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My Own Goodwood Test Drive

August 13, 2010

This is my last Goodwood 2010 related post, I promise. This time I want to take a closer look at a camera I was privileged enough to have an experiment with.

You’ve probably seen the advert on TV, or read a review on the internet but in case you missed it – Panasonic have launched and brand new camera. The Lumix G2 is marketed as being;

‘the world’s first compact system camera with touch-screen controls’

Well it’s all very well and good being the world’s first touch screen D-SLR, but is it as good as they say?

Panasonic were so proud of their new camera they teamed up with the Daily Telegraph and various events/places around Britain to give the public a chance to ‘road test’ the Lumix for themselves. Of course being a keen Snapa and never wanting to pass up an opportunity to try out a new camera I was delighted when I saw this on the Telegraph website the weekend before we headed off to the festival.

‘The Panasonic event will allow visitors at the Festival to hire a Lumix G2 digital camera free of charge for a couple of hours to try to capture the best images of the day. There’ll be plenty to choose from so feel free to take as many photographs as you like. Whether your subject is the latest supercars of one of the many celebs or racing drivers who attends the festival, you’ll have plenty of space on your 2GB SD memory card.’

The chance to hire over £600 worth of new camera for free?! Brilliant!

It took us a day, but we tracked down the Lumix stand eventually – although by the start line it was pretty small and tucked out of the way, almost lost amongst the mass of stalls and flags. After exchanging some details and a quick demonstration the camera was mine.. well for a few hours anyway! Armed with my usual Nikon D70s round one shoulder and now the Lumix I felt ready to start our day at the festival. The Lumix came with a 14-42mm lens which made it the perfect compliment for my Nikon with it’s 70-300mm lens. The perfect camera set up for a productive day.

As we started to walk towards the F1 paddock and the other side of the track I was still fumbling around with the settings and getting used to the UI which was pretty easy to get to grips with. Everything is very self explanatory and within a few steps I took the following test shot…

© Lou Johnson

Excited by this new gadget we rushed off to look for some more exciting subjects (yes.. F1 cars.. )  as you’ve probably already noticed from my other posts, I rather like taking photos of the cars as they return from the hillclimb. When we got to the paddock the cars had already gone out so while waiting for them to come back I wondered around trying out the camera. Here are some of my better shots,

© Lou Johnson

While the first shot is ‘straight out of the camera’ this second one has been edited somewhat just by turning down the saturation of all but the reds of the photograph.

© Lou Johnson

I then tried out the macro settings for the camera capturing the following…

© Lou Johnson

© Lou Johnson

I was really impressed with both the lens and the camera’s capability to adjust so quickly and how easy it was to set up the shot with it.

Before we knew it the cars were coming back and we lined up ready for the cars. Once the cars had pasted I turned and and started to quickly make my way through the crowd bumping into Nico accidentally, as he tried to quickly finish signing autographs and head out of the paddock. I don’t mean bump into the crowd surrounding him, no I mean him. I quickly grabbed the Lumix and pressed the ‘Intelligent Auto’ button before snapping a shot or two of him.

© Lou Johnson

I was so thankful to have the Lumix on me at the time. I usually carry my smaller digital Nikon bridge camera (Nikon P90) for such occasions but having a fully capable, light DSLR with the smaller lens made the world of difference. I suddenly realised exactly why F1 photographers carry more than one camera with them! The ‘Intelligent Auto’ button helped me get the best shot possible for the conditions and I didn’t even need to think about it. Okay that’s not exactly what all photographers need, but sometimes photo opportunity appear without time to fiddle around with settings. Sometimes you just want to not have to think about it – and that’s what this enabled me to do. Great idea, thanks Panasonic.

Getting over my meeting with Rosberg I headed over to Karun and Sam Bird at the Williams awning and got to try out another feature – the adjustable screen.

© Lou Johnson

To get the best angle I lowered the camera and tilted the screen up so I could compose the photo properly. This is a feature I’m used to on my Nikon P90 and it’s perfect for these situations where either you’re trying to look over or through the crowd, where the only clear air to place a camera is a position in which you can’t see what you’re shooting. I simply tapped the screen and it took the photo for me – how cool!

The Lumix also allowed me to get a bit closer to the main display,

© Lou Johnson

The two hours passed very quickly and before we knew it we had to wonder back down to the Lumix stall to return the camera. I didn’t even get a chance to look at some of the features or have a proper play with the new gadget but the shots I did get were incredibly fun to take. While the touch screen made for easy navigation of in camera settings and tapping the screen to take a shot is awesome I’m not sure how much of a difference it made. The weight on the other hand was a much more notable difference. My D70s is pretty old now, and because of this also pretty heavy – but most Dslrs are. The Lumix on the other hand was small and very light I hardly noticed it on my shoulder and had I not been trying to be extra careful with it (I didn’t want to break it or anything!) I would probably have forgotten it was there. I’m incredibly impressed with Panasonic, both for the camera and their attendance at the Festival. What a perfect environment to try out a new camera for free! Oh and they let me keep the SD card too!

While I’m not sure if I’d buy the camera after just the two short hours, aside from the fact I don’t need a new camera, I’d certainly not hesitate to recommend it to someone who is either looking for a nice DSLR with a great auto function, or someone who is looking for something really simple to get to grips with. It’s not quiet ready to challenge anything Canon or Nikon can produce, but Panasonic have got alot closer with their latest camera.

I’ll leave you with the Panasonic video about the Lumix and just why it’s so great.

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