Panasonic DMC-G2 a serious touch

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the announcement of Panasonic’s new Micro Four Thirds camera, the Lumix DMC-G2. Yesterday, we got to go hands-on with it, long before it gets released in June.

While the sample we used was a pre-production model (so most likely not as up-to-spec as the market-ready model will be) we can tell you that Panasonic has made this thing impressive. The feel of the unit and the technology within made us ooh and ahhh.

Let’s start with the touchscreen controls. The rear-facing LCD a screen can pulled out and pivoted in nearly any direction, allowing you to frame shots from just about any angle. The touch controls here are very simple, allowing to you to easily select a subject with your finger, focus and then fire the shot. In fact, most of this is achieved in a single action and you’ll have a shot before you realise it.

We had fun with self portraits, too, because the G2 made it so easy. When you hold a camera in front of yourself, it can be troublesome getting yourself in focus, but with the Lumix DMC-G2, you merely aim the screen at yourself, touch the screen where your eye is, and it focuses. Right there  – on your eye. Pressing the shutter will give you the shot and, voila, it’s done.

The Panasonic G2 isn't just available in black. It also comes in red and blue.
The Panasonic Lumix G2 isn’t just available in black. It also comes in red and blue.

It should be noted that the camera isn’t touchscreen only. The same physical controls you’d normally use exist on the body of the camera as well, making touch a nice option if you prefer. That said, it’s an excellent option and one that works better than we expected.

When it comes to conventional button-type operation, the design around the grip is easy and comfortable. Your thumb gets most of the access to buttons, with options that allow you to switch film modes (like standard, vivid, and black-and-white), adjust white balance, and access menu commands.

The top of the grip has also been designed to allow you to get the best out of your photography. For instance, if you’re shooting in one colour mode (say black-and-white) and you see a shot that would only work for you in colour, you can hit the Intelligent Auto (iA) button on the top and quickly jump into the automatic scene mode. There’s also a video record button on the top (it looks like a red circle) so you can record video whenever you want.

Overall, we were quite impressed with what Panasonic was showing off, and with the DMC-G2 out in June for $1299 with a 14-42 f3.5-5.6 lens, we’re worrying how long it’ll be before we succumb and reach for our wallets.

If you were in the market for a sub-$1000 camera, the Lumix G10 might just check all your boxes.
If you were in the market for a sub-$1000 camera, the Lumix G10 might just check all your boxes.

Panasonic is also launching the G10 in June, an entry level Micro Four Thirds camera that borrows technology found in the G2 but massages it into the “under $1000” price bracket. Unlike its bigger brother, the G10 lacks the touchscreen but manages to keep many of the same great design choices for $999 with the same 14-42mm lens the G2 is kitted with.

That said, from our tests of the pre-production models, we’d take the G2 even if it was only a few hundred more (which it is). The touchscreen technology is just that cool.