5.22.2012

Why I'm buying a second GH2 instead of an OMD.


The Panasonic GH2 just hit the financial sweet spot for me.  You can buy the body, brand new for $749 from Amazon.com.  But why don't I just get myself an OMD?  Easy choice if you don't earn a living with your cameras but if you do this professionally you generally buy camera bodies in twos. You want to go out on the road with cameras that have identical operation and identical menus so  you aren't hunched over with reading glasses, an owner's manual and a Maglite at some inopportune moment.  

The GH2 was a revelation for me.  I love the look and feel of the Olympus Pen cameras (EP-2 and EP-3) and I love the colors of their Jpeg files but when I first picked up a GH2 and shot it the integration of a really good sensor, a very usable EVF and a normal hotshoe grabbed me by the collar and made me pay attention.

Then I read the DP Review review of the camera: Here.  And I realized that in most of the parameters I cared about Panasonic had jumped the chasm between m4:3 and APS-C cameras.  And arrived with better video. (Which is really damn important for people trying to stay in the imaging business...).   I keep looking at the OMD and it's pretty and solid and the finder is so excellent.  But I have four batteries for the GH2, a good idea of where all the menu items are and a trust of the output of this camera.

It also works well with both my collection of current Panasonic and Olympus lenses as well as my vintage, Pen manual focus prime lenses.  It's a proven commodity.  A trusted tool.

I know the price is dropping because its replacement is approaching.  But the announcement probably won't come until June and, with Panasonic's track record for inventory delivery it might be late Fall before I see one of the GH3's in the flesh.  This is a stop gap.  In the meantime I'll save up my money and play the waiting game.  The GH2 is quickly becoming my camera of choice for street shooting with the Leica 25mm.  No chatter.  Sharp files.  Low noise.  It may not work for you but that's the rationalization I'm using on myself.  Not to worry, I'm an easy sale.


Panasonic GH2 with Olympus Pen 70mm f2.0 lens.



34 comments:

Bill Beebe said...

Yeah, I wrote you'd do something like that. There are so many good and interesting choices now. I hope there's room for all.

Travis said...

I have both the GH2 and the E-M5, love them both, and wouldn't want to have to choose. I actually think the GH2's files are a touch more malleable, but then there's that oh-so-satisfying shutter "snick" on the E-M5. The only thing that really, really gets to me about the GH2 is slow flushing of the buffer to SD. The E-M5 has both a larger buffer and writes to cards much, much faster.

Markus Johnson said...

I must say I am a bit surprised by your decision. Ive admired your insight into what makes you tick and one of the things I thought you identified was the need to use tools that simply bring joy to you. I'm not saying the GH2 doesn't bring you joy, but to read your post about the OM5 your appreciation for the asthetics of the "tool" was palpable. Yes, the GH2 is a very practical choice, and there are plenty of sound business decisions for that choice, but on the flip side increased enjoyment while working only makes your product better. That "snick" may unleash a but more creativity...the want to take that one extra pocture that turns out to be the one.

Ok, my turn at being the little devil on your shoulder is over. Kirk, keep up the good work. Thank you very much for your steady stream of thoughts, i appreaciate them.

Mark

ohnostudio said...

Funny I just recently wrote myself that I might take an unexpected detour for the GH2. The reason I held off was because previous Panas I had were noiseboxes, and even though I evaluated some GH2 raw files, still gunshy. It's still in the back of my brain though, because I love the video hacks available for this camera.

I do have to lay low a little bit though. Since spring, a PEN and 2 Oly primes have arrived plus a Pana G10 converted to Full Spectrum. The quality on the converted G10 is surprisingly good, which is what got me thinking about the GH2 again. Looks like they have worked on the noisebox issues since the early days.

Mal said...

I think we all have those times when we swing from emotional to logical and back again. It sounds like you had your swing to logical. At those prices you can't really go wrong.

I now have the Silver EM5 body and have no regrets. Its so good I'm actually feeling quite logical now from what was clearly an emotional decision to start with.

Please come around soon to your emotional senses so we don't have to wait too long for your thoughts on the EM5.

Mal

PP said...

Crap, I was hoping that you would write up some good guides to using it!
I'm still waiting for mine...

George said...

GH2: Yellow faces (all reviews point to "jpegs need work." No IS. Plastic looks. Larger. It amazes me how so many photographers ignore the horrific yellow and orange faces in jpegs with Sony NEX, Panasonic, the metal faces of Samsung. No accounting for taste.

Carlo Santin said...

I've been happy to snap up "old tech" at greatly reduced prices instead of buying the latest and the greatest. I picked up a new EP-2 for $250. I quite like the camera but have decided that I much prefer an integrated EVF. So I'll build up my collection of small primes in the meantime, enjoy the Oly, and if I see something like a GH2 body cheap, I'll snag one.

Peter F. said...

I have both (EM5 and GH2) and wish one was a clear winner for me. I'm not a professional so am not with my cameras all day. So my problem is being mult-lingual. With two systems, going back and forth adds a bit of, well, ... friction. The Pany seems relatively simple (a few hours going through all the menus worked for me) while the Oly is more detailed and not so intuitive (more like a few days going through and using the options before understanding how they worked... and still learning). So after devouring my new EM5 the last few weeks, I went back to use the Pany and even in its simplicity I got confused.

My summary of the two: The pany fits the 80/20 rule. It has 80% of the features of the Olympus (and all that I need) with 20% of the frustration/anxiety/friction of the Olympus.

(selfishly I want you to buy the EM5 so I can get your take on it *big grin*)

kirk tuck said...

Mark, the OMD has a wonderful sounding shutter but the GH2 fits in my hands better.

kirk tuck said...

George. Is this something you've experienced first hand? Or are you just recycling forum fodder? I guess my two Panasonics are "defective". Neither has the color issues you mention.

Taste is one thing, actual personal experience with a camera is quite another.

kirk tuck said...

I'll get Olympus or Precision Camera to lend me one to review. When the inventories stabilize...

Gregg Mack said...

Kirk, I ordered my E-M5 from Precision on May 1st, and still no word on when it might arrive. Enjoy your Panasonic GH2s. A camera in the hand is worth two in the bush - or something like that. :-)

kirk tuck said...

Gregg, as I understand it the OMD's are seriously backordered everywhere but Precision should be getting in orders as the ice flow starts to break up. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it's coming soon.

Frank Grygier said...

Only true believers that preordered from Mount Olympus in the month of Vesna have been awarded the privilege of holding the OMD.

punkastronomy.com said...

I got one direct order a few weeks ago from Adorama. Got lucky! Next day my number at Precision came up, which I passed on. Keep your eyes open.

I like the multi-format sensor on the GH2 since I often will shoot in 1:1 mode (I like squares) and with the GH2 I always imagined I could that respectably without people dismissing me for "throwing away information" (as if composing and framing wasn't a huge exercise in throwing away information unless you shooting with a crazy fisheye lens!). I also agree with you on juggling multiple UIs in the field. The more standard the better.

Stan Yoshinobu said...

Getting cameras in 2s, same batteries, same menus,... makes a lot of sense. Plus the real deal is the glass. The 75/1.8 is around the corner, and the f2.8 zooms should be ready for prime time later this year (depending on Panasonic USA distribution madness). M43 is prime time!

Markus Johnson said...

Fit is no small detail...and good video is very important, to me at least (and you it sounds). I was in the market for a new camera a few years ago and was all set to jump the Canon ship and move to Nikon for the D700, but the dang thing just didn't feel right in my hands...I couldn't get myself to overlook it. It was too small and heavy (if that makes sense) for me. The camera that felt best and I was very attracted to was the Canon 7D, and I almost got it, but decided on the 5D MkII. Why?

A) Sexy full size sensor would finally satisfy my need/want for more detail (I still wrestle with jumping in and getting an 8x10)
B) Video...I must admit watching videos done on the 5DmkII was intoxicating - from the demo snowboard video shoot with the 200 f/2, to the episode of House.

Fit and video were ultimately my 2 deciding factors for not going with the D700, and while the D800 sounds soooo good, my guess is (I haven't held it yet) it feels very similar to the D700 in the hands :( Oh well, I guess i'll have to make due with the lowly 5D MkII for now (tongue in cheek of course)

Scott said...

For what it's worth, and not arguing with your decision in the least, my Leica 25mm doesn't chatter on my OMD, even a little bit. I think that problem is fixed.

Dan Fogel said...

Enjoyed your review of the Panasonic G3 and was thinking about going that way as my entree into the m4/3 world. Wondering what about the GH2 is better than G3 in your world. Thank you.

kirk tuck said...

That's good to know. I'll try mine of a friend's camera and see if mine is the same.

Gregg Mack said...

Kirk and Frank, Well low and behold! Right after lunch today, I received a call from Precision to let me know that my OM-D E-m5 had arrived. I was there within 30 minutes, and am now charging the battery. I look forward to start reading the manual and playing with the camera this evening.

kirk tuck said...

There is one thing that make the GH2 and the OMD a better choice than a G3. Both of the former cameras allow you to set them so they show you the exposure you're getting in the finder. Dark if you have the camera set wrong, too bright if it's set wrong in the other direction and just right if you got it on the money. The G3 always tries to show a finder images that's well exposed. That takes away the feedback loop.

Jim Tardio said...

Hello Kirk....Maybe I'm missing something. I have both the G3 and the OMD. If I adjust exposure compensation, both cameras show the adjustment in the viewfinder (lighter or darker). I normally shoot in aperture priority, and neither camera shows a variation unless I activate the exposure compensation control.

Now if I switch to manual mode, then yes, the G3 will not lighten or darken as I change aperture or shutter speed...thus presenting an image that appears well exposed.

Is this what you're referring to?

kirk tuck said...

Jim, that's exactly what I meant. Thanks for helping me clarify that for Dan. I want to see the effect in manual. That's how I shoot.

Dan Fogel said...

That is a little troubling as I suspect I will shoot in manual and with adapter OM lenses as well. The G3 rather seems the compromise for what's on my list, small, EVF, decent high ISO performance, but not seeing it means using the LCD, I suppose. I mostly shoot film, so maybe not seeing it won't represent a switch.

Dan Fogel said...

Meant to also say thanks to both of you for your replies and explaining this.

Govis said...

Well, you're obviously master of your own domain etc.. etc... etc.... Just know that you're going to be missing out on sliced bread.

Ron Zack said...

The GH series is wonderful, and under appreciated by still photographers. Wish I had purchased two GH1's back when they were being closed out. They are a a lot of fun, especially when combined with the small, high quality optics that Panasonic so reasonably prices for our consumption. Olympus has a few good micro 4/3 lenses as well, like that 45mm f/1.8. The whole micro 4/3 system is really advancing quite nicely, and in regards to things like video and lenses, are second to no one in quality and usability.

Though I have numerous cameras to choose from, when I go out shooting just for the fun of it, more often than not it's my GH1 that comes with me, along with the 20mm pancake, and the 45-200 zoom. Someday I'd like to get the 14mm pancake as well, and I'd be set.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding this recent purchase, it's always appreciated.

Geir said...

I believe the important thing with your article is that we all choose our cameras for emotional reasons, and apply logics to support our different choices. We could all wish that you'd written a comparison article between the two cameras, but in the hands of the photographer, the images will be good enough no matter what you pick. My guess is that 955 of all cameras are more than good enough for 99% of what we shoot, which leaves us with aesthetical an emotional reasons for picking what we pick. I will get a new camera one day, but 90% of the images I take won't improve from me switching to anything at all.

Ron Nabity said...

Can't say I'm surprised by your decision, Kirk.

The practical aspect of having identical bodies (same menus, button placement, battery type) is much more useful for me than worrying about the latest rumor of a supposedly slightly better camera type (as if my current camera suddenly stops functioning when a new camera is released.)

Reminds me of the old saying, "You gonna fish or cut bait?"

Ron

FrugalFilmmakers said...

Kirk, I did exactly the same thing, bought another GH2. All for the same reasons you speak of. It is great to use the same battery, etc. One of the main reasons I did buy it though was that the GH2 has the best video this side of a $10,000 camera and I was afraid that in the GH3 they might mess with it and make it worse like Canon did with 5D markIII. Dumb it down to sell more expensive professional cameras from the professional division.

The GH2 is known quantity and it rocks.

Alan

E. Huybrechts said...

When I decided to start a MFT kit I also choose the GH2 because it was going to be used mostly as a video camera and also a way to enter the MFT world. I already have a great DSLR (Pentax K-5) so I didn't need all the features of the OM-D. But I must admit I almost returned the GH2 the first day because it cannot hold a candle to the ergonomic of my K-5. But I really needed the stellar video so I kept it.

Lym Opus said...

If you need the best image quality, get the EM-5 (or E-PL5 or E-PM2). If you need good grip, get the EM-5 with grip. The GH2 is an older design. The sensor is inferior and it shows.