The second major new feature on the G2 – compared to the model it replaces – is high-definition video recording. However, the video-enabled GH1 continues because it still offers a higher level of functionality, including recording at the Full HD 1080i resolution and the incorporation of a stereo microphone.
The G2 records HDV footage at 1280x720 pixels (with progressive scanning) and the builtin microphone is monaural with the option of plugging in an external stereo pick-up. There’s a choice of the AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG recording formats, the latter delivering bigger files, but generally being easier to work with in post-production terms. AVCHD Lite movies are recorded at 50 fps (in the PAL standard) which achieved by doubling the sensor’s 25 fps output, and there’s a choice of three quality settings equating to 17 Mbps, 12 Mbps and 9.0 Mbps. In the Motion JPEG mode, the recording speed is 25 fps with the option of recording at 848x480 pixels and the VGA and QVGA 4:3 aspect ratio resolutions. Autofocusing operation is possible during recording and with tracking although the speed here is dictated by the speed of the lens which is one reason the G2 has a new standard zoom (more about this shortly), although the HD-series 14-140mm zoom is the only Lumix G lens fully optimised for AF tracking with video recording. In terms of exposure control, all adjustments are performed automatically even though any mode can be set on the camera. However, the exposure settings can be tailored to a particular subject by setting the appropriate subject or scene mode. Additionally, there is a ‘Motion Picture P’ mode which has a ‘Peripheral Defocus’ function which allows for adjustment of the aperture in order to regulate the depth-of-field (while automatically correcting the exposure). This adjustment is done via the main input wheel – moved to the rear of the handgrip on the G2 where it’s easier to use – which is pressed in to switch between ‘Peripheral Defocus’ and exposure compensation. Furthermore, in the ‘Intelligent Auto’ mode, the G2 will automatically select from Portrait, Scenery, Low Light or Macro modes for video shooting, and a ‘My Colour’ mode can also be applied which gives quite a bit of scope for varying the look of the footage.
Obviously the ‘My Colour’ settings are available for still photography and shouldn’t be confused with the camera’s ‘Film Modes’. The ‘My Colour’ presets comprise saturation, contrast and brightness while those for the ‘Film Modes’ are for contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction, and are adjustable.
There are seven ‘My Colour’ presets labelled Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Monochrome, Dynamic Art and Silhouette plus the option of creating a Custom preset which is the only time that the processing parameters can be adjusted. These are set via the main mode dial – so they’re modes in themselves – and exposure control is fully automatic.
The ‘Film Modes’ can be applied to any exposure mode and there’s a choice of six colour and three B&W presets plus two ‘My Film’ userdefined settings. A ‘Multi Film’ bracketing function records two or three versions of an image in different ‘Film Modes’ which is really handy for recording colour and B&W images simultaneously. In the B&W modes the manual adjustments are for contrast, sharpness and noise reduction.
Auto bracketing functions are also available for white balance and, of course, exposure. The white balance bracketing is accessed via the finetuning colour square and can be set for either an amber-to-blue adjustment or a green-to-magenta one... and it can be based around any corrected point too. All the presets plus the AWB control and two custom settings can be fine-tuned and the display icon subsequently changes colour to show that some correction has been applied. For example, if the cloudy preset has some amber correction it turns orange and blue if the adjustment is in the opposite direction. Furthermore, if an adjustment in the green-to-magenta range is added either a green plus symbol or a magenta minus symbol appears as well so it’s possible to tell at glance what corrections have been applied to a preset. The G2 also has manual colour temperature setting with a range of 2500 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin.
The auto exposure bracketing can be set over sequences of three, five or seven frames with an adjustment of up to +/-0.7 EV. Exposure control
is based on a choice of three metering methods namely multi-zone using 144 segments, centreweighted average and spot. The standard complement of exposure modes is supplemented by program shift, an AE lock, up to +/-3.0 EV of compensation (applied on 1/3 EV increments) and the just-mentioned auto bracketing.