Panasonic Lumix G2 - DMC-G Micro Four Thirds Camera Kit Review

The Pansonic Lumix G2 - Loaded with features, compact size

Photo by Edward M. Fielding taken with the Panasonic Lumix G2 More examples at http://www.redbubble.com/people/peanutroaster
Photo by Edward M. Fielding taken with the Panasonic Lumix G2 More examples at http://www.redbubble.com/people/peanutroaster

Panasonic DMC-G2 Body Only - $499 Used - One Avaliable

Lots of features in a compact afforable camera

If you are looking for a compact camera with all the advanced features of a DSLR set up then this Pansonic G2 is the perfect set up.

Out of the Box

When the FedX guy arrived with my camera I was surprised by the weight of the package. The box weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces! After unpacking the camera I discovered that most of this weight was due to the instruction books in several different languages. Sans the paperwork, the camera body weighs only 13 ounces.

The kit lens (LUMIX G VARIO 14-42 mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S) has a plastic housing and brings the total weight of the camera and lens to only 1.4 pounds.

The Camera & Four Thirds Format

The Panasonic G2 is a great compact camera that is mirror less so its smaller than DSLRs. I know why I like my point and shoot camera. Its easy to use and easy to carry so I never have an excuse not to have a camera with me at all times. But when it comes to producing stunning photographs, the tiny camera falls short. So photography beyond snap shots I decided I needed a better camera to complement my handy point and shoot.

After looking around, quizing my friends and neighbors about their camera experiences, doing research etc. I decided on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2. The major selling point was its Micro Four Thirds format.

Even before digital cameras, the better portable cameras have been SLR or single lens reflex cameras. The camera designs that allow the photographer to look through the camera lens and compose the shot instead of looking through a separate view finder like you have with point and shoot cameras.

The problem with this set up is that it adds a lot of bulk to a camera body. You need mirrors, prizms and a lot of optics to get the image from the lens to your eye and then to flip the mirror out of the way during shutter release.

The Four Thirds format developed by Panasonic and Olympus does away with all of the mirrors and prizms and is all digital - thus saving a lot space and making for a very compact form factor. You still get to see through the lens, its just electronically delivered to the view finder. The trade off on size is a smaller sensor in the camera so you do loses some quality but then again compared to a point and shoot camera the sensor in a Micro Four Thirds camera is much larger.

The Touch Screen

The G10 is basically the G2 without the touch screen for about $100 less. Is the touch screen worth the extra price? I say yes! All of the settings and controls are duplicated between the dials/buttons and the touch screen. The touch screen gives you visual feedback of the settings you selected. Since camera manual typically get looked at on day one and get tossed into the darkest reaches of your camera bag in the closet, its nice to have a very intuitive touch screen system that helps walk one through the complex set of choices available on this camera. For the point and shoot graduate, the touch screen makes this camera much simpler, easier and fun to use. Its also great for teaching other people in the family how to use the camera.

Video

One of the major features of the G2 over previous cameras in this line was the addition of video capture. The DMC-G2 can record 1,280 x 720 high-definition motion images in AVCHD Lite that features long recording time and high compatibility with audio-visual equipment. You can enjoy recording HD motion images taking maximum advantage of lens' descriptiveness and interchangeability or the large sensor size. HD Motion JPEG in 1,280 x 720 can also be selected as an alternative movie recording format, which is more compatible with computers.

Details:

12.1 Megapixel Interchangeable Lens System Camera

•Touch 3.0-Inch Free Angle LCD Intuitive operation such as AF/Shutter/Playback by touching the screen

•One-touch AVCHD Lite Movie Recoding Records using AVCHD Lite to capture HD, 1280 x 720, 60p movies with movie button

•1.44mil-dot equivalent Super High Resolution
Live View Finder with eye sensor

Shoot the exact image the camera sees without switching the setting of the display


About Micro Four Thirds

Micro Four Thirds system (MFT) is a standard created by Olympus and Panasonic for mirrorless interchangeable lens digital cameras and camcorders[
Micro Four Thirds system (MFT) is a standard created by Olympus and Panasonic for mirrorless interchangeable lens digital cameras and camcorders[
The Panasonic G2 unboxed.
The Panasonic G2 unboxed.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide

Authors Brian Matsumoto and Carol Roullard explore and explain the features and capabilities of the G2 camera in detail, as they cover everything from the basic features of the camera to numerous advanced photographic applications.

 

The Owner's Manual

The owner's that comes with the Panasonic Lumix G2 leaves a lot to be desired. Trying to read it and look at the tiny little black and white pictures just confuses one, the best way to use it is as reference and just try using the touch screen to explore your camera. If you need more help I recommend this book The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide by Dr. Brian Matsumoto and Carol Roullard. This book will help you explore every feature of your powerful new camera. It includes information on:

  • Control the most basic camera functions - focus and exposure
  • Navigate the camera's menu system
  • Achieve a range of artistic effects using various camera settings
  • Use the camera's automated controls, and how to override those controls to obtain better exposure
  • Use the G2 in its video mode to obtain HD videos
  • Post-process images and videos on a computer
  • Expand the camera's use by mounting it on a telescope or microscope

Beginner's Button

With all of the modes, features and adjustments you can make with this camera, point and shoot users graduating to this more sophisticated camera might need a bit of help in making the transition. Thankfully Panasonic includes an "Intelligent automatic" button on the Lumix G2. When this button is engaged (and a cool blue light rings the button), the camera will go into its intelligent mode and pick the best settings for the scene. It's a nice fail safe when you don't want to have to think too much (i.e. point and shoot mentality).

Copyright Edward M. Fielding

Author shot this video using the Panasonic Lumix G2

Girls Belly Dancing Test Video for Panasonic Lumix G2

Panasonic Lumix G2 - Details

The Kit Lens

The G2 comes with an ultra-compact and light weight, the new LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. lens offers a versatile zoom range of 14-42mm (35mm camera equivalent: 28-84mm) suitable for a wide range of scenes from dynamic landscape to portrait.

There has been a lot of nay saying about the quality of this lens with its plastic housing so much so that I had considered getting just the body and buying a different lens. But when you look at the economics, getting the kit including the lens is only $100 more than just the body. You are hard pressed to find a lens for this camera for under $200 so why not just get the kit? At least that was my thinking.

Your Next Lens Purchase

For a truly compact and portable camera, get the fantastic "pancake" lens - the Panasonic Lumix G 20 mm.

This large-diameter F1.7/20mm fixed focus lens produces bright photos with a dramatic soft focus even in dimly lit locations. Its compact, easy-to-carry size is also ideal for capturing everyday scenes and snapshots.

Note: Due to the earthquake in Japan, there is a shortage of lens coming out of Japan especially in regards to the popular "pancake" lens from Panasonic. Both Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds photographers are buying this popular lens and the shortage has some retailers jacking up the price. It retails for $350 but some retailers are selling it for over $500.

Accessories to Purchase With Your Camera

Just a few suggestions to get you started using your new camera. The G2 does not include an SD card so you can't use it right out of the box until get one. You'll probably want a fast card SDHC with lots of room to take video and high quality photos. You also might want to pick up some protection items like a lens cap keeper, touch screen protector, filter and case.

Fun Stuff - Useful Features

Like most higher end digital cameras on the market, the Lumix G2 has a lot of useful and fun features. You can use automatic settings or aperture priority or speed priority like your old non-digital SLR camera but there are alot of high tech features such as face recognition. My older point and shoot had this feature but on the G2 you can even register up to six faces. With the proper setting the camera will seek out the registered faces in a crowd and focus on them. There is even baby and pet settings so that your fast growing baby or pet will have their name and birthday associated with the photos. There are tons of settings and the touch screen makes it easy to cycle through all of the options.

Less Bulky Means More Use

What good is a camera that stays in the camera bag under the bed? I knew that I'd use a smaller camera size when my inlaws came to visit and left their Nikon DSLRs behind. My Panasonic G2 with the pancake lens (Pansonic Lumix 20 mm F/1.7) is really only a bit larger than some digital point and shoot cameras. The touch screen makes the camera easy and fun to use.

Drawbacks

After an extensive trip out west to Montana, Yellowstone National Park and Butte, MT and comparing this camera to my inlaw's Nikons - the Lumix G2 certainly packs a lot in a much smaller package. The drawback is that the smaller size does not allow for a lot of room to hold on to it. I found myself triggering a lot of buttons with my right hand palm while trying to focus on a grizzly bear or assorted large animals. You really have to watch yourself otherwise things go haywire and you start wondering what happened. The "intelligent" mode saves the day in a lot of ways when you can't figure out how you've messed up the settings.

Another problem I've discovered recently is that the camera did not come with proper cable needed to attached it to a PC. I've had to remove the SD card and put it in an SD card reader in order to get my photos on to the computer.

First Looks at the G2

Using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2

More by this Author


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