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December 8, 2010

Is the Panasonic GH2 the Next Great HDSLR?

Short answer: no, because it's not technically a DSLR! The Panasonic GH2, like the GH1 before it, is an EVIL camera with no optical viewfinder, which disqualifies it from the titular question. Going beyond this technicality, however, the GH2 looks like it's going to be the one to get when it comes out later this month (or possibly in early January).

I haven't gotten my hands on the camera, but the initial reviews are extremely positive. To sum it up, EOSHD has this to say about the GH2 versus the Canon 60D: "I recommend the GH2 over the 60D in every respect, even if you have Canon lenses." The camera's video processing is apparently worlds better, offering a "true" 1080p signal with an uncompressed HDMI output (allowing shooters to use an external recorder like the Nanoflash or Ki Pro Mini). The GH2 offers an innovative 1:1 sensor crop mode, allowing for telephoto images with no loss in light. It has far less aliasing than a Canon DSLR, and Panasonic has apparently fixed the banding and noise issues from the GH1 (I got my hands on a GH1, but it was one of the latter-day models and could not be hacked).

It really seems like Panasonic has taken the torch from Canon and run with it, as Canon's DSLRs have not fixed the aliasing issue since the 5D Mark II came out two years ago. Don't get me wrong -- all of the Canon HDSLRs are an incredible value, and whatever it is you want to shoot, you'll be well-served by the camera (they're good enough to shoot feature films that get into Sundance and win the SXSW Grand Prize). Also keep in mind that the GH2's Micro 4/3 sensor is slightly smaller than the one found in Canon DSLRs, but in this case I would guess that the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks. The GH2, at $999 including a kit lens, is certainly an appealing package. Be sure to check out the great two-part review at EOSHD below.

Here's a video Andrew Reid shot with the GH2:

http://vimeo.com/17414803

And a comparison of the GH2, GH1, and Canon 60D:

http://vimeo.com/17542556

Another GH2 video from Philip Bloom:

http://vimeo.com/17062701

Links:

EOSHD.com - Canon 60D versus Panasonic GH2 - Full Review Part 1
EOSHD.com - Canon 60D versus Panasonic GH2 - Full Review Part 2
Stu Maschwitz on the GH2
Philip Bloom on the GH2

Your Comment

15 Comments

Hmm, I was planning on buying a 60D in January, and I'm the type who does way too much research before buying something like this. Looks like I've got some more reading to do.

December 8, 2010

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I am glad the GH2 is coming to shake up a stagnant game, a game in which Canon has gotten comfortable and really not listened to their audience. People I speak to all the time ask what DSLR they should get to start, and the GH2 would be my new advised model as they mainly have no glass yet, and the results are stunning for under 1K.

Competition always benefits the consumer, and I hope that Canon gets the message sooner.
But sadly, I think there will be no AGC for T2i & 7D's, but rather a T3i and 5D MKIII with GH2 features.

December 8, 2010

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it's still pre-alpha, but there's a new Magic Lantern for 550D, with:
Onscreen audio meters
Lens data computation
Manual audio gain, selectable input source
Cropmarks
Zebra stripes / histogram

http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/550D

the 7D is still out of luck: the encrypted firmware (or firmware loader, or something) precludes any magic there

December 9, 2010

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Great post! I've been contemplating on which to get... 60D or GH2. Seems like GH2 is the obvious choice for video, but Im still unsure of how much of an investment it would be.
Iv'e grown to learn about HDSLR filmmaking by playing with a Canon t2i. So Im now very familiar with the Canon game, especially the lenses. The 1.6x crop made it simple to understand that a Sigma 30mm would translate to a 50mm on the t2i & a 50mm into a 80mm & etc etc.
And most importantly, these lenses can transfer over to the next great Canon body. As we all know, the glass is the investment, not the body. So the thought of getting a GH2 scares me. I have no clue of the micro4/3 sensor. The crop factor. Which lenses to invest in. Price range of some decent lenses. And the chips size/depth of field capability. The mirror-less Lumix world is completely new to me.
Clarification or a blog post that can shed some light on these topics would be great and much appreciated! I'm relatively new to the HDSLR game and am mostly familiar with Canon's workflow. There is no doubt in my mind that Canon will eventually release a mirror-less cam that will change the game and rank them once again at the head of the race. My concern is being prepared with the right lenses and gear for the upcoming future. Hoping to grab either the GH2 or 60D in January. Once again, Any advice would be highly appreciated. Thanks for listening :]

December 8, 2010

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Sal C.

the GH2 on video mode uses a crop factor of around 1.9x

a cheap, nice lens for general use with this camera would be the panasonic 20mm f/1.7; it's a very tiny pancake lens, sharp and nice, and sells for around $325 or so

a better (and bigger, and more expensive) alternative might be the Voigtlander F0.95 25mm that Philip Bloom is liking so much
http://philipbloom.net/2010/11/21/gh2/

in terms of FoV and DoF, those lenses are (roughly) equivalent, in 1.6x land and 1.0x land, to the following:
20mm f/1.7 --> 24mm f/2.0 --> 40mm f/3.2
25mm f/0.95 --> 30mm f/1.2 --> 50mm f/2.0

you might want to play with my DoF calculator:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/dof/dof.php

December 9, 2010

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The camera makers are always leapfrogging each other. So, I expect the next Canon generation to be better than the old one... It better be, if they want stay the HDSLR leader;)

For myself, and as of right now, I think GH2 might fit the bill better for my short film- and video-making adventures. Most of the lenses I own are for Nikon cameras. Plus, the mirror-less design of GH2 allows me to mount almost any old or new glass out there;)

Since I'm looking only for the best video/movie functionality, the photo quality is not important to me (I have Nikons for that), there isn't anything out there that can compete with GH2 in terms of value for the money paid... YMMV

December 8, 2010

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Samuel,

Thanks, I read up on the Magic Lantern before and it looks like it is still in pre-alpha as it was 4 months ago.
The firmware looks promising, and I hope canon takes a look at it.
I really get the feeling they are not concerned with addressing some issues or improving older models, they are just trying to push the next camera.

Kind of hesitant to try a pre-alpha on the camera, I wouldnt want to end up with a T2-Brick

December 9, 2010

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this is, apparantly, out in Canada. One of my instructors at film school had one the other day. Very cool. (But I'll stick with my T2i because of money... and magic lantern :D)

December 9, 2010

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DavidFulde

Is it just me or does this guys comparison seem obviously disingenuous to be considered a real comparison?

I am certainly hoping to see some better comparisons and I am seriously in the market for either the 60D or the GH2. I'm not sure if it's his legit disappointment in Canon or what, but this guy comes off as extremely biased and I feel like it's self evident in his work.

The GH2 is exciting... and I am seriously considering it for some of the reasons mentioned here. But I want a more serious, less hyped/exaggerated, comparison of the pros and cons of both cameras.

December 9, 2010

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Not sure about any of this.
The GH2 video is BLURRED to the max! The colors are not very good and it really didn't show me anything that's better than a cheap ass Canon HV-20/30/40 REAL vidcams with affordable price.

No thanks, much easier to work work with a camcorder and get decent results.
DSLR have a v ery long way to go before any of this is usable for a videographer who don't have time to screw around as many of the hobbyist. If there is a cam the AF-100 is the one to get. More money but you get something value for it and usable out of the box.

December 9, 2010

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"No thanks, much easier to work work with a camcorder and get decent results.
DSLR have a v ery long way to go before any of this is usable for a videographer who don’t have time to screw around as many of the hobbyist."

Yeah, tell to that to the people who have been shooting features, tv series, documentaries, music videos and just about everything else with these cameras. So I guess it has been usable for quite some time.

December 9, 2010

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Sean

Hmmmm, this video certainly does not convince me the GH2 is a better camera than the 60D. The first comparison, the light bulb's filament all but disappears from the GH2's shot and the gamma and saturation look funky on the GH2. I realize that's probably a setting for the later. At ISO 3200 the GH2 beats the 60D? Beats it at what? I don't know what you're comparing at that point? Noise level?

December 13, 2010

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Steve M.

There's still no definitive answer on this. After watching a good number of videos on Vimeo, I'm not so sure the GH2 lives up to Andrew Reid's immense endorsements.

When the masses get their hands on the GH2, time will tell.

December 22, 2010

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Absolutely. Looking forward to it...

December 22, 2010

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avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Just got my GH2 and I'm scrambling to learn how to use it properly before I head off to Hawaii for vacation. I'm loving it so far though.

January 6, 2011

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