Video Review of the Panasonic Lumix GH2

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In the world of video, one camera has quietly become a very coveted piece of equipment.  It functions much like a normal video camera, but shoots gorgeous video like a DSLR camera.  And here’s my full review of it.

The camera is of course the Panasonic Lumix GH2.  And while it looks like a DSLR camera, it’s actually a micro four thirds camera.  For the most part, that means as part of processing an image, it uses a solid state chip instead of moving glass.  The end result is photos that aren’t quite as good as DSLR’s, but video that is often just as good (notice I said often).

The GH2 doesn’t suffer from overheating problems common with it’s DSLR counterparts.  You can shoot until the battery dies or the memory card is full without any worries (I shot for 45+ minutes straight the other day, in 80 degree weather, with zero problems).

This is in large part because the GH2 shoots video in the AVCHD format, which is common to regular video cameras.  If the AVCHD format makes you wary because of editing issues, you’ll be happy to know the GH2 can also shoot in the Motion JPGEG format.  Motion JPEG is an older, less compressed but more video editing friendly format.  When used with the GH2, you’ll get slightly grainier and more saturated looking footage.  Many people actually prefer this look because of it’s “film like” appearance.

As far as shooting formats, for AVCHD the GH2 does 1920x1080i (60i), 1920x1080p (24p) and 1280x720p.  To get the highest quality allowed by the AVCHD format though, you’ll need to choose the 24p mode.  In fact, the 24p mode looks significantly better than the other AVCHD options…to the point where it’s probably going to be the only AVCHD format you’ll want to shoot in.  For Motion JPEG, you get 720p at 30 frames per second…no full HD.

The GH2 does so-so in low light, where it definitely can’t keep up with it’s DSLR counterparts when things get really dark (it only goes up to an ISO of 3200), but is still a big upgrade over traditional video cameras.

For audio, the camera has both an on-board stereo mic and an external mic jack.  For some reason Panasonic decided not to go with a standard 1/8 inch microphone/headphone jack, so you need to get an adaptor if you plan on using a 1/8 inch microphone with the camera.  When using an external mic, the audio quality is decent and recording levels can be adjusted (plus, no annoying “auto gain” like with Canon DSLR’s).

The GH2 also offers auto-focus when shooting video…a very welcomed feature for those who are one-man bands (operating the camera while also being on camera).  The auto-focus is sometimes great and sometimes a little nit-picky.  It does take some time to figure out how to best use it for the types of videos you shoot.

But the bottom line is that the Panasonic Lumix GH2 shoots stunning video.  Aside from my own video above shot with the GH2, you can check out what others have done with this camera, here, here and here.

As a result of it’s outstanding video quality, the camera is in high demand.  That means it’s consistently sold-out everywhere.  And when new supplies come in, they go out just as quick.  So don’t hesitate if you do find one available somewhere.  Even if you buy it but don’t like it for some reason, you’ll be able to sell it very quickly.

And finally, the full technical specs of the camera are available on Panasonic’s site here.


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