Pros + Solid build, beautifully made
+ Great fun to use, great movie mode
+ Great photos that are very sharp
+ Touch screen system is brilliant. quick, responsive, easy to use
Cons - Lack of aperture and shutter control
Summary I'm an amateur photographer, usually shoot on an EOS 30D with 14-40L lens or 70-200L. Have done a few weddings and understand my kit, but am no pro.
I was looking for a replacement compact camera when my IXUS died. I honestly never like the IXUS. We bought it after our first daughter was born and it was just too slow to catch the moment particularly indoors - I hate full frontal flash with stark contrast, so usually get my Speedlite out and use the catchlight or bounce with the 30D for anything indoors. So when I went looking, I wanted something that could keep up with our 3 year old daughter. Something with a really fast autofocus, no shutter lag, relatively decent aperture and usable ISO800 performance that I could take anywhere, use quickly, along with a good movie mode for the new baby on the way.
I was looking at the S95 and the LX5. But then I saw the GF2. I read about it. It was more expensive, but I liked the fact the sensor was bigger than the compacts and with the pancake 14mm f/2.5 lens figured it would force me into using the camera more than being lazy with a point and shoot zoom that I always used at the wide angle lens anyway.
So then I went to the shop to try it. Man was it fast! I could not believe both how fast it was at autofocus and how instantaneous the shutter was (with a simulated SLR noise as there's no internal shutter - the sensor is sitting right there under the lens mount). I tried it against the LX5 and the S95, the LX5 seemed the most responsive - it was much better than my old Ixus... but not as fast as the GF2 - it really feels pretty much as responsive as my 30D - bear in mind that's a digital contrast based system on the GF2 compared to the normal operation of my 30D I am still somewhat taken aback.
I waited a week and read some more, then got the lens kit just in time for Grandpas party where the kids would be running about all over the place.
I honestly cannot believe the sharpness and quality of the photos for such a little camera. What I really mean by this is that I honestly cannot believe the hit rate on fast moving close subjects of kids running around. I hadn't had time to read the manual, I set it to continuous autofocus and tracking mode which took some getting used to but quickly became easy to use, half shutter button to lock on a target, then it follows the target as they race about the screen! I was getting 80% of the shots, in focus, sharp, kids running across the frame, kids running towards the camera. In comparison to the 30D, using on AI servo and with predictive autofocus, I was only getting about 20-30% of these shots. Admittedly with the APS-C size sensor on the 30D, when you zoom into the image, there is less noise and smoother results. But on screen up to 1900 pixels wide and in print, there really is little comparison.
I was worried about DPreview site saying the JPEGS weren't that great on the GF2, but I haven't had any problem and skin tones are rendered really well (4 weeks use). I haven't shot in RAW yet as I would have to upgrade Aperture to v3 and I'm only on v2.
There's some really nice features on the GF2 that I would only have expected on an SLR, even with a 10 or 2 second self-timer and the option to have 3 photos taken one after the other on the 10 sec self timer.
The flash is fine for it's size and you can hold down the hinge and bounce the flash with nice results indoors if you have a relatively low white ceilng around. I haven't tried it much indoors in low light, but it's not that much different to my 30D with internal flash. When there's not enough light, you either need a full frame sensor and a wider aperture or to add more light if you want really stunning results so I'll keep to my 30D with a speedlite for outdoor night shots or indoors with little light at the moment.
I still don't have any idea why camera manufacturers don't let internal flashes use second-curtain sync as standard, and this option isn't available unfortunately on the GF2.
The touch screen system is brilliant. It's quick, responsive, easy to use. Most of the things you need are available right to hand via the customisable quick menu, albeit I'd like another layer of 'quick menu' to get at some functions which are only available in the SET menu. The touch focus and focus tracking by touching the screen are simply fantastic and are part of what makes this camera so unique and fun, while being so incredibly responsive and fast.
Now my big disappointment... there is no aperture control on the movie mode apart from in the iAuto modes and it's kind of a fudge as you have to fiddle with the on screen defocus setting. Considering everything is sitting there right in front of you, you have the camera, the mode setting, the lens... It's a huge disappointment to me. The problem that it presents is thus:
I just do movies of the kids. My daughter moves around even when she is sitting still. In any of the PASM modes, the aperture is locked down to f/2.5. Now the GF2 is a marvel at continuous autofocusing while recording. It's fast and it's responsive and it doesn't hunt. But using the 14mm lens means that moving 5cm backward or forward once it's focus and it needs to refocus. Now it's silent, and it's fast, but with something that's continuously moving, like my daughter, it's almost constantly needing to refocus at f2.5.
If I could simply force it to slow the shutter speed and shoot at f/5.6 or f/8, I'd have greater depth of field and she wouldn't be in and out of focus so often. Now this doens't make the movie mode unusable, the results are stunning at f2.5 when they are in focus, and when she's not within 5 metres of the camera lens all is fine, but due to the shallow depth of field at f2.5 it just means it is often tracking for focus and I WISH it would lock at a higher aperture.
In iAuto mode, you can touch the defocus control before you start the video, then set less background blur, then take the video, but it's way too fiddly and where there isn't much light it doesn't work anyway as the camera won't let you change the aperture. Now if I use the 14-42 f3.5 it's a bit better, but the point of buying this is that I don't want the bigger lens on all the time, my default is the 14mm. Surely Panasonic, you can let me lock the aperture down to give greater depth of field on the movie mode?
It's definitely not a deal breaker, but it is annoying to know you have the power in your hands but you can't use it. And the quality of the HD is outstanding. (PS you can use iMovie to import AVCHD onto a Mac, but I can't get it work in Final Cut Express despite hours of trying different tweaks)
Hope this helps someone - great camera - am so impressed by the results, so responsive and fast to use, really feels like a mini SLR, solid build, beautifully made, lovely responsive touch screen, great photos that are very sharp considering the size of the lens, a relatively nice big sensor, great fun to use, great movie mode, just a big shame about lack of aperture and shutter control. Given that's my only niggle, it's very impressive, albeit for me it's a big one for getting better movies, and if you will buy the Lumix DMC-GF2 I suggest you have to check for best deal before you decide at: Camerarev.blogspot.com/2011/11/dmc-gf2.html
Pros i like this product because of its attracting features pan dmc-gf1 its picture quality is simply superb
Cons nothing bad about this camera