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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 - Design and Features 2

By Gavin Stoker

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Although its manufacturer has claimed the GF2's grip is an improvement over the GF1, we were a little disappointed to find that the gentle bulge it masquerades as is still rather small and insubstantial. Holding the camera in the right hand, there's barely enough room to wrap your middle finger around it, as your thumb rests on a pad at the back , while the forefinger hovers over the shutter release button.

Most noticeable of any changes to existing GF1 owners will be the fact that the handy shooting mode dial on the top plate has disappeared - but not entirely. Its options now exist in the virtual realm; for the GF2 offers up touch panel operation via its 3-inch, 460k-dot resolution back plate LCD, said screen also acting as viewfinder in the expected absence of additional optical or electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The latter is however available as an optional extra, attaching via the same accessory port introduced on the GF1, which is again located directly above the LCD. An accessory flash can further be utilised, with the caveat that there's no room for both this and EVF at the same time. Still, we found the screen to be an able compositional tool, its size and clarity sufficient to check critical focus at the points of capture and review. That said, if we could put in a request for future generations it would be for an angle adjustable screen, as found on Canon's PowerShot G12 and Samsung EX1, to further extend usability.

While the screen is impressively clear and the icons presented therein sensitive and immediately responsive to each inquisitive prod, these could have been made larger still on occasion. Also, it quickly becomes apparent that, apart from needing to view the options, you don't actually have to use the GF2's LCD as a touch screen at all if you don't want to. This is because there are enough actual physical controls alongside it to enable users to tab, scroll through and effect functions and shooting options. To do so though would mean missing out on funky features such as the ability to fire the shutter or bias focus by simply tapping your intended subject on screen. With the screen shutter mode active it's rather too easy to fire off a shot by accident however, as your fingers inevitably and inadvertently stray onto the screen when handling the camera.

SpiderJacek

January 3, 2011, 1:17 pm

Design score means Build score and Performance means Image Quality? :)

Hamish Campbell

January 3, 2011, 1:47 pm

I bought the GF1 about 6 months ago, so was kinda relieved (in a sad selfish sort of way) when the GF2 turned out to be more a re-focusing of the camera rather than an upgrade.





I know next to nothing about this stuff but have read a number of people were disappointed with the change to the new prime lens (pancake) as the 20mm that came with the GF1 was well regarded and the new supposedly somewhat of a step down in quality.

Mircea

January 3, 2011, 2:20 pm

Great review, but no full resolution samples? Also, we need crops to check out the ISO performance.

Ray Hopper

January 3, 2011, 3:19 pm

Thanks for the review, Gavin. As I asked your predecessor on several occasions, PLEASE tell us about the shutter noise on mirrorless cameras - they really should be completely silent by now. The Samsung NX100 is the quietest I've handled so far, whilst the Sony NEX's are the noisiest. I shan't upgrade my Canon G11 until near-silent shutters are available.

Peter

January 3, 2011, 11:12 pm

Does the 3d effect get reduced because the camera sensors are much closer together than a normal pair of eyes?

piesforyou

January 3, 2011, 11:34 pm

@Ray





Just curiosity - what's the problem with shutter noise?

atomsmasher

January 4, 2011, 5:44 am

Gavin, great review. Full resolution crops in the review or links to the original jpeg files would be very helpful when evaluating image quality. Which lens was used for the test photos? Cheers

Cliff

January 5, 2011, 2:10 am

Thanks for the comments. We have added an image quality score, and full res images will be in future reviews, which are being written as I type.

Voldenuit

January 5, 2011, 11:31 am

Pretty spot-on assessment, although I think TR was a bit lenient with the final score.





The most egregious omission compared to the GF1 is the loss of the AEL button, making focus/exposure lock more of a chore than it needs to be. This is especially important in m43 with its limited dynamic range and tendency to clip highlights.





Another negative point is that the bundled 14/2.5 lens is fairly average, whereas the 20/1.7 was good enough reason to get the GF1 just for the lens.





But nitpicking aside, I do agree that m43 is still a credible alternative (though not necessarily replacement) to APS-C DSLRs. The portability alone is a great reason to get the system, and it still boasts a larger lens selection than, say, NEX. Also, the NEX, while theoretically able to drive some Alpha mount lenses (with adapter), is very slow to focus when doing so (slower than, say, the GF2 with most 4/3 lenses).





If you're shooting in low light, though, you probably want a Pentax K-5 or Nikon D7000.

Matt G Baish

January 5, 2011, 1:03 pm

@Ray Hopper





When I recently tried out the Sony NEX-3D my local Sony Centre I was amazed as how the shutter noise took me back to the days of `proper` cameras - for me it isn't a problem &, in fact, would be a desirable `feature`:)

Ray Hopper

January 6, 2011, 1:45 am

@piesforyou and matt g baish





There are a small minority of photographers, of which I am one, working in theatres, concert halls and rehearsal rooms etc., to whom shutter noise is anathema. IMO street photography also sometimes benefits from silence.

Williamn

January 10, 2011, 4:08 pm

@Ray Hopper.


That makes sense. If reviewers won't review the shutter noise, then just go down to PC world etc, and try out the camera.

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