Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 micro four thirds camera
EVIL compact gets the 3D treatment
The GF2’s main novelty is the touchscreen technology introduced in the DMC-G2. It’s the same 3in, 460,000 pixels LCD, albeit improved by a new anti-reflective coating. While I’m a self-confessed iPhone fan, I never thought the combination of touchscreen interface and photography was an especially inspired and useful one, but getting to use the GF2 did bring about quite a change of heart.
Touch focusing appeared on the DMC-G2 but hasn't lost its appeal
Compared to other touchscreen compacts I have used before, the expanded and user-friendly functionality of the technology employed by this camera does make the shooting a more instinctive, hands-on experience than fiddling with mechanical controls could ever be. Aside from being able to access and change most of the Quick Menu and Info Display options directly on the screen, the new interface allows you to manage a number of key settings and features in a much more intuitive fashion than going through the menu.
A case in point is interactive focus control, where you can focus on any part of the photo by just tapping the corresponding portion of the screen, thus assigning the one-area AF point to your selected subject. If AF tracking is active, that AF area will then be continuously tracked by the camera. You can also adjust the size of the AF point by using an on-screen slider and, with Face Detection enabled, you can even set the AF point directly onto your subject’s eye for sharp, piercing portraits.
In Multi-area AF mode you can manually select a group of up to six AF points in the key sections of its 23 available areas. Manual focus is also aided by the technology – turning the focus ring on the lens the screen displays a magnified view that you can then interactively move around to your desired focus subject or further enlarge for even more accurate results. Also, in Peripheral Defocus, you can set the selective focal plane by using the virtual slider appearing on the screen.
When it comes to recording movies the touchscreen capabilities of the camera make shifting focus from fore to background or vice-versa dead easy, which can be quite difficult to achieve even on professional camcorders. All you have to do is tap the area of the frame you want in focus and the camera smoothly refocuses accordingly. The great news is that not only the new technology is blissfully intuitive but it is very accurate and fast too.
The pop up flash is not the brightest, but fine for a fill
Despite using the same contrast AF system generally used in compacts, the GF2 is very swift to lock on to the desired subject, even in dim lighting conditions. In Intelligent Auto mode you can direct the camera to the correct scene mode by tapping your the related mode icon. You can even release the shutter by just tapping the screen, if the function is enabled, and re-arrange the onscreen menu to customise it to your needs by dragging and dropping the relevant icons.