Owners of the video-optimized Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 have been hacking away at it for months, trying to get higher bit rates out of the poor thing--the latest hack claims 86 megabits per second. (To recap, the higher the data bit rate is at a given resolution and frame rate, the better the video quality; it's a measure of compression.) Now they get to start all over again for the GH2, which doesn't offer astronomical bit rates, a limitation of its AVCHD format, but does offer video and still shooters a few other sought-after enhancements.
Most important, the GH2 incorporates a new sensor, which drives at a higher frame rate--it can natively output 60p vs. 24p. That, and a bump to the AVCHD maximum bit rate of 24 megabits per second, are almost guaranteed to deliver improved results over the GH1; that's equivalent to current AVCHD-based prosumer camcorders. While the GH1 had a flip-and-twist LCD, the GH2's is a touch screen, which has the potential to make rack focus doable for the nonvideographer, and theoretically offers improved color rendering, especially in the reds and blues. The camera now provides a microphone levels meter and a much-demanded HDMI connector. Panasonic also claims to have improved wobble suppression during full-time autofocus, and added the capability to record specifically for slower or faster playback. And for the consumer, Intelligent Auto mode now works in video capture.
For still shooters, Panasonic claims it has the best image quality of the G series; it uses the new noise reduction algorithms as the LX5. The company has also worked on speed, saying its autofocus is twice as fast as its predecessor, beating out some of the fast phase-detection systems in some popular dSLRs (it uses three image processors compared to 2 in the GH1). The EVF is slightly higher resolution, but the image-processing engine performs some aberration correction in the viewfinder; because of the faster sensor, the viewfinder should refresh faster as well.
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