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Panasonic GF2 previewed

Smaller, lighter, and easier to use

Panasonic has released details of the replacement for its best-selling GF1 Micro Four Thirds hybrid, or compact system, camera. The new GF2 won't be available until the latter part of January next year, but journalists in the UK had plenty of pre-production samples to play with at the press launch this week. The GF2 is 19% smaller - indeed it is the smallest interchangeable lens digital camera with a built in flash - and easier to use, and borrows the concept of a touch screen from its G2 stablemate, although the 3 inch screen is fixed rather than articulating.

This side by side view of the GF2 (right) next to the original GF1 (left) demonstrates the less tall and wide design. In the foreground is the new 14mm (28mm 135 format equivalent) f/2.5 pancake lens that will be offered as one of the lenses bundled with the GF2.

Key features of the GF2 include full HD (1920x1080) video recording capability, with built in stereo microphones, a 3 inch 480,000 dot touch screen and enhanced icon-driven front end user interface, Panasonic's 3-core Venus Engine FHD image processor already used in the soon to be released Lumix GH2, as well as the LX5 compact, a new pop-up flash mechanism that places the flash higher than before to avoid unwanted shading by long lenses, aluminium body chassis, simpler controls to help users upgrading from compact and bridge cameras. There is also a new ever-ready case (ERC).

The view of the view of the GF2's rear (right) reveals less buttons, which Panasonic believes will simplify the camera's use in conjunction with the touch screen. Also note the removal of the mode knob on the original GF1 (left). The GF1's DMW-LVF1 clip-on electronic viewfinder is compatible with the GF2, although there is no higher resolution alternative offered.

Panasonic will manufacture a choice of colours and the UK will get silver, black, and red. White and pink will be available in other markets. Three kits will be available in the UK, bundling the 14mm f/2.5 pancake (599.99 guide price), or the 14-42mm standard kit zoom (629.99 guide price), or or with both these lenses (729.99 guide price). There are no plans to offer the GF2 without a lens. The GF2 also has a new, more compact, battery, but with the more efficient Venus Engine FHD Panasonic reports a slightly higher shooting capacity compared to the GF1.

Note the perforations to the right of the hot shoe that give away the location of the built in stereo microphones serving the GF2's full 1080HD high AVCHD high definition video recording capability. Instead of the mode selector knob there is an illuminated Intelligent Auto (iA) button. Other modes can be selected via the touch screen.

In the brief time that I had hands-on with a pre-production GF2, I found the on-screen user interface positive to use. The GF2 definitely feels more compact than its predecessor, especially with the 14mm pancake fitted. The original GF1 proved to be a popular alternative camera for experienced photographers but Panasonic is really aiming the GF2 at people upgrading from compacts. It will be interesting to see if the simpler design of the GF2 proves to be as popular with those who were attracted to the GF1. It will be over two months before the GF2 goes on sale and it definitely misses the 2010 Christmas market.

The GF2's touch screen, which is a resistive type instead of the more sensitive iPhone-style capacitive type, proves its worth with this feature that lets you adjust the background blur, or depth of field, without having to juggle aperture, shutter speed, and even ISO settings.

GF2s lined up for journalists to sample at this week's press introduction.

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Panasonic GF2 previewed

Four Thirds User editorial team Panasonic GF2 previewed
We've had some time with Panasonic's replacement for the popular Lumix GF1; the new GF2, but you wil... (more)

John Perriment Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Another step in the development of MFT. When you get this small shaving a few millimetres off the di... (more)

Ian Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Ha! I was offered wine with my lunch but declined it *LOL Maybe you will see a lot of 14mm f/2.5 ... (more)

Kurt Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
I don't know what to think now. I intended to get a GF1 with 20mm pancake shortly (having sold my Ni... (more)

John Perriment Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Hi Ian, I would imagine that at these events it's best to decline the alcohol and keep a clear... (more)

dalexa Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
well, for me it's a bit of a disappointment. i was looking for a l1 look in gf2 and it turned out l... (more)

DennisP Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Ian - Will there be an electronic viewfinder available for the camera which clips in the flash shoe?... (more)

fluffy Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Alas this is always the Panasonic has sold their mFTs and might always be. Yes, it is very stupid... (more)

click-click Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Smaaaalll... Any word on the price?... (more)

Ian Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
The marketing is locally tailored, so the GF2 may be available as body only in other territories.... (more)

Ned Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
The accessory port was present like on the GF-1, so I would assume yes. :)... (more)

alansky Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Since Panasonic's LVF-2 electronic viewfinder for the GF1 also works on the new LX5, it probably wor... (more)

hschnee Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
I checked the (U.S.) B&H Photo website. No pricing yet, but they are showing the GF-2 as body only, ... (more)

alansky Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Hopefully, this will be the case. The 14mm f/2.5 is too wide for a walk-around lens, and the 14-4... (more)

Ian Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
Yes (I mentioned this in my preview) but the Panasonic bolt-on finder is very low resolution, onl... (more)

Kurt Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
I have crossed my fingers and dived in and bought the GF2 with 20mm lens.... (more)

AdrianF Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
This looks like a nice way of buying the 14mm 2.5. Ian, I noticed that the AF/AE lock button on th... (more)

Design Re: Panasonic GF2 previewed
I agree with your lens critique. I was interested in what lens you would recommend as a "walk around... (more)

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