The Lumix DMC-GF2 has the job of both capitalising on the goodwill afforded its predecessor, the widely acclaimed Lumix DMC-GF1, and bringing enough originality to the party to keep Panasonic ahead of newer pretenders for its crown.
The GF1 was Panasonic's first interchangeable lens compact/DSLR hybrid to ape the dimensions of a compact rather than a DSLR. And, though it lacked the retro charm of its co-development rivals for the mirror-less Micro Four Thirds system in the Olympus Digital Pen E-P1 and E-P2, its pictures generally proved critically sharper and more colour rich in, side by side, like for like comparison.
On a practical level Panasonic had also included an integral flash with the GF1, something the Pen range omitted until the introduction of the E-PL1 at the beginning of last year. In the latter half of 2010 we additionally had Sony's NEX-3, NEX-5, plus Samsung NX100 models entering the frame as alternatives for anyone looking for DSLR-like control in compact form.
With the GF2 stated to be the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens compact with a built in flash, first impressions on picking it up are good. Powering up from cold in a second via a flick of the top plate on/off switch, a response time roughly comparable with a starter DSLR, the GF2 comes across as both a beefed up version of the high performance Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 compact, and a more simplified - some may say refined - re-imagining of its GF1 predecessor.
There are inevitably shared features and controls, albeit up to a point. The integral Four Thirds Live Mos sensor has been carried over and so effective resolution has remained the same, with the GF2 delivering still photos in either JPEG or Raw picture format boasting a maximum count of 12.1 megapixels.