Touchscreen technology seems to be all the rage, but does it work in a Micro Four Thirds camera? Richard Sibley reviews the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 and finds out
Build and handling
There are only a few minor changes in the build and layout of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 over its predecessor. The most notable of these differences is that the control dial has now been moved from the front handgrip to the rear of the camera. Although I generally prefer using a dial on the front grip of the camera, in practice it really only makes a modest difference moving this to the rear.
The dial on the top left of the camera now also allows you to select the AF mode, as well as quickly switch from AF-C to AF-S or manual focus modes. Besides this, there have been minor changes to the placement of buttons, such as the addition of a record button for instant video capture.
In terms of its size, the G2 is almost identical to the G1, and its compact polycarbonate body is well constructed and weighs just 371g. As well as being available in black, the more fashion conscious photographer has a choice of purchasing the G2 in red or blue.
Of course, the major new addition to the G2 is the touchscreen, and the G2 is the first interchangeable-lens camera to use this technology. I have to be honest and say that I have previously been unimpressed with most touchscreen compact cameras. On the whole, I have found them to be not very sensitive, requiring a very firm press, or having on-screen buttons that are too small to change with the tip of your finger. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the touchscreen of the G2. It is very responsive, but perhaps the best thing about it is that the camera’s operation isn’t completely reliant on it. The G2 has the full complement of regular controls, so you may actually never use the touchscreen at all.
The one real benefit of the touchscreen, though, is when it comes to selecting a focus area. With the touch AF turned on, all you have to do is touch the part of the image you want the lens to focus on and the G2 will do so before taking a picture. This is an extremely tactile way of working, though it does take a while to get used to. For more on this feature see the Autofocus section of this test.
Pressing the on-screen Quick menu button displays all of the current shooting settings. The touchscreen allows each one of these settings to be pressed and changed on-screen. I found this system makes it easy to alter settings, with the exception of the exposure compensation. The compensation is adjusted by moving a point left or right along a scale, but I found that when moving my finger it obscured the precise location of the point and therefore the current setting.
As previously mentioned, the G2 is thankfully not reliant on using the touchscreen, which means that there are other ways of changing the exposure compensation. The first of these is to use the physical Q.Menu button rather than the on-screen button. This presents the same on-screen controls, but allows the standard up, down, left and right buttons to be used to change each setting, including the EV compensation.
An even quicker method of changing the exposure value is to press the rear thumb control dial. Keeping your thumb on the dial then allows you to turn it to the left or the right to increase or decrease the exposure compensation.
As much as I enjoyed using the touchscreen, it takes a while to become completely comfortable using it to operate the camera. For this reason I am grateful that a full complement of regular buttons, switches and controls allows the camera to operate as normal.