The control layout of the Lumix G2 is, not surprisingly, very similar to the G1, although there are a few minor differences. The single adjustment wheel has been moved from the front of the handgrip to a more accessible position on the back above the thumb rest. The AF mode dial on the top left panel now has an extra layer with a side switch to select between focus point options, a function previously assigned to the menu. The Quick Menu and Film Mode buttons have been relocated to the back of the camera to make room for two new buttons on the top, a dedicated button to start video recording, and an illuminated button to activate the Intelligent Auto mode.
The most significant change to the control interface is the addition of the touch-screen interface. This doesn’t replace the conventional D-pad and menu system, but rather provides an alternative to it, as well as a few special features of its own. These include a touch-focus system, whereby the focus point is selected by the user touching the screen, and a unique Touch Shutter, which takes the touch-focus one step further, also activating the shutter when the screen is tapped. The touch-screen interface is well designed and easy to use, and is actually quicker for some functions, but it’s hard to see it as much more than a gimmick.
Apart from its touch-screen duties the monitor is much like the one on the Lumix G1, a three-inch TFT LCD screen with a resolution of 460,000 dots, fully articulated and able to flip back against the camera body for protection. As usual with Panasonic monitors it has excellent brightness, contrast and refresh rate, and an exceptionally wide angle of view. It also has a good anti-glare finish and works well in daylight. The electronic viewfinder is also the same as the G1, a superb field-sequential LCD with an ultra-high resolution of 1.44 million dots. It is sharp enough for accurate manual focusing, and in manual focus mode it automatically magnifies for even better precision.
The G2’s video recording mode is good, although not quite up to the standard of the video-dedicated GH1. It can shoot at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 at 60 interlaced frames per second (sensor output is 30fps). Audio is recoded in mono via a built-in microphone, but it does have the option to record in stereo via an external microphone, which shares its jack socket with the optional cable remote. Video is recorded in either QuickTime motion JPEG or in the superior AVCHD Lite format, with maximum recording time of 100 minutes.
Other useful features include the Film Mode setting, a selection of tone pre-sets which can be individually customised for contrast, saturation, sharpness and noise reduction. The G2 also features Panasonic’s Intelligent Resolution technology, which applies automatic sharpening and edge enhancement to images, and is included in the Intelligent Auto mode.