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Panasonic Lumix GH2 First Impressions Review$849.99
As well as all the auto modes described on the page before, the GH2 offers a full selection of manual modes, including shutter and aperture priority modes and a full manual mode. When in full manual mode, the control dial on the back top right corner of the camera body works for both aperture and shutter control; you switch between them by pressing it in. This is a little less convenient than having two separate control dials, but it is quite convenient for shooting with the viewfinder: with a little practice, it is easy to control both aperture and shutter with the thumb without looking away from the viewfinder.
The GH1 was a very quick focusing camera, and the GH2 looks to better that: in our limited time with the camera at Photokina, we found the focus to be extremely quick and responsive. This is probably partly due to Panasonic changing the way it grabs the images it uses to test the focus: it can grab 120 images a second, double the 60 of the GH1. We'll have to wait to get a review unit in to draw any final conclusions, but it looks like a definite improvement on what was already a quick camera.
Three focus modes are on offer: AFC, AFS and MF. AFC continuously focuses the camera while shooting images, while AFS focuses the camera only once when you press the shutter halfway down. MF provides manual focus, where you focus the camera by rotating the front element of the lens.
The GH2 offers an impressive ISO range of 100 up to 12800, while the GH1 maxed out at 3200. It remains to be seen how much noise there is at the higher ISO levels: we found the GH1 to be somewhat noisy above 800.
There are no big surprises (both good or bad) for the white balance settings of this camera, with 5 presets, a full auto mode and the ability to directly enter a color temperature in degrees kelvin. There are also 4 custom memory locations, which is very useful if you often shoot in locations with mixed lighting that might confuse the auto or presets.
Exposure & Metering
The GH2 offers three metering modes: Intelligent Multiple, Center Weighted and Spot. Intelligent manual is Panasonics name for the evaluative mode, which meters 144 zones of the image and decides which spots to use, compensating for backlight, etc. Up to 3 stops of exposure compensation can applied to the image, in 1/3 of a stop steps.
The fastest shutter speed of this camera is a zippy 1/4000 of a second, with the range stretching out to a maximum of 60 seconds.
The aperture range of the camera depends on the lens that is used, but there are two options to buy as a kit: a 14-42mm lens with an aperture range of f/3.5-5.6, or a 14-140mm zoom with a range of f/4.0-5.8.
The GH2 includes Panasonics own MEGA optical image stabilization, which moves an element of the lens in response to camera shake. This approach means that the stabilization system has to be built into the lens, but controlled by the camera, which means it won't work with lenses from other manufacturers.
Picture Quality & Size Options
The GH2 offers a range of image sizes, ranging from the maximum of 4608 by 3456 down to a minimum size of 1792 by 1792. Aspect ratio fans will note something interesting there: the GH2 has an option to shoot 1:1 aspect ratio images as well as the more common 4:3 and 16:9. This will definitely appeal to those who have fond memories of their old medium format cameras.
A handful of special effect modes are on offer on the GH2: you can apply a smoothing effect, make images look more vibrant or more contrasty and even apply one of three black and white effects.