Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Review

 
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Panasonic G2 Performance


Timing and Performance

The Panasonic G2's performance is a bit slower than most SLRs, but as fast or faster than most SLDs.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.0 second

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~2.5 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
3 seconds
after 11 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
12 seconds
after 5 RAW files*
15 seconds
after 3 RAW+JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup and shut-down times are slower than those for most SLRs, but fairly typical for an SLD. Dust reduction is automatically performed at startup and can't be disabled. It can also be run manually. Buffer clearing times depend on the speed of the SD card, as well as image size and quality.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.7 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

~1.0 second

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.3 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching is reasonably fast, except for Record to Play, which is about average.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.423 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All timing performed with 14-42mm kit lens at ~26mm focal length.)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Pre AF: Q-AF
0.422 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Pre AF: C-AF
0.419 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode,
Flash enabled
0.680 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, auto flash enabled.

Prefocused

0.120 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Continuous AF
0.403 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.135 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

The Panasonic G2 showed full-autofocus shutter lag in single-area AF mode (with the subject at a fixed distance) of 0.423 second with the new 14-42mm lens. That's slower than most SLRs, but pretty fast for an SLD.

We tried enabling what Panasonic calls "Pre AF" to see what impact it had on our focus lag tests. Pre AF focuses automatically before the shutter button is half-pressed. In Quick-AF mode, which starts focusing when the camera is stable, shutter lag was virtually the same as with it off, at 0.422 second. The other Pre AF mode is "Continuous AF". In this mode, the camera continuously focuses. Again, we saw very little improvement to our results, with a lag time of 0.419 second. This is no surprise though, since our subject is static. In real life situations, these modes may make a noticeable difference, but will also be more of a drain on the battery.

Full autofocus shutter lag increased to 0.68 second with the flash enabled, which includes an additional delay for the preflash metering. Continuous AF mode resulted in a shutter lag of 0.403 second. When manually focused, the Panasonic G2's lag time drops to only 0.135 second, competitive with consumer SLRs. Its prefocused lag time of 0.120s is a bit slower than most SLRs, but still fast enough that you shouldn't miss any photo opportunities if prefocused.

Overall, AF timing is similar to the Panasonic GF1 and the Samsung NX10 SLDs, but a bit slower than the GH1 with its fast-focusing 14-140mm lens. The Panasonic G2 is faster at focusing than its Olympus competitors with their kits lenses (even with the recently announced firmware update), though that's due to differences in the kit lenses more so than the camera body.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds, Samsung NX, and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.70 second

Time per shot, averaged over 11 shots, 3 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.78 second

Time per shot, averaged over 5 shots, 12 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.78 second

Time per shot, averaged over 3 shots, 15 seconds to clear*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous High
Large Fine JPEG

0.30 second (3.33 frames per second);
9 frames;
2 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 9 frames, then slows to an average of about 2.27s or 0.44 fps.

Continuous High
RAW

0.30 second (3.31 frames per second);
5 frames total;
11 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 5 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.84s or 0.54 fps.

Continuous High
RAW + LF JPEG

0.39 second (2.56 frames per second);
4 frames total;
9 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 4 frames, then slows to an average of 3.30s or 0.30 fps.

Continuous Middle
Large Fine JPEG

0.43 second (2.34 frames per second);
11 frames;
3 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 11 frames, then slows to an average of 1.13s or 0.88 fps.

Flash Recycling

4.0 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times are similar to the Panasonic GF1, at about 0.70 second for large/fine JPEGs. The Panasonic G2 was a little slower than the GF1 with RAW files, at 0.78 second versus 0.69 second. The Samsung NX10 require 0.93 second for JPEGs and even longer for RAW, so the G2 is faster here. The Panasonic G2's single-shot cycles times is also quite a bit faster than the Olympus PENs, which ranged from 1.6 to about 2 seconds, depending on the model.

Continuous High mode with Live View disabled during bursts was good, at about 3.3 frames per second for large/fine JPEGs or RAW files, and 2.6 frames per second for RAW + large/fine JPEG. That's slightly faster than its SLD competitors for JPEGs, but a bit slower with RAW. We did notice however that the lens aperture used impacts the G2's burst rate by quite a bit. The above tests were taken with the lens wide open. Stopping down to f/10 reduced the Continuous High burst speed to about 2.4 frames-per-second.  In "Continuous Middle" mode, where Live View is enabled during the burst, the G2 managed only 2.3 frames-per-second with the lens wide open.

Buffer size was somewhat limited with our test target. In Continuous High mode, the camera slowed down after 9 large/fine JPEG frames. Buffer size dropped to 5 frames when shooting RAW, and 4 frames for RAW + LF JPEG. Note that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths may be longer with simpler subjects. Flash recycle after a full power discharge was reasonable, at 4 seconds.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

7,108 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were fast, quick enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec SD card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Panasonic G2 is a fairly responsive camera, well-suited to handling typical family shots, though not a good choice for really fast action. It exhibits about the same performance as the Panasonic GF1, but is generally faster than the Olympus PEN and Samsung NX10 SLDs in most respects.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Good battery life, but below average compared to an SLR using an optical viewfinder.

Operating Mode
Battery Life
Lens 14-42mm
f/3.5-5.6
45-200mm
f/4-5.6
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard - LCD)
360 shots
340 shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard - EVF)
390 shots
370 shots
Playback Time
Using LCD
330 minutes
290 minutes

The Panasonic G2 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The rated 390 shots per charge is below the capacity of typical SLRs, likely a consequence of the power drain for the electronic viewfinder. (When using the optical viewfinder on an SLR, there's very little power consumption except when the shutter fires or when you're in playback mode. The CIPA numbers for the Panasonic G2 are better than most SLRs operating in Live View mode.) We do recommend getting a second battery for your Panasonic G2 if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Panasonic G2 accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, and does not ship with a card. Panasonic recommends a Class 4 or faster card for recording movies in AVCHD Lite, Class 6 or faster for recording movies in Motion JPEG format.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
Fine Normal RAW RAW
+
Fine JPEG
4,000 x 3,000
Images
(Avg Size)
140
7.3 MB
280
3.7 MB
67
15.2 MB
45
22.8 MB
Approx.
Comp.
5:1
10:1
1.2:1
-
2,816 x 2,112
Images
(Avg Size)
250
4.1 MB
510
2.0 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
9:1
-
-
2,048 x 1,536
Images
(Avg Size)
400
2.6 MB
800
1.3 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
7:1
-
-

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card at least a 2GB card, preferably a 4 or 8GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, or when shooting RAW or video files. -- If you're going to shoot much video, you'll definitely want a large, fast card; look for a card with "Class 6" speed or better. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

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