Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Panasonic G2 Field Report

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Time for another camera field report, me thinks. Enter the Panasonic DMC-G2, the camera I used for a few months last year and most notably on my Russia trip. An integrated Electronic Viewfinder, plenty of fine lenses, a 3" Touchscreen (!) and HD video at 1280 x 720 with 30fps make this sound like a great midsize camera, but is it a great camera for the backpacker who likes to put some more effort into his photos?


The complete camera including the 14 - 42 mm kit lens, a rechargeable battery, lanyard, SD Card and the lens hood weighs in at 638 g. That is less than half what my Canon EOS 50D weighs. It is more than the GF1 weighs. I let you judge on the weight issue, and move on to some tech and taking photos.

The battery life of the G2 is fantastic. I got a solid seven days or about 550 photos out of one battery of the G2 in the autumn in Russia, which made me very happy indeed. This has much to do with the G2 having an integrated Viewfinder, my preferred way to compose photos, and it also saves a lot of energy in comparison to a digital screen. In comparison to the GF1 EVF it also has a much, much higher resolution and shows crisp images through it, much to my joy. The touchscreen on the other hand was "meh". Being an iPhone/ iPad user and knowing what is possible, the touchscreen on the G2 was a novelty but I didn't feel like getting much use out of it. I see some possibilities for this, though, in the future.

G2 Touchscreen

G2 back & screen
Back with the pivoted screen and an overview of the top of the camera.

However, the G2's screen can be pivoted and opened, which allows you to hold the camera for example far over your head but still check via a down-turned screen what you're taking a photo of, or you can go very close to the ground without pressing your face in the dirt to look through the viewfinder. It generally allows for experimenting with different angles, which I like to do - you can do this also with the viewfinder, but of course will need to bend your body accordingly.

Otherwise the G2 has two wheels to control settings, one on the right to choose the main settings - Aperture, Shutter Speed, Manual or some preset programmes, and if you want to quickly switch to "intelligent Auto" you just press the bottom on the top - a blue light around it means it is on. This one-press for iA is a nice feature, if you don't reach the desired result with your manual settings - the iA on Panasonic cameras is in general very good, so it is a good back-up feature to ensure you get the shot you want.

G2 Side
Side view on the main control wheel.

The wheel on the left lets you choose focus points, and a switch that encircles the base of the wheel with which you chose the focus drive mode. Back on the right side there is a separate button to start filming. The G2 has HD video capability at 1280 x 720 with 30fps and I was quite satisfied with the outcome of the videos. Which leaves us to discuss the kit lens it comes with. Personally I am a friend of wide angle lenses, so Fisheyes and Pancakes. Having used Panasonic's fabulous 20 mm Pancake lens with the GF1 I was a bit disappointed that I didn't have that lens for testing available, even though it works with the G2. Ah well, a bit of zoom wasn't too bad, to be honest, but I'm a simple guy with simple needs and hence my preference for the 20 mm lens.

G2 lens
A look at the kit lens.

Enough tech talk, lets look at some photos, this is a field report after all!

Grey sky morning with the sun rising behind me = check.

A grey day. Not to happy how it made the forest all dark.

Flowing water = check.

Close-ups = check.

Scenic morning shot = check.

Scenic afternoon shot in not so perfect light = slightly overexposed sky.

Fire = check.

Very early dawn shots = check.

Mountain lake in sunlight = check.

Good results, but I feel that some photos could have turned out better. This might be largely due to me getting the camera the night before leaving to Russia and still getting to know it while on the trail. Other reviewers seem to agree with my findings that greens turn out a bit brownish, and skies are not nearly as blue as they should be. Which isn't a problem if you shoot in RAW and go through Lightroom 3 afterwards. The JPEG crowd still will be able to live with the results, as you can see above. Speaking of the trail, on it the camera was nearly always around my neck; it is a light enough camera to be comfortably worn all day long, being right there in reach. Some bumps, rain drops, perspiration were all no problem, and being able to turn the screen inside meant it is save and is one thing less to worry about.

Because this question will be asked, I will ask it simply myself: How is this camera in comparison with the GF1, GF2, Sony NEX-5, Canon EOS 50D and Panasonic TZ10? Well, I think it is very difficult to compare these cameras with the G2, as the G2 sits right in the middle between them all. My 50D makes the best photos bar none, but at 1,5 kg it is also the heaviest camera bar none in the field. The TZ10 is a great little Point-and-shoot for those who like it super-simple with great results. The GF1, GF2 and NEX-5 are all similar, but are technically a tad less powerful than the G2, who in turn is a bit heavier than those three. It is all a trade-off in what you need and value, as you can see. Do you want better technical possibilities, will carry a few lenses, and want a great EVF, go for the G2. Do you want the lightest and smallest camera, go for one of the three mentioned ones.

If you're in the market for a new camera, and are on the edge, then one thing which is very much in favour of the G2 is price. The G2 including the kit lens is currently to be had for under 500$ which is about 200$ cheaper than the GF1 or the GF2. That is a great price for this camera, as in comparison with the GF1 and GF2 it has a far superior Electronic Viewfinder included and the turnable touchscreen is also better than the screen on the other two cameras. Yes, it is a bit heavier, and is missing the 20 mm Pancake lens, but then you just saved 200$ or more - enough to get that sweet Pancake lens on top!

See all photos taken by the G2, and get yours:

Disclosure: I have an Amazon Affiliate account and earn a few cents if you buy something via the above Amazon links. Which I'd appreciate =)

Rising stars at dusk.

The Month in Review

Yeah, I know. You want to have a full set of links here, as a magnificent month of fine ultralight backpacking, bikepacking, packrafting, tenkara fly-flyishing, gear and news is gone by since the last "The Week In Review", and you need your fix.

I feel bad to tell you that I didn't have the time to go through over 2000+ different posts which have collected in my RSS Reader since I left to do my internship. So instead of spending a day or more going through it all, I did hit "Mark All As Read" and decided to start fresh for next weeks post.

To not completely stand here with empty hands:

Japan was hit by terrible natural disasters, and besides the thousands of lives which have been lost and the houses and infrastructure which has been destroyed, also the environment itself has suffered. The Japan Hikers Association accepts donations to restore hiking trails and the environment, and I urge fellow hikers and backpackers to show their support for our Japanese friends.

Terror in the night is a mighty fine post from Tomas which you should have read.

Laufbursche shows off his Cuben Laavu (as well as the monoLOGE and tanzPALAST) which will certainly stir up some interest.

The Backcountry Boiler is in the wild and people love them. I'm still waiting...

Short and sweet. Check back next week Sunday, when business will resume as usual.

Wilderness Guide School Internship Wrap-up

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The internship is over, I got an excellent customer service evaluation, made great connections with people and got to see a new area. Time to wrap things up.

Yours truly enjoying the show.

Obviously these kind of trips are very different from what I normally do, and will when I will be guiding in the future. It was, however, a superb experience. Seeing that there are highly efficient companies like Upitrek, where things work smoothly like a clock work, is rewarding and a great asset for tourists coming to Finland, because they can be sure to have a wonderful holiday.

I always believe that the customer is King (a remnant of my bachelor degree studies!), and hence tried to be very customer oriented as a guide, paying attention to the different needs and ensuring everyone had a good experience. While the guide work itself was not especially difficult in my opinion, it are long days - on average from 8.00 in the morning till 21.00 at night - in which one needs to be available, and "me time" is very limited. This ain't of a problem if the group you are with and your fellow guides are as great as on the two trips I was on, but might be more of a challenge if you get difficult clients. Other than that the work is good fun and rewarding to see the clients enjoying themselves on their holidays!

On the whole, the two weeks of internship were far more rewarding and enlightening than the time spent in class in Kuru. I will report on my growing frustration of the school separately in an update, but the internship really gave some joy and happiness, while I was able to learn a few things from my fellow guides along the way.

Finally, in case you haven't guessed yet, the focus of my guided trips in the future will be on lightweight and ultralightweight backpacking and packrafting; being off-trail expeditions in which we sleep outside and enjoy the beautiful Arctic scenary during the different seasons. I am currently planning one such trip, so if you are possibly interested, then you should stay tuned or get in touch =)