Panasonic GH2

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 ($999.95 with 14-42 lens – also seen for $499.95 ) is a Micro Four Thirds camera with a resolution of 16.2 megapixels for both still photos and video. While very similar to High Definition Single-Lens Reflex (HDSLR) cameras, this is not an HDSLR because there is no optical reflex viewing system, no mirror or prism.

Micro Four Thirds has the same image sensor size and specs as the Four Thirds system, designed for DSLRs. Unlike Four Thirds, Micro Four Thirds or MFT does not provide space for a mirror or a prism. This allows smaller bodies to be designed, and a shorter flange focal distance and hence smaller lenses to be designed.




The MOS sensor is 0.68 by 0.51 inches with a maximum image resolution of 4608×3456. A supersonic wave system removes dust from the sensor.

Lenses

With the right adapter, any lens can be used on an MFT camera body as long as it has an aperture ring. With some lenses you will lose autofocus. For macro photography this doesn’t make a difference. With a Nikon 200mm f/4, you will either get a 2:1 reproduction or a 1:1 reproduction with twice the depth of field. It is like using a teleconverter without the loss of light or depth of field.

The continuous autofocus is fast and works well for filming. How fast depends upon the lens, but you probably won’t notice it because it is fast enough. Extra Tele Convert (ETC) Mode in Video is a cool feature which mulitplies focal length without adding f stops. This means that a 100-300mm lens becomes a 520-1560mm with no light loss. A Nikon 135mm f2 lens becomes a 702mm f2 lens for video. There is a $250 MFT-compatible 3D lens with a 65mm (equivalent) focal length and fixed f12 aperture. You’ll need a lot of light and careful focus to shoot 3-D with this lens.

Video & Audio

The GH2 captures full 1920×1080 pixels either progressive at 24p or 30p or interlaced at 60i, it does do 60p but only in 720p mode (1280×720). The GH1 (unhacked) does 1920×1080 in 60i or 1280×720 in 60p. While the GH2 captures 60 full progressive fps, it can only save video at 60 interlaced frames a second (60i), or at 24p. The GH2 also features a variable movie mode to control the speed of video from 80% to 300%.

Video is saved as AVCHD files and can record as much as the memory card can hold. Unlike HDSLRs, this camera has a dedicated video button and a built in-stereo microphone. The audio is Dolby Stereo. The viewfinder will display on-screen VU meters while recording. You can turn off automatic (audio) gain and manually set the gain level.

Viewing

The 3-inch LCD screen has a 460k pixel resolution. It is articulated and hinged so you can view it from almost any angle. The LCD screen is also a touch screen used to control camera functions. They did a good job with it because it is very intuitive. The electronic viewfinder is not as bright and clear as an optical reflex system with movable mirror, but electronic viewfinders are probably the way of the future. The electronic viewfinder or EVF has “eye detect” system which automatically turns off when your eye is not viewing it and can be manually controlled.

The High-Definition Multimedia Interface or HDMI out to an external monitor can show you operational graphics or not as you prefer.

Storage is on SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards. Most people find this camera easy to operate. It’s available in black or gray. The suffix “K” indicates a black body and the suffix “S” indicates a gray body.




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