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New GH2, first impressions.

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by hypervel, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. hypervel

    hypervel Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 30, 2011
    This post is really for the people who are still doing their research on what to buy-what to expect. I've only played with the GH2 for a couple of hours, mostly in dim interior light and with 3 lenses including an old m42 55mm 1.4.

    Impressions are relative to a Canon 50D.

    Goodbye, Canon.
    I had a feeling and hope it could come to this. The little (LITTLE!!!) Panny just has it all over the Canon series, especially when the price point is considered. By now, a lot of prospective owners will already be familiar with the tradeoffs between bodies for weight, cost, batt life, etc.
    I'll summarize my immediate impression up front, and you can just bail now if you want to......This camera is like a really really advanced point-and-shoot with interchangable lenses and on-body controls that smack the crud out of many DSLR bodies. 'k. Feel free to go now.
    It is as simple or advanced as I ask it to be. It will make a hit from the hip. It'll shoot moving vehicles with a quite acceptable keeper rate. (there's more to that, but I'll keep it short)
    I agree with many comments that the manual is good, but not all it could be. I had downloaded the PDF a week ago and was all ready to go before it arrived.

    I'll have an opportunity this weekend to shoot kid's soccer. For me, this will be the gratest test to see if the GH2 will earn its keep. Given that I was panning and hitting passing vehicles with utter aplomb within 1/2 hour after charging the batteries, I see no reason for expecting disappointment. I'll report back when it's a done deal.

    So far, the strength of the cam is contrast focus! On iA mode, you can pretty much fire and forget. Don't even really aim. Just point it over there and hit the button. Not 100%, but just try that with a cluster of 9 focus points on a 50D. I know several dslr bodies have better AF systems than the sad 50D and 5Dmk2, buuuuut at what size and price point?

    Again, this is just initial impression. I'm quite happy to have made this decision to try M4/3. It's different for sure. Think like a point and shoot, handle like a teeny tiny DSLR and it seems quite good.
    • Like Like x 3
  2. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    hypervel... I agree; the GH2 is a fantastic camera. It doesn't replace my 5DMkII for pro portrait and commercial work, nor is it even close to doing that.

    BUT, for ALL of my personal and travel photography, I choose m4/3 (G3, GH2, GF3) over the Canon any day... and loving it! The GH2 is arguably the most complete and versatile m4/3 camera, bar none.

    Enjoy your new GH2 and please share some pics.
  3. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    It also doesn't replace a 50D or identical body (Nikon, Pentax) for professional sports work. m4/3 has its place, but please don't start brand wars. I have a D200, and I have a Panasonic G2. Each has its merits, and I'm not getting rid of either one.
  4. Tom Swaman

    Tom Swaman Mu-43 Veteran

    Congratulations on your new GH2. I agree with your results. Also, for the skeptics, no camera replaces another camera exactly or inclusively, but the GH2 is a wonderful compromise with all sorts of advantages over the DSLRs of Canon and Nikon for many purposes at far reduced costs and weight!!!!!

    Best regards,
  5. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    I agree with most of what you said. I have to take issue with the "really advanced P&S" comment though. It's no more a P&S than is my 50D. It's a full featured mid-range interchangeable lens camera that happens to have a smaller sensor and a much smaller body.

    I also have to take issue with your comment on the manual. No way is it decent. It's the worst camera manual I've used with the exception of my very first 35mm camera, and that manual was in Japanese!

    As others have suggested, though, it's not a replacement for my EOS gear. Low light AF of moving subjects (and I'm not just talking about sports) isn't up to par yet, continuous AF isn't up to mid-range DSLR standards, and it's s till lacking in fast AF lenses (which may have something to do with AF performance in low light). When I go to shoot Formula 1 racing or weddings, I'll still drag my EOS gear with me.

    But for probably 90% of what I shoot, the trade-offs in size and weight far outweigh any disadvantages. I've quickly come to prefer the control layout of the GH2 over that of the EOS line.

    One question: you wrote "It'll shoot moving vehicles with a quite acceptable keeper rate. (there's more to that, but I'll keep it short)" Please expand on that. Thanks.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. hypervel

    hypervel Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 30, 2011
    Thanks, all- I'll try to keep this succinct. HA!

    I'm not pro, nor do I wish to be. Once I woke up to my lack of need for MP (past a point)....what the heck? When/if we dwell in the world given by Canikon the absoluteness of the upgrade path-the gear snobbery-the slavish devotion to the FF gods (by 4"x6" printers)- really, the wannabe's. Wanna be better? Well, you must have L glass. NOT. Not unless you MUST, and I see a pro's point of view. Hey, I don't turn Taiwanese wrenches from the local parts store, m'kay? I'm hip.
    The DSLR industry marketing is brilliant. In fact, when I got my order from Ado**** yesterday it came with a mini catalog. Let me grab it. Pg 27. Kingston memory. 3 people. Middle age guy, vid cam/pod. 30ish gal with "I'm cool" look and a larger DSLR and lens hood (must not be Canon sub-L glass) and a giggly glamor girl with a P&S. Looks like Kingston isolates classes of card performance with classes of shooter. It's my take on it, but there it is. The PROFESSIONAL (class 10) the ENTHUSIAST (class6) and the MEMORY KEEPER (class4). Classy. I could go deeper in my view on this but will trust that you follow me. Oh, I know what the ad SAYS, and that pro's need better gear than most----but I think we know that a skilled individual, pro or not, can spank me with a Holga....figuratively, thanks. No matter the cam I've got. This desire to buy better skill is in most every photography media I've come across. Go back through your mags-look at the ads as an outsider...an alien. Cotton Carrier? Not at all knocking the product- but a rigging harness to carry cameras? Sure, if you need it. Not me---probably not for well into the 90th percentile of the photog population. I'm on a tangent. Let's cut it there.
    Geez, what hell would befall us if the camera reviewers told us the truth: feh, good enough for 99.9999% of us- any given camera. Goodbye ad revenue from Canonikon.

    For sports and such: be soft, dear friends. I haven't rung her out yet, and don't expect quite the performance I've enjoyed in the past. The salient point, however, is that I'm shifting my expectations. Not down, just different. Went to Seafair a couple of years ago. Over the day, I hit 2500 +/- exposures. (I've gotten better). Shift expectations- 250 will do. Soccer? Same basic thing, mostly lots of good results and wasted shutter releases. I've improved my anticipation skills. I can compose fairly well while "the plane is in flight" as opposed to hosing the craft with shuttergunning. Uh, the GH2 and a 100-300 will pretty well do for me what the 50D and 100-400 did. At about 5 lb weight savings (with grip).
    Seriously, pixel peep *to what end*? Well, it's fun 'cuz we CAN. My prints top out at 'bout 8x10. Oh, how I need a zillion MP's! I need to count hairs on a fly from 100 meters!

    @ schnitz: not brand warring, just disgust at the notion that we have to consume only what is offered. After m4/3....I shrug. Coke and Pepsi are basically the same in my book. Canonikon could be the same company too for what I see. But, no. Not trying to down anybody on their preferences. 50D is a great camera. For my purposes Oly/Panny are much better options and I reject the industry where the big players are concerned.

    @ meyerweb: I opened the people door to my shop, not halfway. FOV at my target area was maybe 15 degrees at 150 feet. Don't quote me, but you get the idea. Narrow, traffic at 35 MPH crossing tangent, lightly. Fast shutter, single spot focus and AFS. HIT HIT HIT MISS.....COVERED (parked car) Over and over-coming or going. 8MP Jpeg setting, zoom in to read clear license plates. Pan with BOTH eyes! Erase all images on card, yes I'm sure. Over and over. At this point I wonder what the fuss over M4/3 amateur action shot performance is about. If I was gettin' paid, then gear would be different-for now. Thing is, I'm looking to the semi-near future of M4/3, with the development rate of just the past few years as reference. C'mon. GH3, 4....Oly/Pan are going to figure out a way to feed sensor data during shooting. I'm no engineer, maybe I'm wrong. If we can snap during video, then.....
    Oh, and the P&S comment. I stand by it, but kindly note it is my impression. It is a compliment of the highest order. IT DOESN'T FIGHT ME UNLESS I ASK IT TO!!!! I set it to "do the flippin' job" mode, and it does. It just does. Gosh, I like that! Buttons and switches to boot! What on earth am I going to do without the need to enter menu hell?
    Shutter mode? Turn switch. 50D? Push a button, then try to remember which wheel is the right one-screw it up 'cuz I'm not on it as often as I'd like, then scurry around trying to unscrew my screw-up aaaaand missed the shot(s).
    The really great shots- the ones I remember missing-were surprise shots. I have a tentative high level of confidence that shots like that might be better hit from the hip by virtue of numerous prefocus -uh- areas on the GH2 frame compared to duh 50D.
    Great day to all, work beckons me. Be kind to your mechanic.
    Hey there, NWerners! Born and bred.
  7. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Thanks for your reply. I agree with you on the buttons and switches. I like my Canon gear, but the button and wheel method of adjusting everything works better for pros who are using the gear every day than it does for amateurs who have to try to re-remember which button to push and which knob to twirl in what direction each time they pick up the camera.

    In your shooting of the cars, were you shooting in continuous and holding the shutter release down, or shooting in single mode and pressing the release repeatedly? I haven't use AFS with continuous shooting; I'll have to give it a try.
  8. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    That sounded a little like a rant. It's great that you're enthusiastic, but it seems that micro 4/3 seems to draw more snobs than any other format that I've ever used in my life, digital or film. Always putting down this or that about shooting, putting down people's choices of gear or preferences for shooting.

    I've argued this countless times, and I'll argue it countless more. m4/3 is a FORMAT, no better or worse than any other format. Full-frame is not just for print sizes. When I grab a 4x5 Technika (as in 4 INCH x 5 INCH piece of film, so the "sensor" could fit an Olympus EP-3 which has a 4.8in x 2.7in body inside of it) it's not because I'm printing billboard sizes. Heck, I've printed pictures as small as, you guessed it, 4" x 5" with it. Don't badmouth Canon or Nikon because of the camera choices they make, because when you work as a professional (as I, and many other m4/3 users here have), you CANNOT get the shot with an m4/3 body. Or maybe you can, but it's wayyyyy more work and taking too much of a chance with situations that will never happen again. You want to talk about megapixels? Your camera, with a sensor of area 225 mm^2, has 16MP. My Nikon, with a sensor 40% larger than yours, has only 10MP, so how's that for chasing megapickles? The $5,000+ Nikon D3s, which is what you see every Nikon news photographer and field professional using, has a sensor about 4 times larger than yours. Guess how many megapixels he has on his camera? Twelve. So get out of here with your nonsense about other people chasing megapixels; you have no idea what you're arguing.

    No professional blindly grabs for L glass. They grab for the tool that gets the job done. If you were deluded into getting the most expensive product that you saw on the store shelf, don't take it out on the other camera companies because you didn't do your homework, and decided that the most expensive gear will get you the best pictures. No pro that I know advocates that; they always tell their novice friends to get the simpler camera, because the more expensive one will have more settings that the new user is likely to mis-adjust. Understand, that while your GH2 may serve well enough compared to a 50D for your use, it in no way can keep up with a 50D for serious shooting. I think that this thread explains it as well as I could:

    You want to know why there are different classes of memory cards? Grab yourself one of those Class 4 cards, and try to fire a burst of shots off. Or better yet, try to record yourself a video, since you have such a good video-capable camera. We'll see how long you tout that "99.99999%" bullshit. When I used to work with a newspaper, I was getting an 80%+ keeper rate with a Canon 20D shooting soccer AT NIGHT. If you can't keep up with your camera, then instead of investing in more cameras, try putting that money towards a photo class.

    Go to the doctor, because your butt's probably gonna hurt after I knocked you that hard off of your high horse. When someone like you argues for or against a particular brand, I believe that it says much more about you than it does about the brand.
  9. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    I agree with shnitz. We who hang out here really love the m4/3 format. But it is what it is. Suitable for some, even many applications. But for many other applications, it simply can't even begin to compare to cameras like the 5DMkII and other models from Canon and Nikon.

    Just for fun I decided to use my recently acquired G3 for a portrait application that I always use my 5DMkII and 70-200 f/2.8L lens for. My images were about as nice as I usually produce with my 5DMkII in terms of composition and lighting, but the resulting RAW files were dramatically inferior to the RAW files produced by the 5DMkII. And when I need to coax out more detail from the shadows, or extract detail from apparently blown out highlights, or edit fine details of a client's complexion in an environmental portrait, the m4/3 file doesn't even begin to compare in IQ. It will likely be a long time, if ever, before I use m4/3 for a professional portrait application again.

    Yes, I love m4/3 for my personal and travel use, but for many professional applications, it cannot even begin to compare with true full frame sensor data. Just as true full frame sensor data doesn't even begin to compare to medium format sensor data for a variety of applications. Just because there are 16 megapixels of data in the latest and best m4/3 sensors does NOT mean the data from that sensor can compare to data from larger sensors. It's just a case of different horses for different courses and, in many applications, never the twain shall meet.
  10. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Don, have you used any APS-C DSLR's (e.g. 7D) in your work? I wonder how the G3 RAWs would hold up against their 7D or 50D counterparts? I ask this because many of us "enthusiasts" are unlikely to invest in the FF cameras but would consider an APS-C based model as an alternative to MFT. I'm really enjoying my foray into MFT but haven't parted with my aging 40D gear....yet. As always, thanks for your insights!

    p.s. Just for the record, I'm using Canon model references, 'cause that's all I've ever known. Do not mean to imply superiority of Canon over Nikon, Pentax, Olympus....:smile:
  11. I like my 50D...
  12. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Wow. What a bunch of killjoys. Enjoy your GH2. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The GH2 was also a step up from the Canon 50D I replaced it with, for all my uses. For the professional applications I require, the GH2 is a far more usable and practical tool, with remarkably similar image quality, than the 50D. If it's the same for you, based on what you need the camera to do, then well done and enjoy your new companion. Wait until you try some of the primes on it. They're as good as anything out there, in the right hands.

    And please post some pics.

    • Like Like x 1
  13. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Interesting points, but sounding way too much like a DPReview forum. Have a good night everyone and let tomorrow be a brand new day!
    • Like Like x 3
  14. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Hi Chuck... I'm sorry, I wish I could help with your question, but I don't have any recent experience with the APS-C sensors. I began using the full frame Canon sensors when the 5D first came out and then moved on to the 5DMkII bodies when they came out, so it's been quite a few years since I used my last APS-C (a 20D). The IQ and depth of focus control with the 5DMkII is truly remarkable and while the 7D can probably come somewhat close, I believe there is still a notable difference in dynamic range and low noise between them.

    I don't see how this discussion should spoil ones appreciation for the GH2. From my own experience, I love the GF1 I started my m4/3 journey with and now also love the GH2 and the G3 and the GF3. The fact that they can't replace the 5DMkII for my professional applications doesn't make them any less wonderful or desireable than they are!

    As I said before, congrats to the OP for his new GH2... it's a wonderful camera! Now get out there and shoot with it! :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  15. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    FWIW, I just purchased the Pentax K-5, and one of the first things that I noticed is that the RAW files feel much more organic - the Pentax colors are more natural and the files are tolerant of post-processing, particular the highlights and shadows. I can push and pull a Pentax K-5 RAW image much harder than a GH2 image before digital artifacts start raising their ugly pixels.

    That said, the GH2 is capable of very very nice images. It's just got a smaller sweet spot and thus less room for user error or environmental conditions.
  16. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Really? You don't see it? And you just did it again.

    It's not all about you. This isn't the first time you've said (paraphrase)" it's a nice camera but for MY PROFESSIONAL USE....." Yep. Your a Pro. We get it. Me too. Still doesn't have anything to do with the OP.

    (paraphrase)"Yep you've got a nice camera there BUT it's not a serious camera like the 50D or suitable for professional use like the 5D2". Why is there always a "but....". The op came in with a very personal account of why he's so happy with his new camera and here you and shnitz (with his large format and "buts gonna hurt" diatribe) come in with the "but" and "rant". The guy didn't mention the 5D2, said he's not a pro, mentioned at least 4 times it was based on HIS needs and you come in and compare a different camera (G3) to a camera he doesn't have. Just congratulate the guy and move on.


    • Like Like x 1
  17. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Chuck. I also switched completely from a 50D to the GH2. I also had other bodies (5D2, 1Ds2, 40D, 1D4) as well. I think (and this is only one opinion) that the Gh-2 is a sideways step from the 50D. Better in some ways, worse in others. The 50D has better continuous AF, but I don't use it so it made no difference to me. It's better built. The battery life is significantly (2-3x) better. There's a wider selection of "pro" grade lenses (especially zooms), flashes, grips and accessories. TTL flash is significantly better on the Canon than m4/3 as the GH2 meters TTL flash off the sensor causing a delay in the shutter firing and less accurate exposures. The files are very similar in noise and detail. Remember the 50D is a two to three year old sensor and the 60D and 7D are significantly better. It's quite possible to get files that are virtually indistinguishable but you need to get your exposures right in camera. it's less easy to "fix it in post" on the GH-2 The 50D files have a bit more headroom (pushing highlights) but both fall apart in the shadows if pushed. I'm not a fan of either Canon or Panny jpeg colours and only shoot raw. You'll get about 2/3 of a stop more control over DOF on the Canon.

    The GH2 system is obviously much lighter. It has video which the 50D does not. Live view on the Canon is very slow to focus. I found it useless. And the screen is fixed so no easy waist level or overhead shooting. AF between the systems in single shot is similar. The Canon may be marginally faster (Panny with the 14-140) but you can focus anywhere with the same speed and accuracy on the display with the GH-2. The focusing on the outer points of the 50D is significantly worse and often misses in low light. The 50D does focus better than the 5D2 though. I prefer the Panasonic layout. Others may not.

    I did some shooting at a conference recently where I had to shoot at ISO 1250 and 2500.. The files from the GH2 are fine if the exposure was good. If I get a chance I'll stick a couple up later. For my uses the GH-2 has opened possibilities that were more difficult on the 50D. Others, especially those who shoot a lot in continuous focus mode will be better off with the Canon 50D.

  18. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Gordon... nope. Your "paraphrase" of what I said is twisted, wrong, and not my intent. "Not a serious camera like the 50D...blah, blah" ? What's with that crap? Those are your words, not mine. The GH2 is perfectly serious in my view. And a wonderful camera. So is the LX5 I love dearly. I made it quite clear that they are all great cameras in their own rights and suitable for differing applications. Simply because the GH2 is no match for the 5DMkII for particular applications is NOT a reason to discount the camera. Why on earth would you jump to that conclusion? I stated that the GH2 doesn't meet all of my photographic needs. That's all. Does ANY single camera meet ALL of your photographic needs???

    Get this: Back off jack! I'll write my own words, thank you. Don't rewrite what I wrote to reflect your incorrect personal feelings regarding my statements. Your defensiveness here is steaming.

    There is NO disrespect for the GH2 from me, nor for hypervel's choice of it. I've indicated in every post I made that I have and love the camera. My intent is to reflect that each camera has it's value for particular applications which may or may not apply to any individual. That is pretty obvious to anyone who's been around cameras for very long. Time to take a chill pill and smile! :wink:
  19. dayou14

    dayou14 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 6, 2011
    Wow... intense feelings.

    Chill guys.

    The folks here know we chose M4/3 really because it is small and easy to carry while giving acceptable quality.

    Just pixel peep your files at 1600 iso (yes, even the GH2), and you'll see the compromises you have to make. I must admit it irks me enough sometimes for me to look at Canikon and Sony catalogs.

    Hypervel, notice this is a really amazing forum. People here are asking u NOT to knock Canikon (or any other brand) even though you were passionately in praise of M4/3!

    As mirrorless as a type of camera is still maturing, you'll find plenty of folks using a variety of equipment. Many folks here use X100, NEX, GXR, and others. This is all good as we gain experience.

    You may have frustrations with Canikon cameras but it doesn't make them bad cameras. Just not suitable for you.

    • Like Like x 1
  20. hypervel

    hypervel Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 30, 2011
    1) Restate- Amateur, with no fantasy of going pro.
    2) I really appreciate everybody chipping in so passionately.
    3) I rant. You should hear me in traffic.

    FRUSTRATION at Canonikon. Great products. I mean it! Why the apparent arrogance toward this exciting camera category by (especially) Canon? By "category" I mean small cam/interchangable lens. Sony gets it. Oly/Panny gets it. Ricoh gets it. Fuji gets it. Leica......It feels like a company I like and trust (Canon) is turning its back on a really exciting field, and freezing guys like me out in the process. They lost me.

    @ schnitz: It has been said that you can only insult a guy that allows himself to be insulted. I mean no insult to anybody at all. I also think maybe you read too much into the words I wrote, but sidestepped the notion that it's all a matter of my impression of things. Please take it light! We're here, so likely on the very same page!
    On MP. Not really sure where yer going on that, but the thrust of MP reference is that I don't want any more and don't buy it as much more than a sales gimmick aimed at novices. 'Cuz bugger is so much better after all.....On that note, I recall reading some discussion that was had with Panasonic about their decision to up the MP count on the GH2 to 16MP effective instead of going for "better" pixels. Frustration and some disbelief at caving to base sales gimmickry were noted- and not by me!

    I took the kit out last evening for quick fun. Given that the light was waning, I set my 55 1.4 manual lens on and had some fun. Time starved and at work, I would like to post some pics but will likely have to wait until a free weekend. Those might be few for the school/sports weekends and upcoming holiday requirements. Anyhow, I was quite happy with the results of just punking around. My success rate was quite good, given I haven't gone after manual focus since I was a kid in the 80's with my dad's Minolta. The hens are my usual target for cam testing. f1.4 on a bobbing chicken noggin is a truly daunting proposition!

    @? (sorry, not backing out of this page to check name) Tracking cars.... AGAIN note it was quick 'n' dirty, very preliminary. I was on high shutter, single focus (non-continuous). In fact, I tried tracking and continuous focus with opposite results than what I would've expected. Also remember before you go all "pro" on me:eek:  that I have different expectations here than with the 50D.
    I suspect that DOF will likely play a big part in focus success, and might try proving out some old-school pre-focus/f-stop variety settings. I figure a deeper DOF might alleviate some performance lag on high shutter if only because the cam won't have to refocus actively. To that end, I might put that 55 f1.4 on just to worry the point to a nub. I do remember it was quick as expected AND relative to my benchmark 50D/100-400.
    Back to work. You folks have a great day!
    • Like Like x 2
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