Monday, November 12, 2012

Panasonic GH2 – Review Part 1 – The arrival …

I was trying to decide whether I should make a big splash purchase of the GH3 or not when I realized that I really just wanted a really good video cam with very good image quality. I already have the G5, which is close enough to the top of the m4/3 heap for my purposes, and I thought why not try the GH2? These are very impressive video cameras and the image quality is very good, being the first generation of the 16mp MFT sensors.

So I placed a “want to buy” post on and someone replied that he had a GH2 that he could part with. We ended up agreeing on $535 plus shipping and he threw in an extra battery. Since these batteries are also compatible with the G5, I am in great shape suddenly for spares. I have three batteries for the GF3 as well, so I expect to do very well on my next trip.

Here, for example, is an image of the way I could configure these cameras for a trip.

You can see that I have the PZ 14-42 on the G5 and the Olympus 45mm 1.8 on the GH2. The GF3 has the 45-175 video lens. This could work, but is not really what I plan to travel with. Because I ordered a 14-140 used from Henrys and plan to have that on the G5 most of the time. This frees the GH2 for the 45mm and the GF3 for the 7.5mm fisheye.

I will probably switch things around now and again, and when filming, the GH2 will likely shoot the wide shot with the 14-42 while I use the GF3 for close ups with the long lens and the G5 for close ups with the 45mm … something like that … I’m just a hack so we’ll see where I go with that.

Of course, the GH2 and G5 will have their stereo mics running and the GF3 the mono mic … plus the TASCAM DR05 will be recording. I will see how well they blend for a wide open sound.

Meanwhile, a couple of high ISO shots from the GH2 just to see what it can do …

Panasonic GH2  Olympus 45mm 1.8  2000iso  f/1.8  1/100

Clearly, the shadows are at risk a bit. If your monitor is calibrated, this probably looks alright. But if your monitor is a typical TN panel, there is probably quite a bit of blotchy noise in the shadows. I don’t mind this performance, but I am pretty sure that the G5 is somewhat better. The clarity is first rate, however.

panasonic gh2  Olympus 45mm 1.8  3200iso  f/1.8  1/60

Now 3200 is really pushing it. I think I will set an ISO limit of 1600. Still, this is not bad looking on a calibrated monitor.

I do like having three batteries and two chargers for the G5 / GH2 … that’s going to be really convenient. Now I just need the G3 to share batteries with the GF3 and I will be able to carry every lens premounted …

So … I think I will keep this thing Smile