The Panasonic G2 adds 720p HD movie capture and touchscreen LCD capabilities. What Digital Camera's Panasonic Lumix G2 review tests out how good the new kit is...
Panasonic Lumix G2 review – Performance
In use the G2 is generally very similar to its G1 predecessor. The new touchscreen LCD isn’t necessarily immediate and will take a little time to get used to. The likelihood is that you won’t use touch to change all the settings when using full time live view, owing to the immediacy of the buttons available. However, when it comes to manipulating AF focus points or using the subject-tracking AF, then a single finger to the screen really comes into its own. Beyond this, adjusting the display to ‘viewfinder mode’ will display all the common settings on the camera’s LCD screen that can be quick-accessed and adjusted with a simple touch – it’s very quick and effective, almost entirely removing the need to dig into the menu at any point and is perfect if you only use the viewfinder. Compared to other compact cameras with touchscreen functionality it has to be said the G2 has the best offering seen to date. Those a little dubious about its practical use will be pleasantly surprised by its ease, the level of detail (you can reposition the histogram by dragging it around the screen, for example) and, indeed, touch-sensitivity is that extra bit future-proof given that every device from mobile phones through to cashpoints are incorporating such technology. There are one or two minor niggles – a stray finger can easily interrupt the viewfinder sensor and deactivate the LCD briefly, and when viewing images in playback a big visual ‘how to’ example pops up over the first image which becomes unnecessary after the first few uses.
The new movie mode is also a little cracker. The G2 captures HD 720p footage at 50p (sensor outputs at 25fps however, or 60p output at 30fps for the US release) for superbly smooth, ‘cinematic’ footage. The full range of lenses and zoom can be used during recording which has both its advantages and its issues. AF-S, AF-C and manual focus can all be used practically though, as this isn’t a professional camcorder, there can be some delay in the contrast-detect AF finding the subject rapidly. Focus is smooth and, despite manual focus certainly being useful, it’s tricky to rotate the focus ring and hold the camera steady in one hand – a video tripod may help. There’s also a 2.5mm mic jack for an external microphone which records decent quality stereo audio. The G2 can capture using AVCHD Lite (H.264 codec) or Motion-JPEG.
Shooting stills can adopt the 16:9 ratio of the movie mode, but the G2 also offers 3:2, 4:3 or even a 1:1 square format ratio.
Scene Modes feature in abundance, perhaps even slightly too many as some of the particularly good ones can easily get lost among the variety. The Peripheral Defocus mode is one such key example, which operates the point of focus based on a cursor that can be dragged around the LCD screen. As well as Scene modes, My Color modes also add an expressive edge to JPEG output. With a variety of options including Expressive, Silhouette, Retro and others, there are plenty of options to produce fun images without the need for post production. The only downside here is that such options can’t be used in conjunction with the entirety of other modes – it’s not possible to shoot in a Scene mode while using a My Colour setting, for example.
AF speed is fairly good for a contrast-detection AF system and, despite not being as snappy as a DSLR system, the G2 ultimately leads the field against the current competition.