New Lumix G’s: Disappointing

March 7, 2010

Panasonic owes my cat Madeleine an apology.

A few days ago, when specs and images of the new Lumix G models first leaked, I made such aggravated gargling and sputtering noises that she bolted out of the room in fright.

Now Panasonic has made the introductions official; and DP Review has posted the details of the new G2 and G10, as well as a G2 preview.

Essentially, Panasonic’s old model G1 (the very first Micro Four Thirds introduction) has now been split into two new models instead.

Panasonic Lumix G10

New Panasonic Lumix G10

The G10 is the lighter, de-contented version. It offers a cheapened electronic viewfinder (only 202,000 dots) and no articulating screen. It does add 720p video (which is practically mandatory in today’s market)—but only using the Motion JPEG codec.

The G2 is basically the G1 with the addition of 720p AVCHD Lite video, and a touch-screen interface. It appears to keep the same 1.4 million dot electronic viewfinder as the G1. DP Review found the G1’s EVF large and bright—but jerky and grainy in low light.

The touchscreen can select AF points, or flick through recorded photos (for reference, it has a smaller screen diagonal, but the same resolution as an iPhone or iPod Touch).

The distinction between the two video codecs is this: Motion JPEG compresses each frame individually. This gives good quality, but fills memory cards quickly. AVCHD uses more sophisticated motion-estimation between frames, and so it can achieve much higher file compression. Not all video software can handle AVCHD yet.

Anyway, let’s pause for a moment and run down all the things these two models are not:

They do not introduce any new sensor; nor do they use the proven-superior chip from the GH1.

(Imaging Resource notes that the new models have an improved processor. The new ISO 6400 setting is probably a result of this greater noise-suppressing capability. But I remain skeptical.)

There’s no native multi-aspect-ratio option; only reduced-size crops of the 4:3 area.

They are not new “coat-pocketable” compact models, as was briefly hinted. The G2 and G10 are essentially the same size as the G1.

This is quite strange, as the faux-DSLR styling of the G1 was widely criticized as too conservative and boring. If the goal is to lure over point & shooters who are put off by the bulk of a DSLR, it’s hard to see the point:

G1 vs. small DSLRs

G1 Scaled Against E-PL1, Two Small DSLRs

There is a new, seemingly less-expensive kit zoom. There was not any announcement of more compact, bright primes like Panasonic’s nice 20mm f/1.7 pancake.

What remains to be learned is where the pricing of the G10 and G2 winds up, compared to the recent cut-price Olympus E-PL1, or old stocks of the E-P1.

Eventually my cat did forgive me. But I’m still pretty disappointed in Panasonic.


2 Responses to “New Lumix G’s: Disappointing”

  1. Mohamed Says:

    I agree. The only camera worth going for in this form factor is the GH1, namely because of its 1080p recording and superior noise handling. The G2 and G10 would have been much more attractive if they were sized like a GF1…

  2. petavoxel Says:

    Comparing the G2’s touchscreen to an iPhone/iPod Touch, I was mistaken about the resolution: They are both 460,000 dot screens. The G2’s does have a 1/2″ smaller diagonal. I’ve corrected this in the post above.

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