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
Given that the Lumix DMC-G2 is a mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera, it is reliant on contrast rather than phase-detection autofocus. Contrast-detection AF is most commonly used in compact cameras, where the lens moves back and forth until the camera detects the highest point of contrast and therefore the point of focus. Compared to phase-detection focus, contrast-detection is generally slower. But despite the apparently slower AF system, I was very impressed with the speed of the contrast-detection in the G2, and I didn’t feel that it hindered my photography at all.
Image: The G2 is capable of resolving a great deal of fine detail, as shown in the pull of these fishing nets
There are numerous methods of focusing the lenses used with the G2, including AF tracking, face detection and manual focusing. One of the more interesting aspects of the G2’s AF system is the size of the AF area can be changed. Obviously, the smaller the AF area the more precise you can be when focusing, which is most useful when shooting still-life and landscape images. Interestingly, I didn’t notice any difference in the time taken to focus with any of the four different AF area sizes. The swiftness of the AF was particularly noticeable when using the Touch Shutter focus system.
For those who require very precise control, manual focusing is available. Like most Micro Four Thirds cameras, the manual focus mode offers either a 5x or 10x magnified view of a selected area. One of the benefits of using a Live View system, be it via an LCD screen or an EVF, is that you can move the magnified point around to check the focus in a specific area, without having to move the camera and lens around the scene.
I do have one slight issue with the G2 that is indirectly linked to the manual focus feature. The playback image preview on the rear screen appears to be a fairly low-resolution preview image, even when a magnified view is used. Although this wasn’t too much of a concern in general use, it can be frustrating when you require very precise focusing. On a number of occasions, I spent a good while manually adjusting the focus only to find that the preview on the rear screen appeared to be slightly out of focus. This caused much frustration until I eventually loaded the images onto a computer and found that the focusing was correct after all.
Overall, I was very impressed with the focusing of the G2. Whilst its AF speed will not be fast enough to match the demands of sports photographers and the like, for the average enthusiast photographer it will be more than good enough.