New Year, New Camera

OK, so it’s not quite the new year yet… but it’s close enough. I finally decided to pick up that camera I’d been looking at – a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 – and it arrived yesterday. So even before the battery is finished charging, I’d already started taking comparison pictures. (Why yes, I am a huge geek, why do you ask?)

canon powershot s3 is vs panasonic lumix dmc-g2 - from above

As you can see, the new Lumix DMC-G2 is almost exactly the same size (and weight) as my venerable old PowerShot S3 IS. This is great for me because I don’t need to buy a new camera bag or anything – it fits just fine in the bag I already have. Also, I don’t have to worry about straining my neck while carrying this thing, since it’s almost exactly the same weight as well. A big fancy camera is nice and all, until you have to lug it around all day on your neck.

canon powershot s3 is vs panasonic lumix dmc-g2 - from the rear

Like my old Canon, the Lumix has an electronic viewfinder built-in along with a swivel screen, both of which are features I really like. The Lumix does have a few more buttons on it, but it’s not really that many more.

canon powershot s3 is vs panasonic lumix dmc-g2 - from the front

Here’s a front view of the two cameras side-by-side – old vs. new. I keep the extension tube on the Canon all the time, which is why it looks almost the same size. If it wasn’t attached, the Canon would be much shorter – although when the camera is on, the zoom lens does extend a bit.

my new camera - lumix dmc g2

I opted to buy the “kit” lens to start with – it’s a 14mm-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens (with the 2x crop factor in Micro Four Thirds cameras, this means it’s equivalent to a 28mm-84mm lens on a more traditional SLR camera).

Some people look down at kit lenses, and I can understand why. Since the kit lens is often the first lens you own, you want to use it for everything (it’s often the ONLY lens you own, at least at first), so it needs to be reasonably good at many things… which of course tends to mean that it’s not particularly great at any one thing.

However, I wouldn’t knock this lens – I may not have much experience with interchangeable lenses, but this one seems quite solid, it’s not too heavy, and (so far anyway) the pictures it produces are quite nice and free of noticeable aberrations.

Eventually I’ll want to pick up a so-called “pancake” lens (a fast one – that is, one with a very low maximum f-stop number, meaning a very large maximum aperture) with a fixed focal length, but for now, this lens will do.

my new camera - lumix dmc g2 - back (showing swivel screen)

As I may have mentioned before, the screen on the DMC-G2 is not just a swivel screen, it’s also a touch screen, which is very clever. You can just touch the screen to set the auto-focus point, which is really, really, really easy compared to using the 4-way controller and the menus to move it around.

I doubt I’ll use the touch screen for more than the focusing, though. Most of the other menus are just as easy to get to using the 4-way controller, and that way I don’t have to get the screen dirty.

my new camera - lumix dmc g2 (back view)

One nice thing about this camera compared to my old one is that the eyepiece for the viewfinder sticks out a bit more – this makes it more comfortable to look through, since your nose is not squished up against the back of the camera. Very nice.

my new camera - lumix dmc g2 - left front view (with lens cap off)

For now, I’m leaving the lens hood on, but very soon I’ll pick up some UV filters for the end, and I think I’ll keep them on – I’ve never been a fan of keeping the lens hood on your camera all the time.

Fortunately, some of my old filters can still be used on this camera. My ND-Grad filters, for example, came with 2 mounts and 2 adapter rings, one for a 58mm mount (which is what the extension tube on my old Canon is) and one for a 52mm mount (which is what my new lens uses). I’ll need to get a new UV and polarizing filter though – but fortunately those are not at all expensive. (Which is a good thing, since the “pancake” lens I hope to get uses yet another different mounting size (46mm and 37mm, depending on whether I get a Panasonic or Olympus lens).

One of the things I’ll be doing right away is re-trying my depth of field experiments – I’ll be sure to post pictures from that as soon as I’m done.

Unfortunately it’s winter right now, which means the scenery is somewhat boring, and it hasn’t snowed since that one weird snowfall in October, so there’s no pretty snow to take pictures of either, so for the moment, I must content myself with taking pictures of things indoors. (My rabbits are going to get lots of screen time, I’m sure.)

Anyway, that’s my new camera – I’m quite pleased with it, and I’ll be sure to post more pictures and updates as time goes on!

By Keith Survell

Geek, professional programmer, amateur photographer, crazy rabbit guy, only slightly obsessed with cute things.