So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Panasonic LUMIX GF2 (DMC-GF2) camera
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF2 review: A great little Micro Four Thirds camera that will suit just about any photographer
- Small size, clear and vibrant image quality, excellent focusing, useful touchscreen, sturdy build quality
- Video quality not great, noticeable blemishes above ISO 800, longest open shutter time in 60sec
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF2 is a great camera for any type of user. It's well built, easy to use and it can take sharp and vibrant images. It's one of a growing number of cameras on the Australian market with a touchscreen. You can only not only use it to navigate menus, but also to quickly set focus points and even to take photos without pressing the shutter button.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF2 is one of the smallest Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens cameras you will find on the Australian market. It has a 12-megapixel sensor that can capture stunning shots, it feels good to use, and you don't need a huge bag to carry it around in.
One of the things that sets the Panasonic GF2 apart from other Micro Four Thirds cameras on the market, such as the Olympus PEN cameras, is its interface. The LUMIX DMC-GF2, like the bigger G2 in Panasonic's range, comes with an LCD touchscreen, which is quite simple to use and very responsive. Using the touchscreen, not only can you change shooting mode and various shooting settings, you can also manually select a focus point by, well, pointing at it, and you also make that point bigger or smaller. Furthermore, it's possible to take a shot simply by tapping the screen rather than pressing the shutter button.
In case you haven't guessed yet, it's a fun camera to use. Very fun! The touchscreen isn't a hindrance to the camera's usability, and there are still a few buttons to the right of it that can be used to navigate the Q Menu (there is also an on-screen version of this menu called the Touch-Q-Menu) and also to change different settings on the fly, such as the ISO speed. The camera feels very sturdily built and well balanced in your hands. Its shutter sounds and feels nice and crisp. The shutter button has a crisp two-step feel, the zoom rocker is solid and the buttons don't have a sponge-like feel to them, unlike those used by some inexpensive cameras we've seen recently.
You get dedicated buttons for activating Full HD video recording and for switching to iAUTO mode, and there is a built-in flash as well as a hot-shoe. You can change aperture and shutter values easily by using the rotational thumb control. One thing the GF2 doesn't have is a built-in electronic viewfinder (the DMW-LVF1 Live View Finder is an optional accessory). However, the built-in 3in screen is very sharp (it has a 460K dot resolution) and also bright enough to be viewed reasonably comfortably on a sunny day, so the lack of an EVF is not a huge drawback. One thing that's missing is a hinge for swivelling the screen to take angled shots or self-portraits, but that would end up making the GF2 a lot more bulky; the main selling point of this camera is its sleek and relatively thin frame. It's a little bit thinner than the Panasonic DMC-GF1 before it. If you want an articulating screen, then consider the LUMIX DMC-G2 instead.
We used Panasonic's pancake lens and fisheye lens for our tests, and both lenses produced results that we're very pleasing. Images were sharp and vibrant, and there wasn't much of a hint of chromatic aberration or excessive noise. You can use an ISO speed up to 800 without seeing too much discolouration and noise when scrutinising photos closely, but anything above that will end up blemishing photos noticeably. With a fast lens and a reasonably low shutter speed, you can get away with using a lower ISO speed in low-light, and the GF2's image stabilisation works well at low shutter speeds to keep photos clear and free of blur.
The video mode of the GF2 isn't fantastic. Lots of motion will end up looking choppy and end up giving you a headache, so it's not great when capturing action scenes. Its video mode will work best when recording things such as speeches at a wedding, or when conducting interviews while it's plonked on top of a tripod.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF2's bread and butter are its ability to capture high quality images, and it will allow you to do so in a very easy manner. Its touchscreen is simple to use and the overall build quality and control layout of the camera are great. It's a camera that will suit enthusiasts, professionals and even beginners — we're not pigeon-holing this one, it will do a good job for all sorts of users. We had lots of fun testing with the pancake and fisheye lens options, but you will be able to buy the GF2 in kits containing either the 14mm pancake lens (H-H014), the 14-42mm lens (H-FS014042E), or in a twin lens kit with both the pancake lens and the 14-42mm lens.
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