Like those of the company's prior Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Panasonic G2's user interface can at first seem a little befuddling, because some common functions don't have external buttons visibly labeled. Exposure compensation is a prime example; there's no button labeled with a +/- symbol on the camera's body. To adjust the exposure, you can either push on the control dial and then turn it, press the Q.Menu button and scroll among the options there, or touch the exposure compensation icon in the Quick Menu and then slide the on-screen bar using the touch panel. Unless you've previously been in the Q.Menu and scrolled to another option, the exposure compensation control is the first one you'll see in the Quick Menu.
Once we became accustomed to the Panasonic G2's controls, we found that the user interface worked well. Indeed, the Quick menu is quite intuitive because each of the status icons around the screen become fly-out menu items, and navigating to them is even easier now you can simply touch the icon on-screen, with no need to even turn the dial or use the left and right arrows. If you prefer using the physical controls though, a nice touch is that since the G2 leaves the Q.Menu cursor (option selection) on the function you last used, it tends to drop you back to where you want to go more times than not. Pushing the rear dial to access the exposure compensation control was also very fast and quickly became second nature. The My Menu's keeping of our last five menu selections close at hand saved our delving into the extensive menu system for most choices while we were shooting. At the end of the day, we found the Panasonic G2 a very pleasant and responsive camera to shoot with.
The four navigation buttons access oft-used commands, including ISO, white balance, film mode, and a special function button can be assigned to any of several options. Pressing the Preview button gives you a Depth-of-field preview by stopping down the lens to the current aperture, and pressing the Display button immediately after puts the G2 into Shutter-speed preview mode.
Panasonic DMC-G2 Record Mode Display
The Panasonic G2's rear-panel tilt-swivel 3-inch TFT color LCD monitor can be used for image review, status display, menu display, and as a viewfinder for image framing. Its electronic viewfinder offers much the same display functions, but with significantly higher resolution - 1,400K dots for the EVF versus 460K dots for the LCD panel..
The illustrations below (courtesy of Panasonic) show what information is displayed on the G2's LCD monitor or electronic viewfinder in Record Mode. In most cases, the displays are identical, though there are some items that are only displayed on the LCD monitor, as noted in the table footnotes below.
LCD Recording Info (not shown in EVF)
The following table documents the information for all display illustrations above:
Optical Image Stabilizer
Flash Output Adjustment
2nd Curtain Synchro
Drive Mode (Single 1, Burst, Auto Bracket, Self-timer)
Record Mode (motion pictures)
Extra Optical Zoom (motion pictures)
Extra Optical Zoom (still pictures)
AF Tracking Operation
Available Recording Time 3
White Balance Fine Adjustment
White Balance Bracket
Recording State (flashes red)
My Color Mode
Current Date and Time 2, 4
Touch Quick Menu 2
Travel Destination Setting 2, 4
Touch Shutter 2
Dial Operation Guide
Elapsed Recording Time
Number of Recordable Pictures 3
Age 2, 5
Exposure Compensation Value
Location 2, 4
Manual Exposure Assistance
Name 2, 5
Number Of Days Passed Since Departure 2, 4
Spot Metering Target
Only displayed in the LCD recording information window.
Only displayed in the LCD monitor.
It is possible to switch the display between the number of recordable pictures and available recording time with the [REMAINING DISP.] setting in the [CUSTOM MENU] menu. In displays other than the LCD recording information display, [9999+] is displayed if there are more than 10,000 pictures remaining.
This is displayed for about 5 seconds when the camera is turned on, after setting the clock and after switching from Playback mode to Record mode.
This is displayed for about 5 seconds when this unit is turned on in [BABY1]/[BABY2] or [PET] in Scene Mode.
This is displayed during countdown.
Panasonic G2 Playback Mode Displays
The Playback button on the rear panel accesses Playback mode, where you can review captured images. Pressing the Display button cycles through displays showing basic information about the captured image (flash use, program mode, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, film type, size, JPEG quality, intelligent exposure, intelligent resolution, and sequence number); a screen showing a small thumbnail and more detailed exposure information (adding metering mode, focus mode, image stabilization setting, color space, and file number to the above); a screen with a small thumbnail and RGB + luminance histogram displays; and finally an image with no information overlay at all. There is an optional Highlight display that can be enabled in the Setup menu. It blinks clipped areas in black and white. Similar displays are available for movie files (as shown at right).
In Playback mode, touching the screen or rotating the command dial located on the back of the camera to the right zooms in on the image being viewed. You can zoom in up to 16x (in steps of 2x), and pan around the full image via the arrow keys. If using the touch panel to control the zoom, the enlarged area centers on the portion of the image which was touched, and an on-screen icon is used to zoom back out. The enlarged image can be panned either by dragging on the touch screen, or by using the arrow pad.
When you zoom out beyond the full-image display by rotating the Rear dial left, you can see displays of 12 or 30 thumbnails, or a calendar-based display that organizes images in groups by the date captured. The scroll bar at the right of the touch screen can be dragged to scroll through the available images.