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...
Image Quality & Value
Panasonic Lumix G2 review – Image Quality
Panasonic G2 review: ISO / image noise
Images at the lower ISO settings are of good quality, with image noise maintaining a regular grain-like quality up until around ISO 800. ISO 1600 is usable, though image noise begins to limit sharpness and detail, with ISO 3200 showing amplified colour noise in shadow areas and a significantly more coarse image noise. The new top-end sensitivity of ISO 6400 showed considerable image noise when previewing on the 3in LCD screen – at full size on screen it presented dull colours, a lack of detail and considerable noise that would significantly limit its potential use. Stick to the lower end of the ISO spectrum and results are generally very good, especially with an appropriate lens on the front.
Panasonic G2 review: Tone & Exposure
Exposure can err towards the side of slight underexposure, but this helps to maintain highlights and Raw files can be processed accordingly.
Tonally images can appear a little flat, though subtle processing will lift them, and a number of shooting days were overcast during testing of this camera, which meant that achieving vibrant images in those conditions was difficult.
Panasonic G2 review: Colour & White Balance
Colour is bright and punchy though the higher ISO settings will ‘mute’ this palette the higher the sensitivity, owing to image noise reduction processing. Sprucing up images using the in-camera My Color modes can add a different slant of creative colour.
Auto White Balance is consistent from frame to frame (there’s some discrepancy between varying ISO settings of the same scene, however). There is also, though, some disparity between the results on the G2’s LCD screen and the actual results on a balanced monitor or in print – LCD images appear to be cooler.
Panasonic G2 review: Sharpness & Detail
Sharpness tapers off as the ISO sensitivity increases due to noise reduction, making ISO 100 the most effective for apparent resolution. The 14-42mm kit lens does show signs of light fall-off towards the edges that also encounter slight softness. For real ‘prime’ results one of the more premium G-type lenses can be purchased – a strength that the G2 offers for those looking to build upon the system. Even Leica M and R lenses can be attached and used in manual focus with the purchase of a relevant adaptor – a brownie point as this isn’t something that any current DSLR system can boast.
Also Panasonic’s new Intelligent Resolution system – which can be set to off, low, standard or high – can provide good results. It’s hard to see a huge difference if you’re not looking for it, but side by side images compared to the old G1 benefit from this smart sharpening algorithm.
Panasonic G2 review: RAW/JPEG
Silkypix version 3.1 is provided in the box for Raw file conversion, with anticipated Adobe/Apple/other updates to follow shortly to allow conversion of the G2’s SRW files.
The Raw files are very similar to the JPEG versions, though at default settings the JPEGs are ever so slightly flatter, with less shadow contrast yet push the mid range to process some extra apparent detail. At higher ISO settings the Raw files retain greater sharpness at the expense of increased image noise compared to the JPEG counterpart.
All in all, both file types offer excellent potential solutions, and the option to shoot Raw + JPEG simultaneously is a winner.
Panasonic Lumix G2 review – Value
The Micro System camera market is rapidly becoming a more densely populated area, and companies are ensuring competitive pricing too. Whereas the Olympus E-P2 will set you back around £900, Samsung’s NX10 comes in and undercuts most other prices at just under the £500 mark. The G2 will set you back around £600 with the 14-42mm kit lens.
Considering that Micro Four Thirds cameras also offer more prospective lenses than any other current system in this category, there’s potential additional value for money – plus Leica M and R-type adaptors mean that uber-quality optics aren’t out of reach either