Panasonic Lumix GF2: Smallest Micro Four-Thirds Camera Gets a Touchscreen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 interchangeable-lens camera
Panasonic today announced the smallest interchangeable-lens camera in the company's Micro Four-Thirds System lineup, the 12-megapixel Lumix DMC-GF2. The Lumix GF2, which will replace last year's Lumix DMC-GF1, adds a few notable features, including a touchscreen-controlled interface, support for shooting 3D still images (when used with Panasonic's recently announced 3D Micro Four-Thirds lens), 1920-by-1080 high-definition AVCHD video recording at 60 interlaced fields per second, and on-board stereo microphones.

The GF2 also retains many of the GF1's features, including a pop-up flash, RAW and RAW+JPG shooting modes, a full-resolution burst mode that maxes out at about 3 frames per second, and a proprietary hot shoe that can accept external flashes or an electronic viewfinder.

Lumix GF2: Fast Focusing With Touchscreen Controls

The Lumix DMC-GF2 is the most compact Panasonic interchangeable-lens camera yet, with its body measuring 4.4 inches wide, 2.7 inches tall, and 1.3 inches deep (versus the GF1's 4.7-by-2.8-by-1.4-inch frame). The GF2 also has a redesigned grip that makes the camera look a bit sleeker than its predecessor.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 interchangeable-lens camera

Although the new camera has the same 12-megapixel resolution as the GF1, it offers an updated sensor and Venus FHD processing engine. Panasonic says that the new processing engine and sensor combine to produce sharper images when the camera is shooting at high ISO settings, and that they reduce fringing and chromatic aberration in shots.

The big change in the new model is one that's finding its way into the majority of Panasonic's Micro Four-Thirds cameras: a touchscreen interface.

The GF2 will depend heavily on its touchscreen controls, which go so far as to completely replace the camera's physical mode dial. Aside from a dedicated Intelligent Auto button on the top of the camera, the GF2's 3-inch touchscreen LCD serves as the only way to access menu settings and switch among full manual, shutter priority, aperture priority, scene modes, and program mode.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 interchangeable-lens camera

Combined with Panasonic's lightning-fast autofocus speeds, which have been a major highlight in the company's recent Lumix cameras, the GF2's touch-based focus controls are a standout feature. Touch-to-focus controls, touch-based motion-tracking autofocus, and a touch-based mode for blurring the background of a shot are all part of the GF2's feature set. When you set the camera to Intelligent Auto mode, touching on-screen objects at different focus points will change the in-camera settings to macro mode, face-detection portrait mode, or landscape mode.

When you're shooting video, the touch-based focus controls are also active. Panasonic says that the camera's autofocus will transition smoothly to different points in the scene as the user touches them on the screen. In addition to the camera's highest-resolution video mode, which captures 1080i video at 60 fps in 17-mbps AVCHD format (.MTS files), the GF2 also records 720p AVCHD video at 60 fps and the same bit rate.

While the GF2 is able to snap 3D images in .MPO format when used with a separately sold Panasonic lens, its 3D capabilities don't extend to video. In addition to the special lens, which isn't available in a GF2 kit configuration, you'll need a compatible 3DTV and active-shutter glasses to view its 3D images with the intended effect.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 interchangeable-lens camera

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 will be available in four colors (black, white, silver, and red) in two kit options: one with a 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens, and one with an optically stabilized 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. Like the GF1 before it, the GF2 has a focal length multiplier of 2X, so the lenses' focal lengths when attached to the camera will be 28mm for the pancake lens and 28mm to 84mm for the zoom lens.

Panasonic has not announced pricing yet, and prospective buyers are in for a bit of a wait: The Lumix DMC-GF2 is slated for availability in January 2011.

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