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Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Introduction

 

 

Touch screen control and affordability sum up Panasonic's two new G2 and G10 models

I first saw the prototype Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, the first Micro Four Thirds hybrid mirror-less interchangeable lens system camera, back in June 2008. It was launched in September of that year and is now 18 months old - an age for a digital camera. Since then Olympus and Panasonic have, between them, produced six Micro Four Thirds cameras, and today Panasonic unveils the 7th and 8th models; the G2 and G10.

Incidentally, the UK's Focus on Imaging show, which opens today, has a scoop with the new G2 and G10 as they were originally scheduled to be announced in a couple of days time at the CP+ show in Japan. But lobbying of its HQ in Osaka by Panasonic UK successfully resulted in the launch being brought forward to coincide with the opening of the Focus show today, and Panasonic's first attendance at the show as an exhibitor.

Panasonic has made substantial changes to its original DMC-G1 Micro Four Thirds camera, producing two new successor models that, at a glance, look very similar to the G1. There is also a new, cheaper to make, 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that replaces the 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6.(or maybe not according to Panasonicstaff when asked to clarify this).

Here is a short video clip of the G2's touch screen in action. (update - see an improved clip showing the touch screen in action.)

The G2 is a high-specification model, with a new articulating touch-sensitive screen, and the G10 is a low-cost model that loses the articulating screen and high resolution electronic viewfinder of the G1. The G2 will be available in black, blue and red colours, while the G10 will only be available in black. Although the G10 has been feature-stripped in order to cut costs, Panasonic says the build quality and finish of the G10 is the same as the more expensive G2.

Comparisons of the new G2 and G10 with the old G1 (click to enlarge)

Logically, I'd expect the G10 to be more affordable than the current G1, while the G2 will probably fit in between the G1 and video-optimised GH1. Neither of the two new models have the GH1's much-praised over-size multi-aspect ratio sensor, though they do both benefit from a next-generation dual-core Venus Engine HD2 image processor. The ISO range of both new models has been extended to ISO 6400, and have a slightly faster continuous shooting rate of 3.2 frames per second compared to the G1 at 3 frames per second. Face recognition - not to be confused with face detection - is also standard on both models, enabling you to program the camera to recognise a particular person's face.

Touch

Only the G2 gets touch-screen control. You can move the AF point to the required position in the frame with your finger by touching and dragging icons on the screen. You can even configure the camera to shoot by touching a shutter icon on the screen. If you touch the Q.MENU icon on the screen, icons on the screen become touch-sensitive. You can select and adjust functions by touch, bypassing laborious multiple key-presses. The on-screen aperture and shutter speed scale, introduced with the GF1, can now be controlled by touch. If you want to avoid accidentally triggering the touch modes, you can hide the touch activation icon. Touch is also applied to playback, so you can slide your finger across the screen to drag the next photo into view, iPod/iPhone-style.

LCD screen and EVF revisions

While the G10 will only have a fixed LCD screen, it's the same size and resolution as the G1, G2 and GH1; 3 inch diagonal, 460K dots, and 3:2 aspect ratio. Probably the most painful sacrifice of the G10 is its electronic viewfinder. It only has a resolution of 202K dots (67.3K pixels) similar in specification to the GF1's optional detachable electronic finder. It's also smaller to view than the G1/G2/GH1 1.44 mega-dot (480K pixels). The G10 is very light as it doesn't have an articulating screen and Panasonic says it's the lightest interchangeable lens camera with an eye-level viewfinder on the market.

Audio and video

The G10 will shoot Motion JPEG video, but not AVCHD Lite, while the G2 will shoot either. The key advantages of AVCHD over Motion JPEG are smaller files for the same given recording time, and longer continuous clip lengths. Simple editing functions are now possible with movies in the camera. You can split a clip and extract stills from clips. Both the G2 and G10 are limited to mono on-board microphones, though the G2's is Dolby-enhanced. The good news for prospective G2 users is that it has a socket for an external stereo microphone, like the GH1.

New controls

The G2 has a revised focus mode selector knob on the left (viewed from behind) compared to the G1 and the G10. Manual focus, continuous AF, and single-shot AF modes are now selectable via a lever. The knob now selects the enhanced focus modes; Face detection, focus tracking, 23-point focus mode, and centre AF point mode. A dedicated intelligent Auto (iA) button is featured on both the G2 and the G10, while the G2 gets a dedicated video record button, but the G10 doesn't.

New kit lens

The new 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens with redesigned optics is notable by a smaller front element, and a plastic lens mount. Mega OIS in-lens stabilisation is retained, but there is no Mega OIS switch on the lens any more; the mode is selectable from a camera menu. Although the new kit lens has been designed to cut costs, Panasonic say that optical performance is as good as the original 14-45mm kit zoom. Meanwhile, Panasonic claims that its contrast detection autofocus system is now as fast as conventional DSLR phase detect autofocus, and twice as accurate.

New lenses previewed

Finally, Panasonic has shown mock-ups of its planned 100-300 tele zoom, 14mm pancake, and 8mm fisheye lenses.

Initial thoughts

There is no doubt that the G2 is a very exciting addition to the Micro Four Thirds ranks. Its touch screen reinforces Panasonic's reputation for innovation, and the inclusion of video in both models is very welcome.The G10 needs to be very competitively priced for its economies to be viewed as value for money; especially with the switch from Panasonic's excellent high resolution electronic viewfinder to a smaller and much less refined one.

 

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Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early

Four Thirds User editorial team Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Panasonic has just launched two new Micro Four Thirds hybrid mirror-less interchageable lens cameras... (more)

bilzmale Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Another from Singapore.... (more)

Ian Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
G2 and G10 pre production samples are on the Panasonc Lumix booth here at Focus on Imaging. The G... (more)

John Perriment Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Interesting developments, but consolidation rather than innovation. Not enough to get me to upgrade ... (more)

sonyhome Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Argh! When and how much??? I hope they do aggressive pricing so the mFT picks up - and I pick ... (more)

Ian Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
The G2 won't be available until June. Panasonic doesn't permit the use of a Four Thirds extension... (more)

hschnee Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
There is one additional bit of lens "incompatibility" that seems often overlooked--Panasonic use len... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Especially given their own optical IS doesn't seem to give the same benefit as other optical IS s... (more)

Ian Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Actually, I feel the Panasonic system is pretty good, certainly on a par with Canon and Nikon's s... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
My knowledge is based on the fourthirds lenses - the gain is about 2 stops in practice. E.g: [... (more)

hschnee Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Regardless of how good it is, it only works with the few Panasonic lenses that include it, which lea... (more)

sonyhome Re: Panasonic unveils its new G2 and G10 models early
Maybe panasonic bodies should have IS, but allow a lens OIS override, so that large teles can get su... (more)