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Panasonic Lumix G2 Digital Camera Review (and Giveaway!)

11 August 2010

Sponsored by both Panasonic and Nuffnang, I was given the opportunity to test out the new Panasonic Lumix G2.

Panasonic Lumix G2

I figured that, although I am obviously NOT a serious camera reviewer, I would be a good candidate for sharing my views on the use of digital cameras, because I take photos – almost everyday – of a HUGE range of different subject matters: fashion, food, children, landscapes, events, macro details of nature and self portraits.

So I really consider and care about the usability of cameras.

I already have TWO cameras that I use everyday, and I am very happy with them.
- A point and shoot Canon Powershot A700 (4 years old)
- A Digital SLR Nikon D90, with 2 lens.

But they are both a few years old now. So as I tested out the LUMIX G2 I had several questions, including: what is new in the world of upmarket cameras?

To find out, I carried the LUMIX G2 with me for a week (and I get to keep it in the end!).

What kind of camera is it?
I believe this camera sits BETWEEN a compact point-and-shoot camera and a fully professional style DSLR – AND it shoots really good video.

Why should you buy it?
If you want a best of three worlds –
1) a point and shoot with lots of super easy automatic settings,
2) full manual options for taking interesting and creative photography
3) shoot high quality video

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2

Photo: This is me riding my castor board, with the camera in my hand, doing some fancy-shmancy creative photography.

I deliberately made the background blur by manually setting the shutter speed to very low – about 1/8th of a second. And I didn’t even fall off the board!

What are it’s best features?
Personally, I found these to be the best features of the Lumix G2:

1) A Touch Screen
The LUMIX G2 is apparently the first camera (with interchangeable lens) to have a touch-sensitive screen, with the screen on a swivel mount too.

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2
Photo: I swiveled the screen around and used it to take some self portraits.

You can swipe the screen with your finger and scroll through your photos like an iphone.

You can tap to zoom in on the photo, then scroll around with your finger. It was very easy to use, but at times the functions were a bit inconsistent eg: you can use your fingers iphone style to zoom in on a picture, but you have to select another button with your finger to zoom out.

When taking a photo, you can point on the screen exactly where you want to focus. Then tap on the screen to take the photo.

You can also adjust all the camera settings using the touch screen – ISO, exposure, white balance etc.

2) Interchangeable Lenses
You can change the camera lens to increase the zoom range, or to use a faster lens. This is great if you want to do more creative photography.

The default lens (14 – 42mm) gives nice wide shots, but it’s not a great zoom lens. You won’t use it to capture a bird in the air or a squirrel in a tree. You’ll need the 42 – 200mm, which will cost an extra $300, if you buy the whole camera and twin lens kit.

It is obvious that the default lens was chosen to be lighter and more compact that a DSLR – which makes it more convenient to carry around.

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2

Caption: A lovely photo of my apple berry dessert. I would have liked to get even more of a close up, but the lens does not allow for amazing macro photography. I’ll need to change to a macro lens.

3) Great Video Quality
Because it does at least an hour of high quality video with an 8GB memory card, I suspect I’ll be carrying it around quite a lot! It will replace our 8 year old DV camera nicely.

4) Lifestyle and Automatic Functions
I found a WHOLE BUNCH of automatic settings that I quite liked.
Scene – Sunset, Party, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pets and Peripheral Defocus.
Portrait – Normal, Soft Skin, Outdoor, Indoor, Creative.
Landscape – Normal, Nature, Architecture, Creative.
Sports – Normal, Outdoor, Indoor, Creative.
Close Up – Flower, Food, Objects, Creative
Night – Portrait, Scenery, Illuminations, Creative

OR you can just click the Intelligent Auto button at the top (although we kept calling it the Stupid Button) and the camera works out EVERYTHING – exposure, shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, best focal range – automatically. It’s actually quite cool and very handy when you’re on the go.

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2

Photo: I just chose “Scene > Sunset” to take this photo over my house. Beeeeautiful!

5) Face recognition and focus tracking
I quite liked these functions. They are excellent when you have kids or pets that don’t sit still.

You can register faces, that the camera will recognise, and where ever that face is in the frame, the camera will make sure that the focus, exposure and settings are perfect for that particular face. Quite cool.

Also you can choose what you want to focus on, face or object, and the camera will track the object if it moves, or if you move.

Summary
Instant point-and-shoot, manual control over everything, and high quality video.

If you are a beginner photographer, and you’re looking for a single camera that does all three things – you should definitely consider this camera!

Win a Panasonic LUMIX G2!
Panasonic and Nuffnang are giving away a Lumix G2 with the 14-42mm lens, worth $1299, to a lucky reader.

To Enter
Email me at karen@karencheng.com.au
1) your name
2) your email address
3) answer this question: How would the Lumix G2 make you a better photographer?

This competition is only open for Australian residents over 14 years. Competition ends 11:59 pm AEDST 3 September 2010.

Visit The Nuffnang website for the full terms and conditions.