Text copyright Harrison McClary
First I am not a “camera reviewer” who looks at pixels and such. I am a user and look at the “usability” of a camera I am using. The cameras I am commenting on are all cameras I own and use.
The Panasonic Lumix G2.
I bought this camera late in 2010 mainly to use the Leica M – micro 4/3 adapter and use my Leica M lenses on. I was very skeptical about the ease and usefulness of this at first. I could not find a good description of how the manual focus on this camera worked and how well using manual focus worked on a camera with an EVF. (Electronic View Finder).
The first thing I noticed about the camera was that it really is a nice small package. The Panasonic made adapter to mount the Leica lens on the G2 is very well made. The viewfinder is excellent. In no way do I find it annoying to use the EVF in place of an optical VF. There are some differences and it does take some getting used to, but it truly does work very well. Also if you use the back screen it does flip and twist making low level and high angle images much easier to shoot and compose. I LOVE this feature.
The supplied kit 14-45 lens does a nice job, is very light and has OIS (optical Image Stabilization). One thing I noticed is that on this camera a 14 (28 equivalent) seems “wider” than it does on the 35mm sized sensors I am used to. I think this has something to do with the 4/3 sensor compared to the 2/3 I am used to. I know it is mostly in my head, but the extra vertical space on a horizontal image does seem to make the lens “feel” wider to me. I used this lens when I toured the USS Alabama in Mobile and made photos in very low light situations and the OIS worked like a charm.
Low light image sample:
More photos from that tour are here.
Once I had determined that the kit lens worked well and that the image quality was acceptable to me I bought the adapter and tried my Leica lenses on this camera. As I mentioned above I was very anxious to see how the manual focus worked and if it was truly an option to use in manual focus mode.
It is. With a manual focus “non coupled” lens attached it is VERY easy to manual focus and shoot. I actually find it easier to manual focus this camera than any SLR I have ever owned. To use manual focus lenses varies depending on if you are using the EVF or the back touch screen.
Manual Focus using the EVF:
I tend to use the EVF for most of my shooting, I can not get used to composing a photo “at arms length”. So here are the steps for using the EVF first:
When looking through the camera simply push in on the exposure wheel on the back of the camera. This magnifies the view screen 10x. (Another method is, if you have the screen flipped around on the way to your eye you can press on the screen and the scene is magnified. I do not find this as easy as the other method as the image is magnified and it is more difficult to find what you want critically focused) If you want larger simply turn the exposure wheel one click to the right. You now have a hugely enlarged view of your subject and critical focus is VERY easy. Once focused just press the shutter button slightly to go back to full screen view and shoot away. Some may comment that this is worse than using an SLR and full screen ground glass focusing as you have to enlarge the image and it makes you go to the center of the frame. True, however if one is shooting with a Leica M or using the focusing assist split image on an older SLR then one is doing the same thing. This does not bother me.
Using the screen on the back of the camera:
When you are looking at the scene simply touch the screen where you want the focus to be. The screen is instantly magnified 10x to that spot. If you turn the exposure wheel one click to the right it is magnified again. Critically focus and shoot. GREAT for working on a tripod.
After having this camera for a few months now I have found using it with my Leica Noctilux on it with the adapter to be one of my favorite camera combinations to shoot with. I am easily able to critically focus the lens at F1, something I was never able to do consistently on my M6 or M9. Also, since the camera is 1/2 frame of the 35mm format the lens is equal to that of a 100mm lens. The 100mm focal length on 35mm was always my favorite focal length.
Some samples of this camera with Leica M mount lenses can be seen here.
Finally with the G2 and the adapters you can use pretty much any lenses you want to as long as they are in manual mode. You can get adapters to use Leica M and R, Nikkor, Canon FD and EOS, Minolta, Pentax K, and others. Also, since the micro 4/3 is “open source” you can use micro 4/3 lenses from Olympus and the other micro 4/3 lens makers with no adapters need.
For a travel camera I love this little body and highly recommend it.