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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 review

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • DSLR-quality images
  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Full-HD 1080p video capture
  • DSLR-quality images
  • DSLR-quality images

Cons

  • 3D shots are low-res
  • Not worth upgrading over the GF1

Key Features

  • 12.1-megapixel sensor
  • 3-inch LCD
  • Built-in flash
  • Largely metal build
  • Manufacturer: Panasonic
  • Review Price: £456.99

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.

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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