Hoping Nikon Steps Up to the Challenge of a Disappointing GF2

Posted Nov. 9th, 2010 by Daniel J. Cox

Panasonic recently announced the new GF2 and I am sorely disappointed. Here’s why. I fell in love with the GF1 for several reasons. It was reasonably small (not too small), has interchangeable lenses, has some (not enough) out of menu, manual controls, produces extremely high quality RAW files, has almost no shutter lag and has the feel and build of a Leica rangefinder To me it was a phenomenal first step for Panasonic and their efforts to enter the SERIOUS still photography market. However, as much as I love the GF1 it isn’t perfect and Panasonic had the chance to fix all of that in the GF2. I was hoping desperately the new improvements would take the Panasonic line of mirrorless cameras to the next level. With the announcement of the GF2 Panasonic seems to have taken two steps back when they could have gone two steps forward.

Problems with the GF1 Panasonic could have fixed include a miserable selection of buttons on the back of the camera that don’t allow quick operation. As an example, no button for easy exposure compensation for flash. You have to dig in the menu. A less than adequate way to lock and hold focus that is easy to understand and operate. Nikon is an example of how to do it as good as it gets. No wireless flash, mediocre high ISO capabilities, lousy options for moving the AF sensor quickly when using the additional finder and numerous other items that just don’t cut it for professional shooting.

We had all heard that Panasonic was feeling the heat from Sony’s NEX cameras and the new GF2 would be an answer to that concern. It’s obvious that was the case with this new version of the GF2. What is difficult for me to understand is how blind Panasonic apparently is to what made the GF1 so popular. Why they worried about the NEX cameras is not clear since many of the sales of the GF1 were to serious pros and enthusiasts who don’t consider the NEX cameras to be in the same league as far as operation is concerned. With the release of the GF2 they threw away many of the features and opportunities to improve the GF1 and continue to set it apart from all other cameras on the market. Instead they choose to COPY what Sony was doing and now we have two examples of mediocre cameras with no options to buy what could have been a continuation of a revolution in design and function for serious shooting.
The only positive aspect of Panasonic’s lack of understanding of what they were doing right is the opportunity this opens for either Nikon or Canon to step up and take the lead. Nikon is legendary for building quality products and making most of the right decisions for serious image capture. Panasonic had the opportunity to join the ranks of the leaders in the still photography market. In my opinion they took themselves out of the game with the direction the GF2. Now if Nikon will just get off the bench and hit the home run I know they have the skills for.

Here’s a link to my first impressions of the GF1 from about a year ago. http://naturalexposures.com/?p=560

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There are 8 comments on this post…
  1. Joella AgrestaOn Jan. 14th, 2011

    very good stuff. Do you have an RSS feed? And also will it be cool if I included your feed to a website of mine? I have a site which pulls content through RSS feeds from a couple of sites and I’d like to add yours, a lot of people do not mind since I link back and everything but I like to get authorization 1st. Anyhow let me know if you can, thanks.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Jan. 28th, 2011

      Joella, yes I do have an RSS feed. I would be grateful for the link. Here it is: feed://www.naturalexposures.com/corkboard/feed/

  2. Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

    danieljcoxOn Dec. 12th, 2010

    Yes, I’ve seen the announcement of the new Panasonic GF2 and I have to say I’m very disappointed. I firmly believe a camera can be too small and there choice to bring all functions into the LCD panel is disheartening. The GF1 had many options on the outside of the body but unfortunately they were not well thought out. It desperately needed a dedicated Flash +/- Compensation button. The back AF button works much differently than Nikon’s and Nikon’s is much better. Wireless Flash would have been amazing! Overall my hope that the GF2 would be another step forward was replaced with the realization that it was actually two steps back. From what I’ve read about the GF2, Panasonic had no idea what they had. Their biggest concern was Sony’s NEX cameras which are not in the same league as the GF1. I’ve held and operated a NEX and they are not for professional use. I guess if Panasonic wasn’t after the Pro market then maybe their changes will be justified but I’m completely disappointed with what they have done with the new GF2. The good news is that this now keeps the door open for someone to do it right and I would love to see Nikon fill the bill. Just wished it was NOW rather than later.

  3. Panasonic GF2On Nov. 10th, 2010

    Panasonic provides announced the Lumix DMC-GF2 Mini 4 Thirds camera. Any simplified model with the corporation’s GF1, Panasonic GF2 inherits the same flat-body layout but with revised handle layout and touch-screen manage.
    You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

  4. Jeff BoucherOn Nov. 9th, 2010

    A couple of comments. One, Canon’s R&D budget (and the company in general) is huge compared to Nikon. I assume this is why Canon comes out first with most great features and changes. I almost never expect Nikon to come out with something mindboggling first. On the other hand, when Nikon does introduce something, it is useally on the money right out of the gates, or a huge improvement over what may have been on the market a a year or two already. I went to Canon once, lured by the ‘eye-control’ AF and their 1N. After a few serious lemons of theirs, at the time, top gun camera. I sucked it up and went back to Nikon, and will remain with them. They have never screwed me, and I’m willing to wait forit to be done right. Thank god I had held onto most of my glass.
    As far as Panasonic dropping the ball and producing ‘another Sony’. It reminds me of something that makes me chuckle about the car market. The Japanese will intro a beautiful new design, the next year the americans have copied it and the japanese have taken a step back and copied what the americans had brought out the other year. It’s like no one in the industry has faith in their own vision. Assuming ‘the other guys’ know better…… sad.
    Now what about this hack? 🙂

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Nov. 9th, 2010

      Jeff, great insight. My use of Panasonic cameras have given me a new appreciation for how well Nikon does things. As much as I absolutely love the GF1 and GH2 cameras for video, as still cameras they are hard to use. The quality of the still image is superb at low ISOs but the mechanics are miserably frustrating. That said, I carry my GF1 virtually everywhere I go. It’s the first camera I’ve ever done that with. Why? Because it is small and the files are outstanding. If Nikon brings their stunning ergonomics and exceptional high ISO capabilities to a camera the size of a GF1 then add their electronic prowess with wireless flash we would have an amazing tool for new photo opportunities. My fear is that they will see a camera with these features as something that will take away from sales of their larger SLRs but I know for sure I would buy both. Hope it happens sooner rather than later. On the subject of a hack for the GF1 here is a link that gives the details.

  5. Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

    danieljcoxOn Nov. 9th, 2010

    Kevin, I’ve heard of the GH1 hack but can you post info here on how to do the job? Might be willing to do it now.

  6. Kevin J RailsbackOn Nov. 9th, 2010

    I keep waiting for Nikon to step up to the plate but they seem to not really be interested.
    Everyone I know is shooting Canon’s for HD video if they use a HDSLR. Nikon is so far behind in HD video it’s not even funny.

    I’ve been holding on to my Nikon glass in hopes that maybe they’d wake up but they’re really going to have to come up with something spectacular to take away Canon’s market share.

    I was hoping Panasonic would really improve the GH2 when it came out but my hacked GH1 smokes just about everything.

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