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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Hands-On

One issue we did have was the lack of a second dedicated adjustment dial. In manual mode, just a single dial is used to adjust aperture and shutter speed and if you're used to a proper SLR that uses one for each, it can seriously slow you down. Then again, put the camera on Aperture priority mode, say, and you only need to adjust one parameter anyway. What does make this decision odd, though, is that the G2 is hardly devoid of other dials, knobs, buttons, and switches that arguably are less important than proper manual controls - is it really that important to have a dedicate switch for single shot/continuous/self timer modes, especially with a new touchscreen for quickly navigating menus.

We also found the menu system a little unwieldy due to the number of options on offer. Little of it seemed superfluous, though, and you could just about pick it up and shoot but certainly by the time we'd finished playing with it we still hadn't become completely familiar with it. Then again, with so much functionality on-board it was always going to be a struggle to create a completely pick-up-and-go control system.

The touchscreen is surprisingly responsive and didn't seem to suffer much from smears and fingerprints during our time using it. We're sure they were there but with the screen on they were never noticeable. It also worked well for navigating settings and adjusting parameters. However, most of its functionality is duplicated with menu buttons so we seldom used it except for picking out targets when using the AiAf mode, which automatically adjusts exposure and focus for whatever subject you point at on-screen.

Talking of video, we had a few problems with the pre-production models. In fact, the first G2 we tried kept reverting to Japanese every time we turned it on and would only shoot black and white. Its replacement seemed to work well at first but after taking a couple of video clips, it refused to write to our memory cards. However, in the brief time that video was working, the G2 seemed to work very well. Recording started very quickly and thanks to the articulated touchscreen, it was surprisingly easy to handle - unlike some SLRs with video.

As for picture quality, the combination of the G2 and its stock 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Mega OIS lens resulted in images that were very much as we expected. That is, very good compared to any compact and comparable with an entry-level SLR. Sensor noise was more prevalent than we would hope for - particularly noticeable on the bank of Canon lenses (and the hands that are operating them) on the next page. Colours also seemed a little over-saturated at times and there was some evidence of chromatic-aberrations. Overall, though, the Panasonic G2 is a superb all-round shooter that, when combined with the growing range of Micro Four Thirds lenses, will be more than adequate for the majority of users.

As for pricing, the G2 looks set to cost £629 in a kit with the stock lens mentioned above, while the body-only price will be about £100 less. This makes it much more affordable than the GH1, which is still on sale for over £1,000, but compares well to the G1 (approximately £450).

The G2 is a little pricier than some entry-level SLRs that can be had for around £350, but its video functionality, articulated touchscreen and size certainly seem to make up for the difference. The G2 should be available around June time and we will of course be bringing you a full review of the G2 in due course.

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