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Red Dot Photo was pleased to attend the product launch party of Panasonic's newest micro four thirds camera, the Lumix GF2 on 13 January 2011 at Rochester Park.

The team was introduced to the features and improvements of the GF2 over its predecessor, the GH2. A one hour hands-on session with the camera was held, in which users could freely snap and explore its features

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GF2 presentation and demonstration by Chung Zi'ang (Marketing Executive, AV Department, Panasonic Singapore)

Hybrid revolution

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According to Panasonic, the GF2 is the world's current smallest and lightest system camera with interchangeable lenses and built-in flash. In comparison to the GF1 (released in 2009), the GF2 is comparatively smaller and lighter, with ergonomic and functional improvements. For a compact hybrid, Panasonic has definitely made a dent in the current hybrid market.

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Side by side comparison of the GF1 (right) and GF2 (left); the GF1 is significantly larger than the GF2

Main features of the GF2 include:
  • 12.1 megapixels image resolution with Live MOS Sensor (higher image quality at lower power consumption)
  • ISO sensitivity: Auto/Intelligent ISO/ISO100-6400
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000 - 60
  • Newly designed GUI touch screen navigation, shooting, recording and playback
  • Full-HD 1920 x 1080 AVCHB movie recording capabilities with Dolby Digital Stereo Creator promising high quality audio
  • 23 auto focus areas
  • Equipped with Dust Reduction System that prevents dust/foreign matter from adhering to sensor during lens change
  • Built in MegaOIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) to prevent handshake
  • Newly added My Color Mode, allowing eight preset effects on captured images
  • iA (Intelligent Auto) mode that captures high quality image with user ease
  • VIERA Link: Images and videos compatible for viewing on VIERA TVs at HD resolution
  • Lens changeability expandable via mount adapter (DMW-MA1)
  • Comes with hotshoe (affords attachment of tilt-shift DMW-LVF1 Live view Finder)
  • Dimensions 112.8 x 67.8 x 32.8mm
For a camera that weighs only 265g (body only, without batteries), the GF2 definitely packs in a lot of wonderful features that are suitable for users who are either looking for a light portable system camera or transitioning from digital compacts to DSLRs. The intuitive touch control functions and settings would not be too intimidating for new users.

Below is a test shot taken with the GF2:
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In comparison: Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras

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Since its inception in 2008, Panasonic has developed and improved upon the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system to a new pinnacle. MFT technology has enabled the doing away of a DSLR's compulsory mirror and pentaprisim, enabling a lighter and slimmer system to be built. There is relatively little compromise on image quality, and lens changeability for creative control is also maintained.

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A comparison of the GF2 with Panasonic's other MFT cameras are as follows:

<table width="654" height="202" border="1"><tr><th width="121" scope="col"><div align="center">Specifications</div></th><th width="133" bgcolor="#CFE9DC" scope="col"><div align="center"><img src="http://www.reddotphoto.com.sg/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2665&d=1294912656"><br ></img>Lumix GF2</div></th><th width="131" scope="col"><div align="center"><img src="http://www.reddotphoto.com.sg/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2666&d=1294912656"><br ></img>Lumix G1</div></th><th width="140" scope="col"><div align="center"><img src="http://www.reddotphoto.com.sg/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2663&d=1294912655"><br ></img>Lumix GH1</div></th><th width="149" scope="col"><div align="center"><img src="http://www.reddotphoto.com.sg/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2664&d=1294912655"><br ></img>Lumix GF1</div></th></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Image resolution</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">12. 1 megapixels</div></td><td><div align="center">12.1 megapixels</div></td><td><div align="center">12.1 megapixels</div></td><td><div align="center">12.1 megapixels</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">ISO sensitivity</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">ISO 100-6400</div></td><td><div align="center">ISO 100-3200</div></td><td><div align="center">ISO 100-3200</div></td><td><div align="center">ISO 100-3200</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Shutter speed</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">60-1/4000</div></td><td><div align="center">60-1/4000</div></td><td><div align="center">60-1/4000</div></td><td><div align="center">60-1/4000</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Aperture (max)</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">f/3.5</div></td><td><div align="center">f/3.5</div></td><td><div align="center">f/4.0</div></td><td><div align="center">f/3.5</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">LCD size</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">3.0 inches</div></td><td><div align="center">3.0 inches</div></td><td><div align="center">3.0 inches</div></td><td><div align="center">3.0 inches</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Dimensions</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">113 x 68 x 33 mm</div></td><td><div align="center">124 x 84 x 45 mm</div></td><td><div align="center">124 x 90 x 45 mm</div></td><td><div align="center">119 x 71 x 36 mm</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Weight</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">366g</div></td><td><div align="center">429g</div></td><td><div align="center">930g</div></td><td><div align="center">442g</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Released</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">Jan 2011</div></td><td><div align="center">Nov 2008</div></td><td><div align="center">Jun 2009</div></td><td><div align="center">Oct 2009</div></td></tr></table><p>&nbsp;</p><table width="511" height="202" border="1"><tr><th width="116" scope="col"><div align="center">Specifications</div></th><th width="120" bgcolor="#CFE9DC" scope="col"><div align="center"><img src="http://www.reddotphoto.com.sg/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2665&d=1294912656"><br ></img>Lumix GF2</div></th><th width="120" scope="col"><div align="center"><img src="http://www.reddotphoto.com.sg/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2661&d=1294912654"><br ></img>Lumix G2</div></th><th width="127" scope="col"><div align="center"><img src="http://www.reddotphoto.com.sg/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2662&d=1294912655"><br ></img>Lumix GH2</div></th></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Image resolution</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">12. 1 megapixels</div></td><td><div align="center">12.1 megapixels</div></td><td><div align="center">16.05 megapixels</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">ISO sensitivity</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">ISO 100-6400</div></td><td><div align="center">ISO 100-6400</div></td><td><div align="center">ISO 160 - 12800</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Shutter speed</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">60-1/4000</div></td><td><div align="center">60-1/4000</div></td><td><div align="center">60 - 1/4000</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Aperture (max)</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">f/3.5</div></td><td><div align="center">f/3.5</div></td><td><div align="center">f/3.5</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">LCD size</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">3.0 inches</div></td><td><div align="center">3.0 inches</div></td><td><div align="center">3.0 inches</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Dimensions</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">113 x 68 x 33 mm</div></td><td><div align="center">124 x 84 x 74 mm</div></td><td><div align="center">124 x 90 x 76 mm</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row">Weight</th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">366g</div></td><td><div align="center">618g</div></td><td><div align="center">609 g</div></td></tr><tr><th scope="row"><div align="center">Released</div></th><td bgcolor="#CFE9DC"><div align="center">Jan 2011</div></td><td><div align="center">May 2010</div></td><td><div align="center">Dec 2010</div></td></tr></table>

At a glance, it may seem that there have only been incremental changes from the G1 (2008), Panasonic's first MFT model to the current GF2.

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Panasonic has also made some changes to the top plate of GF2, mainly doing away with the dial button (modes can now be selected via LCD touch screen) and adding in an iA(intelligent Auto) button.

At 366g, the GF2 is Panasonic's (and the world's) lightest system camera. It is approximately 19 percent smaller and 7 percent lighter than its predecessor, the GH2 (2010). That being said, the camera might be a little hard to hold for users who have big hands, despite the attractive weight. It brings to mind the question of how small and light cameras are going to get, and whether it would hinder than aid in image and video capture.

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Panasonic does not capitalize on the megapixel myth in the MFT series, maintaining the 12.1 megapixels image resolution for all of its models, with the exception of the Lumix GH2. Besides that, Panasonic has also managed to combine current consumer trends and previous MFT features into its latest model.

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The G2 (May 2010) was the world's first touch control interchangeable lens system camera, during the touch screen craze that has ensued after the release of the iPhone in 2007. Users of the GF2 are able to change camera settings, take images and record videos using the LCD touch screen. On top of that, users can also change the depth of field through an easy slider on the screen during image and video capture, a feature unavailable in previous models. In addition, My Color and iA (Intelligent Auto) are newly included modes in the GF2 that promises customised movies and images according to user desired moods and settings.

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The high definition and 3D trends originating from movie theatres has also been implemented into recent camera technology and seems to be a must have for camera models to be at least considered a decent buy. Since the release of G2, subsequent Panasonic MFT models have been able to record movies in HD mode, with GF2 having full HD recording and playback capabilities.

The only thing that may be disappointing for fans of movie recording may be the lack of a microphone jack in the GF2. However, the model does come with a Wind Cut function that blocks out noise from background wind during recording.

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In face of competing Micro Four Thirds cameras such as Sony's NEX-3 and NEX-5, pioneer developer Panasonic seems to be putting up a good fight with its frequent releases every few months and does not seem to be backing down any time soon. Consumers can definitely expect to see more developments in the MFT series. Whether the GF2 can topple Sony's and Olympus's MFT cameras, still remains to be seen.

The GF2 will be available for sale at selected stores with a recommended retail price of (accurate as of 12 January 2011):
  • $1099 (14mm single focal length lens)
  • $1299 (14mm single focal length and 14-42mm kit lens)