Digital Cameras Guide

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 review

The Panasonic GH2: A Multi-Layered Camera of Diverse Might

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Overall rating 9/10
Versatile for stills and video
Ability to shoot at true 50fps
Touch-screen LCD is responsive and complementary in use
Quick and accurate auto-focus
Better low-noise performance
New Cinema mode shoots 1080/24p at a high 24Mbps
ISO still stuck at ISO1600-3200 as upper usable limit for images
1080/50i bit-rate limited to 17Mbps

Design & Handling

Design & Handling

Outwardly the GH2 looks more 'serious' compared to the GH1. The GH series is Panasonic's MFT top-end line and the GH2 has been redesigned to reflect that. Even though it's still a plastic body, the GH2 has a textured finish which makes it look more like metal, and the professional look is augmented by leather accents which wrap the front and back grips. Its slightly heavier body imparts a solid heft to the camera which makes it not only look but feel more substantial. The control wheel has been moved from the front of the body to the back, a change which feels more comfortable to us.

The GH2 also bolsters its professional status with three savable Custom settings on the Mode dial, and three customizable Function buttons, two on the d-pad and one on top, replacing the dedicated iA (intelligent Auto) button. An additional auto-focus mode dial has been added on top of the focus mode lever. The GH1 was already an easy camera to use, and the GH2 makes it even easier with the new control layout. And of course, there's the new touch screen LCD.

Like the GF2 and the G2 before it, the GH2 does touch right. The controls are responsive, and most importantly, not compulsory. You can shoot either with or without using the touch controls and still get the same things done, or you can work both touch and physical controls in tandem for easier and smoother operation. For example, to change settings you can invoke the Quick Menu button and go through options using the d-pad, or tap on the Q. Menu icon on the screen and tap on the screen icons directly.

One of our favorite uses of the touch-screen is to take over focus by tapping on the subject on the screen using Live View, which tells the GH2 to focus its attention on subjects in that area. This works well when shooting either video or photos, and is especially useful when guiding auto-focus during a video shoot. You can't enjoy these new touch features when using the Live Viewfinder (LVF) of course, but even then shooting through the LVF is an enjoyable experience. The GH2 has a bright, responsive digital LVF which will satisfy anyone used to shooting through a DSLR viewfinder.