Panasonic DMC-GH2 - Professional Quality MidRange MDSLR

Who is Lumix

Lumix is Panasonic's brand of digital cameras. These cameras range from the hobbiest pocket point-and-shoot models to digital SLRs with high end super-zoom point-and-shoot cameras in between.

Many Lumix models are fitted with Leica lenses that have been designed by Leica's German optical engineers. In fact Lumix still manufactures Leica's point and shoot cameras while the higher end Leica models are strictly Leica through and through.  Though the lenses are primarily Leica all Lumix cameras are built in Japan.

DMC-GH2
DMC-GH2 | Source
DMC-GH2 Storage Options
DMC-GH2 Storage Options | Source
Tilt and Swivel Screen (touch sensitive)
Tilt and Swivel Screen (touch sensitive) | Source

Lumix DMC-GH2

When Lumix launched the GH1, its second Micro Four Thirds camera, it was the first Micro Digital Single Lens Reflex (MDSLR) camera from the company that could also record video. And it wasn't so much that it could record video, it was the Lumix outfitted the camera with a fast lens specifically designed for both still and motion capture. Unfortunately the lens made the camera rather expensive at over $1,200.00 with a lower resolution that the GH2.

With the G2 Lumix determined to improve the dual personality of its cameras by not only allowing high-definition video, but by controlling the motion capture process with improved frame rate, aperture control, and shutter speeds.

Lumix latest offering, the GH2, seeks to improve on that even farther by using a sensor that is actually capable of capturing sixteen (16Mpxl) megapixels on an eighteen (18Mpxl) sensor. In other words the sensor is purposely larger than required to improve on the aspect ratios of the recorded movie. So, for example, where the G2 was designed to capture an aspect ratio of 16:9 the images suffered from drop-off at either side. With the larger sensor the 16:9 image is clear and crisp across the entire width.

Additionally the sensor is capable of converting the image to file at a much faster rate while retaining a high degree of resolution. In fact this arrangement can capture motion at 1080i at a frame rate of fifty (50fp/s) or sixty (60fp/s) frames per second or 1080p at frame rates of 25fp/s; double what was possible with the G2 or GH1.

Because of this faster frame rate the camera also has to check auto focus (AF) more often and much faster as well; which it does. All of this to keep up with the phenomenal frame rate.

The viewfinder has also been enlarged over the GH1 showing 852 x 600 pixels (rather than 800 across). This allows an aspect ratio of 16:9 (the HD standard) with 3:2 previews. This effectively does away with post-video cropping.

The screen tilts and swivels away from the body of the camera. It is also a capacitive multi-touch screen allowing you to make menu selections from the screen itself.

Canon EOS 60D (left) - Lumix DMC-GH2 (right)
Canon EOS 60D (left) - Lumix DMC-GH2 (right) | Source
DMC-GH2 3D Lens Adaptor
DMC-GH2 3D Lens Adaptor | Source

Other Features

The GH2 might look very similar to the GH1, but there is a great deal of difference between the two cameras. These include:

  • New sensor - multi-aspect Live MOS with 18.3 million total pixels
  • ISO range 160 - 12,800 (vs 100-3200)
  • Sensor capable of 1080p at 60 or 50 fps still output as 60i/50i
  • Faster sensor read-out promises faster AF and smoother viewfinder image (less tearing)
  • Larger effective view coverage to match multi-aspect shooting
    (852 x 600 rather than 800 x 600 pixels)
  • Touch-sensitive LCD screen
  • 3D Lens (optional)
  • Updated menu system
  • Direct movie shooting button on top of camera
  • New battery (DMW-BLC12E) (1,200mAh)

Pricing
The Lumix retails for less than the three named competitors above at $999.00 without a lens or $1,100.00 with at 14~42mm hybrid lens. Of course e-tailers such as Amazon and Buy dot com have the camera for slightly cheaper.

For a full list of specifications see the table below.

Panasonic GH2
 
Camera Type
Digital Interchangable Lens
Sensor
4/3 type MOS ('Live MOS sensor')
 
18.3 million total pixels
 
16.0 million effective pixels
 
RGB (Primary) color filter array
Mount
Micro Four Thirds mount
Sensitivity
ISO 160-12800 in 1/3EV steps
Movie mode
AVCHD
 
1920 x 1080p 24fps (Approx 23 or 17 Mbps)
 
1920 x 1080i 60fps (Approx 17 or 13 Mbps)
 
1280 x 720p 60fps (Approx 17 or 13 Mbps)
 
Motion JPEG:
 
1280 x 720, 30fps
 
848 x 480, 30fps
 
640 x 480, 30fps
 
320 x 240, 30fps
White Balance
Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen
 
Flash / White Set 1, 2, 3, 4 / Color temperature setting
Exposure Control
Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual, Auto
Light Metering
144-zone multi-pattern sensing system
Still Image Modes
Portrait (Normal/Soft Skin/Outdoor/Indoor/Creative)
 
Scenery (Normal/Nature/Architecture/Creative)
 
Close-up (Flower/Food/Objects/Creative) / SCN (Peripheral Defocus)
 
Night Portrait/Night Scenery/Sunset/Party/Sports/Baby 1,2/Pet
Movie Image Modes
Portrait (Normal/Soft Skin/Outdoor/Indoor/Creative)
 
Scenery (Normal/Nature/Architecture/Creative)
 
Close-up (Flower/Food/Objects/Creative)
 
Scenery (Peripheral Defocus/Night Portrait)
 
Night Scenery/Sunset/Party/Sports/Baby 1,2/Pet
LCD monitor
Touch sensitive 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
 
Multi-angle swing and tilt (180 swing, 270 swivel)
 
460,000 dots
 
Approx 100% frame coverage
Microphone
Built-in stereo
 
Socket for external mic
Dimensions
4.9 x 3.5 x 3" [142 x 90 x 76 mm]
Weight (body only, no card/battery)
13.9 oz (394 g)
Standard Accessories
Battery Charger, Battery Pack, Body Cap
 
AV Cable, USB Connection Cable
 
Shoulder Strap, Stylus pen, CD-ROM

Coda

This is clearly a direct competitor to the Nikon D7000, the Pentax K-5 and the Canon EOS 60D. Where the Lumix GH2 differs is in it's better than average rear mounted screen (except for Canon's 60D), it's better than expected motion capture capabilities and the fact that it is even set up for 3D motion and image capture.

Disclaimer

The author was not compensated in any way, monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.

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