Why I bought the GH2 and sold the G2

I had owned the Panasonic G2 for perhaps six months, when I sold it earlier this year.  I loved the camera and found that it pretty much ate the lunch of my Olympus E-620. I am not saying the image quality was better: as far as I can tell, the IQ is essentially equal.  This shouldn't surprise anyone, as they have the same 12mp Panasonic sensor.

I gave the G2 the nod over the E-620 even though I own no Panasonic or m43 lenses.  As a result, every lens I used on the G2 was unstabilized.  Nevertheless, I found that my favorite regular 43 lens, the highly acclaimed Olympus 14-54II, worked just fine without stabilization.  You see, by using the 43-to-m43 adapter on the G2, the camera body could read the focal length of each shot I composed, and it provided me automatically with a shutter speed of at least 1/focal length.  I typically use aperture (A) priority mode or programed automatic (P) mode.  I also use auto ISO.  So, in both of these modes the camera protected a shutter speed that was sufficient to eliminate camera motion.  It protected this speed by bumping the ISO if there was insufficient light.  I set the ISO max at 1600.  This set up worked fine for me. What I have found is that 95% of the time my required ISO is 400 or less. Incidentally, the 14-54II focuses slower on the G2 than it does on the E-620, but for most of my images it is still plenty fast enough.

Another big bonus of the m43 system is the ability to use a Nikon-to-m43 adapter to attach any of my four old Nikon lenses.  Because the G2 uses an EVF instead of an OVF, I can use the magnification feature when manually focusing these old lenses.  As I stop down the lens, the EVF "gains up" (increases brightness automatically) so that I can continue to see what I am capturing.

A third feature I liked about the G2 is the availability of  buttons and levers for a couple of my favorite items: (1) easy access to bracketing and (2) several custom modes on the mode dial. (The bracketing system on the E-620 is a multi-step and inconvenient process, and there are no custom settings on the mode dial.)

All of the G2 benefits are also available on the GH2.  The GH2 adds more bracketing options and speeds up the frames per second performance.  I like the multi-aspect sensor which I had previously become familiar with on my Panasonic LX5.  Plus the GH2 has higher resolution and better high ISO performance.  (I've set the maximum ISO to 3200.)

I had wanted the GH2 even when I bought the G2,  but couldn't justify it's high cost.  Oh, and the GH2 has great video, though I don't use it.

So this is how the whole purchase and sale thing happened: 

Both cameras were bought at great prices.  The G2 body was purchased brand new for $378 from Amazon late last summer (2011). It was a deal that lasted perhaps two days.  The GH2 became available earlier this year (2012), also from Amazon, at $999 with the 14-140 zoom lens, by using a discount code I learned about on the Internet.  This was a fantastic deal and I jumped right on it.

As soon as the GH2 arrived, I took the 14-140 zoom and sold it on Amazon for $625, as "like new".  I explained that although it had never been used, that because it had been purchased as part of a kit, there was no separate box for the lens so it wasn't exactly the same as buying the lens itself "new".  It sold within a week.This transaction brought the cost of the GH2 body down to an unbelievable $375. 

My final step was to list the G2 on Amazon for the same amount I paid for it, $378.  It also sold within a week.

The GH2 is a fabulous camera.  (Especially at $375!) The high ISO performance is the best I've ever experienced.  I realize it is not as good (from what I read on the forums) as cameras with bigger sensors, especially those with the highly capable Sony 16 mp APS-C sensor, but it is good enough for me. 

GH2 with Olympus 14-54II regular 4/3 zoom.  There's no image stabilization but as long as I keep it at 1/100th second or faster, I don't think it is necessary.
I don't know if this effects RAW files (I shoot either RAW or RAW+JPEG), but I've turned off the in-camera NR (noise reduction).  Even so, when post processing in Lightroom 3, I rarely touch the noise reduction slider even at ISO 3200, and then only minimally (slider set at 10, out of 100.)  With the G2 and E-620 I had always applied noise reduction in Lightroom starting at ISO 800.  It seems like the GH2 gives me about 2 more stops of performance.

I think more people would leave the noise untouched if they were to recalibrate their minds to think of "noise reduction" as synonymous with "detail smudging".

I haven't had much time to use the GH2 camera outdoors.  After all, it's winter here.  But I have been pleased with indoor performance.  Below are some samples of images taken indoors in available light, at ISO 3200.  Only the closeup of the mosquito fishing fly had any noise reduction applied, at that was only 10 out of 100 on the Lightroom slider.  These were shot in RAW.

I know these are small files and are only 650 pixels wide.  I have larger files on my Web site, though they can only be viewed at a maximum dimension of 1550 x 960 pixels, depending on your monitor's size.  I'm very pleased with the 8" x 10" prints I made of a couple of these.  I haven't yet tried anything bigger.

The larger images are here:


GH2 plus Olympus 14-54II at 54mm. Set at 1/100, F3.5, ISO 3200.

GH2 plus Nikon 58mm F1.4.  Set at F2, 1/100, ISO 3200.

GH2 plus Nikon 58mm F1.4.  Set at 1/125, F2, ISO 3200.

GH2 plus Olympus 50mm F2 Macro.  Set at 1/100, F2, ISO 3200.

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