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Panasonic Lumix GH2 Review

By on July 19, 2011
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Not all it’s cracked up to be.

Good: Articulated screen, Four aspect ratios, Advanced HD mode with manual controls, Buttons customization
Bad: High noise in low light, Insufficient grip with large lenses, Small buffer for burst mode, Poor image quality straight out of the camera
Price: AED 6,499
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

The GH2 is instantly ready to take pictures even with the dust reduction feature on.

You can capture images in 12 different sizes in 4 different ratios.

4:3
o 16MP (4608*3456)
o 8MP (3264*2448)
o 4.1MP (2336*1752)
3:2

o 15MP (4752*3168)
o 7.5MP (3360*2240)
o 3.8MP (2400*1600)
16:9
o 14MP (4976*2800)
o 7MP (3520*1984)
o 2.1MP (1920*1080)
1:1
o 12MP (3456*3456)
o 6MP (2448*2448)
o 3MP (1744*1744)

RAW images are captured at the maximum size of every aspect ratio irrespective of the JPEG size chosen. The field of view for the all the aspect ratios (apart from 1:1) remains the same, i.e. 28mm at the wide end.

Focusing speed via the contrast detect AF found on the GH2 is quite fast in well lit situations with the camera locking focus in about half a second if not faster while at the wide end of the lens and using a sizable focus point size. Things went slightly downhill at the longer end of the lens, though that might purely be because of the slower lens. Low light focusing is a mixed bag thanks to the AF-assist lamp when shooting something closer on the touch screen and when shooting some land/cityscapes; though if left unaided the focus does take a lot more time.

It should be noted that while focusing in 16:9 or 1:1 ratio, the image (LCD or EVF) jumps for under a second till focus is achieved and in some outdoor harsh lighting, a single banding appears at the bottom half of the image. Also with shutter speeds of 1 second or slower, the screen frames slow down to that specific shutter speed to show you what you can capture.

Shot to shot speeds were hampered due to the instant review of the previous picture but with that disabled, it was a non issue. When taking long exposures, the camera does take around 10 seconds to save your file when noise reduction is active. Shutter lag wasn’t a problem either.

There are four continuous shooting modes on the GH2

• Low speed mode allows you to shoot unlimited JPEG at 2fps or 8 RAW files at 1.9fps at full resolution.
• Medium speed mode allows you to shoot 9 JPEGs at 3.1fps or 7 RAW files at 3.1fps at full resolution.
• High speed mode allows you to shoot 6 JPEGS at 5fps or 7 RAW files at 4.4fps at full resolution
• Super High speed mode allows you to shoot 40 JPEGSs at 40fps at small resolution. RAW files are unavailable.

Quite a few options but not a big enough buffer to support it, especially when shooting RAW since you’ll have to wait up to 10 seconds for the camera to save all the files and empty the buffer. The LCD/EVF becomes unusable in the High Speed mode for composition during shooting which makes tracking subjects impossible. The Low and Medium speeds are better in this respect.

The GH2 has another drive option in the form of exposure bracketing. You can take three, five or seven shots in a row with exposure intervals at ±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, or ±1EV. You can also bracket for white balance, film mode and aspect ratio. Film mode has a set of image parameters (contrast, saturation, sharpness and noise reduction) that can be tweaked to your respective needs.

Image stabilization found on the lens has three modes with Mode 1 having IS on all the time, Mode 2 switches IS when you press the shutter button (recommended for better battery life) and Mode 3 that corrects for only up-down motion. IS really helps when you enable the extended tele-convertor feature that doubles the reach of your lens with minimal loss of quality, though in turn you do need to drop the resolution to medium or small. It’s a neat option for those times where you need that extra reach and don’t expect miracles as it is digital zoom in the end.

Two more features I’d like to talk about is the Intelligent Resolution that does selective sharpening to your images depending on the subject, and Intelligent Dynamic Contrast that darkens the over-exposed areas and lightens the darker areas in the picture. Both these features did a decent job and I found myself leaving them on at low settings, however, they did slow down the camera.

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