GF2 Review Street Photography

Panasonic GF2 Review

The GF2 gets consistently negative or indifferent reviews around the internet. But what I started to notice was that these negative reviews are never from anyone that actually owns a GF2. So this review takes the form of an extended rebuttal to the most common complaints:

“The touchscreen removed the manual control”
– The only manual control removed was the mode dial. In day-to-day shooting the modes you use will be either manual (M) or full auto (iA). To switch between these you just set the camera to manual and then use the blue iA button to turn iA on and off. So no real loss with the removal of the mode dial. The complaints about the loss of the mode dial are a classic tip that a reviewer only played with a camera in the store (where you want to check out the modes).

“There are no dials to control Shutter, Aperture and Iso”
– The dial on the GF2 is on the top right of the back of the camera (under your thumb). It is a nice smooth dial with a robust click for each step. When you press in the dial it clicks from changing Aperture to changing Shutter Speed. This is so easy and fast for manual control that I now prefer it to 2 dials because I can do it one handed. The Iso is changed using the dedicated Iso button on the back of the camera.

“The touchscreen is useless in day-to-day shooting”
– It takes about 5 mins to tweak the quick menu which appears on the touchscreen (accessed from a dedicated button) I chose Shutter Speed, Aperture, Iso and Focus mode as the shortcuts but you could choose whichever you wanted. The touchscreen is also excellent for reviewing images by flicking through them. But most of the time you forget that it’s there because you can run the camera from the buttons and dial.

“JPG’s are cr_p”
– Yes they are, if you are pixel peeping. In which case, what are you doing shooting JPGs? Shoot RAW. For the occasional quick happy-snap the jpgs are nice and the intelligent dynamic plus intelligent sharpness make for easy and tidy JPGs. But you really got into micro 43 to shoot RAW didn’t you?

Why the GF2 is so important:
– Micro 43 is all about the ‘prosumer’ market. It’s amateurs that want professional style kit and professionals that want a fast/light kit for a particular need. The GH and G are great mini-slrs but they let us sometimes forget that the micro 43 is a rebirth of the rangefinder ethos. Micro 43 was born for street photography and the GF2 feels like a no nonsense street camera. The PENs have their moments as street cameras but if you harbour a residual Panasonic/Leica association then the GF2 is going to deliver a solid street photography experience and will pair well with the Panasonic Prime lenses.

Shooting the GF2 for street photography

Shoot Wide, Shoot Prime, Shoot Raw.

Photo samples from the first week with the GF2:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterjthomson/sets/72157627241615711/

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19 thoughts on “GF2 Review Street Photography

  1. Peter, I bought a GF2 kit (14 + 14-42) in Jessops a few months ago, for a very good price. I use it more often than my Nikon D7000, and often take night pictures with a mini-tripod which fits my shirt pocket (try doing that with a SLR!). Main problem: in sunny Portugal it can be very hard to see what’s in the screen, the more so when you are past fifty as I am. Other minus points: noisy at 800+ (I used to do slides, and never went past 100…), noisy shutter (but only slightly so). All in all, I am very satisfied with it.

    LCS, Lisbon, Portugal

    • Great tip on the mini-tripod. I’ll have to check one out.

      As for seeing the screen, try an anti-glare screen protector from an iPhone (or similar). Or try a cheap optical viewfinder like the Panasonic VF1 (for the LX3) or the Sigma VF11.

      On the ISO, jump into the settings and lock out the maximum ISO at 800 (this even overrides the iA auto). You’re right that over 800 is a mess so just embrace it and make up for it with aperture and shutter speed.

      Glad to see you’re enjoying it. If you’ve got a couple of street photos that you’d like to share then just send them to me and I can showcase them here.

      • Thanks for your reply and suggestions. I should have bought the VF1 viewfinder, and probably will, but consider it overpriced for its quality. The VF2, unfortunately, shall not work with the GF2. I am almost always in aperture-priority mode, and select ISOs manually. A good conversion to black-and-white can help with grainy images, but takes time and demands some knowledge. I shall send you some pictures soon
        Luis

    • You’ll love the GF2, it’s a great street shooter. Take the time to tweak all the settings. The GF2 benefits from menu customisation and other hidden settings that let you get the most out of it. Run it without a viewfinder for a while, but if you find you’re missing it too much then check out a cheap optical viewfinder. I’m loving the Helios when paired with the 14mm.

  2. Question, with the GF2, it seems like there is no dedicated Black & White mode.. I’m confused. I set it through the custom menu, save it to C1, but when I go into a photo editing software, It turns into color…

    What gives??

    • It’s possible that you’re shooting in RAW. (This is a good thing) RAW files are a naked record of what the sensor saw. That means they are always colour. – You are better off doing the conversion to black and white on the PC anyway. Try swapping to jpg and let me know if that doesn’t fix it.

  3. I’ve had my GF2 14 + 14-42 kit for about six months now and couldn’t be more pleased with either it’s function or results. The small size is great, it’s usually in my bag or pocket with the 14mm lens on, and I’ve acquired a couple of adapters to use with some of my old manual lenses. Admittedly, I have occasionally struggled to compose satisfactorily in bright light, and my ageing eyes and reluctance to keep taking my reading specs on and off while out and about has required some squinting at arms length, but I don’t have any problem with using a touchscreen as an interface. I have missed having a viewfinder, but recently picked up a used LVF1 at an acceptable price, so I’m back on track with how I prefer to compose. The LVF1’s not top notch for image quality, but it not as bad as some folk make it out and does the job well enough. I guess everyone assesses gear based on their own needs. All I can say is that the GF2 meets mine, and I’ve used a wide range of film and digital kit over the last 30 years.

  4. Thanks for this great review. I LOVE my GF2. Have been shooting with the 14-42mm, 14-140mm, 100-300mm and 45mm macro lens. The quality of pictures is comparable to a DSLR but it’s small size allows me to carry the body and three lenses in my purse at all times.

    The camera works great for street shooting. When you are out and about its small size raises no red flags. My husband shoots with a Canon 5D MarkII and there have been many times when security, in a public place, will come over and hassle him a bit because they see his large camera and tripod. I’m in very close proximity shooting with my GF2 and no one has ever said a word to me.

  5. I too have read all the negative comments about GF-2. But I could not resist as the price was really low and I thought I might even sell the kit with profit. I already own G1, E-PL1, set of Nikons D7000 and D300s with lots of glass.

    I was sure that I would hate the touch screen and the controls. After all, I don’t get a long too well with phones with touch screen.

    But to my surprise after just a few hours, I fell in love with GF-2. I can operate it much quicker and more accurately than E-PL-1. With 14mm pancake lens I can shoot from the hip. If I need to determine where to focus, the touch screen is so quick to use. Because of that I have got many shots which would have been impossible otherwise.

  6. II enjoyed my GF2 enormously. I used a 25mm PanLeica lens, Sukio 45mm, as well as the 14-42 lens but for video with IOS. Gratifying images! I think you have to learn how to use Silkipix(the software included). I struggled with low resolution and graininess until I learned how to use Silkipix. I went to getting high resolution and beautiful images after that. After I bought my D5MII a grainy picture was still the best picture to describe what I saw wich the D5MII did not give me. I had the best of both worlds with my GF2 depending on ISO. That was it!

  7. Love your very informative site.
    Yesterday and today I a series of images at the same location and time and light conditions with my PL1 and my GF2. Jpegs only. The Olympus jpegs look the way they always do. The G2 loked different from one another and only rarely duplicated the Olympus jpegs. When I pressed the automatic enhancement button in my PaintShopPro program, all of the GF2 images became indistinguishable from the PL1 images! No more RAW and no more problems.
    The only thing I had to do on all of the images was to clone out distractions.
    I am using these settings from a discussion elsewhere:

    Contrast -1
    Sharpness 0
    Saturation +1
    NR =0
    WB cloudy
    +1 blue
    +3 magenta

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