is one of the fastest of this type I've used, locking onto subjects quickly and accurately in a range of conditions. The supplied 14-42mm lens focuses quickly and quietly thanks to the focus motor built into the lens.
Several focusing options are easily accessed via a dial on the top of the camera body including, Face Detection, Subject Tracking, 23 area focusing, one area focusing and touch. The touch mode is especially interesting as it allows you to tap anywhere on the screen to set your focus point quickly and easily. Obviously this doesn't work when using the EVF, but it is still an interesting feature.
The 12.1 megapixel Live-MOS sensor produced plenty of images with excellent sharpness across the frame, with fine details rendered with superb clarity in most cases at low ISO settings.
ISO and noise performance
With the Four Thirds sensor format being smaller than many SLRs, Panasonic's engineers have a job on their hands in trying to equal the noise performance of the latest crop of large sensor cameras.
In this case the performance isn't bad at all with results certainly being usable up to ISO1600 and not to raucous at ISO3200 and ISO6400, although at these high sensitivities the combination of noise, and noise reductions has greatly reduced the amount of detail in images, especially in the shadows.
|Panasonic Lumix G2
Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
|Panasonic Lumix G2
Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
A total of nine different colour modes are available to select on the G2, giving photographers plenty of options to choose from. Each colour preset is customisable as well, meaning it should be too difficult to achieve the look you want in camera, saving you time editing afterwards.
In the standard mode, colours are faithfully reproduced and contrast is reasonable, without leaving images looking flat. If you require a bit more punch in your image both Dynamic and Vibrant Colour modes will give images a lift, whereas if you’re after a more reserved look then the Smooth and Natural colour modes are for you. A Nostalgic colour mode is also available to select, giving images the look of a slightly faded photo from the seventies. Three monochrome modes are also provided, each with similar characteristics as the colour modes of the same name.
|Panasonic Lumix G2: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.|
|Panasonic Lumix G2: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
Dynamic Colour Mode
Smooth Colour Mode
Nature Colour Mode
Nostalgic Colour Mode
Vibrant Colour Mode
Black & White Standard Mode
Black and White Dynamic Mode
Black and White Smooth Mode
In use I found the Auto White Balance performed quite well, tending to error on the cooler side, rather than leaving images taken indoors too warm. Images taken outside using AWB also tend to have a slightly cool look to them.
A custom white balance setting is available for very tricky conditions. I found this easy to set and it gave very accurate results.
|Panasonic Lumix G2 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorecent lighting
Incandescent Preset in incandescent lighting
I did not have the camera long enough to perform formal battery life tests. I used the camera extensively over the course of two days and after shooting 261 shots, the battery indicator still shows a full charge.
The 14-42mm Panasonic optic bundled as a kit with the G2 seems to perform very well during testing, rendering images sharp from corner to corner, even at maximum aperture. I did not notice any issues with flare or ghosting during normal shooting, and very little distortion too.
We will be running an in-depth test of the lens soon. Please visit here to view our latest lens reviews.
Panasonic Lumix G2: Verdict
During testing the G2 provided me with plenty of images with excellent sharpness across the frame, all without breaking my back due to the small size and light weight. Priced at £590, it is a little more expensive than an entry-level SLR costs, but whether this represents good value or not will entirely depend on your personal outlook.
If size (and weight) mean everything to you and the other, less SLR-like Micro Four Thirds cameras don't appeal, this may well be the camera for you.
|Panasonic Lumix G2: Pros|
|Touch focus mode|
|Sharpness of images taken at low to moderate ISO sensitivities|
|Panasonic Lumix G2: Cons
|Slight lag when taking an image|
|Maximum bulb exposure of four minutes|
Panasonic Lumix G2: Specification
|Lens mount||Micro Four Thirds mount|
|Sensor size||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Max. Image size||4000x3000|
|Viewfinder||Live View Finder (1,440,000 dots equivalent)|
|Focusing system||Contrast Detection|
|Focus types||Face detection / AF Tracking / 23-area-focusing / 1-area-focusing / Touch (1- area-focusing in Face detection / AF Tracking / Multi-area-focusing / 1-area-focusing)|
|File types||Still Image: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.21), RAW, DPOF compatible / Still Image with Audio: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.21) + QuickTime / Motion Image: AVCHD Lite / QuickTime Motion JPEG|
|Metering system||144-zone multi-pattern sensing system|
|Metering types||Intelligent Multiple/Center Weighted/Spot|
|White-balance||Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Flash / White Set 1,2 / Color temperature setting|
|Exposure compensation||1/3EV Step ±3EV|
|Shutter speed range||Still Images: 1/4000 ~ 60 and Bulb (up to approx. 4minutes)|
|Continuous shooting||H: 3.2 frames/sec, M: 2.6 frames/sec (with Live View), L: 2 frames/sec (With Live View)|
|Image stabilisation||In Lens|
|Movie mode||[HD] 1280 x 720, 50p (sensor output is 25fps)(SH: 17Mbps, H: 13Mbps, L: 9Mbps)|
|Monitor||Low temperature Polycrystalline TFT LCD with Touch panel|
|Media type||SD memory card, SDHC memory card, SDXC memory card|
|Interface||USB 2.0 High Speed|
|Power||ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 1250mAh) (Included) / Battery Charger/AC Adapter (Input: 110-240V AC, DC Cable is required)|
|Size (wxhxd)||124 x 83.6 x 74mm / 4.88 x 3.29 x 2.91 in (excluding protrusions)|
|Weight (with battery)||Approx. 593g / 20.92 oz (SD card, Battery, 14-42mm lens included) / Approx. 371g / 13.09 oz (Body only)|
The Panasonic Lumix G2 costs £590 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Panasonic Lumix G2
Panasonic worldwide launch and camera preview. Click here to go to the preview section
Above: Will Cheung getting hands-on the new Panasonic Lumix G2 system camera.
Left: Matsu Matsushita, deputy managing director of Panasonic UK, showing off the company's new Lumix G2 and G10 cameras.
Panasonic announced to the world two Micro Four Third cameras, the G2 and the G10, on the first morning of the Focus on Imaging exhibition in Birmingham. This year is the first that Panasonic has exhibited at the UK's biggest photo show.
The Micro Four Thirds market has grown very rapidly and these two exciting cameras will only add to the interest in this sector.
"This is an extremely exciting day for Panasonic, not only because this is the first time we are at Focus on Imaging, but also because this is a global event where we announce our product line-up for the year," says Matsu Matsushita, Panasonic UK's deputy managing director. "The Panasonic Lumix G2 is the world's first finger control system camera while the G10 targets entry-level users. They join our range of products that fulfil our aim of creating a new photo culture in a digital era," he continued.
Click here if you want to read the full Panasonic press release.
|The Panasonic Lumix G2 has touch screen technology.||The Panasonic Lumix G10 is aimed at compact users aiming to upgrade.|
|The iA button makes shooting easy.||The LCD monitor is excellent.|
|The articulating LCD monitor is handy.||The G2 is compact but feels solid.|
A quick hands-on
I had an hour with the Panasonic Lumix G2 and even in that short time I can tell you that it is an impressive camera to use. The touch screen works really well and it does make using the camera very easy. And fun.
Focusing seemed very fast which is what Panasonic claim, and it is accurate too. I did love the way that if focus was not quite there that you could use the touch screen to move the sensor point.
The exposure system was equally good. Admittedly, all the shots taken were within the NEC but the sun was out so contrast was high. No shots came out unacceptably, even on this early sample.
The images shown here were taken in the largest JPEG mode and it should be pointed out that they are from a pre-production camera with an early Firmware version.
The G2 and G10 are due on sale in June this year and at this early stage there is no indication of prices.
|A couple of shots here to show the G2's handling of contrasty lighting. Despite the sun being in the frame, exposures are perfectly good.|
|The new 14-45mm lens features Mega OIS and has aspheric elements.||The articulating LCD monitor helps for low angle shooting.|
|ISO200 close-up.||ISO400 close-up.|
|ISO800 close-up.||ISO1600 close-up.|
|ISO3200 close-up.||ISO6400 close-up.|
|This series of ISO images were taken on a Panasonic Lumix G2 fitted with the new G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6. These are images taken on a pre production sample of the camera so we are unable to post high resolution images for download. The enlarged area is shown by the red outline box in the top left image.|
Advanced Functions and Performance with Simple Operation – Panasonic’s Smallest Ever Lumix G Micro System with Built in Viewfinder
Boasting a host of advanced digital functions, with outstanding image quality and a compact DSLR style body, Panasonic’s new DMC-G10 is the latest addition to the award winning Lumix G Micro System of cameras. Joining a family of innovative members – the DMC-G1 was the first interchangeable lens system camera based on the Micro Four Thirds System standard with dramatic downsizing of the body adopting the mirror-less structure. Next came the DMC-GH1 realizing 1920x1080 full HD (High Definition) movie recording and the DMC- GF1 brought innovation with its’ ultra compact, slim profile. The new DMC-G10 is newly released as a sister model of the touch-operation DMC-G2, with both models boasting high image quality and ease of use.
Effortlessly Easy to Use
Offering outstanding compactness and portability, the new G10 features an innovative mirror-less structure using the Micro Four Thirds System standard making it possible to develop a compact, lightweight body by eliminating a number of components that are found in a conventional interchangeable lens camera, including the mirror box and optical viewfinder unit. The distance and light measurements that are conventionally performed by the mirror box are handled by sensors in real time, and highly accurate, high-speed auto focusing is achieved by the use of contrast AF.
The DMC-G10 is ideal for compact camera owners who want to step up to higher-quality photos and advanced functions that are easy to use. Panasonic achieved this superb ease of use by continuing to improve the iA (Intelligent Auto) mode - with its shooting assist functions that have proven extremely popular in LUMIX compact cameras - and adding it to the LUMIX G Micro System's advanced imaging technologies.
With AF Tracking, the G10 can lock onto any subject and keep it in focus even if it moves - making it easy to get beautiful, clear shots when a great photo opportunity suddenly arises. Simply aim, lock, and shoot. The Face Recognition function remembers registered faces to give an appropriate AF/AE on the people. In playback, you can choose to display only photos that contain a specific registered face using Category Playback.
In addition to the advanced functions mentioned above, the iA mode inherits fundamental functions users need in a good digital still camera . These include MEGA O.I.S., which helps prevent blurring from hand-shake, and Intelligent ISO Control, which reduces motion blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity if the subject moves as the shot is taken. Intelligent Exposure optimizes the exposure for each part of an image, preventing blocked shadows and blown highlights and helping ensure that gradation and details are reproduced beautifully. It also features an automatic backlight compensation function that activates whenever the camera detects the subject is in backlight. Intelligent Scene Selector automatically detects the most common shooting situations - Portrait, Night Portrait, Scenery, Night Scenery, Close-up and Sunset - and switches to the appropriate Scene mode.
The user can activate all of these useful, convenient shooting-assist functions by simply selecting iA mode and user can take maximum advantage of this mode in both photo/movie recording.
Live View Finder for Perfect Previewing
The G10’s Live View Finder of 202,000-dot equivalent, 1.04x (0.52x ) retains high viewability of an optical viewfinder and can also display information about camera settings that the user can see without taking his or her eye from the subject. The 3.0-inch large 460,000-dot high-resolution LCD with wide viewing angle automatically controls the brightness according to the situation as an Intelligent LCD. The 60-frames-per-second Live View is made possible by the Live MOS sensor, which takes signals directly from the image sensor and sends them continuously to the LCD, in real time. Both the Live View Finder and LCD provide approx. 100% field of view. This allows the user, when composing a shot, to check the framing accurately from corner to corner.
The contrast AF system adopted by the LUMIX DMC-G10 is not only accurate and easy to use, but also very fast. Users can choose from a wide range of AF modes, including AF Tracking, 1-area AF, Face Detection AF/AE and 23-area AF.
The High Image Quality You’d Expect of an Interchangeable Lens System Camera
While achieving breakthroughs in advanced functions and compactness of design, Panasonic also refined its comprehensive digital imaging technologies for every LUMIX G Micro System camera to raise the level of image quality that rivals or even surpasses D-SLR cameras. The 4/3-type 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor featured in the DMC-G10 offers the best of both worlds - the superior image quality of a CCD sensor, and the lower power consumption of a CMOS sensor. Advanced technology that makes it possible to read 4 channels of data simultaneously also helps the G10 deliver 60 frames-per-second Full-time Live View images, while faithfully reproducing high-resolution images with fine detail and rich gradation.
The new Venus Engine HD II features exceptionally advanced signal processing capabilities. This sophisticated LSI separates chromatic noise from luminance noise and applies the optimal noise reduction to each, so you capture clear and beautiful images even when shooting at high ISO sensitivity levels. The Venus Engine HD II also provides independent gradation control for each of the R, G and B colours, so even delicate colour nuances are reproduced faithfully. Linking smoothly with the Live MOS sensor, the Venus Engine HD II records stunning high-resolution 12.1-megapixel images with exceptional accuracy. Signals containing a large amount of image data are sent from the Live MOS sensor to the Live View Finder at 60 fps, resulting in clear, smooth live view.
The high-speed, high-performance Venus Engine HD II has been re-engineered to compile the new image processing technology "Intelligent Resolution". It enables the recording of beautiful photo and high-definition movie with higher quality signal processing. With the Intelligent Resolution technology, 3 areas - outlines, detailed texture areas and soft gradation areas - are automatically detected. The outline parts are enhanced effectively to give edges more clearness while giving a moderate accentuation to the texture areas to look more finely detailed. To the soft gradation part, superior noise reduction system of the Venus Engine HD II is applied to make it smoother. Apart from the uniform enhancement of sharpness, the innovative technology Intelligent Resolution precisely performs signal processing pixel by pixel in the most effective way for it. As a result, images are naturally clear and crisp in photo recording.
Cameras of LUMIX G Micro System are equipped with a highly efficient Dust Reduction System. If dust or other foreign matters get inside the camera when you're changing lenses, it could cling to the image sensor and show up as a spot in your photos. The Dust Reduction System in the G10 helps eliminate this possibility by placing a supersonic wave filter in front of the Live MOS sensor. Vibrating vertically around 50,000 times per second, the filter repels dust and other particles effectively.
HD Movie Recording With iA
The DMC-G10 can record 1280 x 720 high-definition Motion JPEG in addition to QVGA, VGA and WVGA aspect. Users can enjoy recording HD motion images taking maximum advantage of the large sensor size and the interchangeability of lenses. A Wind Cut function is also available to block out most of the noise from background wind.
Even video beginners can record excellent movies with DMC-G10 as the popular iA (Intelligent Auto) is also available in motion image recording. Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) helps prevent handshake when using high-powered zoom. With AF Tracking, the G10 can lock onto any subject and keep it in focus even if it moves. Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion on it so it always turns out beautifully. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. And Intelligent Scene Selector automatically switches between Normal, Portrait, Close-up, Scenery, and Low Light modes according to the situation to optimize visual quality.
The G10 also provides a Film mode and you can select different films for your distinctive colouring and contrast in movie recording. You can try professional-like movie recording with these variety of options like you do with photo recording.
Creativity is a Must!
The DMC-G10 is artistic not only in form, but also in function. It provides an array of features that let users either capture precisely true-to-life images or create their own beautifully expressive images. The G10 features My Colour mode with a total of seven preset effects - Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Monochrome, Dynamic Art, and Silhouette - while inheriting the previous Custom mode, which lets users manually set the colour, brightness and saturation levels. With the Full-time Live View function, users can see how these settings will affect the images before they shoot, making it easier to capture the exact mood or atmosphere desired. For even more elaborate effects, users can choose from a total of nine Film modes, and set the contrast, sharpness and saturation levels for each. A custom function lets users store their favorite settings in memory. The G10 also provides a total of 26 Scene modes including the Peripheral Defocus mode.
The exposure meter can be displayed in the P/A/S/M shooting modes. The correlation between shutter speed and aperture is shown, with a colour-coded warning that alerts users when the settings are not in the proper range. For newcomers to system camera photography, this makes it easy to learn proper settings both visually and logically, enhancing their photography skills.
View Your Images and Movies on a Large HDTV - VIERA Link networking
Still images on SD Memory Cards are easy to view on a Panasonic VIERA TV with dynamic HD resolution. The user simply inserts the card into the VIERA Image Viewer (SD Memory Card slot) on a VIERA TV or DIGA Blu-ray Disc Player to play the content. Alternatively, an optional mini HDMI cable can be used to output still and motion images recorded with the DMC-G10 directly to the TV for easy VIERA Link operation. This makes it possible to take maximum advantage of the camera's playback functions, including slideshows in which both still and motion images are played sequentially, or calendar displays and so on. All control is possible using only the TV's remote control.
In addition, with the included software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0, it is easy to view and edit your recorded contents. You may also choose to upload your videos to YouTube or burn them to a DVD disc for archiving.
Rich Options for Expandability
The Micro Four Thirds System products are joining today's Four Thirds System products to provide customers with even higher levels of performance in a digital interchangeable lens camera. In addition to LUMIX G lenses, the LUMIX DMC-G10 and LUMIX G Micro System can use any interchangeable lens that complies with the Four Thirds standard via an optional mount adaptor DMW-MA1 and with the prestigious Leica M/R Lenses via DMW-MA2M or MA3R. This gives the user access to the unlimited number of lens properties.
With the LUMIX G Micro System and the growing assortment of lenses becoming available, the expressive possibilities are unlimited. The LUMIX DMC-G10 system camera offers a wide variety of options to choose from to match every shooting situation and shooting style.
The DMC-G10, elegantly finished in black, will be available to purchase in the UK with the new 14-42mm lens (HFS014042) from June 2010.