Panasonic has announced the latest addition to its Micro Four Thirds stable – the Lumix GH2.
The new Panasonic Lumix GH2 has a 16 megapixel Live MOS sensor – making it the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds camera to be available. The sensor is made from a different base to those found in the G2 and GF1 series, and now benefits from three CPU cores and a new Venus Engine VI FHD that make it super-fast – twice as fast as the previous GH1 in fact.
As the GH2’s sensor now operates at 120fps (i.e. 120 refreshes per second, raised from the GH1’s 60fps) it’s possible for contrast-detection autofocus to be twice as fast as before, which is excellent news for Micro Four Thirds fans bereft with comparably sluggish AF systems found in the first generation of cameras.
Movie capture also takes significant benefit, as the sensor’s higher refresh rate means that a true 50i output signal can be achieved from the sensor for playback, enabling 1080p resolution at 24fps and with a 23Mbps bit rate for improved reproduction of moving subjects. A 2.5mm microphone jack for external microphone and an on-screen audio level meter also feature.
As per the G2, the Panasonic Lumix GH2’s 920k-dot LCD screen is now touch-capable, but also benefits from a 40% increase in visible colour gamut for higher colour accuracy in preview. Using the HDMI output it’s even possible for a tethered live preview on an external screen or HD TV. The updated electronic viewfinder now has a 1.53 million-dot resolution, making the 852×600 pixel resolution wider than previous G-series viewfinders.
Another headline feature is that the Panasonic Lumix GH2, alongside the G2 via firmware upgrade, will be compatible with the world’s first interchangeable 3D lens. This new lens 12.5mm lens (equates to a 65mm equivalent in full-frame 35mm terms) is a fixed pan-focus at f/12 and produces two images on the sensor to create a 3.1MP image, saved as both a JPEG and MPO file for playback on 3D-capable HD TVs. Full HD is only 2MP, so the image size is fine for digital playback and the fixed aperture is an essential to provide resulting perceptive depth that a shallower depth of field would not realistically facilitate.
There’s no final word on the Panasonic Lumix GH2’s price or exact release date, but we expect to see it retail for around £1300 with the 14-140mm lens and less as a second 14-42mm kit. The 3D lens will retail for around £350.
Panasonic Lumix GH2 announced: Key Specs
- Sensor: 16MP Live MOS (Four Thirds)
- Image Engine: Venus Engine VI FHD
- ISO: 100-12,800
- Movie: Full HD 1080p, 24fps at 23Mbps. 80% & 300% slow and fast motion capture. 2.5mm microphone jack for external stereo sound
- Continuous shooting: 5fps
- AF points: 35-zone contrast detection, twice as fast as GH1 due to sensor drive of 120fps
- 3D compatible: First interchangeable 3D lens available
- Viewfinder: 1.53 million dot resolution electronic viewfinder; 0.71x magnification; now with wider 852×600 pixel array.
- LCD: 3in, 920k-dot with 40% increase in colour gamut from GH2
- Media: SD
- Dimensions: 124 x 89.6 x 75.8mm
- Weight: 392g (body only) / (904g with 14-140mm lens, battery & card)
Panasonic Lumix GH2 announced: First Impressions
It’s the new, twice-as-fast autofocus that immediately makes the Panasnoic Lumix GH2 stand out. This kind of contrast-detection AF is unlike the speed of any competitor equivalent and, as sensors become more powerful, this kind of technology should pave the way for future increases in speed too – yet another steppingstone in the way of a wholesale uptake of the ongoing force of mirrorless cameras overcome.
Elsewhere, the upgrade in movie functionality is excellent, with Full HD shot at 1080p, captured at 24 frames per second and that all important 23MBps bit rate edge it toward a camcorder-like standard. The biggest drawback: still only a 2.5mm mic jack, and the omission of any in-ear audio monitoring capability as yet.
The new 16MP sensor does seem rather overly resolute considering the smaller sensor size, though without final images to sample it’s a case of ‘wait and see’ as to how the results will fare. I suspect that this has been opted for to support the new 3D lens functionality that is dependent on projecting two individual images (landscape) across the one sensor.