Field Review: Panasonic G2 (Day 2)

To give the Panasonic G2a first go-around, I took it to my usual stomping grounds of Union Square and the East Village. I loaded the camera with the 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens—giving it a bright, fairly standard view that is perfect for crowded street-level photography and large area shots.

Shutter Lag

I immediately noticed an issue with the camera while taking some test shots on the N train traveling over the Manhattan Bridge toward Union Square. The bridge offers a view of the Brooklyn Bridge that is partially obstructed by the Manhattan Bridge’s supports. With an SLR’s vast focus and shutter speeds, I can time the shots to catch the bridge between the supports. The G2produces a very slight delay between pressing the shutter release and actually taking the shot, so the individual photos I took ended up getting blocked by the bridge’s supports.

Fortunately, some continuous-mode shooting caught a few usable pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge through the subway window. The shutter delay is much shorter than the average compact camera and it’s barely noticeable in most situations. However, when dealing with very high-speed subjects, you need to shoot in continuous mode; getting a good action shot from a single exposure is more a matter of luck than skill.

Autofocus

In Union Square, shooting was a breeze thanks to the camera’s excellent layout and rapid autofocus. With the 20mm pancake lens, I caught a few great street-level shots, like this photo of a pair of monks in front of the subway pavilion.

For a wider look at the square, I ascended the Filene’s Basement on 14th street and took shots from the 6th story window. At ISO 100 and f/2.2, you can clearly make out pedestrians’ faces on the square below, and read the individual numbers on the clocktower overlooking Madison Square Park, 10 blocks away. A seco0nd shot, angled lower at the square’s plaza and re-focused, looks slightly better, sharp enough to show the individual chess pieces (though not sharp enough for the pieces to be identifiable) on the chess boards on the plaza.

The photos aren’t razor-sharp, but they’re darn good considering the sensor size. Here’s a look at that chart once again.

Random Shooting

I later took the G2down to St. Mark’s Place to see how it could hold up in the crowded, colorful, and very shady (both figuratively and literally) neighborhood. This artistic cow sculpture mounted over a restaurant and under a tattoo parlor looks excellent, even under the uneven lighting provided by the street’s trees and the bright sun. At f/2.0, every detail on the cow and the sign proclaiming “We grind our own beef” is razor-sharp, while the brick wall and windows of the tattoo parlor behind the cow sees the slightest touch of bokeh, making the cow itself pop out.

The shade provided by the trees and the darker pigments of the cow look rich through the G2’s sensor and the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7lens. In the low light shown on the subject, the blues and greens of the various peoples’ clothing on the artwork look deep. The warmer colors, however, aren’t quite as impressive, looking flat and murky on the shaded cow, and a bit too pink on the sunny brickwork.

After additional tests, I discovered that the camera has a rather significant weakness in capturing bright colors. I’ll cover that in day 3, in which I take a long walk in a garden.

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