Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 Review

 
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Panasonic Lumx DMC-GF2 Performance


Timing and Performance

The Panasonic GF2's performance is a bit slower than most SLRs, but generally good for a compact system camera. Burst mode is below average, though.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.0 second
Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~3.0 seconds
How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.
Buffer clearing time
2 seconds
after 50 L/F JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
9 seconds
after 7 RAW files*
11 seconds
after 4 RAW+ L/F 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 were slower than those for most SLRs, but fairly typical for a compact system camera. Startup was a bit faster than the GF1 (1 second vs 1.4), but shutdown was slower (3 seconds vs 2). Dust reduction is automatically performed at startup and can't be disabled, but can also be run manually. Buffer clearing times depend on the speed of the SD card, as well as image size and quality. Buffer clearing was pretty fast for its class, and a bit faster than the GF1.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.7 second
Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

~1.9 seconds
Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.2 second
Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching was reasonably fast and faster than the GF1, except for Record to Play which was about average and a bit slower than the GF1's 1.4 seconds.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area Center AF mode
0.337 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All timing performed with 14mm kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
23-point AF mode
0.348 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,
Wide Angle,
Flash enabled
0.685 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, auto flash enabled.

Prefocused

0.074 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Continuous AF
0.384 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.089 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 GF2 showed full-autofocus shutter lag in single-area AF mode (center AF position) of 0.337 second with the 14mm kit lens. That's a bit slower than most SLRs, but pretty fast for a compact system camera, and faster than the GF1's 0.409 second result. In 23-point AF mode, this time increased just slightly to 0.348 second, also faster than the GF1's 0.473 second.

Full autofocus shutter lag increased to 0.685 second with the flash enabled, which includes an additional delay for the preflash metering. This too was faster than the GF1's 0.887 second. Continuous AF mode resulted in a shutter lag of 0.384 second (the GF1's 20mm f/1.7 lens did not support continuous AF). When manually focused, the Panasonic GF2's lag time dropped to only 0.089 second, which is competitive with consumer SLRs and a bit faster than the GF1's 0.104 second lag. The GF2's prefocused lag time of 0.074 second was fast enough that you shouldn't miss any photo opportunities if prefocused, though it was a touch slower than the GF1's 0.072 second.

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

0.72 second

Time per shot, averaged over 21 shots, 1 second to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.71 second
Time per shot, averaged over 7 shots, 9 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.73 second
Time per shot, averaged over 4 shots, 11 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

0.38 second (2.60 frames per second);
50 frames;
2 seconds to clear*
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 50 frames, with no signs of slowing.

Continuous High
RAW

0.38 second (2.62 frames per second);
6 frames total;
9 seconds to clear*
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 6 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.58s or 0.63 fps.

Continuous High
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.38 second (2.61 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 2.68s or 0.37 fps.

Flash Recycling

5.6 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 were slower than most SLRs, and slightly slower than the Panasonic GF1, at about 0.72 vs 0.70 second for Large/Fine JPEGs, 0.71 vs 0.69 second for RAW, and 0.73 vs 0.69 second for RAW + Large/Fine JPEG.

Continuous High mode was slower than average compared to SLRs, in the 2.6 frames per second range for Large/Fine JPEGs, RAW files, as well as RAW + Large/Fine JPEGs. This was also slower than the GF2's 3.0 frames/second specification, but not unusual for a Panasonic camera which we've found to be very sensitive to camera settings such as ISO sensitivity when it comes to maximum burst speed. (We shoot our continuous mode test at ISO 200 for a fast enough shutter speeds to read our electronic timer values.) The GF1 managed slightly faster burst rates than the GF2, at 2.93, 2.82 and 2.70 fps respectively.

Buffer size was very good for Large/Fine JPEGs in Continuous High mode, as the camera processed 50 frames with no signs of slowing, which is much better than the 13 frames we got with the GF1. Buffer size dropped to only 6 frames when shooting RAW, and 4 frames for RAW + L/F JPEGs, which while very limited, is typical for a consumer model and the same results as the GF1. Note that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so your results may be better with more typical subjects. Flash recycle after a full power discharge was slower than average, at 5.6 seconds, about the same as the GF1's 5.8 seconds.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

8,315 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 GF2 is a fairly responsive camera, well-suited to handling typical family shots, though not a good choice for really fast action mainly because of its mediocre burst speed. Autofocus speeds were noticeably improved over the GF1.

Battery and Storage Capacity

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

Operating Mode
Battery Life
Lens
14mm
f/2.5
14-42mm
f/3.5-5.6 OIS
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard - LCD)
320 shots
300 shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard - Optional EVF)
330 shots
310 shots
Playback Time
Using LCD
160 minutes
150 minutes

The Panasonic GF2 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The rated 320 shots per charge with the 14mm lens is below the capacity of typical SLRs, a consequence of the power drain for the electronic display. (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 GF2 are in line with compact SLRs operating in Live View mode.) We do recommend getting a second battery for your GF2 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 GF2 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 format, Class 6 or faster for recording Motion JPEG movies.

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. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

Panasonic DMC-GF2

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