Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Review

December 13, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 is a new Micro Four Thirds compact system camera with a 16 megapixel multi-aspect Live MOS sensor and Full 1080p HD video with continuous autofocus at variable frame rates, including cine standard 24fps. Successor to the DMC-GH1 model, the GH2 also features extremely fast contrast-detect autofocus, a touchscreen control system with touch-based functions like Touch AF/AE and Touch Shutter, upgraded Venus Engine FHD processor, faster 60fps Live View, a multi-aspect electronic viewfinder, a 3-inch swivelling and tilting LCD screen, Optical Image Stabilisation to help combat camera-shake, ISO range of 160-12800, and a Supersonic Wave Filter to remove unwanted dust. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 comes in black or two-tone black/grey and costs £899.99 / $1000 with the 14-42mm lens and £1299.99 / $1500 with the 14-140mm lens. In the US it's also available body-only for $900.

Ease of Use

In terms of its overall design and handling the new GH2 is virtually identical to the previous GH1 model, so a lot of the comments that we made about that camera will be repeated here. Measuring 124 x 89.6 x 75.8mm and weighing 392g without a lens attached, it's the same size and weight as the GH1. Panasonic have resisted the temptation to shrink the DMC-GH2 and make it as small as possible in order to ensure that users with average-sized hands can still operate it comfortably.

On the front of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 is a small focus-assist and self-timer indicator lamp, lens release button, lens mount, and rubberised hand-grip. I naturally gripped the camera with the thumb, middle and fourth finger of my right hand, whilst operating the shutter button with my fore-finger and supporting either the lens or camera body with my left hand. The GH1's rubber compound coating has been replaced with a textured finish to the GH2's plastic shell, which is still a hard-wearing, protective coating and makes it easy to grip, but is a little less tactile and plain unusual than the GH1. Overall the DMC-GH2 continues the usual Panasonic approach of being extremely well-built, with a high quality metal chassis, lens mount and tripod socket.

The GH2 only ships with either the 14-42mm or the 14-140mm kit lenses - there is currently no body-only option. We predominantly reviewed the GH2 with the 14-140mm lens. While the body of the GH2 is comparable in size and weight to other DSLR cameras, the lenses are where Panasonic have really shrunk the overall system. Given the 10x focal length on offer, the 14-140mm optic is relatively small and light, although it is actually heavier than the GH2 itself. The lens does extend a long way when zoomed to its maximum telephoto setting, making it a little conspicuous, but that's a small price to pay for such an overall compact package. The real downside from a specification point of view are the relatively slow maximum apertures of f/4-5.6, which limits the GH2's use in low-light conditions and makes it more difficult to effectively blur the background to help emphasise the main subject.

With the system now being well established, there are quite a lot of other Micro Four Thirds lenses currently available covering virtually every imaginable focal length. You can also use regular Four Thirds lenses or even Leica D lenses via optional adapters, but lenses that are not compatible with the GH2's Contrast AF function can only be used with manual focusing and cannot use the Tracking AF, AFc (Auto Focus Continuous) or Continuous AF functions.

Unlike a conventional DSLR camera which uses a phase detection auto-focus system, the DMC-GH2 employs the same Contrast AF that is commonly used by compact cameras. As with the EVF, experienced photographers will now be tutting loudly at the thought of having to use a traditionally slower system. In reality the GH2 actually has one of the fastest AF systems of any interchangeable lens camera, be that a compact system camera or a DSLR - with certain lenses (the 14-140mm included) it can lock focus as quickly as 0.1 second! This is incredibly quick, and there were also almost no occasions when the GH2 failed to lock onto the subject, especially when using the centre AF point, resulting in a very quick and importantly reliable AF system. There are a wide range of AF modes on offer, including multiple-area AF with up to 23 focus areas, 1-area AF with a selectable focus area, Face Detection, and AF Tracking. The GH2 also has a useful Quick AF function that begins focusing as soon as you point the camera.

Optical image stabilisation is supplied via the lens, rather than being built-in to the camera body. It can be turned on and off via the Mega O.I.S switch on the lens barrel, with three different modes accessible through the DMC-GH2's menu system. When enabled, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 automatically compensates for camera shake, which is a slight blurring of the image that typically occurs at slow shutter speeds when the camera is hand held. There are three different modes, Mode 1 is on all the time including image composition, Mode 2 is only on when you press the shutter button, and Mode 3 compensates for up and down movements only (which in turn allows you to pan the camera).

In practice I found that it does make a noticeable difference. You don't notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when anti-shake is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos. Thankfully leaving the anti-shake system on didn't negatively affect the battery life, with the camera managing more than 300 shots or 120 minutes recording time capacity using the supplied rechargeable Li-ion battery, a slight improvement on the GH1's battery life.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2


The GH2 has a different image sensor to the GH1, utilising a new multi-aspect 18.31 megapixel sensor that provides 16.05 effective megapixels. This is both to accommodate the movie recording functionality, and also to offer four different aspect ratios for still photos (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 and 1:1 square modes) without affecting the angle-of-view by cropping or interpolation.

Found on top of the Panasonic DMC-GH2 are the combined Focus mode dial and Focus Area switch, external flash hotshoe and built-in pop-up flash, large internal stereo mic, burst mode/bracketing/self-timer switch, on/off switch, and large tactile shutter button. There's also a traditional dial that lets you choose the different exposure modes. The usual selection of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual are available for the more experienced photographers. This dial is a typical feature of SLR cameras, and enables you to quickly change between the various modes. The more beginner-friendly Scene modes are also accessed via this dial. Additionally there are 3 custom modes, marked C1, C2 and C3, which allow you to configure your favourite settings and quickly access them, and a My Color mode which sets the brightness, saturation and color of the image before you take it.

The clever Intelligent Auto mode tries to make things as easy as possible for the complete beginner, allowing you to point and shoot the camera without having to worry about choosing the right scene mode or settings. Intelligent Auto Mode automatically determines a number of key criteria when taking a picture, including selecting the most appropriate scene mode (from 5 commonly used presets) and ISO speed, and turning face detection (up to 15 faces), image stabilization and quick auto-focus on. The Intelligent Auto Mode also includes Intelligent Exposure, which increases exposure only in the under-exposed areas of the image, Digital Red-eye, which automatically detects and removes red-eye, and AF Tracking, which continually tracks a moving subject and keeps it in focus, without you having to hold the shutter button halfway down as on most other cameras. Intelligent D-range continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows, while Intelligent Resolution mode makes a standard image look like a higher resolution one.

In practice the Intelligent Auto Mode system works very well, with the GH2 seamlessly choosing the most appropriate combination of settings for the current situation. The 5 available scene modes are Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Night Portrait and Night Scenery, so obviously not all situations are covered by Intelligent Auto Mode, but it does work for the majority of the time. It makes it possible for the less experienced photographer to easily take well-exposed, sharp pictures of people, scenery and close-ups by simply pointing and shooting the camera. Also catering for the beginner are a total of 11 different scene modes, including the new Peripheral Defocus mode, which despite sounding rather complicated makes it easy for beginners to achieve a blurred background / sharp subject effect without having to understand what apertures are.

Also on the top of the camera is the Function 1 button, which as with the other two Function buttons on the navigation pad can be configured to activate one of 18 key settings, allowing the camera to be customised to suit your way of working, and the relocated Motion Picture button. As you'd expect, it allows you to start recording a movie with a single push of a button, and then stop recording by pressing the same button, regardless of which shooting mode is currently selected. This is a lot more intuitive than having to select the movie mode then press the shutter button, as on most cameras, and is more logically positioned than on the rear of the camera as per the GH1.

The DMC-GH2 can record high-resolution Full 1080p HD 1920 x 1080 movies at 24 frames per second, Full 1080i HD 1920 x 1080 movies at 60 frames per second, and 720p HD 1280 x 720 movies at 60 fps, all in the AVCHD (MPEG-4/H.264) format. In addition it can also record Motion JPEG movies at 320 x 240 at 30fps, 640 x 480 at 30fps, 848 x 480 at 30fps and 1280 x 720 at 30fps, useful as this format can currently be shared more easily. AVCHD features almost double the recording time in HD quality compared with Motion JPEG, but software support is still a little thin on the ground. Panasonic describe it as the best mode for playing back on a HD TV direct from the camera, and Motion JPEG best for email and playing on a computer. There is a limit on the length of a movie of up to 29 min 59 sec in European PAL areas, and continuous recording exceeding 2GB is not possible when recording in the motion JPEG format.

The Creative Movie shooting mode, accessed via the mode dial on top of the GH2, allows you to set the shutter speed, aperture or both settings manually during recording (a Program option is also available). Changing the shutter speed is especially suitable for shooting fast-moving subjects, whilst the ability to control the aperture is convenient when there are several subjects at different distances. In practice this system works well, allowing some really creative effects, but there are a couple of drawbacks. Firstly the operating sound of the control dial is very audible in the movie, so you'll need to edit the soundtrack later to remove it. Secondly, you can't set the shutter speed to below 1/25 second, instantly ruling out more creative slow shutter-speed effects.

The new 24P Cinema mode adds a rich, cinema-like gradation to your movies, while the Variable Movie mode allows the frame rate of the movie to be slowed down or speeded up (-80%, +160%, +200%, +300%). Available for both JPEG photos and movies, the new EX Tele Conversion option extends the zoom by 2.6x beyond its original limit to get the subject even closer, providing a maximum focal length of 728mm in FSH mode, 1092mm in SH / HD / WVGA modes, and 1344mm in VGA / QVGA modes. In movie mode it does this by only using the central 2 megapixels of the GH2's 18.3 megapixel sensor, which is roughly equivalent to a 1920x1080 pixels movie, and subsequently there is less loss of image quality as the camera doesn't have to digitally reduce the sensor output from 18 to 2 megapixels. The DMC-GH2 can also take a 14 megapixel photo in the 16:9 ratio whilst recording a movie, and you can save a specific frame of a movie as a still image during playback.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
Front Vari-angle LCD Screen

The Panasonic GH2's Intelligent Auto mode also works in movies as well as for still photos. Simply select the Movie icon on the mode dial and press the iA button. The Intelligent Scene Selector automatically determines the most suitable Scene mode from five options - Portrait, Scenery, Low Light and Close-up or Normal modes. Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts the focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. The Optical Image Stabilizer helps prevent blurring from hand-shake when using a compatible lens.

Stereo sound is recorded during video capture via the large internal mic on top of the camera, which is a big improvement on the rather muffled noises recorded by most digital cameras, helped by the wind cut function which blocks out most of the noise from background wind. You can also add an optional external stereo microphone (DMW-MS1) to enhance the sound further. The HDMI port allows you to connect the GH2 to a high-def TV set, but only if you purchase the optional HDMI mini-cable.

You can use any zoom lens during recording with focusing set as for still images. On the negative side, you'll find that if you choose continuous auto-focus, areas of the video will be blurred before becoming sharp again as the camera tries to refocus. On a more positive note, the the GH2 is quite fast at re-focusing (although not as fast as for still images), and having this system is much better than not being able to auto-focus at all, as with most current DSLR cameras that offer video recording. Hand-holding the GH2 during movie recording inevitably leads to obvious shake, despite the optical image stabilizer on compatible lenses, so for best results you'll need a dedicated video tripod. One cool benefit of the touch-screen control system is that Touch Auto Focusing is available in movie recording, enabling pro-level rack-like focusing simply by pointing at the subject on the LCD screen.

The rear of the Lumix DMC-GH2 is dominated by the large 3 inch LCD screen with 100% scene coverage. The rotating, free-angle LCD monitor, which is hinged on the left side of the camera (looking from the rear), can be flipped out and twisted through 270 degrees. You can use the screen as a waist-level viewfinder, holding the camera overhead, and even for turning the GH2 on yourself for arm-length self-portraits. There's also the added benefit of folding the screen away against the camera body to protect it when stored in a camera bag, preventing it from becoming marked or scratched.

The 460K pixel, high-resolution screen coped admirably with the majority of lighting conditions. This screen is a great improvement on cameras with the usual 230K dot resolution, even being nice to use in low-light. The Auto Power LCD function automatically detects the current lighting conditions and boosts the LCD backlighting by up to 40% when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine, helping to keep the screen visible. The high-res, free-angle LCD screen is much more than just a novelty - it's a lot more versatile than the usual combination of optical viewfinder and fixed LCD, providing new angles of view and enhancing your overall creativity. Above all, it's a fun way of composing your images.

One of the major additions to the GH2 is its touchscreen interface. Panasonic have wisely restricted the amount of things that you can do by interacting with the LCD screen, and indeed you can still operate everything on the camera without having to push and prod the LCD at all. But you would be missing out on a lot of genuinely useful functionality that really improves the shooting experience.

The most immediately noticeable function is the ability to use the 1-area AF mode to focus on your main subject simply by touching it on the LCD. If the subject then moves, the G2 cleverly follows it around the screen using the the AF tracking function. If the subject exits the frame entirely, simply recompose and tap it again to start focusing. Impressive stuff that makes focusing on off-center subjects fast and intuitive. It is a little too easy to accidentally press the screen and set the focus point to the wrong area for the current subject, but a simple tap in the middle of the LCD will center the AF point (or you can turn this feature off altogether).

The size of the AF point itself can also be changed via an interactive onscreen slider. If Face Detection is enabled, the 1-area AF point can be manually set to a persons eye to help ensure that the most important part of a portrait is in focus. If Multi-area AF rather than 1-area AF is enabled, then you can select a group of 4, 5 or 6 AF points from 9 different areas, again providing some manual control over what is traditionally a rather hit and miss affair.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
Pop-up Flash Top

When Intelligent Auto is switched on, the G2 changes the scene mode used when you touch the subject, for example selecting portrait mode if you touch a face and macro mode if you touch a close-up flower. If you prefer to manually focus rather than use the snappy AF, you can magnify any part of the subject by 1x, 5x or 10x by simply dragging the image around the screen. The final touchscreen ability from an image composition point of view is the ability to release the shutter, with a small icon on the right hand screen enabling this functionality, and then a single on-screen tap all that's required to take the picture.

Most of the menu options can be changed via the touchscreen interface, notably the Quick Menu and the Info Display menu - the main exception to this rule is the Main Menu, which is still controlled via the navigation buttons. You can also control image playback by touching the screen, with the ability to tap a thumbnail to see the full-size version, scroll through your images by dragging them from side to side, and magnifying them up to 16x.

Instead of the bulky optical viewfinder of a conventional DSLR, the Panasonic GH2 has a smaller electronic viewfinder. The mere mention of an EVF is usually enough to elicit loud groans from any serious photographer, as they have traditionally been poorly implemented in the past, with low-res, grainy displays that were only really suitable for still subjects. Thankfully the electronic viewfinder on the GH2 is far better than any previous system. It has a large 1.42x (0.71x on 35mm equiv.) magnification, 100% field of view, 1,533,600 dot equivalent resolution, and 852 x 600 pixels to match all of the multi-aspect ratios, resulting in a very usable display that won't leave you cursing. The EVF (and also the main LCD screen) operates at a native rate of 60fps, twice the usual speed, which helps make it more flicker-free than the GH1, which interpolated its 24fps signal and displayed it at 60hz.

As the EVF is reading the same signal from the image sensor as the rear LCD screen, it can also display similar information - for example, you can view and operate the GH2's Quick Menu, giving quick access to all the key camera settings while it's held up to your eye. The various icons used to represent the camera settings are clear and legible. The icing on the viewing cake is the clever built-in eye sensor, which automatically switches on the viewfinder when you look into it, then switches it off and turns on the LCD monitor when you look away. The electronic viewfinder on the GH2 is the equal of and in many areas better than a DSLR's optical viewfinder, particularly those found on entry-level models which are typically dim and offer limited scene coverage. The truest testament to the GH2 is that I mostly used it by holding it up to eye-level, something that I wouldn't do unless the EVF was of sufficient quality.

On the rear of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2, from left to right, is an LVF/LCD button for manually switching between the two viewing methods (useful if you turn the eye sensor off), a Playback button, conveniently located AF/AE Lock button, and a control dial. This is used for, amongst other things, changing the aperture and shutter speed by turning from left to right and back again. As with the shooting mode dial, this is a common feature found on DSLR cameras, so you'll be right at home if you've used any DSLR before - compact camera users will need to get used to using this dial, although it is possible (but rather long-winded) to set the aperture/shutter speed via the LCD screen. The control dial can also be pressed in to switch to setting the exposure compensation, which can now be set in ±5 steps.

Next are the Quick Menu and Display buttons. In shooting mode, the Display button alternates between turning the display off, the main camera settings as icons, no settings at all, and an improved Info Display which shows the current key settings in a clear graphical format. You can additionally press the Q.Menu button and then use the navigation pad to move between the onscreen options. The Q.Menu button provides quick access to most of the principal controls, including ISO speed, image size, image quality and white balance (there are 16 settings in total, depending upon the shooting mode selected). You can still access all of these options from the main menu system too.

The GH2 has a traditional 4-way navigation pad system with a Menu/Set button in the centre. Pressing up, right, down, and left on the D-Pad buttons selects ISO speed, White Balance, and the Function 3 and Function 2 options respectively. The Function buttons can be configured to activate one of 18 key settings, allowing the camera to be customised to suit your way of working. The Delete button underneath the navigation pad intriguingly has a second function - it doubles up as the Preview button. This very cleverly toggles between showing a live preview of the effects of the current aperture (effectively a digital version of Depth of Field Preview) and the current shutter speed. The latter will prove especially useful for beginners, providing a visible way of checking how different shutter speeds will affect the capture of different subjects - running water is a good example.

The main menu system on the DMC-GH2 is straight-forward to use and is accessed by pressing the Menu/Set button in the middle of the navigation D-Pad. There are six main menus, Record, Motion Picture, Custom, Setup, My Menu and Playback. Most of the camera's main options, such as white balance, image quality, auto-focus mode and ISO speed, are accessed here, so the Record menu has 22 options spread over 5 screens, the Motion Picture menu has 14 options over 3 screens, and the Setup menu has 23 options over 5 screens. As an indication of how configurable the GH2 is, the Custom menu has 35 different options, allowing you fine-tune this camera to suit your way of working.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2's Intelligent Resolution mode makes a standard image look like a higher resolution one by processing the contour areas, texture areas and smooth areas individually. There are three available strengths - low, standard and high. Despite all the clever behind-the-scenes processing, it's fairly easy to tell which image was taken with Intelligent Resolution turned on and which one with it turned off due to unwanted artifacts appearing, particularly if viewing onscreen at 100% magnification. While the difference isn't quite so apparent on a print up to A3 in size, I'm not convinced enough to recommend regularly using it.

Face Recognition is a fun and genuinely useful feature which "remembers" up to 6 registered faces and then always prioritizes the focus and exposure for that person in future pictures. Very useful for group shots where you want your loved ones to be the centre of attention. You can specify the age of the registered subject, stamp the age of the subject onto your photos, change the focus icon for a particular person, and playback only the photos that contain a certain face. The camera will even automatically switch to Baby mode if someone registered as less than 3 years old appears in the frame!

In a throwback to the days before digital took over the world, the top of the GH2 offers a range of Film Modes via the main menu, with 7 colour types and 3 types of monochrome to choose from. This applies to both JPEG and RAW files, so you can effectively shoot a black and white RAW file, for example, out of the camera if you wish (although I'm not sure why you'd want to...). As you select a different Film Mode, the effects can clearly be seen on the LCD screen. In addition, you can change the contrast, sharpness, noise reduction and saturation levels for each one, and even create 2 custom modes of your own. The Multi Film option takes up to three consecutive images using different Film Mode settings (this doesn't work in RAW mode though).

As mentioned previously, the inclusion of the Q.Menu button on the rear of the camera speeds up access to some of the more commonly used options. Due to the large LCD screen and restricting the number of on-screen choices to five, the various options and icons are clear and legible. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Panasonic have chosen to supply it in printed format, rather than as a PDF on a CD, so you can also carry it with you for easy reference.

On the bottom of the Panasonic DMC-GH2 is a metal tripod socket, importantly in-line with the middle of the lens barrel, and the battery compartment, and on the right side is the SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot. On the left is the Remote/Mic socket for use with the optional remote shutter release or external microphone, and two connection ports, including a HDMI port for connecting the GH2 to a HD television or monitor. Unfortunately, Panasonic have decided to cut costs and not include a HDMI cable as standard in the box, which means that you'll have to purchase one separately to take advantage of this camera's HD connectivity.

The start-up time from turning the Lumix DMC-GH2 on to being ready to take a photo is impressively at around 1 second. The Contrast Auto-Focusing system is amazingly quick in good light and the camera achieves focus almost all of the time indoors or in low-light situations, helped by the AF assist lamp. The GH2 also doesn't have any notable problems locking onto the subject in low-light situations. The visibility and refresh rate of the 3 inch LCD screen are very good, and the pixel count of 460,000 dots is also good, with virtually no visible grain.

It takes about 1 second to store a JPEG image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card - there is a barely perceptible LCD blackout between each image. Storing a single RAW image takes around 5 seconds, but thankfully it doesn't lock up the camera in any way - you can use the menu system or shoot another image while the first file is being written to memory. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 has a fast Burst mode which enables you to take 5 frames per second for an unlimited number of JPEG images at the highest image quality, or 7 RAW images. A higher-speed burst rate of 40 fps at 4 megapixel resolution is also available (the DMC-GH2 uses its electronic shutter to achieve this rate).

Once you have captured a photo, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 has an average range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails (up to 30 onscreen at the same time and in a Calendar view), zoom in and out up to 16x magnification, view slideshows, delete, protect, trim, resize, copy and rotate an image. You can also select favourite images, change an image's aspect ratio, add a sound clip to an image, delete Face Recognition data, and set the print order. The Display button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and aperture / shutter speed, and there is a small brightness histogram available during shooting and RGBY histogram during playback.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16M Fine JPEG image size option, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. It produces noise-free images at ISO 100 to 400, with limited noise starting to appear at ISO 800. ISO 1600 and 3200 exhibit quite visible noise and loss of fine detail, and ISO 6400 is even noisier but still usable. The fastest setting of 12800 looks much better on paper than in reality though. The images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening level and ideally require further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don't like the default results. The various Film Modes allow you to quickly and easily customise the look of the camera's JPEG images. The pop-up flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 60 seconds allowing you to capture plenty of light.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 which you can select at any time if the camera is in one of the creative shooting modes. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:



ISO 160 (100% Crop)

ISO 160 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 has 2 different JPEG image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Fine (6.92Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (3.05Mb) (100% Crop)


RAW (18.7Mb) (100% Crop)



Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting, and benefit from further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level by tweaking the Film Mode, with five different settings available.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)



The flash settings on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction and Forced Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (280mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (280mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-Eye Reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds and there's also a Bulb option for exposures up to 4 minutes long, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 25 seconds at ISO 160. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 15 second setting the actual exposure takes 30 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Intelligent Resolution

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2's Intelligent Resolution feature identifies outlines, texture areas and soft gradation areas of the image and then automatically optimizes the edges and detailed texture areas while using noise reduction to make the soft gradation areas smoother. There are three available strengths - low, standard and high.






Film Modes

Panasonic's Film Modes, similarly to Nikon's Picture Styles, Canon's Picture Controls and Olympus' Picture Modes, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and noise reduction settings. The nine available Film Modes are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. There are also two My Film options so that you can create your own look.










Standard B&W

Dynamic B&W


Smooth B&W


24P Cinema

The 24P Cinema mode adds a rich, cinema-like gradation to your movies.

24P Cinema On

Variable Movie

The Variable Movie mode allows the frame rate of the movie to be slowed down or speeded up (-80%, +160%, +200%, +300%).






EX Tele Conversion

Available for both JPEG photos and movies, EX Tele Conversion extends the zoom by 2.6x beyond its original limit to get the subject even closer. In movie mode it does this by only using the central 2 megapixels of the GH2's 18.3 megapixel sensor, which is roughly equivalent to a 1920x1080 pixels movie, and subsequently there is less reduction of quality in comparison to the standard full HD mode.

EX Tele Conversion On

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Panasonic RAW (RW2) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 10 second movie is 19.9Mb in size.

Product Images

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Front of the Camera / Pop-Up Flash

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera


Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera / Quick Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera / Touchscreen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Rear of the Camera / Touchscreen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Vari-angle LCD Screen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Vari-angle LCD Screen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Vari-angle LCD Screen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Top of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Bottom of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Memory Card Slot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Battery Compartment


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 offers a winning combination of high-quality stills and video, proven handling and design, and a more affordable price-tag - it's simply the most complete interchangeable lens camera currently available for people who want to shoot in both formats.

Panasonic certainly haven't been idle since they released the original GH1 model in March 2009, adding a veritable plethora of new features and improvements to its successor in order to keep ahead of the competition. The GH2 may look very similar, but both the video and still image quality have been significantly improved thanks to the new 16 megapixel sensor and Venus Engine FHD processor, the lightning-quick auto-focus speed has to be experienced to be believed, and the touch-screen interface is a genuinely useful addition to an already well-thought-out design.

Just as we said about the GH1, if you're looking for high-definition video in a DSLR-like format, then the Panasonic GH2 is your best choice. Canon and Nikon may have recently made significant strides with their 2010 DLSR models, but they can't compete with the GH2. The ability to continuously auto-focus during recording is faster on the GH2 than on Nikon's cameras, with Canon lagging even further behind, and the sheer quality is visibly better than the GH2's main rivals. The EX Tele Convertor mode is the icing on the cake, allowing you to record Full HD footage with less scaling or image processing required, again resulting in great looking video.

The GH2's still image quality is also improved, especially the high ISO performance, impressive given the increase to 16 megapixels. Images shot at ISO 160-400 are clean, with a little noise appearing at 800 and more at the still very usable settings of 1600-3200. ISO 6400 is best reserved for resizing and smaller prints, while the top speed of 12800 is only for emergency use, but overall the GH2 offers the best image quality of any Micro Four Thirds camera to date. It still can't rival the best APS-C DSLRs, but the gap has at least narrowed.

The contrast detection auto-focus system is amazingly quick when certain lenses are used, at 0.1 seconds over twice as fast as the already speedy GH1, and importantly it's very reliable too, even in low-light. If you've always preferred the traditionally faster phase-detection systems of a DSLR, then the GH2 is here to change your mind. The 3 CPU-powered Venus Engine FHD also ensures that the GH2 is no slouch in other areas of its operation, with 5fps burst shooting, no lock-up between shots and instant image playback.

The new touch-sensitive screen further enhances the refined interface of the GH1, delivering all the convenience and more of a compact camera shooting experience in a DSLR-like package that is smaller and lighter than most DSLRs. Panasonic have wisely ensured that only certain key features can be configured by tapping the screen, rather than simply making everything accessible in this way, creating a hybrid interface that genuinely speeds up the camera's operation. You don't have to use the touchscreen at all, but you'd be mad not to.

Panasonic have also laregly addressed one of our few criticisms of the original GH1 - its price and bundle options. You could only buy that camera with the well-matched 14-140mm lens, fine if you wanted the best video lens that Panasonic offer and were prepared to pay the subsequent high asking price, but not so good if you preferred a different optic or you already had some compatible lenses. Now the GH2 is also available with the cheaper 14-42mm kit lens in the US and UK, and even better as a body-only option in the US (we hope that Panasonic UK follow suit too), drastically reducing the initial cost of ownership.

Overall the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 is a fantastic all-rounder that delivers the goods for both photographers and videographers alike. If you're a stills shooter who wants to dip their toe into the world of moving images, or a film-maker who wants the best quality video from an interchangeable lens system camera, then the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 will more than meet your needs.

5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4.5



Type Digital interchangeable lens system camera
Recording media SD memory card, SDHC memory card, SDXC memory card
Image sensor size 17.3 x 13.0 mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio)
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds mount


Type Live MOS Sensor
Total pixels 18.31 Megapixels
Camera effective pixels 16.05 Megapixels
Colour filter Primary colour filter
Dust reduction system Supersonic wave filter


Recording file format Still Image: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.3), RAW, DPOF compatible MPO (When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Thirds standard) / Motion Image: AVCHD / QuickTime Motion JPEG
Aspect ratio 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 (Multi-aspect recording except 1:1)
Image quality RAW, RAW+Fine, RAW+Standard, Fine, Standard, MPO+Fine, MPO+Standard (with 3D lens in Micro Four Thirds standard)
Color Space sRGB, Adobe RGB
File size(Pixels)
Motion Image (AVCHD : NTSC) [Full HD] 1920×1080, 24p ?24H:24Mbps,24L:17Mbps? / [Full HD] 1920×1080, 60i (sensor output is 60p) (FSH:17Mbps, FH:13Mbps/AVCHD) / [HD] 1280 x 720, 60p (sensor output is 60p)?SH:17Mbps, H:13Mbps/AVCHD) / *2
Motion Image (AVCHD : PAL) [Full HD] 1920×1080, 24p ?24H:24Mbps,24L:17Mbps? / [Full HD] 1920×1080, 50i (sensor output is 50p) (FSH:17Mbps, FH:13Mbps/AVCHD) / [HD] 1280 x 720, 50p (sensor output is 50p)?SH:17Mbps, H:13Mbps/AVCHD) / *2
Still Image [4:3] 4608x3456(L) / 3264x2448(M) / 2336x1752(S) / 1920x1440(When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Third System standard) / [3:2] 4752x3168(L) / 3360x2240(M) / 2400x1600(S) / 1920x1280(When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Third System standard) / [16:9] 4976x2800(L) / 3520x1980(M) / 1920x1080(S) / 1920x1080(When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Third standard) / [1:1] 3456x3456(L) / 2448x2448(M) / 1744x1744(S) / 1792x1792(When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Third standard)
Motion Image (Motion JPEG) [4:3] QVGA : 320 x 240, 30fps / VGA : 640 x 480, 30fps / [16:9] WVGA : 848 x 480, 30fps / [HD] 1280 x 720, 30fps / *1
Continuous recordable time (Motion images) AVCHD with picture quality set to [FSH]: Approx. 120 min with H-FS014042 / Approx. 110 min with H-VS014140 / Motion Jpeg with picture quality set to [FSH]: Approx. 130 min with H-FS014042 / Approx. 120 min with H-VS014140
Actual recordable time (Motion images) AVCHD with picture quality set to [FSH]: Approx. 70 min with H-FS014042 / Approx. 65 min with H-VS014140 / Motion JPEG with picture quality set to [HD]: Approx. 75 min with H-FS014042 / Approx. 70 min with H-VS014140


Type Live View Finder (1,533,600 dots equivalent)
Field of view Approx. 100%
Magnification Approx. 1.42x / 0.71x (35mm camera equivalent) with 50mm lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1
Eye point Approx.17.5mm from eyepiece lens
Diopter adjustment -4.0~+4.0?dpt?
Auto eye sensor Yes


Type Contrast AF system
Focus mode AFS/ AFC/ MF
AF mode Face detection / AF Tracking / 23-area-focusing / 1-area-focusing / Touch (1- area-focusing in Face detection / AF Tracking / Multi-area-focusing / 1-area-focusing)
AF detective range EV 0-18 ?ISO100 equivalent?
AF assist lamp YES
AF lock AF/AE LOCK button or Shutter button halfway pressed in AFs mode
Others Pre AF (Quick AF/Continuous AF), AF+MF, Touch shutter, Touch MF Assist,


ISO sensitivity (Standard Output Sensitivity) Auto / Intelligent ISO / 160 / 200 / 250 / 320 / 400 / 400 / 500/ 640 / 800 / 1000 / 1250 / 1600 / 2000 / 2500 / 3200 / 4000 / 5000 / 6400 / 8000 / 10000 / 12800
Light metering system 144-zone multi-pattern sensing system
Light metering mode Intelligent Multiple / Center Weighted / Spot
Metering range EV0-18 ?F2.0 lens, ISO100 equivalent?
Exposure mode Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual, Auto
Exposure compensation 1/3EV Step ±5EV
AE lock AF/AE LOCK button or Shutter button halfway pressed
AE bracket 3,5,7 frame, in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV Step, ±3 EV


White balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Flash / White Set 1, 2, 3, 4 / Color temperature setting
White balance adjustment Blue/amber bias, Magenta/green bias
Color temperature setting 2500-10000K in 100K
White balance bracket 3 exposures in blue/amber axis or in magenta/green axis


Shutter speed Still Images: 1/4000 ~ 60 and Bulb (up to approx. 2 minutes)
Type Focal-plane shutter
Self timer 10sec, 3 images/ 2sec / 10sec
Remote control Remote control with bulb function by DMW-RSL1 (Optional)


Still Image SCN mode Portrait (Normal/Soft Skin/Outdoor/Indoor/Creative) / Scenery (Normal/Nature/Architecture/Creative) / Close-up (Flower/Food/Objects/Creative) / SCN (Peripheral Defocus/Night Portrait/Night Scenery/Sunset/Party/Sports/Baby 1,2/Pet)
Movie SCN mode Portrait (Normal/Soft Skin/Outdoor/Indoor/Creative) / Scenery (Normal/Nature/Architecture/Creative) / Close-up (Flower/Food/Objects/Creative) / SCN (Peripheral Defocus/Night Portrait/Night Scenery/Sunset/Party/Sports/Baby 1,2/Pet) / (Activated by selecting Still Image SCN mode then pressing Movie Button. Still Image SCN modes without corresponding Movie SCN mode is recorded in mode suitable for the recording situation.)


Burst speed SH: 40 frames/sec(4M), H: 5 frames/sec, M: 3 frames/sec, L: 2 frames/sec
Number of recordable images 7 images (when there are RAW files with the particular speed) / Unlimited consecutive shooting (when there are no RAW files) / (depending on memory card size, battery power, picture size, and compression)


Type TTL Built-in-Flash, GN13.9 equivalent (ISO 160 ?m), Built-in Pop-up
Flash Mode Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
Synchronization speed Less than 1/160 second
Flash output adjustment 1/3EV Step ±2EV
Flash synchronization 1st. Curtain Sync, 2nd Curtain Sync.
Hot shoe TTL Auto with FL220/FL360/FL500(Optional)


Type TFT LCD with Touch panel
Monitor size Free-angle 3.0inch / 3:2 Aspect / Wide viewing angle
Pixels 460K dots
Filed of view Approx. 100%
Monitor adjustment Brightness (7 levels), Color (7 levels)


Extra Tele Conversion Still image: Max.2x, Motion image: Max.4.8x / (Not effective with L size recording. Magnification ratio depends on the recording pixels and aspect ratio.)
Digital zoom 2x, 4x
Other functions Guide Lines (3 patterns) / Real-time Histogram


Colour Standard / Dynamic / Smooth / Nature / Nostalgic / Vibrant
Black and white Standard / Dynamic / Smooth
Others My Film1 / My Film2 / Multi Film / Cinema


Playback mode Normal playback / 30-thumbnail display / 12-thumbnail display / Calendar display / Zoomed playback (16x Max.) / Slideshow (duration & effect is selectable) / Playback Mode (Normal/Picture/AVCHD/Motion JPEG/3D Play/Category/Favorite) / Title Edit / Text Stamp / Video Divide / Resize / Cropping / Aspect Conversion / Rotate / Rotate Display / Favorite / Print Set / Protect / Face Rec Edit


Protection Single / Multi or Cancel
Erase Single / Multi / All / Except Favorite


Direct Print PictBridge compatible?Print size, Layout, Date setting is selectable ?


Microphone Stereo, Wind-cut: Off / Low / Standard / High
USB USB 2.0 High Speed
HDMI miniHDMI TypeC / Video: Auto / 1080i / 720p / 480p (576p in PAL system) / Audio: Dolby® Digital Stereo Creator
Audio video output Stereo Type, NTSC/PAL, NTSC only for North America / *Check the website of the Panasonic sales company in your country or region for details on the products that are available in your market.
Remote / External microphone input φ2.5mm. stereo mini jack
Speaker Monaural


OSD language Japanese, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish


Colour Black
Battery life (CIPA standard) Approx. 330 images (LCD), Approx. 340 images (LVF) with H-FS014042 / Approx. 320 images (LCD), Approx. 330 images (LVF) with H-VS014140
Battery ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 1200mAh) (Included) / Battery Charger
Dimensions (W x H x D) 124 x 89.6 x 75.8mm / 4.88 x 3.53 x 2.98 in?(excluding protrusions)
Weight Approx.609g / 21.48 oz ?SD card, Battery, 14-42mm lens included) / Approx. 904g / 31.88 oz ?SD card, Battery, 14-140mm lens included) / Approx. 392g / 13.82 oz ?Body only?
Operating Environment
Operating temperature 0? to 40? (32°F to 104°F)
Operating humidity 10% to 80?
Standard Accessories
Software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 6.0 BD Edition / SILKYPIX® Developer Studio 3.1 SE / Super Loilo Scope (trial version) / USB Driver
Standard accessories Battery Charger / Battery Pack / Body Cap / AV Cable / USB Connection Cable / Shoulder Strap / Stylus pen / CD-ROM


Lens Name LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S.
Lens Construction 12 elements in 9 groups (1 Aspherical lens)
Mount Micro Four Thirds mount
Optical Image Stabilizer Yes
Focal Length f=14mm to 42mm (35mm camera equivalent 28mm to 84mm)
Aperture Type 7 diaphragm blades / Circular aperture diaphragm
Aperture F3.5(Wide) - F5.6(Tele)
Minimum Aperture F22
Closest Focusing Distance 0.3m / 1ft
Maximum magnification Approx. 0.16x / 0.32x (35mm camera equivalent)
Diagonal Angle of View 75°(W) - 29°(T)
Filter Size φ52mm / 2.05 in
Max. Diameter φ60.6mm / 2.39 in
Overall Length Approx. 63.6mm / 2.50 in (from the tip of the lens to the base side of the lens mount)
Weight [g] Approx. 165g
Weight [oz] Approx. 5.82oz
Standard Accessories Lens Cap / Lens Hood / Lens Rear Cap / Lens Storage Bag

Further Specifications

NOTE *1 Use a card with SD Speed Class with "Class6" or higher / *2 Use a card with SD Speed Class with "Class4" or higher

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