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Panasonic DMC-GH2 announced at Photokina 2010


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#1 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:24 PM

Panasonic announced at Photokina 2010 today their new DMC-GH2 Micro Four Thirds hybrid digital still & HD video camera, the long-anticipated replacement for their popular DMC-GH1 model.

GH2 cameras with Japanese-only on-screen menus became available for sale in Japan in late October 2010. Panasonic now sells GH2 camera in various configurations around the world, including a body-only config starting at approx. $900 US list price. GH2 shipments to the US began in December 2010, but initial supplies in the US are limited. Initially the GH2 appears to be somewhat more readily available outside the US.

Posted Image

Panasonic's GH2 website:
http://panasonic.net.../gh2/index.html

Downloadable PDF files of the DMC-GH2 user manual are available in several languages, including UK English:
http://dlc.panasonic...ice.com/EUDocs/

Panasonic & 3rd party Micro Four Thirds lenses, adapters and compatibility info (including PL mount adapters from Hot Rod Cameras):
http://panasonic.net...lens/index.html
http://panasonic.jp/...onnect/gh2.html
http://cameraquest.c...dp_micro_43.htm
http://www.fotodiox....hp?cPath=21_101
http://www.hotrodcam...unts/m4-3-dslr/
http://www.bhphotovi...7813+4289371083
http://shop.ebay.com...=&_trksid=p3686
http://photography.s...d=p3286.c0.m282
http://www.keh.com/

Some GH2 product intro videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k0SuWCY4a0
http://www.youtube.com/v/nVnUeEdYQrI

Digital Photography Review has some additional GH2 info and an early product preview:
http://www.dpreview....anasonicgh2.asp

A GH2 discussion thread on DVXuser:
http://www.dvxuser.c...ad.php?t=223622

"On paper" the GH2 appears to offer many useful features.

For example, unlike the GH1, the GH2 supports live 1080i HDMI output for monitoring including when in preview & record mode, and importantly its HDMI output can be completely "clean" w/o on-screen icons or text. Although the GH2's live HDMI signal is appropriate for critical monitoring (e.g.: focus/framing), it does not appear to be usable for recording to an external device such as a AJA KiPro MINI, nanoFlash, etc. The GH2's live HDMI output does not include embedded camera audio.

The GH2 supports 1080p24 @ 24 megabits/sec. AVCHD (true progressive w/o interlacing), plus several other recording modes as described on Panasonic's website above. The codec is a fuller implementation of AVCHD compared to the GH1. For example, the GH2 includes "B-frames" in its encoding, resulting in improved video quality compared to the original GH1.

The GH2 supports recording full HD video using a small portion of its sensor, a feature Panasonic calls "Extra Tele Conversion". In addition to ETC being useful as a high quality form of optical zoom -- adding significant telephoto power to any lens -- it also allows lenses with small image circles (such as C-mount & other lenses designed for 1/2" or 2/3" video or 16mm film) to be used w/o vignetting, when mounted using an appropriate adapter. When the GH2 is in 1080p24 mode, the ETC crop/magnification factor is 2.6 times. Although ETC adds a slight increase in noise, ETC video has otherwise fewer artifacts compared to the GH2's normal mode, so on the whole ETC mode is quite useful.

According to Panasonic, the GH2 has a new, improved higher-res (16MP) sensor compared to the GH1 (12MP). The GH2's m43 lens mount is compatible with lenses designed for use with the GH1 and other m43 cameras, and non-m43 lenses via relatively inexpensive mount adapters. According to Panasonic, the GH2 LCD & 1.5 million dot electronic viewfinder are also improved. The GH2's LCD features a touch-screen interface. Use of the touch-screen UI is optional; e.g.: it's not required to operate the camera.

The GH2 supports some degree of manual adjustment of audio record levels, but the GH2 does not support live audio monitoring while in preview or record mode.

EDIT 12/20/10:

On 10/23/10 I pre-ordered a US/Canadian English-version NTSC DMC-GH2 with a Lumix 14-42mm zoom lens from Adorama & Amazon, and put my name on B&H's wish-list. On 12/1/10 I also placed a pre-order for a body-only config with PanasonicDirect.com.


On 12/17/10 I finally received the black, body-only NTSC GH2 camera I ordered from PanasonicDirect. I've posted a few brief GH2 test clips on my Vimeo homepage at www.peterdv.com . In the past week or two, a few folks have reported purchasing US/Canadian English NTSC cams from dealers in Canada. There are recent reports of GH2 purchases by end users in Europe, too.

Edited by Peter J DeCrescenzo, 21 December 2010 - 12:49 AM.

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 06:38 AM

Dribble!

However, they're entirely likely to have maintained their anti-tweak stance from the GH1. Which is... arse.
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#3 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:39 AM

Dribble! However, they're entirely likely to have maintained their anti-tweak stance from the GH1. Which is... arse.


Hi Phil: Panasonic's "anti-tweak" stance is obviously most unfortunate, I agree, but not surprising.

Interestingly, the main GH2 thread on DVXuser is currently being moderated by Vitaliy Kiselev, the author of the GH1 firmware hack. He's posted many comments there about his take on the new GH2. Again, the link is:
http://www.dvxuser.c...ad.php?t=223622

- Peter
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#4 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 01:51 AM

"AKED" posted a detailed GH2 report on DVXuser based on his multi-hour visit to Panasonic's booth at the Photokina expo this week.

Concerning the GH2's live video monitoring feature, he reports he was given the following information by the Panasonic reps:

"... HDMI out: I was told, that HDMI out is the full quality with no dropped frames, no darker image or anything. According to them the HDMI output is depending on your HD selection for filming. If you select 24p, HDMI out is 24p. If you select 720/50p it is 50p and if you select 1080/50i, it is 50i. ... When you record with HDMI out, the LCD screen still has a picture. You can have the menus on HDMI out but you can also switch them off. ..."

Also, concerning live audio monitoring:

"... Earphone jack: There is no earphone jack at the GH2. Sound goes over HDMI during recording. No sound via USB during recording. ..."

EDIT 12/20/10: Unfortunately, the latter point has been shown to be incorrect: The GH2 does not embed or output live camera audio via its live HDMI connection. In fact, the GH2 does not provide any means to monitor live camera audio. Only playback of recorded audio is supported.

AKED's complete report contains many other details about the GH2; here's the direct link:
http://www.dvxuser.c...6&postcount=335

NOTE: As AKED says in his report, all of the information he's reporting is based on what he was told by Panasonic reps. They didn't allow him to personally verify the info by actually using these features himself. So, although this info is very positive, we await further confirmation. Stay tuned.

Edited by Peter J DeCrescenzo, 21 December 2010 - 12:54 AM.

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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 07:14 AM

HDMI out is the full quality with no dropped frames, no darker image or anything.




Dribble?




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#6 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 10:34 AM

[/color]Dribble?


Hi Phil: I'm not sure from your comment if you're salivating with happy anticipation, or being sarcastic. :-)

It's OK with me either way, but perhaps you could elaborate a bit?

Thanks in advance.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 11:14 AM

Oh the former.

Just as long as I don't have to speak to Jan Crittenden about it.

P
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#8 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 12:13 PM

Here are two videos shot by Bruce Dale using a pre-release GH2 camera.

The usual caveats apply: The final release version of the GH2 may or may not perform better; compressed-for-the-web video usually doesn't look anywhere near as good as the camera-original files; we don't know the exact settings used to shoot or post-process the files; etc.

Watch the "1080p HD" version on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCxPFga8elk

A different, lower-res video on Vimeo:

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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 02:37 PM

Remind me.

The original GH1 used similar bitrates to this and was accused of being muddy, which the now impossible tweaks fixed.

It strikes me that this is liable to have the same problem.

P
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#10 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 03:24 PM

Remind me. The original GH1 used similar bitrates to this and was accused of being muddy, which the now impossible tweaks fixed.
It strikes me that this is liable to have the same problem.


As Mae West famously said, "Bitrates aren't everything." (Or was it W.C. Fields?)

A few things I've been reading about:

The GH2 appears to do better encoding. Unlike the GH1 (and all the other DSLRs except perhaps the new Nikon D7000), the GH2 encoder does B frames. That should noticeably improve the compression in its original recordings. We shall see.

The GH2 has allegedly has better S/N performance compared to the GH1, but we don't know yet how much of that is "real" or how cleanly it's achieved -- such as whether or not it's the result of overly-aggressive noise reduction. If the GH2 really is capable of producing higher-quality, lower-noise imagery compared to the GH1, that should also allow the GH2's encoder to produce cleaner compression at relatively low datarates. This will have to wait for careful testing with final production units before we can tell if there's any truth to this.

The GH2 has 3 CPU cores, more than the GH1, to do pre-encode scaling, etc., so hopefully it does a better job. But we may not know how significant this is until the final camera is in the hands of competent testers.

In certain cases, the GH2's "Extra Tele Conversion function" -- which for example, allows it to use only the center 1920x1080 portion of the 16MP sensor to create a full HD video -- may further improve things because there should be vastly less aliasing/moire since there's no pixel binning or line skipping. Obviously using this feature will only be appropriate when a 2.6x crop (relative to the camera's normal operation) makes sense. So, again, another place where the GH2 might produce cleaner video than a GH1, depending on how well Panasonic has implemented it.

And the GH2 can record all of the above as native 1080p24 HD video @ 24 megabits/sec., instead of 24p in 1080i as in an unhacked GH1 @ 17 mb/s. So that makes an additional difference, too.

I believe Vitaliy Kiselev discusses these & other issues in the 1st post of the main GH2 thread on DVXuser:
http://www.dvxuser.c...ad.php?t=223622
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 10:07 PM

I'm slightly cautious about the B-frame excitement. h.264 is a strange beast and it's possible to selectively implement parts of it and omit or gloss over other parts without necessarily being out of spec. Merely producing B-frames is promising but really it's one of those things that's very hard to assess because we don't have access to put test data into the codec. It's possible to do this badly.

Live HDMI out and proper 24p file formats both very welcome. I wonder about the cleanliness of the HDMI...

P



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#12 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 11:39 PM

I wonder about the cleanliness of the HDMI...


Me too! As do quite a few others.

There have been several reports that the live "preview" HDMI output can be visually uncluttered (no on-screen text/graphics).

There's also been at least one report that the HDMI signal "drops frames" while the camera is in record mode.

But to the best of my knowledge, none of this has been conclusively verified.

Of course, if the the live preview HDMI signal is pristine and "correct", one could record it externally on a device such as the new KiPro MINI or NINJA, or nanoFlash units. In other words, use the GH2 as a camera head, not as a camcorder.

But if GH2 can output high-quality HDMI in both live preview, and also while the camera itself is record mode, all the better. We'll see.

Meanwhile:

What's the deal with the GH2 units at Photokina not being able to record native 25p PAL? That just seems crazy. I suppose Panasonic might add it later via a firmware update, but it still seems really strange.
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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 07:51 AM

a device such as the new KiPro MINI or NINJA




Pfeh! Compression is for girls.


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#14 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 07:36 PM

... I wonder about the cleanliness of the HDMI ...


News flash: Philip Bloom just received a GH2 on loan from Panasonic. I'm not certain if he's home in the UK or on the road, but the first thing he checked was the HDMI output ... there's mostly good news!

http://philipbloom.n...clean-hdmi-out/

He hasn't had time to do a thorough test yet, but so far so good.

Phil Rhodes, you should hunt PB down if he's in your part of the world and do some proper tests on the thing! :-)

His email is: help@philipbloom.net

My questions are:

1. Does the GH2 live HDMI output have a "regular" framerate (no dropped frames or non-standard pulldown pattern), both during live preview & when cam is in record mode?

2. Does the GH2 live HDMI output have copy protection enabled to prevent it from being recorded by an external device?

3. When the GH2 is in record mode, and it puts the record symbol & numeric timer on-screen, are they close enough to the top & bottom edge to allow cropping the video to something like 14:9 or 2.35:1, etc. in post?

4. Does the GH2 live HDMI output include camera audio? If so, does it sound relatively clean?

5. A different audio question: Does the GH2's USB/AV connector output live audio when the cam is in preview or record mode? On my GH1 I can connect my Sennheiser headphones to the USB/AV connector via adapters to listen to audio when the cam is in playback mode only. But, can the GH2 do this during live preview or recording?

EDIT: Unfortunately, as mentioned on his blog, Philip had to return the pre-release GH2 to Panasonic because it was defective. As a result he wasn't able to complete his "preview". The good news is that he says he's been invited by Panasonic to their Japan HQ to test the final production version of the GH2, possibly as soon as next week. Refer to his blog for updates.

Edited by Peter J DeCrescenzo, 30 October 2010 - 03:54 AM.

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#15 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 03:35 AM

In the past few days, Panasonic Japan has begun initial shipments of the GH2. For example, Amazon.com in Japan now sells it.

In the US, Amazon, Adorama, B&H and other vendors might begin selling various GH2 configurations as soon as next week. Unlike the GH1, body-only GH2 configurations are possible, but it's too early to say exactly which vendor will offer it, if at all. The GH2 is expected to begin selling in various European countries very soon.

Note: We don't know yet if the GH2's on-screen menu language "localization" will be restricted as it was with the GH1. For example, a GH1 sold in Japan has Japanese-only menus. So, a note of caution if you're considering purchasing a GH2 localized for a region outside your own, until we get confirmation about this.

Demand for the GH2 is expected to be high. My guess is the Silver body color will be more readily available than the Black body. Myself, I have a Black version (with the inexpensive Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens*) on pre-order with Amazon, Adorama and B&H. I'll let you know when hear from any of them.

Luminous Landscape has just published a very positive hands-on preview of the GH2:
http://www.luminous-...irst_look.shtml

LL says the GH2 has (compared to the GH1) a 1-2 stop increase in sensitivity (for both stills & video), much-improved video quality, a sharper VF, significantly faster AF, and more. FWIW, the author of the LL preview liked the pre-release GH2 so much he's ordered one for his own use.

One odd thing mentioned in the LL article: Unlike the GH1, the GH2 might not include a "battery eliminator" cable & AC adapter. According to LL, the GH2 will include an AC battery charger, but if you want to run the camera itself continuously from AC, a battery eliminator cable & charger will be available as a separate accessory. I haven't seen confirmation of this, so just a heads-up.

Panasonic US is not yet selling the GH2 directly from their own website. It remains to be seen when/if they'll allow discounted "corporate buy" purchases, for example, to employees of major American companies as they've done with the GH1 & accessories in the past.
http://www2.panasoni...000000000005702

"The Boxer" is a recent short film that apparently was shot using a pre-release GH2, but I don't know if this has been verified yet (watch the "HD" version on YouTube):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAmBpttlrn4

* The Lumix 14-42mm optically-stabilzed zoom lens is inexpensive enough that I decided to order it with my GH2, even though it has a plastic and probably delicate mount on the lens. I'll treat it very carefully. I'm keeping my "hacked" GH1, and I'll use the new 14-42mm lens along with the other 3 lenses I currently own.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here's a very brief clip I recently shot with my GH1 on a rainy Portland morning (you can download the camera-original .MTS file). And, yes, that's a marimba you hear playing in the background. :-)

View on Vimeo

EDIT:

A few minutes ago I received the following email from Amazon.com:

========
"We now have delivery date(s) for the order you placed on September 25 2010 (Order# ...): Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Hybrid Lens (Black):

Estimated arrival date: November 30 2010 - January 04 2011 ..."
========

I hope it arrives sooner rather than later! :-)

Edited by Peter J DeCrescenzo, 30 October 2010 - 09:30 PM.

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#16 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 10:37 AM

More at:

http://www.dpreview....anasonicgh2.asp

Following the http://www.dpreview....anasonicdmcgh2/ link for a hands-on report on the GH2

3D for the 4/3 system is on the way! http://www.dpreview....sonic3dlens.asp
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#17 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 10:13 PM

Downloadable PDF files of the DMC-GH2 user manual are available in several languages, including UK English:
http://dlc.panasonic...ice.com/EUDocs/

The Japanese GH2 user manual (in Japanese) is now available for download. It's a 16MB PDF file:
http://dl-ctlg.panas.../dm/dmc_gh2.pdf
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 04:12 AM

No 25p.

Words fail me.

P
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#19 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 11:10 AM

No 25p. Words fail me.


Not everyone is at a loss for words:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgdfzCu6yEw

:-)

See also:
http://www.dvxuser.c...here-are-no-25p
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 12:38 PM

But Hitler missed all the real problems, like shooting under non-flicker-free lighting in 50Hz locations at 24p, which causes enormous hum bar style artifacts.

P
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