Not all it’s cracked up to be.
The camera features a 460,000 pixels, 3 inch TFT LCD display. The screen with its multi-angle swing and tilt; and the wide viewing angles makes it easy to use in any possible situation. The live view feed looks sharp (over-sharpened for my taste) and nice on the screen, while low light usage is grainy with color artifacts, dropped fps and poor rendition. The screen is usable even in direct sunlight even though things look a little washed out. The LCD on the GH2 can not only be used to compose shots but also to make adjustments and select focus as it is touch sensitive. Not the most intuitive ways to use the camera, luckily it isn’t the only way to make adjustments.
On placing your eye on the viewfinder, the camera automatically shifts the display to the electronic viewfinder thanks to an eye sensor on the right side. Unfortunately having the sensor placed below the viewfinder would have been a better idea as the camera kept shifting back to the LCD as it couldn’t detect my right eye while I wore glasses. For such instances, the camera has a dedicated LCD/viewfinder button to shift between the two displays. The viewfinder has a resolution of 1.5 million pixels, 100% coverage for every possible aspect ratio just like the LCD and a 1.42x magnification. Like the LCD, the viewfinder suffers from similar problems with low light usage, and images looked a lot cooler which makes you wonder which display is more accurate.
Both the viewfinder and the LCD offer real-time preview of exposure, depth of field and white balance; also while focusing the camera manually, it automatically zooms into the area where your focal point is, to allow precision in focus.
A focus dial/switch combo located at the top-left of the camera covers all your focusing needs. The switch allows you to choose manual focus, single auto-focus or continuous auto-focus. All three terms are self explanatory. The focus dial lets you switch between four different modes that are:
• Face Detection: It allows you to focus on up to fifteen faces with priority given to predefined faces or via the touch screen. The system works quite well and was able to detect faces quite easily.
• AF Tracking: You can lock focus (via buttons or touch screen) on the subject and the camera then follows it around the scene. Tracking was slightly lagging when subject moved faster across the frame though most of the time it managed to cope well.
• 23-point AF is the completely auto-function whereas the camera chooses where to focus, though you can sub divide the points into 9 possible positions.
• Spot AF or single point AF is where you can choose what to focus on. You can select from four focus sizes. I found the smallest size slightly difficult to work with in most situations as it refused to lock focus and was unreliable.
With the touch screen, Panasonic had an option to skimp on the buttons, but thankfully they didn’t. There are plenty of dials, switches and buttons all over the camera making most things a quick one or two step job. The switches might be slightly harder to flip for people with bigger hands but is a really neat idea freeing up to two buttons on the four way controller that can now be customized to fit your needs.
The menu system is huge, with tons of customizable options available for video or stills and even though the interface might look medieval, it gets the job done despite looking visually underwhelming and overwhelming quantitatively on first sight.