The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 updates the highly acclaimed if rather pricey GH1 Micro Four Thirds system camera, released about 18 months ago. As such the GH2’s styling is closer to that of a baby DSLR than its sibling’s, the GF2 compact camera form. While stylistically similar, its size is roughly a third of the size of Olympus’ Four Thirds E-5 DSLR, and closer in fact to that of a bridge camera. Except unlike a bridge camera, the Panasonic’s added appeal is the ability to swap the lens in use. Therefore it’s fair to say that for those who like the feel of a DSLR but not the attendant bulk, the GH2 is potentially a very attractive proposition. It’s in effect a DSLR ‘lite’.
Like the rest of Panasonic’s G series, the The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 goes up against not just actual DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Pentax and the rest, but also compact system cameras such as Olympus’ new E-PL2, the Sony NEX-3, NEX-5 and its translucent mirrored SLT-A55 and A33 models, plus the Samsung NX100, NX10 and NX11. All are viable alternatives, so what makes Panasonic’s GH2 particularly appealing?
Well, for starters there’s the highest resolution currently offered in Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 through a Micro Four Thirds camera facility, here a whopping 16.05 (effective) megapixels from a newly developed 18.31 megapixel Live Mos sensor, even if it is physically smaller than the APS-C sized chips favoured by most digital SLRs. This, in terms of the numbers at least, places the GH2 up there with ‘proper’ DSLRs, while being much smaller, lighter and easier to handle. Like the latest crop of SLRs, the Panasonic aims to ensnare the amateur ‘movie’ maker here via Full HD movie capture with stereo sound plus its newly added Film mode promising richer tonal gradation. HDMI output lets you hook up straight to a TV while a dedicated top plate record button provides one-touch access to video, no matter which alternative mode has been selected on the top plate shooting dial. Furthermore, manually selectable light sensitivity settings are expansive, reaching from ISO160 all the way up to ISO12800 equivalent for (theoretically at least) shooting without flash in the near dark.