In fashion with the Panasonic Lumix G2

In fashion with the Panasonic Lumix G2 - Will Cheung gets the exclusive opportunity to try the Panasonic Lumix G2 system camera in a pressure situation.

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Panasonic Lumix G2 in Digital Cameras

Panasonic G2
The Panasonic Lumix G2 under pressure. ePHOTOzine's Will Cheung got to use it at an exclusive John Lewis fashion show. It sells for £569 and is available from Warehouse Express by clicking here.

I can’t claim to be an experienced catwalk photographer. In fact, the only fashion show I have ever shot was an event put on by the Peterborough Adult Education College last month in the local shopping centre. I just stuck a flashgun fitted with a Gary Fong Lightsphere on the camera and blitzed away. It was pretty average – the show and my results!

Panasonic offered ePHOTOzine the exclusive opportunity to take some shots using the Lumix G2 at the John Lewis Autumn/Winter 2010 event in London earlier this week, so I went along.

You probably already know that the G2 is one of the new generation of system, mirrorless DSLRs and it has done very well in reviews. Read our review here. It is also being heavily advertised on the television right now and it is selling well. It is a lovely little camera but probably the not the usual type of camera that catwalk snappers use, but given its performance there is no reason why it should be unsuitable.

I arrived with not a great deal of time to spare (not my fault, honestly!) and the invited luvvies from the fashion press were already taking their seats.

Click on the thumbnails for high resolution images.
Shot at ISO 400 using the 45mm f/2.8 macro lens set to f/5.6. Performance from ISO 800 is impressive and there is little digital noise.

I had a G2 with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom with me but Panasonic’s product manager John Mitchell handed me a 45mm f/2.8 macro lens and he said that was the lens to use in terms of focal length and its two-stop faster maximum aperture – compared with the f/5.6 of my standard zoom at its long end. The G2 is a Micro Four Thirds format camera so the crop factor is 2x so the 45mm behaved like a 90mm short telephoto in the 35mm format.

Flash was not allowed so I had to rely on the ambient stage lighting and the G2’s ISO skills. I quickly set the camera up. ISO 400 to start, incandescent white-balance to deal with the stage lighting, Raw format so that I could further tinker with white-balance on the computer, single-shot autofocus, continuous drive and aperture-priority autoexposure with the lens set wide open. The show only lasted 12 minutes (this is typical of fashion shows, apparently) so I would not have a great deal of time to tinker. Phew! I was kind of ready as the lights dimmed and the music cranked up a notch or two. Then, a lovely girl wearing a pretty frock was sashaying down the catwalk, followed by another, then another, then by a pretty bloke in a suit (he would not have looked good in a frock) and so on. It was a blur of gorgeous people wearing stuff – to be honest, they could have been wearing body paint or bin bags and I would not have noticed because I was focused (excuse the pun!) on getting pictures and not admiring the clothes.

Click on the thumbnails for high resolution images.
The shoot was not all about pretty people; there were lots of pretty things to shoot too.

Quite early on, I made the brave decision to shoot just high quality JPEGs. My exposures and the white-balance looked fine on the G2’s lovely monitor and Raw shooting was too slow for this sort of work. I was getting a handful of frames then the camera started buffering and I would have to wait a few seconds between shots.

With JPEG format I could just keep my finger shutter button and shoot sequences of images. I know it wasn’t action photography as such, but the models did not hang around.

At least with the touch-screen functionality of the G2, it was very easy and fast to change settings without the need to rummage in the menu system. This aspect of handling on the G2 is excellent.

I also tried some shots at ISO 800 and ISO 1600, and by the time I had done that, all the models had come out and were applauding themselves as they did their goodbye run down the catwalk, and that was it for the fashion show. I think I managed 150 shots of the show but had no idea how many were sharp. Actually, the success rate was good if you discount the rejects where models blinked and that sort of thing.

Click on the thumbnails for high resolution images.
The Lumix G2 in continuous JPEG shooting mode. This sequence was shot at ISO 1600.

I rounded off the experience just by wandering around the many displays shooting handheld with the G2, then it was time to head off for the train.

As for my experience of the Panasonic Lumix G2 in a working environment, I think I can say that it acquitted itself extremely well. It delivered high quality images (all the ones shown here are straight out of the camera) without too much input from me, so you can judge for yourself.

The Panasonic Lumix G2 is available for £569 from Warehouse Express. Click here for details.

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