The GF2 is Panasonic’s smallest and lightest compact system camera, yet it has some of the most advanced features on the market. Mat Gallagher discovers just what the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 has to offer
Build and Handling
The GF2 may not be the most diminutive of compact system cameras (only the smallest with flash), but it feels considerably smaller than its predecessor and most of the competition. The Sony NEX models may be smaller but they have much larger lenses, so to carry around can end up being more bulky.
When using the GF2 you can easily forget it is an interchangeable-lens camera, especially with the 14mm optic on the front, and in size it is only fractionally larger than Panasonic’s new advanced compact, the Lumix DMC-LX5.
The body feels solid and hardwearing, and reassuringly heavy for its size. It looks classy in its matt black finish, although the silver and red colours that will also be available in the UK really suit the camera too. White versions can be found in Europe and pink in Asia, but these shouldn’t be missed too much in the British market.
While there is no significant grip on the front or rear of the camera, it isn’t really a problem. The camera is small and light enough not to need it, and the small ridge on the front and shaping on the rear are enough to give the finger and thumb something to steady against when composing your shot. Although you can attach longer lenses such as the new 100-300mm, or even Four Thirds lenses via an adapter, I wouldn’t recommend it for extended use, as the camera would become unbalanced and unwieldy.
The lack of a shooting-mode dial on the GF2 did concern me at first, but having it available on the touchscreen means that it is no more difficult to change and in fact, it is less likely to be changed by accident.
The iA button sits next to the shutter button, and a quick movie record button is a little easier to press by accident and will override any other setting from the shooting menu. But, handily, this lights up in blue when activated, so is fairly obvious when in use.
Most of the camera’s operation can be controlled from the touchscreen – even taking the shot, thanks to the touch shutter option where you simply tap your subject on the screen and the camera focuses on that point and fires.
However, if you prefer to use the buttons or are wearing gloves, then you can still access all the features using the four-way pad, quick buttons and selection dial. The quick-menu button can also be customised for use as a function button for a range of 12 different functions, from AF/AE lock to Intelligent Resolution control.
The menu screens have a new graphical menu that keeps operation very simple and the initial screen resembles a sat nav or mobile phone menu more than any advanced camera. New users should love it, but it is perhaps too much form over function and it might be nice to have an option to remove the initial screen to save time for more advanced users. However,, with the touchscreen control, it doesn’t really slow the operation significantly.