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Thom Hogan's GH2 mini review
  • "Panasonic GH-2. So much different, so much the same. I'm still trying to get my head around the GH2. While we've got a new sensor, touch control, and a host of other "changes," what I'm getting out of it in images and video looks a lot like a GH1. (Of course, I hacked my GH1 to get better video out of it.) Given the low clearance prices of the GH-1 these days, I'm very tempted to say "just buy the GH-1." In short, the GH-2 doesn't feel like a "2" to me. More like a " 1.1" or "1.2." But that's okay, because Panasonic's distribution and sales in the US is so screwed up you're not going to find one on your dealer's shelves anyway. And if you do, something else you want with it will be missing (hey Panasonic, where's my AC adapter?). As much as I like the GH-1/GH-2, especially for video, I can't recommend it to anyone here in the US. Maybe it's different overseas somewhere, but here Panasonic has moved from shooting themselves in the foot to something of a gut shot. Skip."


    I think he's got some valid points and it's a bit more from a photographic standpoint, but I disagree about the GH2 video mode looking a lot like GH1. There are significant improvements in GH2 video in quality as well as features(ETC, hdmi etc) making it a very good (but not amazing step-up). But.... we all know about a little something that will make it an amazing step-up....:)
  • 18 Replies sorted by
  • Thom is known for his wise opinions.
    Here I do not agree about strange v1.2 naming.
    In fact GH2 have more improvements to GH1 then most DSLRs to their previous generation.
    Video side if his review (more like absence of this side) is quite strange.
    Economic side is even worse.
    If you are changing your body on regular basis you won't get any real adavantage going to GH1 route.
    You won't save anything actually.
  • Here's what he says:

    "Panasonic GH-2. So much different, so much the same. I'm still trying to get my head around the GH2. While we've got a new sensor, touch control, and a host of other "changes," what I'm getting out of it in images and video looks a lot like a GH1. (Of course, I hacked my GH1 to get better video out of it.) Given the low clearance prices of the GH-1 these days, I'm very tempted to say "just buy the GH-1." In short, the GH-2 doesn't feel like a "2" to me. More like a " 1.1" or "1.2." But that's okay, because Panasonic's distribution and sales in the US is so screwed up you're not going to find one on your dealer's shelves anyway. And if you do, something else you want with it will be missing (hey Panasonic, where's my AC adapter?). As much as I like the GH-1/GH-2, especially for video, I can't recommend it to anyone here in the US. Maybe it's different overseas somewhere, but here Panasonic has moved from shooting themselves in the foot to something of a gut shot.
    Skip.
    I got compared to Yogi Berra on this advice. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. ("Basically, Thom’s saying: 'If you find one, don’t buy it, because they’re too hard to find.' Sounds a bit like Yogi Berra’s famous aphorism: 'Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.'”) That's not quite what I'm saying, and the problem isn't demand, it's supply. Panasonic here in the US has been going backwards with users. Supply has gotten worse with each new release since the LX-3. Batteries change with every iteration, then aren't available. Ditto other accessories. The manuals are insanely unhelpful, as is Panasonic's US support system. One thing that I didn't mention that I should have is that the GH2 does indeed have a better AF system than the GH1, easily the best of any mirrorless system yet. Still, I just can't recommend you get into this system until Panasonic gets its act together (at least here in the US; maybe in Japan everything is hunky-dory)."

    I have to say I agree on all points:

    - Poor distribution planning!
    - Terrible manual!
    - No AC Adapter.
    - Low supply levels of almost everything.
    - No needed options like batterygrip, extension tubes, etc.
    - Interfacing with Customer service (here in Japan) is like visiting Satan during a human sacrifice - and you're it!
    - I personally have not seen a video nor a still image that I thought was much improved over the GH13. - Especially when you consider the base ISO values were bumped 30%. :-/
    - They purposely thwarted user efforts to improve their toys by encrypting the firmware and thereby stifling an important user upgrade convention in the process.
    - For stills aperture diffraction has gotten worse I think.

    I know it's not completely accurate to say but I FEEL like they strapped on a touch-screen, upped the megapixels, wrote more severe and invasive NR routines, and called it the GH2. And not only that, they're doing the same usual Panasonic evils by charging almost double the worth for everything. Seriously $1k as the cheapest kit option and no body only option - on a version two m43 camera? Really?

    The only difference between Thom and I is that I can recommend it anyway - if cost isn't a problem. Still, I think a hackable GH1 is preferable - and it's only $310 here! ;)


  • Funny world... I just went form watching another set of reviews and comparisons stating how fantastic the GH2 is... come on here to check the latest developments... And then you read this.




  • That's actually me too. All I've ever read on-line (until Hogan's review) was how great the GH2 was and how much better it was over the GH1. Yet when I actually looked at comparison samples for myself none of it matched the hype. Even guys like Bloom say it's just so much more wonderful in low light shooting. I'm like, OK, show me. I've yet to see anything that convinced me. As primarily a stills guy I investigated hundreds of still samples and a fair number of side by side comparisons. Of all the side-by-sides only one guy seemed to actually know what he was doing and the results were not much different. Actually I should use the word "better" as it is fairly different - just not much better. Of the multitude of stand-alone stills I looked at not many were RAW. Of the in-camera JPegs the indication seems clear; that pretty much all they have done to reduce noise is contained in their processing engine. And with those tweaks also comes a loss of fine detail (micro-contrast). It is a little bit better but you really need to pixel-pick to see it. I didn't see anyone pushing their GH2 exposures in post for a comparison or as an example - and that's pretty much the only time I see banding in GH1 shots. I've had 4 GH1s now. The 1st one I owned had more banding then the other three - which were all about the same. So, there is some sample variation - no question about it. Enough to be noticeable too. I think I've seen enough stills to form an opinion about stills. The noise is less by about 1/4 to 1/3 of a stop and it's a slightly finer kind of noise. The base ISO was bumped 30%. The camera's NR is stronger (more intense). And max ISO setting was increased from 3200 to 6400 ISO.

    To be perfectly clear, the GH2 may well be "so much better" than the GH13 at video... I just haven't seen it. For me the jury is still out - and talking a very long lunch it seems too. :) I'm still looking for a fair side-by-side test. Of the stand-alone video tests I've seen I couldn't see any improvements worth mentioning. I should also admit at this point that I haven't been very aggressive in fully sussing this question. Although I think my "not very aggressive" is more aggressive than the average user's normal energy level. ;)

    About Panasonic as a company I have never met a worse company - ever! Here's a typical example: 1st GH1 I had I was out in the hot humid summer Sun (think Louisiana at it's worst) and it just died. There were only a few thousand actuations on it and it was only 7 weeks old. I had all the papers and receipts and I walked in to Panasonic's HQ to their repair/reception counter and filled out all the paperwork. Three weeks later they returned it un-repaired - the reason given, It was used by the user. I started to raise hell a little not burning any bridges yet, and they pointed out the fine print where it says they won't repair it if it becomes broken by normal use. WHAT?!?!?! Yep, only if it's a factory defect. WTF? That means they don't have to fix anything unless it's a DOA - and even that may come into question as you have to "use" it to find out it's broken. Long story short, I took them to court and lost. It's written, I'm fucked, they win. :( They did however say that they would fix it for a price (even though it was still under warrantee). Wanna know how much the repair estimate was? $1,680 and change. It continues. The second GH1 I got was registered under a different (Japanese) name. It also broke - within 3 weeks of purchase. Guess what? Yep, same deal! It was used, no can fix, repair estimate more than new item. With that one I decided to try my luck with the USA based Panasonic. Hehehe, they sent it to Japan and I (the Japanese person it was registered to) promptly got a phone call from Panasonic Japan: "We TOLD YOU! WE WILL NOT FIX IT!" Even the guy in the USA was shocked appalled and very critical of Panasonic Japan's decision and actions.

    When I was working for the Television stations here in Japan the rumors were pretty much the same - Panasonic's support section are total assholes unless you have a favored account status with them. I found this out because one station which did have such favor, was often getting cameras and decks that needed servicing from our (unrelated) umbrella company members. When I asked why they didn't just take it to Panasonic themselves it was explained to me. An that's their pro gear... $50K decks and etc.

    So that's their support... I guess it looks like some of their other sections are equally as incompetent .

    I can still recommend GH cameras tho. I mean the GH1 at just a little over $300 (new, body-only)... if it breaks just get a new one for the same. Both the GH1 and the GH2 are the best micro four thirds DSLR (EVIL) you can get so even for the GH2 it's worth the risk IMO. The good point to me about M43 is that it can adapt all lenses. If that's what you want and you want the most professional body (style/function) then you're choices are limited to G1, G2, GH1, and GH2. If you don't mind a P&S pocketable body style then NEX still adapts all, is APS-C, and has a non-fraudulant warrantee policy. :) With the GH2 you're really paying a lot for this though! List of cameras that cost about the same or less than the GH2 - in the USA:

    By DPReview's price DB of "currently" manufactured cameras:

    Samsung NX100
    14.6 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $534.95 - $534.95

    Olympus PEN E-PL1
    12.3 megapixels • 2.7" screen • Four Thirds sensor
    $539.95 - $559.95

    Samsung NX10
    14.6 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $599.00 - $599.00

    Sony Alpha DSLR-A390
    14.2 megapixels • 2.7" screen • APS-C sensor
    $649.95 - $699.99

    Sony Alpha NEX-5
    14.2 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $699.95 - $699.95

    Pentax K-r
    12.4 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $684.27 - $749.99

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2
    12.1 megapixels • 3" screen • Four Thirds sensor
    $699.00 - $749.00

    Canon EOS 1000D (EOS Rebel XS / Kiss F Digital)
    10.1 megapixels • 2.5" screen • APS-C sensor
    $799.95 - $799.95

    Sony SLT-A33
    14.2 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $819.00 - $869.00

    Sony Alpha DSLR-A550
    14.2 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $849.00 - $849.00

    Pentax K-x
    12.4 megapixels • 2.7" screen • APS-C sensor
    $859.99 - $859.99

    Sony Alpha DSLR-A560
    14.2 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $849.00 - $999.00

    Pentax K-7
    14.6 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $949.99 - $999.99

    Sony Alpha NEX-3
    14.2 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $999.99 - $999.99

    Sony Alpha DSLR-A580
    16.2 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $1,019.00 - $1,169.00

    Canon EOS 500D (EOS Rebel T1i / EOS Kiss X3)
    15.1 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $1,189.60 - $1,232.00

    Canon EOS 60D
    18.0 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $1,284.99 - $1,299.00

    Nikon D90
    12.3 megapixels • 3" screen • APS-C sensor
    $1,374.95 - $1,399.99

    And with a little looking I can cut a hundred or two off of most of those prices. And this doesn't take into account cameras that are not current. Such as the Canon 1D MarkII which sells for $600 ~ $800 with 3 or 4 batteries. No video tho. :P
  • Support of most photo manufacturers degraded badly.
    They are just cutting costs.
  • >1st GH1 I had I was out in the hot humid summer Sun (think Louisiana at it's worst) and it just died

    This is why you need Pentax body :-)
    Buy used K20D, battery grip, WR lens and you are prepared to anything.
    I just can't compare how K20D with good weighty AT-X lens compare to GH1 in hands.
    GH1 is just some toy your young boys in comparison :-)
  • "Support of most photo manufacturers degraded badly."

    Really? Nikon, Canon, and Sony are like that too now?

  • Yeah, I really liked the K-5. I can find them on-line for $1200 (new, body only)

    I'm currently looking for a 1DMarkII - but I'm taking my sweet time about it. That will be my next addition. :)

  • >Really? Nikon, Canon, and Sony are like that too now?

    Today support is mostly outsourced. So, in many places it is actually the same firm :-)
    If you mean coming with humidity destroyed body - they are all the same :-)

    >Yeah, I really liked the K-5. I can find them on-line for $1200 (new, body only

    You do not need K-5. K20D or GX20 can be got for less than $400 :-)
    And this thing is made up to the top Canon bodies standards.
  • Hmmm, good to know, thanks!

    What do you think of the K-x ?


  • >Hmmm, good to know, thanks!

    http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/77/good-deals-pentax-k20d-body#Item_1

    >What do you think of the K-x ?

    Forget K-x.

  • Kuul, thankz!

  • Vitaliy, I've raed a lot of your posts on here and other sites/interviews...
    But I confess I'm still not entirely sure on your opinion of the GH2 for video.
    Many Thanks
    LW
  • It is the best dslr for video. period
  • I did two shoots on two days last month. The first day I used 2 Canon HDV camcorders and the GH2 (for a few stills and cutaways). All 3 cameras matched in terms of saturation / sharpness etc, but the GH2 looked so much nicer that on the second shoot I just used the GH2 throughout. That's how good it is. It can handle quite major video post-production (levels / chroma) in editing software before the image starts to suffer visibly. We edited the footage last night from that second shoot and it just looks wonderful. The only thing I wish I'd had was the 50mm Pentax 1.8 M42 lens I bought last week, which is fantastic where you need a bit more light without getting noise in the image and has a lovely natural quality to it. But I exclusively used the 14-140 with its great image stabilization. I love the GH2!
  • Cheers Mark. Posts like this are always appreciated by myself.
  • As I keep saying... Show me. :)
  • Go to Vimeo.com
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