Our thoughts on the Panasonic Lumix GH2 which is taking contrast-detect AF to the next level

The new Panasonic GH2 has a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor – making it the highest-resolution Micro Four Thirds camera to be available. But it’s the new doubly-fast autofocus that immediately makes the Panasonic GH2 stand out. This kind of contrast detection AF is unlike the speed of any competitor equivalent and, as sensors become more powerful, this kind of technology should pave the way for future increases in speed too. Yet another stepping stone to support the ongoing force of mirrorless cameras.

Panasonic GH2

Another headline feature is that the Panasonic GH2 will be compatible with the world’s first interchangeable 3D lens. This new 12.5mm lens (equates to a 65mm equivalent in fullframe 35mm terms) is a fixed pan-focus at f/12 and produces two images on the sensor to create a 3.1MP image, saved as both a JPEG and MPO file for playback on 3D-capable HD TVs. Full HD is only 2MP, so the image size is fine for digital playback and the fixed aperture is an essential to provide resulting perceptive depth that a shallower depth of field would not realistically facilitate.

Elsewhere the upgrades can be seen in a new touch capable 920k-dot LCD screen with 40% increase in visible colour gamut meaning a higher colour accuracy in preview. The movie functionality is also excellent, with Full HD shot at 1080p, captured at 24 frames per second and that all important 23MBps bit rate edge it toward a camcorder-like standard. The biggest drawback: still only a 2.5mm mic jack, and the omission of any in-ear audio monitoring capability as yet.

The new 16MP sensor does seem rather overly resolute considering the smaller sensor size, though without final images to sample it’s a case of ‘wait and see’ as to how the results will fare. I suspect that this has been opted for to support the new 3D lens functionality that is dependent on projecting two individual images (landscape) across the one sensor.
There’s no final word on the camera’s price or exact release date yet, but we expect to see it retail for around £1,300 with the 14-140mm lens and less as a second 14-42mm kit. The 3D lens will retail for around £350.

For more info see our Panasonic GH2 news article.

GH2 specs

SENSOR: 16MP Live MOS (Four Thirds)
ISO: 100-12,800
MOVIE: Full HD 1080p, 24fps at 23Mbps. 80% & 300% slow and fast motion capture.2.5mm microphone jack for external stereo sound
AF POINTS: 35-zone contrast detection, twice as fast as GH1 due to sensor drive of 120fps
3D COMPATIBLE: First interchangeable 3D lens available
VIEWFINDER: 1.53 million dot resolution electronic viewfinder; 0.71x magnification; now with wider 852×600 pixel array.
LCD: 3in, 920k-dot with 40% increase in colour gamut from GH2
DIMENSIONS: 124 x 89.6 x 75.8mm
WEIGHT: 392g (body only) / (904g with 14-140mm lens, battery & card)