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theksmith

Panasonic DMC-G2 first impressions

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I picked up a used Panasonic DMC-G2 camera this week off craigslist. I have been wanting to step up from a point-n-shoot for a while now to get better quality images and have more manual control, but not ready for the cost or really the bulk of a full-size DSLR.

 

I looked really hard at the Canon G12 and Nikon P7000 before deciding on the G2. Those are definitely still pocketable cameras in pinch, whereas the G2 is not. However, they don't have as large of sensor, as many manual controls, or as many options in general as an interchangeable lens camera. In the end, I decided that my regular point-n-shoot (a panasonic DMC-TZ5) would continue to work anytime I need a pocket camera, and for this purchase it was really about stepping up to something with "more power".

 

So here's the new toy:

 

G2k-12.jpg

 

it looks like a full-size DSLR from that pic, but it's really much smaller, here's a shot in someones hand to give you some perspective on size:

 

er_photo_129709_52.jpg

 

So basicly it's an MILC/EVIL type, Micro Four Thirds system camera.

 

With a sensor size of 17.3 x 13.0mm, it's quite a bit larger than a point-n-shoot, but not still not quite as big as even an entry level DSLR (such as a bottom line Canon rebel). This bigger sensor should make for some cleaner images, but really help with low-light noise - especially since they've kept the mega-pixel count down to a reasonable 12 MP instead of trying to cram too many on a medium size sensor just for marketing.

 

The lens it comes with is a 14-42mm (28-84mm in 35mm equivalent) f3.5-5.6. I'm already dying to get a prime lens for it. There is a 20mm F1.7 (that's 40mm in full-size terms) that should really help it's low-light performance, and a new 14mm (28mm in full-size terms) should be out any time. The 20mm gets excellent reviews, even from people using it on competing micro 4/3rds cameras.

 

Along with the standard manual buttons and dials, there is a touchscreen. The nice thing is that they didn't try and replace any traditional controls with the touchscreen, but rather it's there in addition to the other controls. So far I really like it for tapping on a focus point, in fact I love that feature. Beyond that though I haven't used the touch controls much yet.

 

I also like that the screen is fully articulating. Someone told me I would appreciate that (when I was originally comparing the G12 to the P7000), but I wasn't sure... turns out it really does make a difference when trying to compose shots from various angles. Much easier than contorting your body constantly to ungodly poses.

 

G2k-8.jpg

 

Othere features I appreciate are the auto bracketing (for playing with HDR), the high-quality screen and EVF, the overall ergonomics, a full "auto" mode for being lazy, nice interface in manual mode for setting shutter/aperture and seeing the effect on exposure, an accurate exposure meter, easy to handle size, decent included lens with good range, wide shutter range (1/4000 - 4 mins), high iso (100 - 6400), optical image stabilization, and fast autofocus.

 

I should mention the ISO 6400 is pretty useless, mainly there for marketing purposes. And in general the higher ISO stuff isn't as clean at the Olympus competition (PEN series). Overall it still takes a clean image that's a huge step up from my point-n-shoot, and many of the other usability features trump the Olympus or the Sony competitors.

 

Here are the full specs...

 

And here's a pretty good overall review (without getting too geeky like some photography sites do).

 

And if you check out the user reviews on B&H Photo or even Amazon, they are excellent.

 

 

next, some sample images...

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very low light, ISO 400, a little noise under the desk but pretty nice for the conditions:

ISO400_LowLight.JPG

 

early morning light coming through the window only, i like that the blacks are crisp and low noise. i shot this at ISO 800 because noche kept moving around:

lowlight_g2_ISO800.JPG

 

here's a closeup crop from that same picture:

lowlight_g2_ISO800_crop.JPG

 

and for comparison, here is the same crop from my point-n-shoot (DMC-TZ5), but taken at ISO 400. notice how this has way more noise even at half the ISO:

lowlight_tz5_ISO400_crop.JPG

 

 

 

some shots from the past few days, still learning to use the camera obviously...

 

sunrise.JPG

 

zoom_mediumlight.JPG

 

a test of different aperture settings for DOF changes, something previously hard to do with a point-n-shoot...

 

test3.JPG

 

test4.JPG

 

 

 

 

some other random shots i took this morning since we finally have a nice sunny morning...

 

this is cropped because i couldnt' get in tight enough with the zoom, and wanted to show the birds:

morning3birds.jpg

 

these next few were taken from the RAW's and minor adjustments made to how the RAW was processed, then one step of sharpening done in photoshop. i am finding that 90% of the time, i want to do one level of sharpening. i'd rather have a camera that doesn't get overzealous with it's built in sharpening though because it's easy to add a tad but you can't really un-sharpen something that's overprocessed.

 

morningground.jpg

 

morningshade.jpg

 

morninglimbs.jpg

 

 

next up, i'll put links to the full size and RAWs for those that want to really look at the cameras performance...

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for most of the shots on this page, you can see the full EXIF data if you look at them on my picasaweb gallery: http://picasaweb.google.com/kristoff...21TestingDMCG2

 

here is a full size, str8 from camera JPG of the depth of field test with the tree limbs: http://theksmith.com/photos/G2/doftree.JPG

 

some of the RAWs from this morning:

http://theksmith.com/photos/G2/doftree.RW2

http://theksmith.com/photos/G2/closeground.RW2

http://theksmith.com/photos/G2/noche_morninglight.RW2

http://theksmith.com/photos/G2/sunrise.RW2

http://theksmith.com/photos/G2/typicaloutdoors.RW2

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the camera also has a "color" option that lets you apply some color processing to the images in camera. i don't anticipate using it, as i'd rather apply any styling in photoshop later. but here's a comparison of some of the styles anyway:

 

standard "pure" setting:

color_pure.JPG

 

"elegant":

color_elegant.JPG

 

"retro":

color_retro.JPG

 

"silhouette":

color_silhouette.JPG

 

and even one for Diane, "expressive" ;)

color_expressive.JPG

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overall i'm excited about the new possibilities with this camera and it's a big move up for me. i still have an ass load to learn about all the settings and overall how to best utilize the features of the camera. this purchase won't make me a better photographer, but it will allow me to capture some things that were in my mind before but i couldn't coax out of a point-n-shoot.

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"silhouette":

color_silhouette.JPG

 

and even one for Diane, "expressive" ;)

 

Hm, I actually like 'sillouette' better but thanks for thinking of me!

 

cool camera K. I like the close up of noche that you cropped. d :rolleyes:

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Nice, very nice. Great write up and sweet camera.

Congrats.

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Hm, I actually like 'sillouette' better but thanks for thinking of me!

 

cool camera K. I like the close up of noche that you cropped. d :rolleyes:

 

ha, that's the only one i liked too!

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