Popular Search

Panasonic DMC-G2 Review


Bookmark and Share

(lens section by Andy Westlake, additional content by Richard Butler and Barnaby Britton).

Review based on a production Panasonic DMC-G2

Panasonic's G1 was not only the first product of the Micro Four Thirds standard, it was also the world's first interchangeable lens camera to turn its back on traditional optical viewfinder designs and take a more compact-camera-like live view approach. The outward appearance may have been pure DSLR, but the G1 is likely to be remembered as the camera that marked the beginning of the end for the half-century-long dominance of the single lens reflex design in interchangeable lens cameras.

Whilst the G1 was praised for its feature set, handling and overall responsiveness, the lack of video recording capability seemed odd at a time when movie modes were starting to appear on conventional SLRs. The irony that conventional SLR designers wanting to add a movie mode have considerably bigger hurdles to jump than Panasonic with the all-digital, mirrorless G1 was compounded by the arrival of the GH1 and GF1 models a little later - both sporting movie modes.

But that was then, and this is now, and in March Panasonic announced not one, but two successor models (both with movie mode) to the G1, splitting the line into a budget version (the G10, to be reviewed later) and the model featured here, the G2. The thinking behind the decision is simple - cutting back on the expensive stuff like a super-high resolution viewfinder allows Panasonic to compete with the cut-price DLSRs that dominate the big box retailers' shelves. The G10 adds little to the G1 beyond a (MJPEG) movie mode, but loses several of the G1's defining features (big, high res EVF, swivel screen), so for us the G2 is by far the more interesting model. In both cases the physical design and the sensor inside are essentially unchanged in this upgrade.

The G2 is an evolutionary - but nonetheless solid - upgrade to the G1, that answers some of the criticisms of the original model, adding the aforementioned video mode (720p AVCHD lite or MJPEG) and tidying up and expanding the external controls. The other big news is that the G2 gets touch screen technology (seen on several Panasonic compact DSCs) - not exactly high on our list of ways in which the G1 could be improved, but in the era of the iPhone something that undoubtedly looks good on the marketing materials, if nothing else.

Touch screen cameras aren't a particularly new idea (it could be argued that they started appearing before the touch-sensitive technology or user interfaces were really ready), but this is the first interchangeable lens camera we've seen to add the feature. Crucially, the G2's touch-screen options are in addition to, rather than a replacement for, traditional controls.

Key features at a glance

  • 12.1 million (effective) pixel 4/3 LiveMOS sensor
  • Venus Engine HD II with intelligent auto and Intelligent Resolution
  • Movie capture (720p) in AVCHD Lite or M-JPEG formats
  • 3.0" multi-angle 460,000 dot touchscreen display
  • 1.4 million dot Color Electronic Viewfinder
  • External mic connection

The G2 features a touch-sensitive screen that can be used to select focus point, adjust camera settings and even fire the shutter. However, no conventional controls have been removed, so it can still be operated almost exactly like a G1. An oddly-shaped stylus is provided but we found the pressure-sensitive screen responsive enough to not need it.

The G2 uses the eye sensor to the right of the electronic viewfinder (inherited from the G1), to detect when your face is close to the viewfinder and disables the touchscreen, to prevent unintended nose operation.

A new kit lens

Along with the G2 and G10, Panasonic has announced a new kit lens - a lighter, larger, less rangy 14-42mm F3.5-5.6. It loses its O.I.S image stabilization switch, passing control to the camera body. Despite the lens body being 5mm longer, a plastic mount and other materials changes have helped the 14-42mm shed 30g compared to the 14-45mm's 192g.

The optical design has changed, but the basic specification of 12 elements (1 of them aspherical), in 9 groups is retained. Panasonic says the performance should be to the same standard as its predecessor; we'll look at this later in the review.

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

To navigate this article simply use the next / previous page buttons or jump to a specific page by using the drop-down list in the navigation bar at the top of the page. You can support this site by ordering through the affiliate links shown at the bottom of each page (where available).

This article is protected by Copyright and may not be reproduced in part or as a whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

Compared to the G1

For the most part this is a case of 'evolution, not revolution' when compared to the G1, but some subtle changes have been made to the body in its latest incarnation.

At first glance there is little distinction between the G1 (left) and G2 (right) beyond the video-related decals. On closer examination you'll notice that the control dial has been moved to the rear of the camera and the hand grip very slightly re-shaped. The area around the lens mount is also slightly more substantial and features two extra screws below the lens.
As well as the repositioned dial, an extra button has been added above the four-way controller. The touch screen is noticeably less reflective than the G1's LCD.

Most of the changes are fairly minor attempts to refine and improve the G1's already very good control and handling but there have been a handful of hardware changes made too.

The remote control socket now doubles as a stereo mic input, though sadly it remains a 2.5mm connector, rather than the more common 3.5mm style. The G2 loses the card door that appeared on the G1's right flank. Cards, including the large capacity SDXC type, now live alongside the battery (which is bad news for tripod users).
The controls on the top left of the camera become more sophisticated, adding focus point selection mode to the corner dial and transferring focus drive mode to a new switch that encircles the base of it. The controls at the top right have also been juggled around - iA mode leaps off the dial to its own button, next to the new direct movie record button. The Q.Menu and Film Mode functions are moved to buttons on the back of the camera.

On the button-front there's been something of a reshuffle - all the key players are still around but now hold slightly different positions. The big gains are for AF-point selection mode, which gets added to the G2's scaled-down retro-styled combination dial and switch, and the newly arrived movie mode, which has a direct start button. Intelligent Auto mode also gets its own button, having been displaced from the mode dial by Movie P mode.

Q.Menu, exiled from the top plate, finds a new home on an additional button on the camera's rear (just next to where the 'Q.Menu' virtual button appears on the touch screen). Film Mode, which also used to occupy the top of the camera gets shunted to the four-way controller, nudging AF-point selection down to the Fn button. As a result, the only function to lose direct access is metering mode, which instead becomes one of the other options available for the Fn button (there's a choice of ten, rather than the G1's five).

Panasonic DMC G2 compared to G1 and G10

G2 changes over G1 at a glance

  • Movie mode + Audio recording (built-in mono mic, connector for external stereo mic)
  • Venus Engine HD II processor (with 'Intelligent Resolution')
  • Control dial moved from front to back
  • Touch Screen
  • 1:1 aspect ratio option
  • Expanded ISO range (now goes up to ISO 6400)
  • iA and movie buttons added
  • Focus mode (AF point selection) dial
  • Minor button / dial function changes
  • SD card now in base with battery
  • Live View can be maintained during continuous shooting (at Medium and Low burst rates)
  • Improved Auto ISO algorithm (maintains higher shutter speeds)
  • Autofocuses with most Four Thirds SLR lenses
  • Basic distance scale added for manual focus

The DMC G2 is at first glance a fairly gentle update of the G1, once you've got to grips with the touch-screen. Beyond that, the most obvious differences are the refined ergonomics and the addition of AVCHD video recording. There are also a few minor tweaks to the available options, such as the addition of a 1:1 aspect-ratio shooting mode and ISO 6400.

Delve a little deeper, though, and you'll find a few other welcome fixes to some of the G1's less obvious shortcomings. Perhaps most importantly, the G2 (and G10) can maintain live view during continuous shooting if you're willing to drop the frame rate from the 'H' setting (3.2 fps) to 'M' or 'L' (2.6 and 2 fps respectively), which makes a huge difference when trying to follow moving subjects. The Auto ISO algorithm has been tweaked to maintain higher shutter speeds - for example with the 20mm F1.7 it starts to raise the ISO at 1/60 sec rather than 1/30sec. This may not sound like much, but it reduces the risk of getting blurred shots either from camera shake or subject motion, making Auto ISO much more useable in practice.

On the focusing front, both cameras gain the ability to autofocus with almost all Four Thirds SLR lenses, and while AF is (of course) still distinctly slow and hesitant, this makes them more appealing to anyone with a collection of Olympus ZD lenses. For manual focusing, a basic distance scale can now be displayed, and while this is nothing more than a line marked with the current focus position in relation to infinity and closest focus, it gives solid feedback about what is happening when you turn the focus ring (which really comes into its own when using lenses like the 45mm F2.8 Macro with magnified focus assist enabled).

DMC-G10 differences

The G10 is, in many respects, even more similar to the G1. It doesn't offer the G2's touch screen, direct movie button or the combined dial/switch on the top left corner of the camera. Its button layout is closer to that of the G1's, too - the Q.Menu button has moved to the back of the camera and the iAuto button has replaced Film Mode but everything else remains the same with AF point selection holding its position on the four-way controller.

The G10 still offers 720p movies from the mode dial though not in the more efficient AVCHD format and loses all movie-related branding from its front. It also gets a smaller, lower-spec viewfinder that's similar to the GF1's add-on unit (202K dots, rather than 1.4M) and loses the articulated tilt/swivel LCD. Unlike the G2, it is only available in black and offers no external mic input.

Panasonic DMC G2

Panasonic DMC G1

Panasonic DMC G10
• 4/3 type MOS ('Live MOS sensor')
• 13.1 million total pixels
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
• 4/3 type MOS ('Live MOS sensor')
• 13.1 million total pixels
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
• 4/3 type MOS ('Live MOS sensor')
• 13.06 million total pixels
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
• Venus Engine HD II
• Venus Engine HD
• Venus Engine HD II
Aspect ratios
• 4:3
• 3:2
• 16:9
• 1:1
• 4:3
• 3:2
• 16:9
• 4:3
• 3:2
• 16:9
• 1:1
Video mode
1280 x 720, 60/50fps

• Motion JPEG:
1280 x 720, 30fps
848 x 480, 30fps
640 x 480, 30fps
320 x 240, 30fps
• N/A
• Motion JPEG:
1280 x 720, 30fps
848 x 480, 30fps
640 x 480, 30fps
320 x 240, 30fps
• Mono (stereo via external mic connecter)
• N/A
• Mono
Focus modes

• Auto Focus (Contrast AF system)
• Manual focus
• Face Detection
• AF Tracking
• 23-Area-Focusing/1 Area Focusing
• MF Assist (5x, 10x)
• Touch AF

• Auto Focus (Contrast AF system)
• Manual focus
• Face Detection
• AF Tracking
• 23-Area-Focusing/1 Area Focusing
• MF Assist (5x, 10x)
• Auto Focus (Contrast AF system)
• Manual focus
• Face Detection
• AF Tracking
• 23-Area-Focusing/1 Area Focusing
• MF Assist (5x, 10x)
LCD screen
• 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% coverage
• Multi-angle swing and tilt (180°swing, 180° swivel)
• Touch sensitive
• 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% coverage
• Multi-angle swing and tilt (180°swing, 180° swivel)
• 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% coverage
• 1.4x magnification
• 0.7x (35mm equiv)
• 1,440k dot equiv
• 100% FOV
• 1.4x magnification
• 0.7x (35mm equiv)
• 1,440k dot equiv
• 100% FOV
• 1.04x magnification
• 0.52x (35mm equiv)
• 202k dot equiv
• 100% FOV
ISO range
• Auto
• iAuto
• 100-6400
• Auto
• iAuto
• 100-3200
• Auto
• iAuto
• 100-6400
Bulb exposure max duration
• 4 mins
• 8 mins
• 4 mins
Drive modes
• Single
• Continuous H (3.2 fps)
• Continuous M (2.6 fps)
• Continuous L (2 fps)
• Single
• Continuous H (3 fps)
• Continuous L (2 fps)
• Single
• Continuous H (3.2 fps)
• Continuous M (2.6 fps)
• Continuous L (2 fps)
• USB 2.0 (High Speed)
• Video output (PAL / NTSC)
• Remote/external mic

• USB 2.0 (High Speed)
• Video output (PAL / NTSC)
• Remote

• USB 2.0 (High Speed)
• Video output (PAL / NTSC)
• Remote
124 mm x 84 mm x 74 mm
124 mm x 84 mm x 74 mm
124 mm x 84 mm x 74 mm
Weight (body only)
Approx. 371 g (13.1 oz)
Approx. 380g (13.4 oz)
Approx. 336 g (11.9 oz)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 specifications

Price (with 14-42 mm kit lens) • US: $ 799
• UK: £ 550
Body material Plastic
Sensor • 4/3 type MOS ('Live MOS sensor')
• 13.1 million total pixels
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
Image sizes* • 4000 x 3000 (4:3)
• 2816 x 2112 (4:3)
• 2048 x 1536 (4:3)
• 4000 x 2672 (3:2)
• 2816 x 1880 (3:2)
• 2048 x 1360 (3:2)
• 4000 x 2248 (16:9)
• 2816 x 1584 (16:9)
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
• 2992 x 2992 (1:1)*
• 2112 x 2112 (1:1)*
• 1504 x 1504 (1:1)*
Image sizes (Motion)** • AVCHD Lite:*
1280 x 720, 60p (from 30fps sensor output)*
1280 x 720, 50p (from 25 fps sensor output)*
• Motion JPEG:
1280 x 720 (30fps)
848 x 480 (30fps)
640 x 480 (30fps)
320 x 240 (30fps)
Aspect ratios* 4:3
File formats • RAW
• RAW + JPEG Standard
• RAW + JPEG Fine
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2) - Standard
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2) - Fine
File formats (Movie)** • AVCHD Lite*
• QuickTime Motion JPEG
Lenses • Micro Four Thirds mount lenses
• Four Thirds mount lenses via adapter (DMW-MA1PP)
Autofocus available with most lenses (see here for more details)
Focus modes** • Auto Focus (Contrast AF system)
• Manual focus
• Face Detection
• AF Tracking
• 23-Area-Focusing/1 Area Focusing
• Touch AF/MF Assist (5x, 10x)**
AF assist lamp Yes, dedicated lamp
Image stabilization Optical Image Stabilization
Extended optical zoom Yes
Digital zoom • Up to 4x
Exposure modes • Program AE
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual
• Auto
Scene modes Portrait
• Normal
• Soft Skin
• Outdoor
• Indoor
• Creative
• Normal
• Nature
• Architecture
• Creative
• Normal
• Soft Skin
• Outdoor
• Indoor
• Creative
• Flower
• Food
• Objects
• Creative
Night Portrait

• Night Portrait
• Night Scenery
• Illuminations
• Creative
• Sunset
• Party
• Baby 1
• Baby 2
• Pet
• Peripheral Defocus
Scene modes (movie)* Portrait
• Normal
• Soft Skin
• Outdoor
• Indoor
• Creative
• Normal
• Nature
• Architecture
• Creative
• Normal
• Outdoor
• Indoor
• Creative
• Flower
• Food
• Objects
• Creative
• Sunset
• Party
• Portrait
Sensitivity* • Auto
• Intelligent ISO
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
• ISO 6400*
ISO steps 1/3 or 1.0 EV
Metering range 0 to 18 EV
Metering modes • Multiple-Weighted
• Center-Weighted
• Spot
AE Lock • AEL/AFL button
• With shutter release half-press
AE Bracketing • 3, 5, 7 frames
• in 1/3 or 2/3
Exposure compensation • -3.0 to +3.0 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Shutter speed* • 60 -1/4000 sec
• Bulb (up to 4 mins*)
• Flash X-sync 1/160 sec
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Shade
• Halogen
• Flash
• Custom 1
• Custom 2
• Kelvin temp (2500 - 10000 K, 100K steps)
WB fine tuning Yes (blue/amber bias, magenta/green bias)
WB Bracketing • 3 shots
•+/-1 to +/-3 in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis
Color space • sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Image parameters • Color mode (Standard, Dynamic, Nature, Smooth, Vibrant, Nostalgic)
• Saturation (5 levels)
• Contrast (5 levels)
• Sharpness (5 levels)
• Noise reduction (5 levels)
• Monochrome (Standard, Dynamic, Smooth)
• My Film (2 memories/Multi Film)
Drive modes* • Single
• Continuous H (3.2 fps)
• Continuous M (2.6 fps) *
• Continuous L (2 fps)
Continuous buffer • 7 RAW images
• Unlimited JPEG images with a fast card
Self-timer • 2 sec
• 10 sec
• 10 sec, 3 images
Flash • Manual pop-up
• TTL auto / manual
• Guide no. 11 (ISO 100, m)
• Sync modes: Auto, On, Off, Red-eye reduction, Slow syncro with red-eye reduction, Slow syncro
• Flash power: Up to +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps
Flash X-sync speed 1/160 sec
External flash • Hot shoe
• TTL Auto with FL220/FL360/FL500 (Optional)
Viewfinder* • Electronic Viewfinder
• Color LCD Viewfinder
• Field of view 100%
• Eye point 14 mm at -1 dioptre
• Magnification 1.4x (equivalent to 0.7x on a 35mm camera / 50mm lens)
• Dioptre adjustment -4 to +4 dioptre
• 1,440,000 dots
• Field Sequential (RGB)
DOF preview Yes
Orientation sensor Yes
LCD monitor* • 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
• Multi-angle swing and tilt (180°swing, 180° swivel)*
• Low temperature Polycrystalline TFT LCD
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% frame coverage
• Auto Power LCD (optional) adjusts brightness in bright light
• Brightness (7 levels), Color (7 levels)
Playback functions ** • Single
• Magnify (2 - 16x)
• Thumbnail display (30,12)
• Slide show
• Title Edit*
• Text Stamp*
• Video Divide*
• Resize
• Trimming
• Aspect Conversion
• Rotate
• Rotate Display
• Favorite
• Print Set
• Protect
• Face recognition Edit*
Connectivity • USB 2.0 (High Speed)
• Video Out (NTSC / PAL)
• Wired remote control DMW-RSL1 (optional)
Print compliance • PictBridge
Storage* SD / SDHC / SDXC*
Power • 1250 mAh 7.2v Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Supplied charger / AC adapter
Dimensions 124 mm x 84 mm x 74 mm (4.88 x 3.29 x 2.91 in )
Weight (camera body) Approx. 371 g *
Weight (camera body, card and battery) Approx. 428 g *
Weight (inc supplied lens, card and battery) Approx. 593 g (20.92 oz)*


As seen earlier, from a design point of view the G2 is almost identical to the G1 before it (and is very similar to the video-focused GH1), so everything we said about those cameras is equally applicable to this one. The control dial has moved to the back, GF1-style (so is now thumb-operated), which is an improvement over the too-easily-knocked position on the G1, and a lot better suited to such a small body. There's also a few button/switch changes, but physically the G2 is otherwise very similar to its predecessor.

From a design point of view the G2 is, in almost every respect, very careful to mimic DSLR design, with a large grip, large viewfinder and a bunch of buttons and dials pretty much where you'd expect them to be. And the result is a camera that will be instantly familiar to users familiar with DSLRs and, perhaps more importantly, one that is consistent with the expectations of users aspiring to own a DSLR.

The soft micro-textured finish and overall build quality appear to be pretty much the same as the G1, and give the G2 a reassuringly solid, quality feel that seems to be capable of taking the kind of everyday knocks it might receive in normal usage (after a few weeks of heavy use we saw no signs of damage to the surface).

In your hand

We've been using the G1 and GH1 regularly for over a year now and have really come to appreciate the superb handling, which is as good as any entry-level DLSR (and most mid-range ones too). Moving the control dial to the back is a big improvement, leaving the index finger to rest on the shutter release and the thumb to effortlessly change settings. Our only complaint is that - until you've been using it for a while - the iA and movie buttons are a little too easy to mix up.


The G2 has exactly the same viewfinder as the G1 and GH1 (click here to read more about it), which is no bad thing, since it's really rather good. There's still the slight color 'tearing' if you move your eye too quickly, but the sharpness, resolution, refresh rate, brightness and color are excellent. The G2's viewfinder is noticeably larger than most SLR finders and is perfectly usable in all but the lowest light (when the display gets a little noisy and a little laggy).

Viewfinder view

In keeping with the G2's aim of behaving exactly like a DSLR, the EVF very closely mimics the appearance of a DSLR. And, unlike DSLRs with Live view, the layout of the information is consistent between the viewfinder and the rear LCD (unless you're using the Status Panel mode on the rear screen). The result is no hunting around for settings - they're always shown in the same place. And, unlike a DSLR, the G2's viewfinder can show you the options for each setting and update the preview image to reflect any changes made.

The only differences between the G2 and its predecessor are the video mode and Intelligent Resolution icons.

Body elements

Although it takes the same (1250mAh, 7.2V) battery, the G2's battery compartment is now also home to the SD card slot (which used to be accessed from the side of the camera). This is bad news for tripod shooters who regularly need to change cards (including, it should be said, dpreview camera reviewers), but won't affect anyone else. The new model is compatible with the latest SDXC card format.

Like the G1, the G2 has a 3.0" wide screen display built onto a hinge that allows it to swivel and tilt. The LCD is made up of 460,000 dots, making it one of the higher-resolution examples available. While in resolution terms it's not quite on a par with the VGA screens that have almost become standard on DSLRs its 60fps refresh rate produces a much smoother live view image than on most DSLRs. The screen can be turned around completely ('face in') to protect it when not in use.

The big change is that the screen is now touch sensitive. You can control most menus, set the focus point or even take pictures directly by touching the screen if you so fancy.

We'll look at the touch screen interface in more depth later. The important point for us is that it isn't designed to replace any other form of control, so in no way compromises handling as it so often does on compacts.

The G2's rather small flash has a Guide Number of just 11, slightly on the low side for a camera in this class, but plenty for the occasional social snap in low light or for a bit of fill-in on a sunny day. The G1's tiny kit lens means that, even though the flash doesn't pop up very far, there's little risk of it casting shadows into your photos unless you use the lens hood at the same time. You can, of course, increase flash power by attaching a dedicated unit to the built-in hot shoe.

The G2 has a metal tripod mount, which should reduce concerns about stripping its thread. It's perfectly lined up with the lens but the camera is so small that you can give up on the idea of changing batteries or cards with most tripod plates attached.

On the left hand side of the camera is a combined USB/video out connector and a HDMI port for connection to your HDTV. No HDMI cable is included with the camera, however, so that's something you may need to invest it.

Above the main ports there's a combined external microphone / wired remote control socket.
In one of the only significant changes to the body, the main control dial has migrated from the front grip to the back of the camera (where it is operated by the thumb, rather than the forefinger). It may seem like a minor change, but on small cameras it's often the placing of buttons and dials that makes the difference between usable and unusable manual controls. The good news is that the new dial position is, according to everyone here, a big improvement.
The top plate has had a bit of a re-jig too - gone are the Q.Menu (moved to the back of the camera) and the pointless dedicated 'Film Mode' button, replaced by a direct movie button and an illuminated iA (Intelligent Auto) button (which overrides any current settings to return to full auto mode, lighting up bright blue in the process).
The left-hand dial is still dedicated to focus functions, but now has an extra lever around its base meaning it now covers focus area (single, multi, tracking, face detection) and focus mode (single or continuous AF, manual focus).

Operation and controls

Putting aside the new touch screen controls for a moment, the physical controls and overall operation of the G2 are very similar to the G1 and GH1. This is no bad thing, as those cameras (and this one) offer excellent handling that isn't harmed at all by the slightly smaller form factor (unlike the GF1 and Olympus Pen models, which arguably sacrifice handling for size). The extensive external controls are complemented by an easy to master on-screen interface that might not look great, but does a decent job of providing logical access to the comprehensive feature set.

The on-body controls have moved around a little but are similar enough that anyone upgrading from a G1 will soon feel at home. Unlike many entry-level DSLRs the G2's compact body is covered in buttons and dials that offer a surprisingly traditional approach to picture-taking. But don't worry too much about messing things up by playing with the many functions: the excellent iA (Intelligent Auto) mode is always just a click away, thanks to the prominent new button near the main mode dial.

A summary of the physical control changes over the last generation is listed below:

  • Film Mode moved from top plate to left arrow key
  • Focus pattern moved from 4-way controller to new lever on top plate
  • Q. Menu button moved from top plate to rear
  • Focus area selector moved to top dial (left side)
  • iA mode moved from mode dial to button on top plate
  • New Movie button on top plate

Rear of camera controls

The G2's crowded rear panel is similar to the G1/GH1, with one extra button (Q.Menu, moved from the top panel) and the newly positioned 'click & turn' control dial (used to change exposure settings and navigate menus).

Top left is the EVF/LCD button to toggle between framing with the viewfinder and the LCD screen (only really used if you turn off the eye-detecting auto switch function). To the right of the viewfinder we have the AE/AF lock and play mode buttons, and the control dial. Below the thumb grips sit the Q.MENU and DISPLAY (for changing the amount and type of information overlaid on the live view and playback displays) buttons.

Below this is the ubiquitous four-way controller. Each of the directional keys has a dedicated function in record mode, giving direct access to ISO speed, film mode and white balance, plus a customizable function button (Fn). Bottom right of the back is the depth-of-field preview button (which doubles up as a Delete button in playback mode).

In most cases the functionality of the external buttons is replicated in the quick menu (invoked by pressing the Q.Menu button or touching the icon on the touchscreen).

Top of camera controls

Anyone who hates menu-driven control systems will love the G2. Like its predecessor the top plate is densely-packed with knobs and dials that further enhance the 'traditional camera' impression created by the styling of the body itself. The big changes here are the inclusion of a movie clip button (for capturing quick movies when in one of the stills photography modes) and an illuminated iA button that instantly overrides any manual settings and puts the camera into its (remarkably reliable) 'idiot proof' Intelligent Auto mode.

On the left shoulder the focus mode dial from the G1 now doubles as a focus area selector. The main mode dial has lost its iA mode position (replaced by the Motion Picture mode) but is otherwise identical to the G1. The G2 offers a wide range of shooting modes from the fully manual to the fully automatic.

  • Program Auto (with Shift)
  • Aperture Priority Auto
  • Shutter Priority Auto
  • Manual
  • Custom (3 memories)
  • Movie-P
  • SCN (Sunset, Party, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Peripheral Defocus)
  • Night portrait (with four options)
  • Close up (4 options)
  • Sports (4 options)
  • Scenery (4 options)
  • Portrait (5 options)
  • MyColor mode (custom control over color, saturation and contrast)

On-screen controls and menus

Aside from the new touch screen features, the G2's interface and menu system is very similar to the G1, GF1 and GH1. The menus have been jigged around a little, but for anyone already using a Panasonic moving between the G2 and any of its predecessors will be an almost entirely seamless process. Those who haven't will probably find the sheer wealth of options (and the fact there are often several ways to do the same thing) a little overwhelming at first, but if you like a lot of control at your fingertips (with a decent amount of customizability thrown in for good measure), the G2 won't disappoint.

For a more in-depth look at the various record mode functions (including the clever shutter speed preview feature) check out the displays section of the Panasonic G1 review.

Record mode display options

The G2 offers three display options in record mode. The first shows only the most basic shooting information (mode, exposure settings, AE compensation, flash mode) - and then only when you half-press the shutter. The second shows full shooting information along the top and bottom edge of the frame. Most of the icons correspond to functions accessible via the Quick Menu (see below).
The third option is a status panel. Press the Q.Menu button and use the front dial (or arrow keys) to select the setting you want to change. Press the dial to change the setting. It's a fast and efficient way to use the camera. Note that the EVF continues to show the live view when you're using the Status Panel display mode on the main screen, so you can use the camera much as you would a conventional SLR. This screen can also be controlled by touch (see below). As in previous G cameras you can choose between two different display styles for the electronic viewfinder and screen independently. The second option, 'Finder Mode' adds a black border, making the information at the bottom a little easier to see.
The display in the viewfinder in this mode is a little different, being designed to mimic a conventional SLR. The icons are all green (unless selected). Note that the screen is 3:2 and the viewfinder is 4:3, and you won't seen the black bar across the top in the viewfinder when the image is shot in 4:3 mode (or in 4:3 or 3:2 on the rear screen).

Quick Menu

The G2 has the same Quick Menu you'll find on all Panasonic G cameras (and many of its compacts). It allows you to cycle through the various on-screen icons and change their settings directly. The menus displayed are slightly different depending on the display mode chosen, and if you're using the touch screen, but the mode of operation is always the same. You can read more about the Quick Menu (and all other aspects of control and operation) in the G1, GH1 and GF1 reviews.

Direct access buttons

Buttons such as white balance and ISO display a dedicated mini menu on the LCD monitor/EVF which allow you to see all the options available, at which point you use the command dial or arrow keys to change the setting. New in the G2 is the ability to simply touch the screen to change settings once you've brought up the menu with the button on the body.

Setting ISO after pressing the ISO button. Note that you can use the touch screen or the more conventional arrows/dial method to select the setting required. Changing film mode also allows you to quickly adjust image parameters (contrast, sharpness, saturation, noise reduction).

Touch screen

The biggest new feature of the G2 is undoubtedly its touch-sensitive screen. The underlying screen is still the same high-resolution 460,000 dot LCD on a tilt and swivel mount that appeared in the G1 but it now has a pressure-sensitive layer added. As mentioned earlier in this preview, all the original hard-button functionality of the G1 is still there and can be used without the touch-screen interfering.

Everything the touch-screen brings is an addition and many of them prove to be rather welcome additions, based on our everyday use during this review. Users of manual focus lenses are likely to appreciate the ability to just press the area of the screen they want magnified, for instance. Overall, though, we didn't find ourselves using the touchscreen anywhere near as much as we had expected. This is partly down to personal preference (after decades doing it 'the old way' a touchscreen on a camera like this just doesn't feel right), but mostly because the G2 has such excellent physical controls that it's almost completely superfluous. We found that accessing menus (such as the Q.Menu) was a little hit and miss (the screen is too small and the icons too close together), but the ability to pick a focus point just by pointing (especially with moving subjects, on a tripod or when shooting movies) is a very useful feature.

Ultimately, the touch screen provides some cool tricks and is certainly fun to play with, but literally the only thing we ever used it for was AF point selection (when shooting a fast-moving toddler or when working on a tripod). It adds little - or nothing - to the handling or ergonomics in most shooting situations (in fact we found trying to use it often got in the way of actually taking pictures), but the ability to effectively point to something on the screen and have the camera focus on it and take a picture (or track it as it moves around the screen) is incredibly useful.

And of course a lot of this is personal opinion - if you've never used an SLR but are a big user of a touch screen phone then I'm sure you'll feel right at home with the the G2 (it's not iPhone responsive, but it's a lot better than most we've tried). There doesn't appear to be much of a premium charged for it, and it doesn't replace any of the existing controls, so on balance, has to be considered a good thing.

Touch the screen anywhere to focus. Sliding your finger up or down the scale that then appears on the right changes the size of the focus area. The same actions can be performed via the four-way controller and control dial if you prefer. Two icons that usually appear on the right of the screen give access to a touch-sensitive version of the Q.Menu or engage touch-shutter mode that focuses and takes a picture when you press the screen. Both options can be switched off if you prefer.
The touch-sensitive Q.Menu allows you to press any of the icons along the top or bottom of the screen. Touch-sensitive regions are clearly marked out in dark gray. A description of the selected setting appears for just over three seconds, obscuring half the icons. The options include a well-implemented exposure compensation scale, though it's rather easier to make large adjustments than it is to make the 0.3EV corrections you're most likely to make. (The control wheel can still be used, though).
Another display option is the interactive display panel as seen in other G series cameras. Only on the G2, pressing on any of the options allows you to change it. Each option gets its own screen with options arranged on a plain background, except for White Balance, which appears over the preview so you can see its effect.
The exposure 'dial' doesn't work so well. You have to press on the center to activate it (even if exp. comp. is already selected via the control dial), then slide your finger around the circle to change the amount. However, the design is directly adapted from older G series cameras, where it wasn't a problem that touching the edge of the circle means your finger completely obscures the display of how much exposure comp you've applied. In playback mode you can scroll through the images by swiping your finger across the screen (right-to-left to see the previous image, which seems like the wrong way round, somehow). Alternatively, pressing the screen in a single place zooms into the image, allowing you to roam around the image by moving your finger.

Record review & play displays

The G2 provides four different display modes in playback, press the DISPLAY button to cycle through them. You can have blinking highlights (this in an option you have to turn on in the setup menu) and RGB histograms and the usual array of shooting information.

1. Full screen image with no information

2. Full screen image with information overlaid. Press the down arrow to mark an image as a 'Favorite'.

3: Small image, full shooting information 4. Small image, basic shooting information and R,G,B and Luminance histograms
Playback zoom (up to 16x) can be activated by turning the control dial to the right or simply by touching the screen (you can also scroll around the magnified image by simply sliding your finger across the screen). Turning the dial to the left allows you to choose from 12 (4x3) or 30 (6x4) thumbnails or use a calendar view to find images shot on a specific date.

Overall handling and operation

With one very obvious difference, the handling of the G2 is very similar to the G1 and GH1, and we would encourage you to check out those reviews here and here if you haven't already. The difference, of course is the touchscreen, which we investigated in detail in the 'operation and controls' section of this review.

Putting the touchscreen aside for a moment, the G2's overall handling experience is excellent. Although unashamedly a DSLR-inspired design, in our opinion the G2 is a much more pleasant camera to use than similarly styled 'bridge' designs like Panasonic's own DMC-FZ35. Its speed is a major factor, but also the EVF matches midrange DSLRs for size and brightness, and the refresh rate is high enough that, after a short period of time, it is easy to forget that it is an electronic rather than optical finder. Like the G1 and GH1, the G2 does live view 'right'.

In the majority of DSLRs, live view still appears a little bit bolted-on, with relatively limited functionality (e.g. autofocus) and no clear idea of its purpose. Even the more integrated systems have come at the expense of traditional DSLR capabilities, such as the viewfinder. By contrast, the G2 behaves exactly like a DSLR despite being built around live view.

Specific handling issues

The G2's headline feature is of course its touch-sensitive LCD screen. In general, we're equivocal on touchscreen technology in cameras, because there are all too many examples out there of poorly integrated screens with too little thought given to how people will actually use them. Too many of the touchscreens that we've seen on digital cameras appear to have been added to enhance their marketability, but not their functionality.

As we've discussed earlier in this review, in our opinion the G2's touchscreen is great for focus point selection but is otherwise largely superfluous in normal use (of course you have the option of completely ignoring it if you'd prefer to get to grips with physical buttons instead). We hope that Panasonic continues to develop touchscreen technology in future G-series models, but we'd be surprised if we see another implementation as conservative as this one.


The G2 is a fast and responsive camera, and in this respect it is exactly what we've come to expect from Panasonic's G-series mirrorless interchangeable lens models. The G1 was the first camera of this type that we tested, and it represented an impressive debut, but the G2 is a worthy successor. Although not notably quicker than its predecessors, the addition of a touchscreen to the G2 changes the ergonomics enough that in some situations (especially when manipulating the single and multipoint AF systems) the G2 is a faster camera to use than the G1 and GF1.

Overall performance

Considering that the G2 operates, in essence, like a compact digital camera, it is impressively fast in general use, and feels very snappy compared to some of its mirrorless competitors. Startup time is all but instantaneous, and from being switched off to capturing an image (including AF acquisition) takes a mere 2 seconds (approx). In single frame advance shooting, shot to shot time is less than a second. Shutter lag is unnoticeable at 0.1 seconds (approx), image review is all but instant after a picture is taken, and zooming into a captured image using the rear control dial is fast and easy. Things are rather more laggy when the touchscreen is used to zoom into captured images, but even then, we don't feel like the G2 is keeping us waiting.

In our review of the original G-series model, the G1, last year, we wrote that we'd used DSLRs that didn't feel as quick as the G1, and that holds true in the latest model as well. Everything, from initiating focus to reviewing a captured image, just feels fast.

Continuous Shooting and buffering

The G2 can manage a maximum frame rate of 3.3 fps in continuous shooting mode, matching the GH1 and fractionally faster than the G1. In raw mode, the G2 sustains approximately the same 3.3 fps maximum frame rate, but can only manage 5 images in a sequence before slowing to allow the buffer to clear. In JPEG mode, burst depths decrease slightly when slower SD cards are used.

Unlike many DSLRs (and some compacts), the G2 does not give any indication of the amount of buffer available during continuous shooting, instead once the buffer is full (using a fast card this pretty much only occurs when shooting RAW) the camera simply slows down its continuous rate. A gauge or 'water tank' type display indicating how much buffer space is available would be useful. The following figures are taken from performance with a Sandisk Extreme III SD card, at ISO 100, in manual mode (iExposure and NR turned off).

  • JPEG (Fine): around 3.3 fps for 42 frames
  • RAW: around 3.3 fps for 5 frames, then around 0.6 fps
  • RAW + JPEG: around 2.5 fps for 4 frames, then about 0.4 fps
  • Recovery time: around 4-6 seconds

Where the G2 adds a trick over its predecessors, though, is in maintaining live view at slightly slower burst rates. This works when the burst rate is set to M or L in menu; we found these options to match Panasonic's specified 2.6 fps and 2 fps rates almost exactly.

Autofocus speed / accuracy

One of the reasons that the G2 feels so snappy is that its AF speed is very impressive indeed. In normal use, the G2's AF feels almost as responsive as a typical midrange DSLR with a kit lens attached. In most shooting conditions, AF acquisition is very speedy, and almost infallibly accurate. Like all contrast-detection AF systems we've used, the G2 does display a momentary 'hunting' when AF is first initiated, but with the 20mm f1.7 pancake lens fitted it takes a mere 0.5 seconds (approx) to alter focus from its nearest focusing distance to a distant object, close to infinity. With the new 14-42mm kit lens, AF is even faster, with the result that to any practical extent, the G2 offers equal or superior AF speed with static subjects to most entry-level DSLRs.

One of the things that differentiates the G2 from its DSLR cousins, of course, is that it can offer full-speed face-detection AF. Whereas in a DSLR, face detection (if it is available at all) must be used in Live View mode, with (typically) slow AF, in the G2, it is just another AF mode, as fast as the rest. Face detection is quick to acquire faces, and as we'd expect from a contrast detection AF system, focusing is highly accurate, too.

The G2's touchscreen can be used to move the AF point/s around the screen. This takes a little getting used to, but greatly increases the versatility of the system in some situations. In single-point AF mode it is also possible to increase and decrease the size of the AF point, using an on screen slider. This is one area (one of the few, in fact) where using the G2's touch-sensitive screen is truly intuitive.

In continuous AF mode, the G2 obviously can't match the likes of the Nikon D300s or Canon EOS 7D for accuracy, but for a contrast-detection AF system, it's about as good as it gets on the market at the moment, and certainly superior to competitors like the Olympus EP-2 and Sony NEX-5, which feel twitchy by comparison.

Camera Menus

The G2 fits its many options onto 20 pages of menus. These are divided into six categories: Record, Motion Picture, Custom Menu, Setup, My Menu and Playback. Although they've been jigged around a bit since the G1, generally you'll find all the options where you'd expect them and, after a short while with the G2, navigating the menus is easy. Note that you get a much smaller subset of menus in full Auto mode.

Record menu

The record menu is very similar indeed to the G1/GH1 (the only significant change being the option to turn on the new Intelligent Resolution feature). In this table and all those that follow the * indicates a material change over the last generation (we haven't marked all the menu items that have moved).

Option Values / Actions Notes
Aspect Ratio • 4:3
• 3:2
• 16:9
• 1:1

- 4000 x 3000/2816 x 2112/2048 x 1536 - 4128 x 2752/2928 x 1952/2064 x 1376
- 4352 x 2448/3072 x 1728/1920 x 1080
- 2992 x 2992/2112 x 2112/1504 x 1504

Picture Size • Large
• Medium
• Small
Quality • Fine
• Standard
• RAW + Fine
• RAW + Standard
RAW mode stores only the maximum number of pixels of your chosen aspect ratio, not necessarily the entire sensor.
Face Recognition • Off
• On
• Memory
• Set
Metering Mode • Multiple
• Center weighted
• Spot
Stabilizer • Mode 1
• Mode 2
• Mode 3
Mode 1 is always active. Mode 2 only when the shutter is pressed. Mode 3 is used when horizontally panning.
Flash • Auto
• Auto with Red-eye correction
• On
• On with Red-eye correction
• Slow sync
• Slow sync with Red-eye correction
D.Red-eye • On
• Off
Camera tries to digitally remove red eyes from images.
Flash Syncro • 1st
• 2nd
Flash fires at start or end of exposure
Flash Adjust +/- 2 EV in 0.3 EV steps
I.Resolution * • Off
• Low
• Standard
• High
i.Exposure • Off
• Low
• Standard
• High
Exposure and contrast are adjusted to compensate for scenes requiring a wide dynamic range
ISO Limit Set • Off
• 200
• 400
• 800
• 1600
Sets the maximum limit to which Auto or i.ISO settings will set the sensitivity.
ISO Increments
• 1 EV
• 1/3 EV
Long Shtr NR
• On
• Off
Takes a second, dark-frame to allow subtraction of long exposure noise
Ex. Opt. Zoom • On
• Off
"Extra Optical Zoom" -only uses part of the sensor, to simulate additional zoom
Digital Zoom • Off
• 2X
• 4X
Digital Zoom - crops the image to simulate additional zoom
Burst Rate • H
• M *
• L
Selects 3.2, 2.6 or 2 fps shooting
Auto Bracket • Steps
3, 5 or 7 frames
1/3 or 2/3 EV steps
• Sequence:
Self-Timer • 10 sec
• 10 sec (3 images)
• 2 sec
Color Space • sRGB
• AdobeRGB
Audio Rec * • On
• Off

Motion picture menu

Option Values / Actions Notes
Rec Mode • AVCHD Lite
• Motion JPEG

Rec Quality

• Rec Mode: AVCHD Lite
• Rec Mode: Motion JPEG

Continuous AF • Off
• On
Exposure Mode • P
• A
• S
• M
This option is only active in creative motion picture mode
Metering Mode • Multiple
• Center weighted
• Spot
i.Exposure • Off
• Low
• Standard
• High
Exposure and contrast are adjusted to compensate for scenes requiring a wide dynamic range
Wind Cut • Off
• Low
• Standard
• High
Reduces wind noise in motion picture recording
Ex. Opt. Zoom • On
• Off
"Extra Optical Zoom" -only uses part of the sensor, to simulate additional zoom
Digital Zoom • Off
• 2X
• 4X
Digital Zoom - crops the image to simulate additional zoom

Custom menu

The main difference here over the G1 is that the Fn button options have moved over from the Setup Menu and that this menu now has options for the iA button and touch screen controls.

Option Values / Actions Notes
Cust. Set Mem. • C1: Set 1
• C2: Set 2
• C3: Set 3
Assigns current settings to one of three custom memories
Fn Button Set * • Focus Area Set
• Aspect Ratio
• Quality
• Metering Mode
• I. Resolution
• I. Exposure
• Ex Optical Zoom
• Guide Line
• Movie/stills Rec Area
• Stills/Movie Remaining display
Histogram • Off
• On
Provides a histogram on the shooting screen
Guide lines • Off
• Thirds
• Center
• Movable

Highlight • Off
• On
AF/AE Lock • AE
• AF
Which parameters are locked by the AL/AE lock button
AF/AE Lock Hold • Off
• On
Is the action of the AF/AE Lock button retained?
Pre AF • Off
• Quick AF
• Continuous AF
Quick AF will start to try to achieve focus when it detects the camera is being held steadily.
Direct Focus Area • Off
• On
On allows the AF point to be moved when in single-point AF mode
Focus Priority • Off
• On
Does the camera wait for focus before allowing shutter release
AF Assist Lamp • Off
• On
AF + MF • Off
• On
Allows manual fine-tuning of focus once AF lock has been achieved
MF Assist • Off
• On
Zooms in the view to allow high-precision manual focus
MF Guide • Off
• On
Displays a rough focus scale when focusing manually
Preview Hold • Off
• On
Is the action of the preview button retained upon button release?
Expo. Meter • Off
• On
Expo. Settings • Switch by pressing front dial
• Switch by holding EVF/LCD button
Dictates how to toggle between the command dial's functions
LVF Disp. Style
• Finder style
• LCD Monitor style
Electronic Viewfinder display style
LCD Disp. Style
• Finder style
• LCD Monitor style
LCD Info. Disp.
• Off *
• 1 (Blue)
• 2 (Red)
• 3 (Black)
Selects the status view color scheme.
• Off
• On
Uses the proximity sensor to switch between EVF and LCD.
iA Button Switch * • Single Press
• Press & Hold
Movie button • Off
• On
Enables/disables the movie button
Rec Area
• Stills
• Movies
Changes the angle of view during motion picture and still picture recording
Remaining Disp • Stills (frames)
• Movies (time)
Switches between number of recordable pictures and available recording time
Touch Q.Menu * • Off
• On
Touch Shutter * • Off
• On
Touch Guide * • Off
• On
Touch Scroll * • H
• L
Dial Guide • Off
• On
Gives cues to the dial's function in the viewfinder after a change
Menu Resume • Off
• On
Menus return to last-used position
Pixel Refresh Start processing
Checks the sensor for malfunctioning pixels
Sensor cleaning Start processing
Shoot W/O Lens • Off
• On

Setup Menu

A lot of the menu items here have been moved around, but apart from that, not much is new.

Option Values / Actions Notes
Clock set • HH:MM, MMM/DD/YYYY
• Date order
• Clock format

World Time • Destination
• Home
Selects your home time zone and that of your current location. (From 33 regions)
Travel Date • Travel setup
• Location
This is for recording which day of your vacation you take a picture
Beep • Muted
• Low
• High
Volume • Level 0 - 6
Monitor • Brightness
+/- 3
• Color and Saturation
+/- 3
LCD Mode • Off
• Auto Power LCD
• Power LCD
Auto mode brightens the LCD when needed. Power LCD brightens at all times.

• Sleep Mode *
1 Min
2 Min
5 Min
10 Min
• Auto LCD Off
15 Sec
30 Sec

Auto review • Review
1 Sec
3 Sec
5 Sec
USB Mode • Select on connection
• PC
Video Out • NTSC
TV Aspect • 16:9
• 4:3
Selects output ratio of video output
HDMI • Auto
• 1080i
• 720p
• 576p
Selects the output from the HDMI port. 480p is selected instead of 576p when NTSC is selected under 'Video Out'
Viera Link • Off
• On
Allows the remote control from a Panasonic Viera TV to control the camera
Scene menu • Off
• Auto
Shows a mode selection menu when mode dial is turned to a scene setting [Example]
Calibration • Cancel
• OK
To calibrate LCD touch response, touch the marked position with the stylus pen.
Language • English
• German
• French
• Spanish
• Italian
• Polish
• Czech
• Hungarian
• Dutch
• Turkish
• Portuguese
• Finnish
• Danish
• Swedish
• Japanese
Version Disp. • Body Firmware version
• Lens Firmware version
No.Reset • Reset File No. in the camera?
Reset • Reset Rec Settings?
• Reset Setup/Custom Parameters?
Options are presented sequentially
Format • Yes
• No

My Menu

The G2's My Menu isn't quite as sophisticated as the custom menu we've seen on some DSLRs, but it is perhaps more useful to the average user as it simply remembers the five most recently used menu items, and thus in most cases shows the settings you change most often.

Playback menu

A couple of new options here, mainly concerning video capture and the new Favorites feature.

Option Values / Actions Notes
Slide Show

Choose one of the following first:
• All
• Picture only
• Video only
• Category Selection
• Favorite *

Then pick from these options:
• Start
• Effect
Slow *
• Duration
1 sec
2 sec
3 sec
5 sec
• Repeat
• Sound *

Playback Mode • Normal play
• Picture play
• AVCHD Lite play
• Motion JPEG play
• Category play *
Title edit • Single
• Multi
Add text comments to images
Text stamp • Single
• Multi
'Stamp' image information onto a picture
Video Divide (Select movie) Allows you to divide a video in two
Resize • Single
• Multi
Cropping (Select image)
Aspect Conv • 3:2
• 4:3
• 1:1
Converts 16:9 images to other aspect ratios
Rotate (Select image)
Rotate Disp. • Off
• On
Is the image rotated on playback
Favorite • Off
• On
• Cancel
When enabled allows you to mark images as favorites by simply pressing the up arrow.
Print Set • Single
• Multi
• Cancel
Protect • Single
• Multi
• Cancel
Face Rec Edit • Replace
• Edit
Replaces or erases face recognition data in an image

Raw and Raw Conversion

Supplied software

The DMC-G2 is supplied with a Software CD containing:

  • PHOTOfunStudio Viewer 3.1 HD Edition (Windows) - A photo browser / editor with some basic workflow functionality (also includes a tray icon automatic import tool). While PHOTOfunStudio Viewer was able to view GF1 RAW files it couldn't convert them to JPEG and wasn't able to display all exposure information (i.e. it clearly didn't fully support the GF1). This latest version of the software also offers some HD video editing.
  • SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE (Windows / Mac OS X) - SilkyPix is a RAW conversion application developed by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory which is probably better known in Japan. SilkyPix provides a wide range of advanced RAW conversion options including adjustable noise reduction, lens aberration correction and rotation / perspective correction.

As with other Lumix models the G2 ships with a special (fully featured) edition of SILKYPIX, a rather quirky, though surprisingly well-featured, raw development application for Windows and Mac. The (on-screen) manual is very comprehensive, but doesn't really explain the features very well, and first-time users may find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options on offer. This isn't helped by the slightly dodgy translations and the plethora of sliders with names that don't really indicate what they actually do. But there is lots here to get stuck into, and the default settings produce perfectly acceptable results.

But after some experimentation and adapting you'll discover that the SILKYPIX can produce far superior results - and can be fine-tuned to produce output that suits your own needs / tastes. In fact there's easily as much tweaking on offer than you get with Adobe Camera Raw, and compared to what you get with most cameras it's hard to complain.

You can save parameter sets (for some reason you put them in the 'cloakroom', but hey ho) once you've found out what works for you, which combined with batch processing and extensive output options (TIFF or JPEG), takes some of the grind out of the business of developing large numbers of raw files.

SILKYPIX has a comprehensive feature set, though the lack of any meaningful documentation (and occasionally incomprehensible menu options) mean it can take a while to really feel comfortable and to find your way around. It's not all hard work; drop down menus allow you to quickly choose presets for basic parameters (exposure, white balance, sharpness, tone, color and so on); a great starting place if you're new to the business of raw conversion.
The Color Mode menu offers presets that mimic different films (apparently 'Memory color 1 and 2' are designed to produce color that more closely matches how you remember the scene. Now that is clever). Dig a little deeper, beyond the presets, and SILKYPIX offers almost limitless tweaking opportunities, certainly enough to satisfy even the most advanced user. In fact you can easily end up spending way too long trying the different sliders.

RAW conversion

As is normal in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. In the case of the G2 we used the supplied SilkyPix, Adobe Camera RAW 6.1 and Bibble Pro 5.1. We also tried Graphic Converter, which provides a handy GUI for DCRaw on the Mac platform (these files were converted without sharpening and sharpened / saved to JPEG in Photoshop CS5).

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
  • SilkyPix - SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 (Default settings)
  • Bibble Pro - Bibble Pro 5.1 (Default settings)
  • ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 6.1 (Adobe Standard Profile)
  • DCRaw - DCRaw (running in Graphic Converter 6.7.2, Mac)

Color reproduction

Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using a the supplied RAW converter and ACR. Unusually there's quite a difference between the default color output produced by SilkyPix and the in-camera JPEG - in fact with the deeper blues and overall higher saturation it looks a lot more like ACR.

Sharpness and Detail

There's not a huge difference, but the most detailed image was produced by DCRaw running in Graphic Converter (with a bit of Photoshop sharpening), followed closely by Bibble and ACR (running a near third despite the lower sharpening). By default the supplied software (SilkyPix) produces output that's very close to the camera JPEGs. You can obviously eke a little more detail out of the sensor by shooting raw if you play around with the sharpening settings, but the real benefit is going to be in the flexibility offered by raw files when it comes to color, white balance and noise reduction.

SilkyPix Developer Studio -> TIFF (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
Adobe ACR 6.1 RAW ->JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
Bibble Pro 5.1 RAW ->JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
DCRaw (Graphic Converter) ->TIFF (Photoshop USM & Save to JPEG)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera, High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop


These crops demonstrate that more detail is available from the RAW converters than can be obtained from JPEG. That said, a lot of this detail could be described as 'false' (produced beyond Nyquist), although frankly the majority of the time this is useful as it improves the appearance of 'texture'. The ACR output looks a little softer than the other Raw converters. Again, Graphic Converter and Bibble Pro produce the highest resolution output.

JPEG from camera SilkyPix Developer Studio (RAW)
Adobe Camera RAW 6.1 (RAW) Bibble Pro 5.1 RAW
DCRaw (Graphic Converter) (RAW)

Real world advantages

As with most cameras the advantages to shooting raw with the G2 are mainly concerned with the increased post-processing flexibility and color / white balance / tonality and (to a certain extent) exposure. If you're looking for the absolute maximum detail at a pixel level, however, you'll also want to shoot raw, as the G2's JPEG engine - in common with most Panasonic's we've tested - doesn't really make the most of the sensor's capabilities, and can produce rather smudgy results in low contrast situations. As the quick example below shows you can retain texture (at a pixel level) a lot better if you manually tweak the settings in ACR, bypassing the G2's overaggressive noise reduction and less than optimal demoasicing.

JPEG from Camera
(default sharpening)
ACR 6.2 conversion
(Sharpening 23, radius 0.7, detail 45)
100% crop 100% crop

At higher ISOs (1600 up) the G2's Venus engine tends to obliterate fine detail and can smear colors, even at the lowest setting. Although you're always going to have the noise itself to contend with there's no doubt that shooting raw and using Adobe's latest ACR (6.1 or higher) gives you a lot more control over how you deal with it. It's up to you to decide what balance of noise and detail you're happiest with.

JPEG from Camera (ISO 3200)
(default sharpening)
ACR 6.2 conversion (ISO 3200)
(Sharpening 21, radius 0.7, detail 25, Luminance NR 3 / Detail 50, Color NR 25 / 50)

Even at ISO 800 the G2's JPEG engine (using the default settings) produces unpleasant noise and noise reduction artefacts in shadows, particularly in skin tones. ACR lets you go for a grainy but clean look (or, if you prefer, to obliterate noise altogether).

JPEG from Camera (ISO 800) 100% crop
(default sharpening)
ACR 6.2 conversion (ISO 800) 100% crop
(Luminance NR 6 / 50, Color NR 28 / 50)

RAW headroom (Dynamic Range)

As we saw when reviewing the G1 and GF1, the G2 delivers virtually all its usable dynamic range in JPEG images, and there's little headroom in the highlights if you do get clipping on bright days (or due to exposure errors). There's maybe half a stop of fully usable headroom, but the general rule is that if it looks clipped in the JPEG, it's probably clipped in the raw file too. Taking the exposure compensation further than about -1.0EV tends to produce color errors (or more usually, the lack of any color information at all) in extreme highlights.

You can, of course, use a more gentle curve to reduce the abruptness of the clipping (and Photoshop's recovery slider can help with very contrasty scenes), but if it wasn't captured, you can't get it back. As the examples below show, there's a point beyond which no amount of raw exposure compensation will bring back useful highlight information.

A modest exposure compensation (-1.0EV) has helped this shot (though there are still clipped areas)

Camera JPEG Adobe Camera RAW with -1.0 EV digital comp.
100% Crop 100% crop

But the highlights in the next two examples are too over-exposed to recover, and the clipped areas simply turn grey.

Camera JPEG Adobe Camera RAW with -2.0 EV digital comp.
100% Crop 100% crop
Camera JPEG Adobe Camera RAW with -2.0 EV digital comp.

Shooting raw does give you exposure flexibility, but the lack of dynamic range means that its usefulness will vary from shot to shot, according to how clipped (if at all) the highlights are.

Camera JPEG Adobe Camera RAW with -1.55 EV digital comp.

Sphere: Related Content


Recent Post

Recent Comment