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283 of 296 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best All Around Camera On The Planet
Now I know that is a bold statement and I intend to back it up. However, before I do I need to explain what I mean. I am not saying this camera is the best at everything or even anyone thing. Cameras that are the best at something are usually specialized beasts that can really only do that one thing well. What I am talking about is a camera the is so good in so many...
Published on December 17, 2010 by shuTTL3bus

versus
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great video, not so great stills but a good all around performer
I needed to do a small video project and the GH2 + 14-42mm seemed the best value. I decided to try it because I had good experience in the past with the Panasonic FZ series. My current camera is a DSLR (Pentax K-5).

The good:
- video looks is really excellent and it's much easier to use an EVF for this. It's no secret that the GH2 is highly rated amongst...
Published on June 17, 2012 by EnsH


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283 of 296 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best All Around Camera On The Planet, December 17, 2010
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2KK 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lens (Black) (Camera)
Now I know that is a bold statement and I intend to back it up. However, before I do I need to explain what I mean. I am not saying this camera is the best at everything or even anyone thing. Cameras that are the best at something are usually specialized beasts that can really only do that one thing well. What I am talking about is a camera the is so good in so many categories that it can joyfully be used for just about and photographic or video graphic purpose you may have. The GH2 is that camera.

Now that is out of the way we can get to the meat and potatoes of the review. I shoot mostly Nikon and Panasonic and I primarily shoot stills. I dabble in Video but do not proclaim myself any sort of an expert. I can say if you are looking for the best handling combo/cam with the most features then the GH2 is the one you want. Panasonic went out of its way to make this a video camera so that was its primary focus with this camera. However, there are lots of payoffs for the stills part of this camera so this is the best m4/3 stills camera by a long shot also. I will also say that the hard core video market is a niche market compared to the stills market because shallow depth of field video is hard to shoot properly and hard to edit. The average home user has neither the time nor inclination to properly storyboard and shoot this type of video. However, with that said, it is really nice to be able to shoot stills and video. And basic home videos are a snap to shoot with this camera; much more so than any other DSLR with the exception of the Sony SLT A55/33 which at least has a fast auto focus also. To shoot nice home movies, put the mode dial to iA, press the red button, and you are shooting video.

This camera is the next generation of cameras as it successfully blends the advantages of Point and Shoot cameras with the benefits of DSLRs and creates and incredibly small and powerful camera. Listed below are some of the benefits and weakness you get from this next gen camera.

What's Hot

The handling on the GH2 is bar none the best handling "DSLR" on the market. WIth smart controls, great layout, fast autofocusing, swivel screen, full time double live view, etc. Even with how good the D7000 is, it still feels clunky after using the GH2. I get into most of the details of this down below so I don't want to repeat the info here. What I will say here is that you can do things with this camera you couldn't hope to do with DSLRs and you can generally set up your photo parameters much faster with this camera. The menus on the GH2 are not very good. However, the actual camera controls are so good you will rarely even need to use the menus.

Program Shift - Forget using Aperture priority with this camera. You can leave the camera in Program mode. With program shift you can change the aperture setting and thus the shutter speed while in program mode. To do this you press the shutter release button down half way to set the exposure. Then if the numbers are in yellow you just rotate the rear dial switch to change aperture. Want a shallower depth of field or faster shutter speed, then dial in a bigger aperture (smaller number). If the numbers are not in yellow then you are currently in exposure compensation mode. All you have to do is click the rear dial switch and then rotate it. Snap. What a neat feature.

Extra Tele Convert (ETC) Mode in Video - If you shoot video you are going to love this. This is even great for home/casual video shooters. The GH2 has a 16mp sensor but like every other consumer combo/cam shoots 2K video. That means the picture is usually down-sampled to make it 2K. This has some pluses and minuses. Enter the GH2. With the ETC mode the camera uses only 2K of the sensor. This gives you an extra 2.6x crop factor. Which means your total crop factor is now 5.2x. So that brand spanking new 100-300mm you just got is now 520-1560mm with no light loss. If you put a Nikon 135mm f2 then you now have a 702mm f2! lens for video. There are some drawbacks for using ETC also but they are pretty negligible.

Auto focus - the auto focus on the GH2 is twice as fast as the GH1 and the GH1 was the fastest of previous generation. I have seen some very knowledgeable photographers saying it is as fast as mid-level DSLRs. While I think it is supposed to be a complement I don't think it is a very good comparison. I find the focus speed of DSLRs has most to do with what lens you have on. There are some lenses that focus slowly on even a D3. All of the lenses I have used on the GH1 focus very quickly except the 45-200mm. That lens tends to be my slowest. Non of the lenses I have focus as fast as a 70-200mm f/2.8 but the rest of them focus as fast if not faster than any of the other Nikon lenses I own. The best I can say about this is that you won't notice the focus speed on the GH2 as it is fast enough to get out of your way.

Smaller lighter camera - I recently went on a trip to Egypt and carried nothing but my Panasonic gear. Two camera bodies, 5 lenses, 1 flash, an iPad, and camera bag. Total weight 10lbs (3lbs of that was the bag itself). My Nikon D300 and 14-24mm lens would have weight more just by themselves (I was carrying the Panasonic 7-14mm so I did have wide covered)

Swivel Screen with full-time live view - You won't know what you are missing until you become used to this and how well it works. Want to reach up as high as you can and shoot down; No problems. Want to get as low as possible but can't lay down in the mud or water; No problem. Want to take a picture of you and your daughter but there is nobody around; No problem. Turn the screen around aim the camera at you and use the screen to frame. Something that makes photos interesting is showing the viewer something from a perspective they don't often see. The swivel screen actively encourages this. The other thing the swivel screen does is make shooting from a tripod a joy. Because of how small and light this camera is you can use a much smaller tripod. I have a 3lb tripod that can support 7lbs. Also, you can now set you camera up in all sorts of whacky positions and just rotate the screen to be able to frame and focus. Very nice. Also, with no mirror to flip up you don't have to worry about any vibrations.

Touch Focus implemented as slick as on the iPhone. As I mentioned above you can shoot from many strange angles because you can swivel the screen to almost any angle. However, if the camera did not focus on what you wanted it would be hard to change it. Now you can simply touch the screen on what you want to focus and presto it will focus on that. The GH2 is worth the price just for that.

WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get. Since you are looking at either the screen or the beautiful EVF, you are seeing what the sensor sees. With a DSLR you are seeing what the lens sees. This is an important difference. If you forgot to reset your WB or Aperture or any camera setting, you will see it before you shoot. On a DSLR you would have no idea until you looked at the pictures. Also, if it is a low light situation, the EVF will start to noise up and start to lose some of its smoothness. This is a warning to you that you need to use flash or a tripod. With a DSLR the viewer becomes darker but you don't get a very good visual cue of how your camera is seeing it. For me the most brilliant thing with WYSIWYG is setting exposure. Because I can see what the camera is doing with exposure, I usually leave the camera in P mode. Then I change the exposure by changing where I aim the camera, lock the exposure and then reframe for the subject. It works something like this. I am trying to take a picture of a person but the exposure is picking up to many bright objects, thereby dimming my subject. So, I aim the camera to include more dark areas while keeping my subject in the shoot. Then I press the shutter release button down half way to lock the exposure and focus. Then I reframe back to the original photo. This works so quickly you can try several exposures in less time than you could set one with the exposure compensation dial (which is actually exceedingly well executed on this camera also.) In a DSLR, since you don't see the exposure, you are just basically guessing at what you want and then shooting, view the photo and fix. Much slower.

Shoot about any lens you want - The distance from the lens to sensor is so short, that with the appropriate adaptor, you can put just about any lens you want on this camera. Canon, Nikon, Leica, Voigtlander, Pentax, Sony, you can use them all. Generally you need to use lenses which have aperture rings. Additionally, you do lose autofocus but there are many instances where this just doesn't matter. Macro photography is a good example. You can fit a Nikon 200mm f/4 onto the GH2 and then either get a 2:1 reproduction or a 1:1 reproduction with twice the depth of field. It is like putting on a teleconverter without the loss of light and depth of field. Brilliant.

Great for Newbies - All DSLRs are easy for anyone to use and the GH2 is no exception. The great handling makes the GH2 better for newbies in my opinion. Anyway, all you have to do is put the camera into iA mode and start shooting. This camera gets the subject correct more often then not and will make you look good. In dynamic situation, I actually use the iA mode quite a bit. I do this because the camera is good a recognizing as scene as a person, flower, scenery, etc. The camera then instantly sets numerous setting to make that scene look as good as possible. If you tried to do it yourself it could take a few minuets to set and then a few to set back. Or even worse you forget to reset it and you next pictures look bad. If I have time, then I will set the camera myself. My daughter has been using the GH1 since she was 2. Here hit rate initially was only about 10% usable picture and 1% good pictures. Her hit rate now is about 70% usable pictures and 20% good pictures with about 5% really nice pictures. She has such a different perspective that it is really interesting to see how she views the world.

Image Quality - I am reluctant to put this in the review because all modern cameras have such good IQ that it really is not relevant in most cases and any discussion encourages pixel peeping instead of photo making. I will say, if you are using this camera to make pictures to view on your monitor, or publish on the web, or print 8x10s this camera will more than meet your needs and if you do your part make some really nice photos. The GH1 has been my go to camera for the past two years and I have made some amazing pictures with it. The GH2 is better. You can argue the merits of FX vs DX vs M4/3 until you are blue in the face but the fact of the matter is it just doesn't matter in todays age and each year it continues to matter less and less. All cameras have their limitations and part of being a good photographer is know what those are and shooting around them. As far as ISO goes, with the GH1, ISO 800 was the highest I would shoot except in an emergency. With the GH2, ISO 1600 shoots clean (better than 800 on GH1) and 3200-6400 are perfectly usable.

Stills while shooting Video - The GH1 would not let you take a still photo while shooting video. The GH2 allows you to take a 14mp 16x9 picture while shooting video. So now you can be taking video and when you see something you want a still photo of just press the shutter release and now you have a photo. Brilliant.

5 fps full 16mb resolution and 40fps 4mp pictures for up to 1 second - Here is a feature I have not really seen anyone talking about. This camera has become a fantastic sports camera. It will shoot full resolution at 5 fps which is pretty pedestrian but still more than adequate for most sporting events. The 7D and A55 shoot 7 and 10 respectively. However, the GH2 pulls a trick out of its hat with an electronic shutter that will shoot 4mp pictures 40fps for up to 1 second. Now for those of you who think 4mp is yesterdays news. That is a 2400x1600 size photo. That is good enough to print a 12x8 photo from. Combine this with the fantastic new 100-300mm lens and you can shoot 40fps at 200-600mm equivalent. Wow.

I can go on and on but this review is getting too long already. Some of the features I haven't talked about are Aspect Bracketing, Advanced Scene Mode, My Color Mode, Film Mode, Face Recognition, Fn1-3 button (Function) and the C1-3 modes (Custom Modes). You can really tell that someone who enjoys making pictures designed the layout and handling for this camera. There are not a lot of cameras out there that can make that claim.'
What's Not

1/4000 top shutter speed and 1/160 flash sync speed - Panasonic has given us a partial Electronic shutter on the GH2. They were supposed to have released a full electronic shutter but instead wasted research resources on the fad know as 3D. A full electronic shutter, as we are likely to see in the GH3, will probably have a shutter speed of 1/16000 and a flash sync speed around 1/2000-1/4000. Also, it is like to be able to shoot 24+ fps for as long as the card can stand.

Construction - The switches are a cheap feeling plastic. Please panasonic put some nice metal or composite switches on this camera. I never had it fail on my GH1 but I was always worried and careful of it. This is a bit of a double edged sword as the current construction keeps the camera very light and as I said I have had no troubles with the GH1. However, The mode nob rotates too easily. When I am pulling the camera out of the camera bag I often accidentally rotate the mode nob.

Panasonic Flashes are outdated, lacking in multiple features and are heinously expensive. You may wonder the relevance of this in a camera review but if you seriously want to make nicely lit indoor pictures you are going to want a flash.

3 years into M4/3 and we are still missing critical lenses - 12mm f/1.4 25mm f/1.4 45mm f/1.4 35-100mm f/2.8 300mm f/4 300mm f/2.8 1.4/1.7/2.0 Teleconverters. All MIA. This and the flashes are the only thing really holding the M4/3 system back as a dominant professional system. To shoot events and wedding you really need the fast glass for the shallow depth of field and for catching special moments in poor lighting.

Conclusion:

The GH1 in my opinion was a truly revolutionary camera for its day and was the best all around camera on the planet. The GH2 continues the revolution and has added some amazing new features such as touch screen, 40fps shooting speeds, ETC mode, hi ISO shooting, and the list just goes on and on. Frankly, there is not another camera that can even come close to doing all of the things this camera is capable of. It is the new best all around camera on the planet.

Pros:
40 fps 4mp shooting for up to 1 sec
Touch screen focusing
Blazing fast auto focus -- twice as fast as the already fast GH-1
Clean Pictures up to 1600 ISO -- Same as D700
Best video in a combo-cam to date
Most shooting modes of any combo-cam
ETC 2.6x extra crop factor turning your 100-300mm into a 520-1560mm video lens
Multi-aspect 18mp (16 mp per aspect) sensor
Best M4/3 sensor - delivering clean images at 1600 and useable to 6400 thanks to the 3 venus microprocessors for video
IMHO Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the best all around camera on the planet

Cons:
Still only 1/160 flash sync speed
Still only 1/4000 max shutter speed
3D is a Fad -- No one wants to have to find/wear some goofy glasses to watch TV or read a book all of the time. There are good 3D picture solutions that don't require glasses but they are expensive.
3years into M4/3 and the format is still missing critical lenses. 12mm f/1.4 25mm f/1.4 45mm f/1.4 35-100mm f/2.8 300mm f/4 300mm f/2.8 1.4/1.7/2.0 Teleconverters. All MIA.

Stills Purchasing Thoughts

Panasonic GH2 with 14-140

If you buy a M4/3 system then you are going to want this superzoom as your all around lens. This lens cost $750 by itself. This means if you don't already own this lens you are faced with a tough decision. The GH1 with 14-140mm lens is selling for $950-1000. If you buy the GH1 now and then wait six months to buy the GH2 body, you should be able to get that for around $700 at that time. Then you would have two superb cameras for only $200 more than the GH2 system today. The downside is, while the GH1 is still a great camera it is not in the league of the GH2. If you do opt for this system, then the sister lens is the 100-300mm lens. This would give you a 35mm equivalent coverage of 28mm-600mm with only 2 lenses. Very very nice.

Panasonic GH2 with 14-42

This is the system that I bought simply because the body only was not available when I ordered. The 14-42 is probably Panasonic's worst lens. Optically it is fine but the construction is not up to the standards of Panasonic's other lenses. I would avoid this combo and buy the GH1 with the 14-140 lens for the same price as this camera. Then down the road buy the GH2 body only or wait for the GH2 body only. If you are just burning to have a GH2, and you only have $1000 to spend then you can still set up a good system. Get this, and the 45-200mm lens for a total of $1300. Those two lenses cover you from 28-400mm and should serve just about every need.

Panasonic GH2 Body Only

Great for anyone who already has M4/3 lenses or anyone just wanting to shoot with Leica lenses.

Video Purchasing Thoughts

Buy the GH2--period dot. There is no other consumer combo cam on the planet that can even come close to the GH2.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best M4/3 camera yet., January 11, 2011
By 
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2KK 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lens (Black) (Camera)
**First off, I have given the GH2 five stars because of its general excellence and how much I love using this camera, but that is not to say it's without fault.**

I am a huge fan of the micro 4/3 format. Point & shots are fine as such, but the lack of manual controls frustrates me as does image quality beyond a 5"x7" print. On the other hand, a full size DSLR feels too bulky in my hand and to carry around often. I learned basic photography using a 70's vintage Nikon FM, so the G-series size is more familiar to my hands than today's full size DSLRs. And with taking candids and street shots, it doesn't feel nearly as intrusive as a 1.5+lb DSLR kit does to me.

So this is my third G-series Panasonic camera. Without a doubt, this is the best one yet. The G1 & G2 are great cameras in their own right, but the GH2 advances the M4/3 format to whole new level. I wanted a faster camera but had too much invested in this format to look elsewhere. The GH2 is faster in every respect over the G2. AF is noticeably quicker, and better yet, very accurate. I've yet to see it really tripped up. Shooting rate is very quick; much, much faster than the G2. Unfortunately it seems Panasonic didn't bump up the buffer size to keep up with the frames per second the camera's capable of. So after about 10 shot burst, the camera freezes up for 5-10 seconds or more, especially if you're shooting RAW -- and I'm using a class 10 8g card. Shooting in jpeg helps some. Don't think of using anything less than a class 6 card, even shooting jpeg. This is a shame as it keeps the camera from being a decent sports/action shooter

Handling is one of my favorite things about the GH2. It feels good in my average-sized guy hands. If you're used to a DSLR, it may feel too light and lacking heft. Coming from point-and-shoots, it feels pretty solid and stable in hand. The thumb grip, while adequate, could be a bit bigger and stickier. The body does have a little too much of a plastic feel and sometimes seems a shade too light. Still, I never have the feeling of it slipping or squirting out of my hand.

The ergonomics are very good. Frequently used settings have manual adjustments. If not, there are now 3 function buttons to customize, as well as 3 custom modes. Or you can drive through the menus. The touchscreen initially struck me as kind of superfluous: I could adjust everything without it. But after awhile, I found myself using the touchscreen much more than I thought I would. It adds another level of control. Sometimes I can't remember where to find setting, but often within two taps of the screen I'm adjusting what I want. It's very helpful in getting the focus point(s) just so on a tricky composition, setting white balance (see below) and reviewing shots.

I always will miss an optical viewfinder, but the GH2's EVF is about as good a substitute as it gets. Smearing and rainbow effect are negligible and only appear in very poor light conditions, as does, not surprisingly, a lot of noise. Otherwise it does fine, even during a fast pan.

I've never been much interested in shooting video, but in the little experimenting I've done, the image quality is absolutely amazing. A number of GH2 owners have posted vids on youtube. Some of these really got me salivating, even though I'm not a video guy. I suspect this may be the camera's better/stronger half.

As for still images, Panasonic is closing in on DSLR quality. The dynamic range and low light speed are much, much improved since the G1, especially daylight, high contrast scenes. Blown highlights are just about a thing of the past. Low light image quality is now quite good at ISO 1600. I can get usable shots up to about ISO 3200, at which point noise is really becoming prevalent. Image stabilization is fine, I suppose: I've not noticed it one way or the other. The new Venus engine seems to render colors closer to their true values than earlier G-series were able to. Images out of the camera (once the WB is properly set, see below), seem sharper and more vivid than the slightly soft look Panasonic cameras I've owned tended to produce.

However, there are two image related issues. First is the auto white balance. It's the camera's greatest weakness. AWB does a pretty good job in ordinary outdoor light, if on occasion a little bit off. Indoors, it's middling at best. In general, inside AWB is too warm, yellow actually, for indoor photos. Moreover, the preset modes, ie, cloudy, incandescent, etc, are quite off and are all but useless. I either set the balance myself -- this is where the touchscreen is very handy -- or use my custom presets. This bothers me less than it sounds. I've learned what to expect and adjust accordingly.

The second issue is really more an issue of preference than a problem. When I'm feeling slow on the draw or just lazy, I'll select the full-on point-and-shoot mode, aka intelligent auto. Shots are consistent and just fine. However, here again, AWB can be a little off. ISO 400 seems to be the default daylight speed when 100 or 200 would be much better, and images once in awhile are little underexposed. Most of which can be addressed post process. But in semi-auto modes where the camera selects the ISO, having it default to ISO 400 when 100 or 200 is warranted, is annoying. But to be fair, in full iA mode, the camera will almost always choose the correct scene -- portrait, children, landscape, etc -- that you're trying to capture and produce pleasing results. Perhaps a firmware update will correct the WB issues and have a better algorithm for the auto ISO.

I can't say I'm enamored of the the kit lens. It's the same lens my G2 came with. I didn't care for its particularly plasticky feel and look. One good bump and it looks like the plastic casing will crack. In operation I think it felt a little cheap too. Given I already had several M43 lenses, I had no need for a kit lens so I ordered the body only. BTW, if you're thinking of a zoom, skip the Pany 45-200mm --it's slow without giving that much zoom -- and go for the 100-300mm. Also, I highly recommend either of the Pany pancake lenses: the 14mm f2.5 or the 20mm f1.7. Both bring out a little something extra from the camera that I can't describe. Images just seem to have a depth, clarity, and tone that other lenses seem to miss. Plus fitted with a pancake lens the camera is small enough to fit in a large coat pocket.

Print-wise, this is where the camera really rewards effort. The rare times I've gotten everything just right have yielded a large print or two I'm proud of. The focus modes and various metering modes are spot on, that is, of course, if the dummy at the controls has configured the camera properly.

The issues with the white balance and the small buffer keep me from giving the GH2 an unqualified 5-star rating. 4 stars is too few for its overall excellence, so read the 5 stars as being 4.5.

On a final note, I wouldn't say this format is for everyone. There are compromises, which become less with each new model, but you pay extra to lose the weight and bulk of a full-size DSLR. For less money you can buy a DSLR with better specs -- on paper at least. I get a kick out of using this camera, in a way like none other I've owned. Its size, its good handling and ease of use, and the way it rewards when you put it to work all justify the extra dollars out of my wallet.
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152 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best All Around Camera On The Planet, December 17, 2010
Now I know that is a bold statement and I intend to back it up. However, before I do I need to explain what I mean. I am not saying this camera is the best at everything or even anyone thing. Cameras that are the best at something are usually specialized beasts that can really only do that one thing well. What I am talking about is a camera the is so good in so many categories that it can joyfully be used for just about and photographic or video graphic purpose you may have. The GH2 is that camera.

Now that is out of the way we can get to the meat and potatoes of the review. I shoot mostly Nikon and Panasonic and I primarily shoot stills. I dabble in Video but do not proclaim myself any sort of an expert. I can say if you are looking for the best handling combo/cam with the most features then the GH2 is the one you want. Panasonic went out of its way to make this a video camera so that was its primary focus with this camera. However, there are lots of payoffs for the stills part of this camera so this is the best m4/3 stills camera by a long shot also. I will also say that the hard core video market is a niche market compared to the stills market because shallow depth of field video is hard to shoot properly and hard to edit. The average home user has neither the time nor inclination to properly storyboard and shoot this type of video. However, with that said, it is really nice to be able to shoot stills and video. And basic home videos are a snap to shoot with this camera; much more so than any other DSLR with the exception of the Sony SLT A55/33 which at least has a fast auto focus also. To shoot nice home movies, put the mode dial to iA, press the red button, and you are shooting video.

This camera is the next generation of cameras as it successfully blends the advantages of Point and Shoot cameras with the benefits of DSLRs and creates and incredibly small and powerful camera. Listed below are some of the benefits and weakness you get from this next gen camera.

What's Hot

The handling on the GH2 is bar none the best handling "DSLR" on the market. WIth smart controls, great layout, fast autofocusing, swivel screen, full time double live view, etc. Even with how good the D7000 is, it still feels clunky after using the GH2. I get into most of the details of this down below so I don't want to repeat the info here. What I will say here is that you can do things with this camera you couldn't hope to do with DSLRs and you can generally set up your photo parameters much faster with this camera. The menus on the GH2 are not very good. However, the actual camera controls are so good you will rarely even need to use the menus.

Program Shift - Forget using Aperture priority with this camera. You can leave the camera in Program mode. With program shift you can change the aperture setting and thus the shutter speed while in program mode. To do this you press the shutter release button down half way to set the exposure. Then if the numbers are in yellow you just rotate the rear dial switch to change aperture. Want a shallower depth of field or faster shutter speed, then dial in a bigger aperture (smaller number). If the numbers are not in yellow then you are currently in exposure compensation mode. All you have to do is click the rear dial switch and then rotate it. Snap. What a neat feature.

Extra Tele Convert (ETC) Mode in Video - If you shoot video you are going to love this. This is even great for home/casual video shooters. The GH2 has a 16mp sensor but like every other consumer combo/cam shoots 2K video. That means the picture is usually down-sampled to make it 2K. This has some pluses and minuses. Enter the GH2. With the ETC mode the camera uses only 2K of the sensor. This gives you an extra 2.6x crop factor. Which means your total crop factor is now 5.2x. So that brand spanking new 100-300mm you just got is now 520-1560mm with no light loss. If you put a Nikon 135mm f2 then you now have a 702mm f2! lens for video. There are some drawbacks for using ETC also but they are pretty negligible.

Auto focus - the auto focus on the GH2 is twice as fast as the GH1 and the GH1 was the fastest of previous generation. I have seen some very knowledgeable photographers saying it is as fast as mid-level DSLRs. While I think it is supposed to be a complement I don't think it is a very good comparison. I find the focus speed of DSLRs has most to do with what lens you have on. There are some lenses that focus slowly on even a D3. All of the lenses I have used on the GH1 focus very quickly except the 45-200mm. That lens tends to be my slowest. Non of the lenses I have focus as fast as a 70-200mm f/2.8 but the rest of them focus as fast if not faster than any of the other Nikon lenses I own. The best I can say about this is that you won't notice the focus speed on the GH2 as it is fast enough to get out of your way.

Smaller lighter camera - I recently went on a trip to Egypt and carried nothing but my Panasonic gear. Two camera bodies, 5 lenses, 1 flash, an iPad, and camera bag. Total weight 10lbs (3lbs of that was the bag itself). My Nikon D300 and 14-24mm lens would have weight more just by themselves (I was carrying the Panasonic 7-14mm so I did have wide covered)

Swivel Screen with full-time live view - You won't know what you are missing until you become used to this and how well it works. Want to reach up as high as you can and shoot down; No problems. Want to get as low as possible but can't lay down in the mud or water; No problem. Want to take a picture of you and your daughter but there is nobody around; No problem. Turn the screen around aim the camera at you and use the screen to frame. Something that makes photos interesting is showing the viewer something from a perspective they don't often see. The swivel screen actively encourages this. The other thing the swivel screen does is make shooting from a tripod a joy. Because of how small and light this camera is you can use a much smaller tripod. I have a 3lb tripod that can support 7lbs. Also, you can now set you camera up in all sorts of whacky positions and just rotate the screen to be able to frame and focus. Very nice. Also, with no mirror to flip up you don't have to worry about any vibrations.

Touch Focus implemented as slick as on the iPhone. As I mentioned above you can shoot from many strange angles because you can swivel the screen to almost any angle. However, if the camera did not focus on what you wanted it would be hard to change it. Now you can simply touch the screen on what you want to focus and presto it will focus on that. The GH2 is worth the price just for that.

WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get. Since you are looking at either the screen or the beautiful EVF, you are seeing what the sensor sees. With a DSLR you are seeing what the lens sees. This is an important difference. If you forgot to reset your WB or Aperture or any camera setting, you will see it before you shoot. On a DSLR you would have no idea until you looked at the pictures. Also, if it is a low light situation, the EVF will start to noise up and start to lose some of its smoothness. This is a warning to you that you need to use flash or a tripod. With a DSLR the viewer becomes darker but you don't get a very good visual cue of how your camera is seeing it. For me the most brilliant thing with WYSIWYG is setting exposure. Because I can see what the camera is doing with exposure, I usually leave the camera in P mode. Then I change the exposure by changing where I aim the camera, lock the exposure and then reframe for the subject. It works something like this. I am trying to take a picture of a person but the exposure is picking up to many bright objects, thereby dimming my subject. So, I aim the camera to include more dark areas while keeping my subject in the shoot. Then I press the shutter release button down half way to lock the exposure and focus. Then I reframe back to the original photo. This works so quickly you can try several exposures in less time than you could set one with the exposure compensation dial (which is actually exceedingly well executed on this camera also.) In a DSLR, since you don't see the exposure, you are just basically guessing at what you want and then shooting, view the photo and fix. Much slower.

Shoot about any lens you want - The distance from the lens to sensor is so short, that with the appropriate adaptor, you can put just about any lens you want on this camera. Canon, Nikon, Leica, Voigtlander, Pentax, Sony, you can use them all. Generally you need to use lenses which have aperture rings. Additionally, you do lose autofocus but there are many instances where this just doesn't matter. Macro photography is a good example. You can fit a Nikon 200mm f/4 onto the GH2 and then either get a 2:1 reproduction or a 1:1 reproduction with twice the depth of field. It is like putting on a teleconverter without the loss of light and depth of field. Brilliant.

Great for Newbies - All DSLRs are easy for anyone to use and the GH2 is no exception. The great handling makes the GH2 better for newbies in my opinion. Anyway, all you have to do is put the camera into iA mode and start shooting. This camera gets the subject correct more often then not and will make you look good. In dynamic situation, I actually use the iA mode quite a bit. I do this because the camera is good a recognizing as scene as a person, flower, scenery, etc. The camera then instantly sets numerous setting to make that scene look as good as possible. If you tried to do it yourself it could take a few minuets to set and then a few to set back. Or even worse you forget to reset it and you next pictures look bad. If I have time, then I will set the camera myself. My daughter has been using the GH1 since she was 2. Here hit rate initially was only about 10% usable picture and 1% good pictures. Her hit rate now is about 70% usable pictures and 20% good pictures with about 5% really nice pictures. She has such a different perspective that it is really interesting to see how she views the world.

Image Quality - I am reluctant to put this in the review because all modern cameras have such good IQ that it really is not relevant in most cases and any discussion encourages pixel peeping instead of photo making. I will say, if you are using this camera to make pictures to view on your monitor, or publish on the web, or print 8x10s this camera will more than meet your needs and if you do your part make some really nice photos. The GH1 has been my go to camera for the past two years and I have made some amazing pictures with it. The GH2 is better. You can argue the merits of FX vs DX vs M4/3 until you are blue in the face but the fact of the matter is it just doesn't matter in todays age and each year it continues to matter less and less. All cameras have their limitations and part of being a good photographer is know what those are and shooting around them. As far as ISO goes, with the GH1, ISO 800 was the highest I would shoot except in an emergency. With the GH2, ISO 1600 shoots clean (better than 800 on GH1) and 3200-6400 are perfectly usable.

Stills while shooting Video - The GH1 would not let you take a still photo while shooting video. The GH2 allows you to take a 14mp 16x9 picture while shooting video. So now you can be taking video and when you see something you want a still photo of just press the shutter release and now you have a photo. Brilliant.

5 fps full 16mb resolution and 40fps 4mp pictures for up to 1 second - Here is a feature I have not really seen anyone talking about. This camera has become a fantastic sports camera. It will shoot full resolution at 5 fps which is pretty pedestrian but still more than adequate for most sporting events. The 7D and A55 shoot 7 and 10 respectively. However, the GH2 pulls a trick out of its hat with an electronic shutter that will shoot 4mp pictures 40fps for up to 1 second. Now for those of you who think 4mp is yesterdays news. That is a 2400x1600 size photo. That is good enough to print a 12x8 photo from. Combine this with the fantastic new 100-300mm lens and you can shoot 40fps at 200-600mm equivalent. Wow.

I can go on and on but this review is getting too long already. Some of the features I haven't talked about are Aspect Bracketing, Advanced Scene Mode, My Color Mode, Film Mode, Face Recognition, Fn1-3 button (Function) and the C1-3 modes (Custom Modes). You can really tell that someone who enjoys making pictures designed the layout and handling for this camera. There are not a lot of cameras out there that can make that claim.'
What's Not

1/4000 top shutter speed and 1/160 flash sync speed - Panasonic has given us a partial Electronic shutter on the GH2. They were supposed to have released a full electronic shutter but instead wasted research resources on the fad know as 3D. A full electronic shutter, as we are likely to see in the GH3, will probably have a shutter speed of 1/16000 and a flash sync speed around 1/2000-1/4000. Also, it is like to be able to shoot 24+ fps for as long as the card can stand.

Construction - The switches are a cheap feeling plastic. Please panasonic put some nice metal or composite switches on this camera. I never had it fail on my GH1 but I was always worried and careful of it. This is a bit of a double edged sword as the current construction keeps the camera very light and as I said I have had no troubles with the GH1. However, The mode nob rotates too easily. When I am pulling the camera out of the camera bag I often accidentally rotate the mode nob.

Panasonic Flashes are outdated, lacking in multiple features and are heinously expensive. You may wonder the relevance of this in a camera review but if you seriously want to make nicely lit indoor pictures you are going to want a flash.

3 years into M4/3 and we are still missing critical lenses - 12mm f/1.4 25mm f/1.4 45mm f/1.4 35-100mm f/2.8 300mm f/4 300mm f/2.8 1.4/1.7/2.0 Teleconverters. All MIA. This and the flashes are the only thing really holding the M4/3 system back as a dominant professional system. To shoot events and wedding you really need the fast glass for the shallow depth of field and for catching special moments in poor lighting.

Conclusion:

The GH1 in my opinion was a truly revolutionary camera for its day and was the best all around camera on the planet. The GH2 continues the revolution and has added some amazing new features such as touch screen, 40fps shooting speeds, ETC mode, hi ISO shooting, and the list just goes on and on. Frankly, there is not another camera that can even come close to doing all of the things this camera is capable of. It is the new best all around camera on the planet.

Pros:
40 fps 4mp shooting for up to 1 sec
Touch screen focusing
Blazing fast auto focus -- twice as fast as the already fast GH-1
Clean Pictures up to 1600 ISO -- Same as D700
Best video in a combo-cam to date
Most shooting modes of any combo-cam
ETC 2.6x extra crop factor turning your 100-300mm into a 520-1560mm video lens
Multi-aspect 18mp (16 mp per aspect) sensor
Best M4/3 sensor - delivering clean images at 1600 and useable to 6400 thanks to the 3 venus microprocessors for video
IMHO Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the best all around camera on the planet

Cons:
Still only 1/160 flash sync speed
Still only 1/4000 max shutter speed
3D is a Fad -- No one wants to have to find/wear some goofy glasses to watch TV or read a book all of the time. There are good 3D picture solutions that don't require glasses but they are expensive.
3years into M4/3 and the format is still missing critical lenses. 12mm f/1.4 25mm f/1.4 45mm f/1.4 35-100mm f/2.8 300mm f/4 300mm f/2.8 1.4/1.7/2.0 Teleconverters. All MIA.

Stills Purchasing Thoughts

Panasonic GH2 with 14-140

If you buy a M4/3 system then you are going to want this superzoom as your all around lens. This lens cost $750 by itself. This means if you don't already own this lens you are faced with a tough decision. The GH1 with 14-140mm lens is selling for $950-1000. If you buy the GH1 now and then wait six months to buy the GH2 body, you should be able to get that for around $700 at that time. Then you would have two superb cameras for only $200 more than the GH2 system today. The downside is, while the GH1 is still a great camera it is not in the league of the GH2. If you do opt for this system, then the sister lens is the 100-300mm lens. This would give you a 35mm equivalent coverage of 28mm-600mm with only 2 lenses. Very very nice.

Panasonic GH2 with 14-42

This is the system that I bought simply because the body only was not available when I ordered. The 14-42 is probably Panasonic's worst lens. Optically it is fine but the construction is not up to the standards of Panasonic's other lenses. I would avoid this combo and buy the GH1 with the 14-140 lens for the same price as this camera. Then down the road buy the GH2 body only or wait for the GH2 body only. If you are just burning to have a GH2, and you only have $1000 to spend then you can still set up a good system. Get this, and the 45-200mm lens for a total of $1300. Those two lenses cover you from 28-400mm and should serve just about every need.

Panasonic GH2 Body Only

Great for anyone who already has M4/3 lenses or anyone just wanting to shoot with Leica lenses.

Video Purchasing Thoughts

Buy the GH2--period dot. There is no other consumer combo cam on the planet that can even come close to the GH2.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best all around Camera? Yes!, April 10, 2011
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2KK 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lens (Black) (Camera)
I was fortunate to have the GH2 very early in its distribution cycle in the US, so I've had time to get used to its quirks and abilities, and frankly the "Best all around camera" title is well deserved IF put into context.

As with most pro and semi-pro cameras, the quality of output is mainly due to the PHOTOGRAPHER not the camera. I've been a pro photographer for 30 years, but gave up the craft for the past ten years or so, moving back to simpler point and shoot cameras for vacations. When it's your "job" taking photos, vacation pictures can seem too much like work. :-) The convergence of digital photography and videography finally prompted me back into the semi-pro field. And I've got to say, the GH2 has me totally excited about photography again!!

A few points to add to the other reviews made here:

1) Yes, the auto white balance is the GH2's one achilles heel. It's just not that good indoors. This can be completely fixed through RAW file conversion (more on that later) but is more of a problem with video. Just make sure to use the indoor white balance modes instead of AWB. They work fine.

2) The GH2 viewfinder is WORLDS better than most digital DSLR's, except for the full frame pro cameras that weigh and cost tons more. The APS-C DSLRS have pathetically small viewfinders. It's like looking through a toy periscope. Not so with the GH2. As an old film camera photographer, I had no problem getting used to the wysiwyg digital viewfinder, and it really helps indoors to see more detail than your naked eye can see.

3) JPG output straight from the camera can look a bit soft and muddy, but this is totally due to image settings, not the inherent data of the image. Panasonic uses a much more conservative "film like" setting, with low sharpening and contrast. It's always easier to add these items in post processing. Many newer digital cameras crank saturation, sharpening, noise reduction, and contrast up to ridiculous levels to give that "punch" so many amateurs seem to like. But remember, jpgs are "lossy" images. Every time you tweak the settings of a jpg in post processing, you reduce the quality a bit. The solution? Experiment with the in-camera settings (and there are plenty) to get the perfect image values you prefer. By altering the contrast, saturation, and sharpening settings from the menu, you can achieve a punchy shot to rival any other semi-pro camera.

4) If you're a point and shoot amateur looking for a simple camera that requires no thought or creativity to crank out mildly decent photos, then the GH2 may not be for you. In fact, stay away from digital SLR's altogether. You'll be happier. On the other hand, if you want SUPERIOR photo quality, then start shooting with RAW files. I love setting the GH2 to JPG+RAW. That way, I can punch up the jpg settings to get that "amateur" punch straight out of the camera for viewing while on vacation with friends, but I have the excellent RAW files to tweak to my heart's content later, when I want the best quality possible. And since RAW is a lossless format, you can tweak anything and everything. That's when you will really start to appreciate the professional quality possible with the GH2.

One software package I HIGHLY RECOMMEND for the GH2 is DXO Optics Pro. This post processing software is close to a miracle and has tuned modules for the GH2 and lenses. It automates most of the post processing of images, in both jpg and RAW formats. Take a RAW image and run it through DXO, and you will get an almost perfect combination of noise reduction, contrast enhancement, highlight recovery, lens distortion correction, and white balance. I find most of the images turn out perfect with the default settings. It's the "lazy mans" Photoshop without all the tweaking. Check it out at dxo.com.

5) The addition of video makes the GH2's "world's best all around camera" claim a reality. If you've never done video, like me, the option to capture 1080i video right from my digital camera is truly enlightening! The secret to good vacation (or pro) photography is to be ready for the perfect shot whenever it occurs. Having ONE camera with a 14-140 zoom (28-280 35mm equivalent) that can also take breathtaking video, ensures that you won't be fumbling around with lenses and camcorders while the action passes you by.

6) Low light capability with this camera is amazing! Just make sure to set ISO to automatic, and set the upper limit to 3200. (from the menu) You will get perfectly usable images, especially if you post process RAW files through Photoshop or DXO. But remember, a 14-140 lens on a sensor this large is never going to be a fast indoor lens. Get the 20mm 1.7 for excellent indoor images. It also makes the camera much more like a point and shoot for those indoor parties and children shots.

7) Depth of field: This may be one area where amateurs get confused and disappointed. Smaller sensor point and shoot cameras have inherently greater depth of field, making it easier to keep a video or quick photo in focus. The shallower depth of field of the GH2 and other DSLR's takes some getting used to, but it is also why the videos will look so professional when done right. Most movies use shallow depth of field as a key technique in focusing the viewer's attention. You can literally take movie quality videos with the GH2, which is why the amateur film movement has embraced it.

8) Lens interchangeability: This is great feature, especially for video! I have many old manual Nikon lenses that work wonders on the GH2. Yes, you lose autofocus and aperture control, but if you put the camera in aperture priority mode, and turn on auto-ISO, the camera will still expose images properly and automatically. The lack of autofocus is not that big of a deal. I've taken plenty of excellent photos during my career with manual focus. The REAL advantage comes with video though, where manual focus is an ADVANTAGE, not a liability.

So is the GH2 perfect? Of course not, any more than any other digital camera, but its flaws can be easily circumvented with post processing. You simply will not find any other camera on the market that combines so many different professional features into one, small, inexpensive package.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent camera, December 19, 2010
I have recently owned the Panasonic G1 and GH1, been very pleased with them, and thought that getting the GH2 would be 'just another upgrade'. Not so. The ergonomics give a camera that is an absolute joy to use. The touch screen totally transforms macro and tripod shooting, while the buttons, knobs, dials, and switches bring every major photographic parameter to your finger-tips. I agree with the earlier 5-star reviews here, but must say that on my camera, I find the knob action is firm (much firmer than G1 or GH1) and will never be accidentally knocked into a different setting, and that the other switches are adequately robust. I have found the Olympus flashes (FL50, ring, twin) all work perfectly with the Panasonic. I'd recommend the 14-140 lens, its a great all-rounder and takes 80% of my shots, even though I have the 7-14, 14-45, 20, 45-200, 45 macro, and 100-300 in my bag.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best interchangeable lens hybrid HD video/still camera yet !, December 18, 2010
By 
Joseph Ogiba "jogiba21" (Hillsborough, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was going to get the Canon 60D body to use with my Pentax K mount lenses from 6.5mm to 2350mm but after seeing the first reviews comparing it to the new GH2 I decided to get the GH2 instead and wow they were right. After I charged the battery I shot a 1080p24 HD test video in 24L 17mb/sec mode and was shocked at how much better it was to the other HDSLRs in sharpness and detail. I bet in the higher 24H 24mb/sec mode it would match my Panasonic HDC-TM700 3MOS camcorder in 1080p60 mode when viewed on a large monitor or HDTV. With Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f/0.95 it is the best DSLR type camera for shooting HD video in low light today IMHO.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GH2 vs. 7D for video, February 26, 2011
By 
Jeff Aski (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2KK 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lens (Black) (Camera)
What is better, the GH2 or the 7D? I have both cameras now and here are my Pros and Cons:

(1) BODY DESIGN/FORM FACTOR:
GH2 is flimsy, buttons are harder to push, and it seems like a point and shoot on steroids. Although, LCD swivel touch screen is fantastic and Electronic viewfinder eliminates the need for an LCD eye piece. Focus is easier to accomplish is a shorter amount of time.

7D is built tough, weather proof, much larger and seemingly more durable. So it will work in the rain, in the snow, and in the desert. Buttons are easy to find, settings are fast and simple to change. Although, no swivel screen for odd angles, need a LCD eye piece to maintain good focus.

Winner: GH2 - the LCD touch swivel screen and EVS is unmatched -- just don't drop the camera.

(2) LENS SELECTION:
GH2 can use almost any lens you can think of as long as you have the proper adapter. And now with the tele-zoom function, you can even use those old school C-Mount TV lenses. Only problem is that everything is then manually controlled and there are not many wide angle lenses for cheap.

The autofocus lenses are useful in run-and-gun shooting environments. Although, the native autofocus lenses are very limiting and often horrible in low light. The 14-42mm kit lens is a better investment than the 14-140mm lens. For the money, the 14-140mm is a rip off.

7D has a better selection of powerful canon glass that it can electronically control, but no autofocus during video and even though there are many lens adapters for the 7D, it doesn't compare to the amount of options the GH2 has.

Winner: GH2 - once you get over the crop factor, the GH2 gives you more lens options.

(3) AUDIO:
GH2 has manual control over audio, albeit only four levels to choose from. You also get audio bars during recording. But the audio input jack is only 2.5mm, so you need an adapter to connect most mics to the camera.

7D has auto gain control, which means you have no manual control of the audio and no bar levels to monitor it.

Winner - GH2 - no brainer.

(4) FRAME RATE OPTIONS:
GH2 is only good at 1080(24p) and 1080(60i), the rest sucks balls. No PAL.

7D is good at almost everything. 24p, 30p, 25p, 60p, -- you name it, 7D has got it.

Winner - 7D

(5) VIDEO QUALITY:
GH2 is AVCHD 24mbps, has less moire, aliasing, and rolling shutter.

7D is MOV 48mbps, can have awful moire, aliasing, and rolling shutter.

Winner: GH2. This is a tough one cuz the 7D has proven itself in Hollywood. If the environment could be tightly controlled, the 7D would be the winner. But I shoot run-and-gun with no control over my environment so I trust the GH2 over the 7D -- if the lenses were the same.

(6) STILL IMAGE:
Winner: 7D -- no contest. The Panasonic LX5, a point and shoot, can give you the same images the GH2 can. That's bad.

CONCLUSION:
I'm keeping both the GH2 and the 7D, but if you can only get one, get the GH2. It's more bang for your buck.

The GH2 is better for run-and-gun shoots where I cannot control my surroundings. It's small, easier to conceal, and I don't need a lot of accessories to get proper focus and audio. The still image quality sucks, but it's better than nothing. This is the perfect documentary camera, travel camera, all-purpose hybrid camera.

The 7D is better for controlled environments where I have time to set lights, mess with dual audio or if taking good still images is important. If I'm shooting a narrative film or music video, the 7D is my camera of choice.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant design and balance..., December 17, 2010
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2KK 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lens (Black) (Camera)
OK. First, B. Fuller's incredible review nails it (and deserves 5 stars itself!) and I am not going to even attempt to re-plow the ground he covers so well. Go read his review for all the details as to why this camera is simply the best value you can find, currently. I will simply add a few comments in support of his excellent review.

To me, what makes this camera special is the elegant design and balance. It is an engineering marvel. I own and still use an Olympus E-10 camera. The E-10 is (along with the E-1) one of the best cameras ever made (IMHO) and broke open a new market and new photographic territory in it's day. The GH1 and GH2 are similar to the E-10 and E-1 in that respect, they are breaking ground and leading the way into a new era in terms of photography and videography. This is truly an exciting camera and will be, in time, a classic.

First, this camera is capable of better video than nearly any video only camera you can likely lay your hands on. It is truly capable of professional quality. With the ETC feature, stereo sound and the quality lenses available, literally new worlds open up. It's jaw dropping stuff we're talking about here.

Second, the still photography is also pro level. Extremely good quality images...super fast auto-focus and many top of the line features, such as an excellent electronic view finder (a VF is essential to me). Outstanding sensor, good lenses, and a compact, portable package. The best camera is the one you have with you!

Finally, the handling is exceptional. This is a camera for someone who loves photography and obviously was designed by a team that actually does photography. Things are well thought out and everything simply works well. Again, not since the Oly E-10/E-1 era have I been as excited about a camera as this one. (The only other company doing anything nearly as exciting, to me, is -- believe it or not -- Samsung and their NX line of cameras. Well, and maybe Sony, but I do not like their cameras.)

If you are willing to spend serious money, then you are definitely going to get good value for your hard earned bucks and, more importantly, I will bet you are going to be inspired by this camera. The E-10 made me fall in love with photography all over again, and I expect many will have a similar experience with the GH2.

Five solid golden stars for this one -- good job Panasonic!
-----------------------------------------------------------

P.S. If the GH2 is a bit too expensive, you might take a look at the G2 which is sort of a junior edition of this camera with many similar features:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 12.1 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 MEGA OIS Lens (Black)
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great video, not so great stills but a good all around performer, June 17, 2012
By 
EnsH "ensh" (Montréal, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2KK 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lens (Black) (Camera)
I needed to do a small video project and the GH2 + 14-42mm seemed the best value. I decided to try it because I had good experience in the past with the Panasonic FZ series. My current camera is a DSLR (Pentax K-5).

The good:
- video looks is really excellent and it's much easier to use an EVF for this. It's no secret that the GH2 is highly rated amongst indie filmmakers, that's the best camera for that job under 3000$ beating even the Canon 7D and 5D mark II.
- the kit lens is surprisingly good.
- AF is unreal fast. I didn't expect CD-AF to be that fast, it's at least on par with any PD-AF (DSLR) I tried. It's completely silent and 100% accurate. Face detection is useful. One thing though that slow down things is that even if the lens is already focused it will refocus for the next shot, this is how CD-AF works. A DSLR will not do that and that's why they're also much superiors for tracking moving subjects.
- It's lighter and smaller than any DSLR
- MF is easier thanks to well defined magnification but alas no focus peaking feature. Focus by wire is actually nicer to use than most modern DSLR lens.
- Love the multi aspect concept. This one of the reason I did go with the GH2 instead of the G3.
- Stereo mic with very good quality. For family videos I don't feel the need for an external mic (Rode) like I did on my K-5.
- Touch screen is cool for quickly shooting something off-center.
- The camera general responsiveness, although not exceptional, is very good. Turn on the camera you'll be ready to shoot in less than 1 second. You'll rarely miss a shot. Shutter lag is also not an issue.
- Some cool and unique features: The ETC mode (digital zoom that works well with video), the touch shutter (touch a part of the screen and it will focus on that point and take a picture), the 40fps mode at 4 megapixels (works for just one second though) and the multi aspect sensor already mentioned.

The bad:
- Ergonomics are not great. It makes me appreciate how good my K-5 (and any other Pentax) is in this regard. Just one example: in P mode you can shift with the rear dial but if you want to go back to automatic, the manual tells you that there 2 choices: either you turn on and off the camera (!) or use the rear dial and go to the start of the P-shift range. Pentax does this very simply with the green button which reset settings (auto P, auto ISO, EV, etc) in one push. Menus are slow to traverse, and UI is ugly and confusing. Redeeming feature: the 3 fn customizable buttons.
- Just one dial. Their old FZ50 had two dials but somehow Panasonic decided that the second dial was not needed on what is supposed to be their top camera. Maybe they think the click dial is a good substitute for a second dial. It's not.
- There is a record movie button but you don't get access to all the video features (ex: 24p). For that you need to use the dial mode to select the Manual movie mode.
- Video is great but a bit more difficult to use than it should be. The options are messy and not well labeled. And to get the most of the video performance you need to install a hack (not that difficult but would have been nice to not need it).
- Sharpness is great but the sensor is clearly a notch (at least 1 stop) below some DSLR (in particular the Nikon and Pentax). It also starts at iso 160 which is not helping IQ (Image Quality) at base ISO. Check DXOmark for the hard figures.
- build quality too plastic (their old FZ50 was much better IMHO). On the other hand the camera is very light.
- Loud shutter. OK the Pentax K-5 is in a class of its own but still... For a mirrorless camera it's a bit disappointing that they didn't implement a least a quiet mode where they would use the electronic shutter instead. It's just a firmware issue because the 40fps mode allows this.
- Flash x-sync is only 1/160s. Panasonic needs to find a solution to get rid of the mechanical shutter in an all-electronic camera.
- EVF is really good but you need to be perfectly centered otherwise there's a kind of CA appearing. And why put an EVF in the center of the camera? I have a big nose. Sony has a much better design with the Nex-7. Hello Panasonic, and EVF doesn't have to be centered with the lens, I thought that was an advantage of not having to bow to an optical path.
- No wireless remote. Come on, even the low-end Pentax have it. There is a cable remote but it's shared with the micro input. A bit disappointing on such an expensive camera.
- Battery life quite low but this is kind of expected on a mirrorless camera.

Summary: A bit too expensive for what it offers unless you need video for which it has no pair. Ergonomics and build quality are below average. So is the quality of still pictures unless you come from a P&S. Suggested better alternatives for stills: Nikon (D5100, D3200, D7000) or Pentax (K-5, K30) or even some of the Sony SLT. But the GH2 can be an excellent compromise if you value light and small over ultimate image quality.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite camera, February 22, 2011
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2KK 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lens (Black) (Camera)
I am approaching this review from the professional video perspective.

The Panasonic gh2 is by far, without a shadow of a doubt, the best video DSLR I have ever used. Prior to this purchase I have owned the Canon 5d mkII, Canon 7d, and the Panasonic GH1. All of which had their respective ups and downs. My biggest issue with these cameras was that they compromised image quality in one fashion or another. The canon's all had issues with Moire and cooling. The Panasonic was crippled by its lackluster codec and low light performance.

I purchased this camera in the hopes that it would be a versatile B camera to support my AF100 during interviews and documentary shoots. It does not disappoint, in fact I find myself taking the gh2 out more than the af100 for most small shoots because of its size and convenience.

I love the fact that I can adapt literally any lens to the camera without having to use optical correcting filters or invasive modifications (canon PL Mount modification). This camera is a true hybrid. It has an EVF, flip screen, audio gain control, long record time, exceptionally clean image, overcrank and undercrank options... the list goes on. All for $1000. That is the price of a nice consumer camera! But it preforms like a pro camcorder.

The camera is extremely easy to use. Buttons are well placed, menu's are easy to navigate, and everything is right where it should be. The touch interface is surprisingly comfortable to use. I would note though that I am very tech savvy so it may not be as easy to use for a beginner.

There is some room for improvement. Panasonic should adopt the global shutter in their cameras to eliminate skew (mos roll) on fast pans, even though it is much less pronounced than the canon and nikon cameras that I have used. I feel like the camera is more then capable of doing a solid 1080p @ 60fps with a high bitrate yet it can't really do it due its limited firmware. More options for overcrank and undercrank would be nice: instead of %'s it should be FPS. Options for audio monitoring while recording like a 3.5 headphone jack would be a huge plus. A battery grip would be a welcome accessory for extended shoots.

All in all Panasonic did an excellent job with this camera and they have set the bar for what is to come in the Video DSLR field. I look forward to canons answer to this camera. Hopefully the 5d mkIII will come out this year!

**When editing, convert the .mts files to Apple Pro Res 422 not only does this save time in the edit but it also holds up better to color grading. Native AVCHD files tend to break under heavy grading, so keep this in mind when prepping for post work.**

*Edit* After further testing it looks like the GH2 has a better dynamic range (ability to get a good exposure in a high contrast environment) than my 7d during video recording. I am not sure as to what the cameras actual DR is during video, DXOmark has it listed at 11.5 stops for stills. I can also say that it seems to control the highlights better than my af100 and 7d in high contrast environments, though this has a lot to do with the gamma settings in the camera itself. In a controlled environment all these cameras would look great! But for real world usability, shooting outdoors, and unpredictable environments the GH2 stands by itself. I would say that if you are looking for a versatile camera for documentary and production work, this is by far the best value closely followed by the af100. If you are just looking for something to shoot in controlled environments or a lot of stills with, a canon may be the better choice. I know that they are fazing out the t2i right now so you could probably pick it up for cheap.

I would also look into picking up some lenses in the m42 mount (aka pentax screw mount). They are practically universal and can be adapted to most lens mounts for about $5. I use them on my Canon and Panasonic cameras with great results. If you look carefully you can pick some old Ziess lenses for a good price. I was able to build a full prime kit for a couple thousand over the course of a couple months. Old lenses aren't the best but they will save you lots of money and heart ache when you are starting out.
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