Panasonic GH2

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Panasonic Canada calls its new Lumix DMC-GH2 a hybrid (photo/video) touch-control camera. It features full High Definition (HD) video recording and compatibility with what it claims is the world’s first interchangeable 3D lens. This is the latest model in the G series of DSLR lookalikes – without the mirror you really can’t call it a reflex camera, so Panasonic has taken to calling it a DSLM, the “M” standing for micro (or mirrorless, if you so desire).

Compatible with the Micro Four Thirds System standard, the lightweight GH2 is newly designed with an easy-to-hold grip, a refined image processing engine and sensor that delivers fast, sharp photos, full HD video recording, and the intuitive touch-control operation provides ease of use in shooting and playback. And then there’s that 3D lens; more about that below.

A dedicated button on the top of the camera lets users instantly record videos while shooting photos without changing any extra settings. Building on the GH1, the GH2 can now record full HD 1920 x 1080 videos in smooth 60i, doubling the sensor output from 24p to 60p. The camera also supports 1080/24p native mode at 24 Mbps, the highest in AVCHD format.

Other video features include:

New Cinema mode: Record video with rich cinema-like gradation.

New Variable Movie mode: Record video in variable frame rate – 80, 160, 200 and 300 percent – speeding up or slowing frames for more creative videos.

Touch Auto Focus (AF): Point at the subject on the screen and shift focus.

Still photos at 16:9: Instantly take a 14-megapixel photo while recording videos, and also save a frame of video as a photo during playback.

The new 16.05-megapixel multi-aspect LIVE MOS delivers improved signal-to-noise ratio. The sensor also allows high speed burst shooting at 5 frames per second in full resolution using a mechanical shutter. The new Venus Engine FHD processor manages multiple signals at a high speed, making it possible to record high resolution consecutive shots and full HD video recording. The Venus Engine FHD also features advanced signal processing capabilities including: separation of chromatic and luminance noise for clear images, prevention of colour mixture and selective noise reduction for more crisp photos and video recording. The camera’s faster AF reduces detection time for focusing to approximately 0.1 seconds by doubling the drive speed from 60 frames per second to 120 frames per second.

The GH2 features intuitive touch-control operation, as found in the G2 and combines the easy-to-see free-angle Intelligent LCD with the newly developed Multi Aspect Wide Screen LVF (Live View Finder) for more comfortable shooting from any angle.

The three-inch Intelligent LCD allows users to:

Touch the subject on the LCD to adjust AF. Once a user locks onto a subject, the camera tracks the subject with AF tracking even if it moves. Then, with a touch of the screen, users can select the area of focus appropriate mode (e.g., portrait) and even enlarge an image (1x, 5x or 10x) by dragging it on the screen.

Touch and view the screen from any angle, rotating the screen 180-degrees side to side and tilting it 270-degrees up and down for approximately 100 percent of field of view.

Change menu settings quickly by touching the screen, shortcutting the time it would take to navigate using standard cursors.

Touch thumbnails to play back images one by one or drag images over the screen with a finger to browse the  collection of photos, as though flipping the pages of a book.

View primary colours – red, blue and green – 25 percent more vivid when compared to the GH1, thanks to a newly designed LCD and LED backlight.

The GH2 includes 22 different shooting modes for creative shooting options. When shooting video, users can choose from 10 different modes, including the new Cinema mode, and set the contrast, sharpness and saturation levels for each. For still photos the camera features the My Colour mode with a total of seven preset effects – Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Monochrome, Dynamic Art, and Silhouette – while also keeping the Custom mode, which lets users manually set the colour, brightness and saturation levels and store their favourite settings.

With the Full-time Live View function, users can see how these settings will affect the images before they shoot. The GH2 also features more shortcut buttons for frequently used settings.

Panasonic’s iA (Intelligent Auto) mode automatically engages features and settings for optimal image quality by detecting the shooting environment. The GH2 features new additions to the iA mode including Intelligent D-range Control for optimized exposure of an image and Intelligent Resolution for better-balanced sharpness in images for printing at larger sizes.

The Panasonic Lumix GH2 will be available in black in early December for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $999.99 (body only) and $1,699.99 for the kit (body with Lumix G Vario HD 14-140 mm f/4.0-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S.).

NEW LENSES
Three new interchangeable lenses are coming in November for Panasonic G Series cameras.

The new interchangeable 3D lens Lumix G 12.5 mm features two optical systems installed within the diameter of the lens mount, creating stereo images from the left and right lenses that are then processed with a 3D image processing system.

Previously, 3D shooting with an interchangeable lens system camera was possible only by using panorama systems or by combining two lenses and two CCDs. Panasonic’s new 3D-capable interchangeable lens allows instant 3D shooting (35 mm camera equivalent: 65 mm), without time lag between left and right images, says Panasonic, even when shooting objects in motion. The 3D images taken with this lens – even close-up shots – are easily viewed on Panasonic’s 3D Viera televisions.

Claimed to be the world’s lightest interchangeable single focal length lens, the Lumix G 14 mm f/2.5 ASPH is the equivalent of a 28 mm wide-angle lens on a 35 mm camera, delivering sharp, high contrast images. The high performance lens system combines six lenses in five groups, including three aspherical lenses, for a finished product that has an overall length of 20.5 mm. The integration of a stepping motor and an inner focus drive system create a quiet and high speed contrast autofocus.

The new Lumix G Vario 100-300 mm f/4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. (200-600 equivalent) is light and compact, incorporating Panasonic’s MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer to suppress blur to compensate for hand shake. The lens combines 17 elements in 12 groups including an ED lens. By incorporating the ED lens in the first lens group, the chromatic aberration is suppressed to render sharp, high contrast images with stable optical performance over the entire zoom range. The integration of a stepping motor with an exclusive zoom tracking control system and inner focus drive system create a quiet, accurate and high speed contrast AF.

The two latter lenses each have seven-blade apertures, metal mount and multi-coating to minimize ghosting and flare.

The Lumix G 12.5 mm lens has a suggested list price of $299.99. The 14 mm lens has a suggested list of $449.99. The 100-300 lens has a suggested list of $699.99.

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