Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2

1. Very Compact Body: At 4.9×3.3×1.7 inches and 13.1 ounces, the G2 is much smaller than DSLRs, even Four Thirds System models. 2. High-Res LVF: The G2’s eye-level live view finder features 1,440,000-dot-equivalent resolution and a quick 180 fps refresh rate to minimize flicker; 1.4x magnification (35mm camera equivalent) further enhances viewing. 3. Handy Control Dials: Many camera settings can be made directly by rotating a dial to the appropriate icon. Contact: Panasonic,

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2

LIST PRICE: $799 (with 14-42mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 lens)

HD VIDEO CAPABILITY: The G2 can shoot 1280x720p HD video in AVCHD Lite format (which allows for more “footage” per GB on your memory cards) or Quick Time Motion JPEG format (which makes for easier editing in the computer) at 30 fps. A built-in microphone provides mono sound via Dolby Digital Creator, and a jack is provided to connect an optional stereo mic. The G2 can autofocus during video shooting, and with the optional 14-140mm HD lens, AF noise is minimized so the built-in mic doesn’t pick it up.

12.1-MP LIVE MOS SENSOR: While the G2’s 12.1-megapixel Live MOS image sensor produces the same 4000×3000-pixel image size as the G1 and GH1, it’s more closely related to the 12.1-effective-megapixel sensor in the super-compact GF1, with 13.1 million total pixels vs. 14 million for the G1 and GH1 sensors. The new Venus Engine HD II makes its debut in the G2, providing more processing power and better noise reduction. ISOs range from 100-6400 (up from 3200).

QUICK AF: While the contrast-based AF systems used by DSLRs in live-view mode are quite slow (DSLRs use quick phase-detection AF for non-live-view shooting), Panasonic introduced a quick contrast-based AF system in the G1. The G2 builds on that and even can handle many moving subjects.

FOUR FORMATS: The G2 lets you shoot still images in any of four formats: Four Thirds System 4:3, full-frame 35mm 3:2, wide-screen HDTV 16:9 and square 1:1.

Panasonic introduced the Micro Four Thirds System with the Lumix DMC-G1 back in 2008. Since then, the new system has been joined by more Panasonic G-series models. The newest include the G1’s successor, the Lumix DMC-G2.

The G2 (like the G1, GH1 and new G10) looks like a DSLR, but isn’t: It omits the SLR’s mirror and mirror-box assembly. This, in fact, is the key to its very compact dimensions. A high-resolution, quick-refresh, eye-level electronic viewfinder replaces the SLR’s optical viewfinder, but otherwise these Micro Four Thirds cameras function just like DSLRs, only smaller. Incidentally, while the camera and lenses are “Micro,” the image sensor isn’t: Micro Four Thirds System cameras utilize the same 17.3×13.0mm image-sensor size as standard Four Thirds System models.

All Micro Four Thirds System cameras can use all Micro Four Thirds System lenses, regardless of manufacturer. They also can use standard Four Thirds System lenses, and other lenses, via adapters—in fact, they can use pretty much any lens for which an adapter is available.

Also like other Micro (and standard) Four Thirds System cameras, the G2 incorporates a very effective sensor-dust-removal system. A Supersonic Wave filter vibrates at 50,000 times a second each time you switch the camera on to shake dust off the sensor assembly. There’s no built-in sensor-shift image stabilization, but a number of the lenses incorporate MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization). Images can be stored on SD, SDHC or the new high-capacity SDXC memory cards.

STANDOUT FEATURE: The G2’s 3.0-inch 1,440,000-dot tilt/swivel LCD monitor adds a wonderful new idea: touch-screen operation. You can select the AF area merely by touching the subject on the live-view image, make camera settings, trip the shutter and more, all via the touch screen. You even can use the touch screen in video mode. (All settings also can be made in the conventional manner, if desired, but the touch screen makes for quicker, simpler operation.)

VERDICT: Panasonic’s G2 is one of the best values in the Micro Four Thirds System for photographers who want small, light bodies without sacrificing features.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
The first Micro Four Thirds System camera to offer video, the GH1 still offers the best implementation, with full AVCHD vs. the G2 and G10’s AVCHD Lite, and a top resolution of 1920×1080. List Price: $1,499 (with 14-140mm HD zoom).
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10
The G10 is the lowest-priced video model in Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds System lineup, offering a bargain for limited budgets. It offers the same still-image resolution as the G2 and GH1, and accepts the same lenses. List Price: $599 (with 14-42mm Mega O.I.S. zoom).

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