I just got my GF2 today. This is going to be a preliminary review after a few poking around. I still need more time to play with it a bit more to get the best out of it. However, I just want to give some information to people who want to get this camera. Some information is better than no information at all, right? So please don't throw bricks on me for reviewing an item I just have for a few hours.
Before I get this camera, I did quite some extensive research on it. Let's talk about the cons people concern about. The major complaints for this camera are that:
1. The mode dial on top has been removed compared to the GF1.
I think I don't miss the mode dial for one. I own another DSLR camera with all the mode dials and bottons here and there. Yes, it gives you the convenience. However, my purpose of getting this camera is because of its small size so that I can bring it out more often than the big DSLR, not to mention all the attention the big DSLR draws. I want to practice photography, not mode dialing! By the way, the mode dial is replaced by a big icon, be it "M" "S" "A", etc. on the upper left corner of the screen. One touch of that icon lets you choose any mode you want. So all you miss is a tweak of the dial from a touch of the screen.
2. The touch screen is not so sensitive
Yes, and no. First of all, I put a screen protector Lexerd - Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 TrueVue Anti-glare Digital Camera Screen Protector (Dual Pack Bundle)on it. I am not sure if that will affect it at all. The screen protector works quite well. It is very easy to apply. I found that the touch screen is quite sensitive when you try to make selections by poking on the screen with your fingers, but it is less sensitive when you try to slide your finger across the screen, such as when you try to move to the next picture or zoom into the pictures. To me, it is totally acceptable. After all, if you don't like to use the touch screen, you can ALWAYS use the navigation buttons on the right hand side to make the selection. In another word, touch screen is OPTIONAL. It gives you faster access to commands.
There is a switch between on/off to turn on the camera. You can not confuse it from the shutter release. There is a specific video recording button (smaller) separated from the shutter release (bigger). There is only one dial located at the upper right corner on the back of the camera for controlling shutter speed and aperture. You switch between the two by a simply press of the rear dial. I like the design for its simplicity. The flash work quite well. The way that it pops up high is probably specifically designed that it is a little further from the lens so that you don't get red eye images so easily. The only thing I don't like is the HDMI/AV out socket cover. It seems to be a little flimsy and it might break easily if I bend it too much.
I took some high iso images. It seems like the iso800 is my breaking point for images with acceptable noise. At 1600, you can see prominent noise, and softness probably from the noise suppression of the cpu. I have not had time to try everything, so I can not comment on the sharpness of the images at different setting. Given that it is a 4/3rd, you can not expect it to be as good as a full frame or apc-s camera.
I tried the video mode a little. The view is very static during shooting. In the old days, a slight shake of the video camera will give you a pretty bad shaking of the video frame. This camera seems to do the job well for stablizing the frame at first view. It will auto focus on objects you center your frame on.
About its size, you can not fit this camera into your jean pocket or any shirt pockets like compact p&s do. You can probably fit it into a pocket of a jacket. In case if you think you can slip it into your back pocket or anything, forget it! Without the 14mm pancake, you can probably do it, but with the pancake on, there is no way. However, it is still way better than carrying a big dslr and its gears!
Overall, I really like the camera so far. The controls are simple. Picture quality is reasonable. I will have to do more shooting to find out more about this camera.
Update: About the white balance, I am pleasantly surprised that this camera allows you to adjust the color temperature by degree of kelvins, on top of the traditional preset WB scenes. Personally, I prefer to set the white balance by the degree of kelvins because you can exert finer control on the color temperature. If you use live view, you can even see how the color temperature on the live view changes with your adjustment. It is a very helpful function!
update: 2/25/2011, played with the video capture function. There are 4 different video quality choices for each of the two formats JEPG video and AVCHD. You will need special software or the software that comes with the camera to play the AVCHD format. With the motion JEPG, you can play it off the memory card. If you want to send your friends/family the video clips, you may want to capture it with the motion JEPG so that they can play it with any computer. Almost all of the different choices of video quality yielded great to reasonable video quality except the lowest quality choice of all, the QVGA setting from the motion JEPG format. At a close distance, people's faces are quite blurry in this setting that it basically render the video almost useless. You can kind of expect this because all the other settings will require 2gb for a record time varying from 8 to 20 minutes, while the QVGA can run for 1 hour with 2gb memory.
update: 2/26/2011, CHANGE MY RATING TO 4 STARS, took some pictures outside at bright sunlight, clear sky with iso 200 with the 14mm pancake at around 10am in the morning. The pictures have great resolution. However, the white balance is definitely off by about 1000-1500k. The normal color temperature range of sunlight under clear sky is about 6000k-6500k. Under 6000k, you can clearly see the white balance is off and a blue color cast across the images. By adjusting to 7500k, the blue cast will go away and give you the natural warm color. This confirms the in depth review on dpreview.com suggesting the off white balance to the cooler side with this camera with the JEPG output from the camera. The effect is quite obvious, although it can be resolved by adjusting the color temperature about 1500k higher. So far, this has been my biggest complaint about this camera. If the effect is so obvious, the GF2 quality control team should have clearly saw it and solved the problem. Luckily the effect is not irreversible. For this reason, I will give the camera a 4 star rating. About the software "photofunstudio" that comes with the camera for editing pictures, all I can say is, I hate this software! Compared to the Nikon ViewNX, which is not such a great image editing software by itself already, this software is a piece of !@#$! Before the software can let you do editing and give you all the information about the images including aperture, focal length, WB, etc., it goes through a "registration" step. The problem is, this "registration" step takes forever! What I mean forever is something like a good 20 minutes for 10 images! Guess how long it will take for 100 images! May be it will be faster for someone who has a more powerful computer! But the Nikon viewNX does the same thing in about 2 minutes or less in the same computer! However, I have to say, the software has nothing to do with the camera itself!