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 – Image Quality
Panasonic GH2 review: Tone & Exposure
The GH2’s 144-segment metering does a good job at outputting images that are well exposed. There aren’t usually blown highlights, while midtones are well-held. In bright sunlight the LCD can be hard to assess and so the use of the Histogram and employing modes such as Exposure Bracketing can assist in always getting the right shot. As the GH2 is SDXC compatible it can accept cards up to 64GB and it’s therefore possible to shoot a huge number of files without the need to swap over.
Panasonic GH2 review: RAW/JPEG
The RW2 Raw files can be read using Photoshop or similar programs, or the included SilkyPix software.
The Raw files are ‘flatter’ than their JPEG counterparts – the latter clearly receive a push of colour, contrast and added sharpness to produce appealing final images straight from the camera. However it’s with the Raw files that a lot more detail is available and above ISO 800 this is a particularly good source to get the most out of your images.
Panasonic GH2 review: Colour & White Balance
Colour is punchy in the right circumstances, but not to the point of unrealistic. There are also multiple modes to change colour using the GH2’s in-camera options: the Film Mode offers entirely customiseable Standard, Dynamic, Smooth, Nature, Nostalgic, Vibrant, Cinema, Standard B&W, Dynamic B&W and Smooth B&W as well as ‘My Film’ options that can be saved and used at any time. A nice touch is that up to three Film Modes can be stacked together for particularly dynamic effects.
If unconvinced of the GH2’s Auto White Balance performance then there’re also high-end settings such as White Balance Bracketing.
Panasonic GH2 review: ISO Sensitivity & Image Noise
The GH2 can capture from ISO 160-12,800 at full resolution. As the Micro Four Thirds sensor is smaller than APS-C sized sensors there have often been some reservations as to its potential image quality limitations. As the GH2 crams in 16-megapixels into this space the light able to reach each node is limited and, therefore, the expectation would be for this limitation to pass over to the final image quality. However, the GH2 seems to tear up the rulebook here: its images from ISO 160-800 easily match that of competitor DSLRs at a similar price point. ISO 1600 arguably does as well, though very close inspection reveals more softness due to noise reduction processing. However, all things considered, even ISO 3200 produces more than useable images that are very clean and void of much image noise, albeit at the expense of sharpness.
The top-end ISO 12,800 seems to have been ‘tagged on’ at the end however, and is considerably noisy, soft and devoid of punchy colour. But all in all the performance by the brand new sensor is mightily impressive indeed, far exceeding previous generation models and setting a new standard for Compact System Cameras.
Panasonic GH2 review: Sharpness & Detail
The 14-140mm kit lens is a decent piece of glass and lends itself well to producing crisp images. There are instances of light falloff at the wider end and softness to the edges, however the resolved detail is very good indeed. Where this dwindles is with the rise of the ISO sensitivity, based on image noise reduction. Anything above ISO 800 shows a notable dip in sharpness. But if you’re shooting Raw then the untouched files, despite their obvious coating of image noise, retain a very good amount of detail high into the ISO range.