The GH2 is the latest Micro Four Thirds camera to market. With its new 16MP sensor, touchscreen LCD, 'Light Speed' Autofocus and 1080p movie mode is it a true DSLR-beater? The What Digital Camera Panasonic GH2 review...
Panasonic Lumix GH2 review – Design
The GH2 is somewhat an amalgamation of the GH1’s original design with the updates included in the Lumix G2 model – the very first touch-enabled G-series – also added. The body size is the same small design of the GH1 in terms of shape, but the control layout has slightly changed: on the top left side is a dial to quickly adjust focus area (Single Point, Multi Point, Subject Tracking and Face Detection), and there’s an adjustable collar around this to flick between single (AFS), continuous (AFC) or manual focus (MF). On the opposite side is a sizeable mode dial with all the major options on top, while a drive mode switch is tucked around its side to swiftly turn burst shooting options on or off. Behind the shutter is a one-touch movie button, and behind this again is a user-assignable Function (Fn) button.
For the main controls the GH2 features a single thumbwheel on the rear of the camera. In all honestly we’d have much rather seen the inclusion of twin thumbwheel design – one on the front and one on the rear would have made for much improved control, especially in manual mode. Instead depressing the thumbwheel like a button toggles it for use between shutter/aperture/exposure compensation depending on the current selected mode.
On the rear of the camera is a Q.Menu button to bring up the various camera options and these can be flicked through using either the buttons or by physically applying finger to screen. It’ll be personal preference as to whether using the touchscreen in this way is truly desirable – it’s more during focus point selection, movie focusing and quick ISO selection that the GH2’s touch-enabled LCD design makes the most sense. But the fact you’re never forced to use touch means that there’s always a button-press combination available too, ensuring that the camera’s intuitive to use whatever your personal preference.
For those lesser-used settings the GH2’s main Menu is simple enough to navigate and, given that most of the settings are quickly accessible elsewhere on the camera, it’s not a menu you’ll be dragging up that often once you’ve found your feet.
However the GH2’s build quality is probably the only slight qualm with its design. Even though it’s a metal-framed camera, the plasticy finish on the outside doesn’t look nor feel like the £1000+ of equipment it is. Also the small body design can lead to both plus and minus points when it comes to long lenses: on the one hand lens sizes are kept small and wider aperture values are easier to produce without the physical size required of larger-sensor systems. But on the other hand the GH2 body is small and feels fairly outweighed (in mass) by the 14-140mm kit lens that generally comes as part of the kit option.