My First Week with the Panasonic GH2

Panasonic GH2 with 20mm f/1.7 lensAfter a long and truly painful wait to receive my first “HDSLR” camera, my Panasonic Lumix GH2 finally arrived. I had waited for several months to order it from a specific retailer, and once my pre-order was placed, the GH2 was on backorder for six more weeks. But last Friday, like a waking dream, it arrived at my doorstep.

As you can see in the thumbnail photo above, I also bought the Lumix 20mm pancake lens. The two make a powerful combination. With the pancake, the GH2 is almost as small as a corpulent point & shoot camera, but it does a whole lot more than even the finest point & shoot cameras on the market. The GH2 has a monster micro four thirds sensor, the lens mount can be adapted to pretty much any lens on the planet, and its HD video quality is currently considered the best you can get (that’s right, it’s even better than the mammoth 5D mk II).

One thing you have to understand about the GH2 is that it’s not officially a “DSLR” camera. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. There is no “Reflex” action in a GH2. The “Reflex” refers to a mirror that swings out of the way when you need to take a picture (like on a traditional SLR camera). The GH2 is mirrorless. Instead of referring to it as an HDSLR, some have nicked named it an “EVIL” camera (meaning Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens).

You guessed it, the GH2 also has an electronic viewfinder (and quite a good one at that). The LCD display articulates and flips out to the side (which makes it possible for me to sit in front of the GH2 and monitor myself  as I shoot my dorky gear videos). I could sit here and rattle off features, but I don’t want to write a 21 page blog post about it. Besides, dpreview just published one last week, and it got rave reviews.

There are lots of reasons why I chose this camera over other options. Number one, the price was right. $999 for a body and a halfway decent kit lens won’t get you in the doghouse for too long if you splurge on one. It doesn’t suffer from the out-of-control moiré issues that the Canon cameras all share. I’m a city person, so I wanted a camera lightweight enough to bring with me everywhere I went. What’s the point in owning an awesome camera if you have to plan a special trip and lug a heavy bag along with you? Being able to act on sudden bursts of inspiration was very important to me. So I bought the GH2 so it could be my constant companion. It lives inside of my shoulder bag.

Another huge incentive for me to go with the GH2 was the user community. The “Panasonic GH Cameras” forum over at dvxuser.com is a very active and large group of users. Nothing beats being able to find heaps of information about your specific camera quickly and easily, and should I encounter a new dilemma, the user community is right there, with people dying to be the first one to answer my question. Dvxuser is awesome.

After my first week with the GH2, all I can say is that it’s lived up to the crazy hype. I’ve had a ball snapping stills, and I got some serious work done shooting video. I’m loving what I see, and I’m really loving its small size and unassuming presence. When you have this camera strapped around your neck, it just looks like a cheap, little camera. This is a good thing! It just seems like people will be less likely to raise an eyebrow, and my subjects won’t feel intimidated.

On a more somber note, I feel the need to extend my deepest sympathies to the people of Japan. The March 11th earthquake and tsunami was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen (and that’s just from watching the videos). My prayers are with you guys. I know that several of Pansonic’s factories were located in affected areas, and the Lumix factory that produced my fantastic 20mm lens is located in the Fukushima prefecture. I would like to wish all of Japan a speedy recovery. We love you!

http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html

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Sam

Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

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