Panasonic Unveils Lumix GF2 Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with Touch LCD Screen


NOVEMBER 04, 2010

By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

Panasonic has unveiled the new 12.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-GF2, a Micro Four Thirds format camera that uses interchangeable lenses and features a Touch Control rear LCD panel to control most of the cameras basic functions. There is no mode dial on the GF2 but a simulated dial appears on the touchscreen to change settings.

The GF2 is a follow-up to the popular GF1, also a Micro Four Thirds camera with a 12.1MP chip but without a touch panel. We reviewed the GF1 in February 2010.

Though the GF2 has the same resolution as the GF1, we were told by Panasonic that it's an entirely new imaging sensor capable of shooting 1080p, 60i video with Dolby stereo sound. There's also a 3D shooting mode and the camera is compatible with Panasonic's newly developed 3D lens for Lumix cameras, the Lumix G 12.5mm f/12.

The camera can also be purchased as a kit with the 14mm f/2.5 kit lens, or the 14-42mm zoom kit lens.

The GF2 has a new Venus Engine processor designed to cut down on image noise and speed autofocus. (Of all the mirrorless compact cameras with interchangeable lenses on the market, the GF1 actually has, arguably, the fastest contrast-based autofocus system.)

The GF2 is thinner and slightly more narrow than the GF1. According to Panasonic, body mass is 18% smaller and 7% lighter than its predecessor.

With the touch panel LCD, photographers need to just touch the screen with a finger to trigger the shutter. (There's also a traditional mechanical shutter.) One very cool feature we saw demoed at an off-site hotel during PhotoPlus Expo, is the ability to use touch control to pull (aka rack) focus while shooting in the HD video mode.

The Panasonic Lumix GF2 will ship in January 2011 and pricing will be announced about 30 days before shipment, Panasonic said. It will come in four colors in the US: black, white, red, and silver. (A pink version will be available overseas, if you're looking to collect all five.)

More info in the press release below.


PRESS RELEASE

PANASONIC INTRODUCES COMPANY’S SMALLEST AND LIGHTEST DIGITAL INTERCHANGEABLE LENS SYSTEM CAMERA WITH FLASH

New Panasonic LUMIX GF2 Features Touch-Screen Operation, Full HD Video Recording Capability and Compatible with Panasonic’s Interchangeable 3D Lens

SECAUCUS, NJ (November 4, 2010) – Panasonic today announced the LUMIX DMC-GF2, the latest of the company’s DSL Micro (DSLM) compact mirrorless cameras, which is Panasonic’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens system camera – complete with a built-in flash. The LUMIX GF2 is compatible with lenses from the Micro Four Thirds standard, meaning the system is small and compact, while not compromising ease of operation or image quality. Even more, the LUMIX GF2 is compatible with Panasonic’s new 3D interchangeable lens, the LUMIX G 12.5mm / F12, so users can take 3D photos.

“The LUMIX GF2 is key in the Panasonic DSL Micro line-up, as it’s the smallest and lightest model we offer, while still offering superb image quality, which our consumers have come to expect from LUMIX. Compared to the GF1, its predecessor, the GF2 has been reduced approximately 19% in size and approximately 7% in weight yet is still retains its signature built-in flash,” said Darin Pepple, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “We expect the LUMIX GF2 to be an attractive model for consumers who want to step up to a more powerful camera that is easy to use, and a camera that is ‘future-proof’ with its 3D capabilities.”

The LUMIX GF2 is extremely easy to operate for consumers at any level, thanks to a newly- designed user interface, which allows for the focus to be set, or shutter released, by simply touching the large 3-inch touch-screen LCD. The touch-screen LCD with a 460,000-dot-resolution makes taking great photos intuitive. Once a user locks on a subject by touch, the LUMIX GF2 tracks the subject with the AF tracking function, even if the subject moves – making it easy to take photos of moving subjects, like children playing. The contrast AF system adopted by the LUMIX DMC-GF2 is not only accurate and easy to use, but also very fast. Users can choose from a wide range of AF (Auto Focus) modes, including multiple-area AF with up to 23 focus areas, 1-area AF with a selectable focus area, Face Detection, and AF Tracking.

The touch operation also dramatically shortens the time spent navigating the menus. With the LUMIX GF2’s newly-designed Touch Q-menu, the user can customize the camera’s shortcuts with the most commonly used settings. Together with the simple button components, including dedicated buttons for video recording and iA (Intelligent Auto) mode which lights in-use, users can operate the camera intuitively with ease.

With the Intelligent Scene Selector in the iA mode, the camera automatically switches to the appropriate mode according to the subject touched. For example, a touch on a human face switches to the portrait mode and a touch on the background or scenery switches to the scenery mode, while a touch on the subject close to the camera switches to the close-up mode. With the MF assist mode for manual focusing, users can enlarge the subject by just a touch to select 1x, 5x or 10x and smoothly move the subject by dragging it on the screen. In iA mode and the Peripheral Defocus mode, the range of defocus can be adjusted by just moving the slider with a finger, something not possible with larger more complicated DSLR cameras that don’t feature touch control.

While achieving breakthroughs in compactness of design and outstanding photo and video quality, the Panasonic LUMIX GF2 can contribute its professional-level imaging performance to well-balanced engine and sensor technologies. For the image processor, the Venus Engine FHD is incorporated, featuring exceptionally high performance signal processing capabilities in both photo and movie recording. With the advanced noise reduction system employing the 3D NR and CNR (Chromatic Noise Reduction), users can capture clear, naturally-balanced images even when shooting at high ISO sensitivity levels to help prevent the color bleeding.

Panasonic’s Venus Engine FHD enables Intelligent Resolution technology, which means that three areas – outlines, detailed texture areas and soft gradation – are automatically detected. Then, the outline parts are enhanced effectively to give edges more clearness while giving a moderate accentuation to the texture areas to look more finely detailed. To the soft gradation part, noise reduction system is applied to make it smoother. Apart from the uniform enhancement of sharpness, the innovative technology Intelligent Resolution precisely performs signal processing pixel by pixel, resulting in images that are naturally clear and crisp in both video and photos. The 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor featured in the LUMIX GF2 offers the best of both worlds – the superb image quality of a CCD sensor, plus the lower power consumption of a CMOS sensor.

All of Panasonic’s LUMIX G-Series DSLM cameras are equipped with the highly-efficient Dust Reduction System.  If dust gets inside the camera when the user changes lenses, it could cling to the image sensor and show up as a spot in photos. The Dust Reduction System helps to reduce this risk by placing a supersonic wave filter in front of the Live MOS sensor. Vibrating vertically around 50,000 times per second, the filter repels dust and other particles.

The LUMIX GF2 shoots professional-quality full High Definition (HD) videos as well as handling still photography. The LUMIX GF2 can record 1920 x 1080 videos at 60i or smooth HD 1280 x 720 movies at 60p in AVCHD.  For those looking for better compatibility with computers, the LUMIX GF2 can also record HD Motion JPEG in 1280 x 720 and QVGA, VGA and WVGA. A dedicated video record button makes it easy to start shooting videos, and high quality sound is recorded with the stereo microphone for Dolby® Digital Stereo Creator.  Panasonic’s iA mode extends to video recording, with the following features: Optical Image Stabilizer, Face Detection, Intelligent D-range Control and Intelligent Scene Selector.

The Panasonic LUMIX GF2 is artistic not only in form, but also in function, as it provides an array of features that lets users capture true-to-life images while also creating their own expressive, beautiful images. The LUMIX GF2 features My Color mode which is integrated with the conventional Film mode. My Color mode offers a total of eight preset effects — Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Cinema, Monochrome, Dynamic Art, Silhouette, plus Custom mode, which lets users manually set the color, brightness, saturation and contrast levels. Also, with the Full-time Live View function, users can see how these settings will affect the images before they shoot, which makes it easier to capture the exact effect desired. The LUMIX GF2 has 17 Scene modes, most which can be used during video shooting, too.  The exposure meter can be displayed in the P/A/S/M shooting modes for entry-level users to visually learn the correlation between shutter speed and aperture to enhance their photography skills.

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF2, with a quality and solid aluminum body, will be available in black, silver, white, and red models with the following kit options: DMC-GF2C – 14mm F2.5 Lens Kit and DMC-GF2K – 14-42mm Zoom Lens Kit.  The LUMIX GF2 will be available in January 2011 and pricing will be announced approximately 30 days prior to shipment.

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