Friday, October 28, 2011

My Observations of the Panasonic GF2 + the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens

pic taken with my trusty Canon sx130

I just received the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens yesterday. I am no longer left with just a camera body so now I'm finally able to take some shots with the GF2. I opted to get the GF2 body only so I wouldn't be stuck with a kit lens that I'd probably resell anyway.

I'm not doing a full on review of the camera itself as well as a review on the 20mm lens but I will be talking about things that I have noticed and other things of interest using this system as a whole. I do hope though that this post will help someone decide if this combo is a good fit for themselves. 

pic taken with my Samsung Focus

First off, the size is very compact. It's smaller than my Canon SX130. The GF2 is wider than the SX130 but the height is a bit shorter and much thinner. Weight-wise it's a tad heavier than the SX130 but not enough to make a real difference. I'm just amazed that a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can be smaller than a point and shoot.

I chose to attach the Lumix camera neck strap to the GF2. I would wear the strap around my neck then extend the strap enough so that I feel light pressure on my neck as I hold the camera with both hands with my elbows tucked to my sides.  This helped me stabilize my shots. I figure I'd use this same technique while shooting videos as well in the future.

The image quality from the GF2 + 20mm f1.7 is phenomenal. This small set of pics were in a friends garage. The lighting was decent with one typical garage light but the low light capabilities of this system flourished in this environment. I left the lens wide open at 1.7 with an iso of 800. The shutter speed ranged from 1/20s - 1/60s in these pictures. I changed the color a bit in photoshop to have a more vintage feel. The lens was slightly noisy when focusing so I can see it making a bit of a negative impact on video but not for stills. 

shallow depth of field is quite apparent without having to be super close up macro style like I would with my Canon SX130

tack sharp

buddy doing a motor swap

With the shoe picture I used the in-camera flash but I bounced the flash up at the ceiling using my finger. A neat little trick! Here's an example picture.

Since the white ceiling was low, the bounce flash technique worked great in this instance. I sped up the exposure to make sure that the bounce flash lit the subject vs the ambient light being in the mix. Aperture was at F2.0 and shutter at 1/80s. I can see myself using this same technique for indoor portraits under the same conditions. 

Canon SX130. Another pic playing with the bounce flash on the GF2. F1.8. 1/80s ISO100
yea one more bounce flash. 1.7. 1/60s ISO100

The cool thing about his lens is that it has a hot shoe mount so I can add an electronic view finder in the future or an external flash. I'd choose the latter so I can bounce a more powerful flash for better exposures for indoor portraits.

This camera/lens combo is ideal for people who like taking pictures of food. If you are a foodie who loves taking pictures of a plate dish, this combo would be for you because you get the sharpness, low light performance in low lit restaurants, and still have shallow depth of field. Above pictures isn't the best example but you can take my word for it!(I've seen many examples in flickr using this lens for this situation)

Black and White images look superb. I've seen a lot of black and white pictures with this lens and seems like a good lens to use for black and white environmental portraits. 

The GF2 with the 20mm f1.7 focuses pretty fast(faster than my Canon SX130 no doubt) but I what I like is that I can pre-focus on what I want as the subject by touching the screen. For instance if I instead wanted to focus on the people in the background vs the Hennessy bottle, I would touch them on my lcd and it would  focus on them and have the bottle out of focus. This technique is great when I want to specify a certain part to be in focus regardless if that part is in the center or in a corner.

This camera seems to strive in environmental portraits. The lens is 20mm which means it's a 40mm equivalent on a 35mm full frame sensor. It may not be the best for regular studio portraits. For that I would chose a longer focal length like the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm 1.8 which is a 90mm equivalent on a 35mm. In any case, the 20mm f1.7 is much more versatile. It can be used to shoot long range(landscape), mid range ( environmental   portraits) and close range (pix of small objects). 

I'm very satisfied with the GF2 + 20mm f1.7. It fits the bill for what I use it for. If or when I want to go super wide, a good option is the Olympus M.Zuiko12mm  F2.0. If I wanna go longer for portraits, the Olympus 45 F1.8. If I want a great pancake zoom, the Panasonic 14-42 HD lens is great. I'm not sure which of those three I want next since the popular 20mm f1.7 lens will keep me busy for a long time! 

Video does really well in low light but you can hear the lens focusing in quiet video. There aren't much settings while in video except that you can be in a scene mode or color mode while recording. ISO is adjusted automatically.

After playing around a bit with the video settings, there are a bit more controls than initially expected. You can touch to focus while recording video or focus manually. Also you can force the shutter speed to 1/50, 1/60, 1/100 or 1/120 in the Flicker Reduction setting. 1/50 would have been cool to use if the GF2 had 24 frames per second in conjunction with the Cinema mode for a more cinematic feel...not a major thing but worth mentioning.

feel free to comment or ask a question, cheers!


  1. I have the same setup, love it, but the color you get are amazing. Did you mess with camera setting or was it photoshop? Don't get the 14-42 unless you really want the zoom, for M43 which have smaller sensor than DSLR, low light performance rely on fast lens. Happy shooting bro!

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    The next lens I want might be the lumix gx 14-42 hd lens. It's great for shooting video which I do half the time. Also it's a great all around lens for outdoors. For indoor shooting though, I'd stick to the trusty 20mm. These 2 lenses will keep my gear super compact but I'll wait on getting a new lens until next year since there are various lenses that will be coming out soon.

    I know that shooting in RAW will give you more control over editing the picture but the post processing I do is minimal and I don't really print out huge prints so I shoot in jpg. I use Photoshop to adjust the Contrast and Level first and end with re-sizing the image for the internet. Other times I still begin with adjusting the contrast and level but I then use some custom presets if I want a certain look.

    I have about 11 free presets from Seems like the presets work with most if not all versions of Photoshop. I like using a few of their Vintage look presets. I'd probably purchase their presets to get the whole collection in the future but we'll see.

    I love the M43 systems. They have the best balance for Image Quality and Body Size.