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.
Panasonic's GH2 website:
Downloadable PDF files of the DMC-GH2 user manual are available in several languages, including UK English:
Panasonic & 3rd party Micro Four Thirds lenses, adapters and compatibility info (including PL mount adapters from Hot Rod Cameras):
Some GH2 product intro videos:
Digital Photography Review has some additional GH2 info and an early product preview:
A GH2 discussion thread on DVXuser:
"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.
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.