The Panasonic G2was my first experience with the Micro Four Thirds camera format, and it gave me a good sense of what the system is capable of. While I would be remiss to offer a final opinion on the entire format based on one camera, I can say with some confidence that despite its potential, Micro Four Thirds isn’t going to unseat conventional SLRs as the amateur photography stepping-stone any time soon.
The camera itself comes with a 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens. While I tested that lens under certain conditions, I primarily shot with the Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lensand Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Aspherical MEGA OIS Lenswhich worked very well together.
Day 1 – Introduction to the camera.
Day 2 – Shooting in Union Square and St. Mark’s Place, using the 20mm lens.
Day 3 – Shooting in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with the 45mm macro lens, analyzing the camera’s dynamic range and focusing abilities.
Day 4 – Shooting in Times Square and Rockefeller Center, analyzing the camera’s noise levels.
The G2 might be one of the best-designed Micro Four Thirds cameras out there, because of so many aspects taken from digital SLRs. It has a comfortable electronic viewfinder, two multi-purpose mode dials for quick adjustments, and has a very comfortable feel in the hand. It’s smaller than my XTi, but is still large enough for all the controls to be accessible under my fingers.
Autofocus is very quick in most modes, but sometimes focuses on the wrong subject. The standard autofocus zone menu is replaced by a touchscreen, so you have to specifically tell the camera where to focus. It’s a minor nuisance for users who prefer setting autofocus zones with three button taps. The quick autofocus speed is offset by the very slight shutter lag, which makes the camera ill-suited for action shots.
Pictures are very sharp, but a relatively narrow dynamic range hampers the camera. It’s easy to catch fine details, but vibrant and warm colors look dull without post-processing. For most users, it will be fine. If you’re looking for professional results though, look elsewhere.
This is where the Panasonic G2really gets hung up. Visible noise starts to appear at ISO 400, and by ISO 1600 the pictures look very grainy. Above that setting, up to the G2′s maximum of ISO 6400, heavy noise makes the pictures all but completely unusable.
The G2 is a great upgrade from a premium compact camera, but between its shutter lag and poor high-ISO performance, it can’t hold a candle to a good entry-level SLR. For the price, especially taking into account the additional lenses, you’re better off going with a T2i and getting used to SLR shooting.
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