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...
Movie/Video Mode Quality
Panasonic Lumix GH2 review – Movie/Video Mode
Panasonic GH2 review: Quality
An area where the GH2 can certainly show off is with its video quality. The quoted data rate of 23Mbs/sec is up there at the same standard as many prosumer digital camcorders, and the files we pulled up at 1080p varied from showing between 55mbit to 73mbit data rates – meaning that much more data is being crammed into the file than most competitors for utmost quality.
Panasonic Lumix GH2 review – 1080p24 video/movie mode example at f/5.6, 300mm (600mm equiv)
Figures aside, simply looking at the final files reveals their true quality. It’s very impressive stuff indeed. However, the GH2, when set to AVCHD, will require a formatted card to retrieve its unprocessed MTS files, otherwise your videos may be ‘lost’ in terms of third party video editors’ capabilities to read the files.
Panasonic GH2 review: Record Time
In all of the available movie modes it is possible to record up to 29mins and 59secs of footage in a single take. Although the Panasonic site claims a much longer record time than this, this does not apply to the UK (or European) versions of the camera due to UK tax laws. This is also apparent for the Variable (Speed) Movie Mode, although the final playback of these files will either be longer or shorter depending on the percentage speed selected.
Panasonic GH2 review: Focusing Modes
Choose between AF-S (Single), AF-C (Continuous) or M (Manual) focus when in movie mode, though this isn’t entirely controlled using the same collar as when shooting in stills mode. Instead a touch of menu digging needs to take place in order to turn AF-S either ‘on’ or ‘off’, while Manual focus is selected from the focus mode collar. The fact it’s possible to easily flick into manual focus during recording is a nice touch for fine-tuning focus as desired. However the continuous focus option can have the occasional blip or ‘flutter’ during recording, much in the same way as this occasionally happens when shooting stills.
Panasonic GH2 review: Manual Control
Three main controls sets are available when clicking the GH2’s Menu button: Manual Movie Mode for interlaced capture, 24P Cinema for progressive capture at 24fps and Variable Movie Mode that can shoot at a slowed-down 80% or sped-up 160%, 200% or 300% options. In each of these modes it’s possible to bring up a secondary menu using the Q.Menu button to select from P, S, A and M exposure modes.
The Manual setting means it’s possible to fully control exposure, whereas the other three options will always bring exposure up to a particular level by auto-adjusting the settings – of course Aperture or Shutter and independently controllable in the A and S settings respectively. It’s possible to adjust the aperture and or shutter in real time during recording, though, with the exception of the Manual mode, the Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority settings will attempt to auto-meter and recover exposure to a standardised level utilising other variables where possible (not always desirable).
Three metering modes are also available, as are all of the Film Mode settings meaning that shooting in Black & White and other colour options is also possible.
Panasonic GH2 review: Sound
Stereo sound is the order of the day, and closer inspection suggests this is captured in 16bit stereo at 48,000hKz which is around the same quality as a standard audio CD recording. Of course wind and surrounding noises or interference can get in the way, and the distance between the L (left) and R (right) channels of the microphone on top of the flashgun is minimal (which doesn’t provide much separation between the two). However plug a microphone in using the 2.5mm mic jack and a variety of off-camera or on-camera directional microphones can be utilised for better overall quality. Our only qualm here: that the mic socket is 2.5mm, not the more commonly used 3.5mm size.