Over the past few weeks since I brought my new Panasonic Lumix GF2 Micro Four Thirds camera I’ve been testing it out around Hong Kong, mostly in the evenings and weekends. One of the key features I’ve been playing with is the video mode which shoots full 1080i HD at 25 fps. Below is a quick video I shot on the tram from North Point (北角) to Western Market (西港城) one night:
I hope you enjoyed that quick spin through the city (to see it in HD you’ll need to watch it directly on Vimeo) Below are my quick impressions of the GF2:
- Video output is generally very good, even in low light conditions as in my test. The colours are vibrant and well exposed with minimal noticeable noise. Even when shown on large HD displays the image still looks sharp and clear.
- The touchscreen acts as a smart ‘pull-focus’ system that allows you to point at the area you want to focus on while shooting and it’ll automatically refocus.
- The internal stereo mic is much better than the mono microphones found in previous models. Although you can’t connect an external mic there is a wind-cut filter to reduce unwanted background noise.
- Since the 20mm F1.7 pancake lens doesn’t have OIS image stabilization you’ll need a stable platform to shoot on otherwise the output can appear quite shaky. I used an ever-versatile GorillaPod to attach the camera to the window of the tram above.
- iMovie does not directly support importing the AVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) .MTS format so you will need to convert the raw footage using a transcoder like the wonderful Handbreak (free). For big files this can take hours and even on a relatively new MacBook Pro editing 1080i raw footage can be a tortuously slow process – I ended up down-encoding to 720p to make things more manageable.
- If you’re shooting on a moving platform you may want to turn off auto-focus as I found out above when it would sometimes struggle to maintain focus while moving at speed.
Despite its drawbacks, I found video mode to perform very well and more than adequate for my (admittedly amateur) needs. I’ve shot a lot more footage around Hong Kong which I’m currently editing into a short film which I hope to release in the next few weeks.