As demand for micro-system cameras rockets, Panasonic unveils the Lumix DMC-GF2 u2013 billed as the worldu2019s smallest and lightest digital system camera with a built-in flash. This report also contains a hands-on video interview.

Lumix GF2 in redAs demand for micro-system cameras rockets, Panasonic unveils the Lumix DMC-GF2 ? billed as the world?s smallest and lightest digital system camera with a built-in flash.

SEE BELOW FOR A HANDS-ON VIDEO INTERVIEW

Panasonic is headlining the diminutive dimensions of its latest Micro Four Thirds incarnation, made possible by ?downsizing? the mount unit and cutting the number of internal parts.

The 12.1-million-pixel model is nearly 20% smaller than the one-year-old Lumix DMC-GF1, which it will replace, and around 7% lighter ? a move the firm hopes will widen the appeal of this type of system camera.

Panasonic UK product manager John Mitchell suggested that the current GF1 model has not appealed sufficiently to the ?step-up? market.

The company also hopes the GF2 will attract the ?advanced user? and ?build on the success of the GF1 as the professional?s compact camera system?.

The GF2 is due out in January when it will be available in three kit options.

The kit GF2 with a 14-42mm lens will cost £599.99; with a 14mm pancake lens, priced £629.99; and with a 14-42mm and 14mm lens, costing £729.99.

It will not be available body-only, according to Panasonic?s UK office.

Panasonic claims that the flash uses a new pop-up mechanism to ?prevent vignetting? ? an effect created by the short distance between the flash and lens.

To bolster creativity, Panasonic has equipped the GF2 with a 3in touchscreen (460,000-dot resolution) that allows manual touch adjustment of focusing and shutter speed, for example.

With the emphasis on intuitive handling, the touch-activated menu can be customised to show only the features most often used. The GF2 also sports a new graphic user interface (GUI).

The GF2 features single-area AF with up to 23 focus areas available in multi-

area AF. ?The camera tracks the subject with AF tracking, even if it moves,? said a Panasonic spokesman.

?With the Intelligent Scene Selector in the iA mode, the camera automatically switches to the appropriate mode according to the subject touched.? For example, a touch on a face sets the camera to portrait mode.

Photographers can use the MF assist function, in manual focusing, to magnify the image on screen by up to 10x and adjust the range of ?peripheral defocus? by moving a slider across the screen.

The model boasts Full HD movie recording (1920×1080 pixels) ? activated via a dedicated movie-record button ? and borrows the Venus Engine FHD processor from the Lumix DMC-GH2 (featuring ?advanced noise reduction?).

Eight preset digital-effect options include retro, cinema, silhouette and monochrome.

The news comes as Panasonic reports a ?261%? rise in UK micro-system camera sales for the year to September 2010, according to figures it was sent by GfK Marketing Services.

The GF2 will be sold in black, red or silver options.

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