Panasonic GH2 with Voigtlander 25mm and Leica 90mm

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Three consecutive days of sunshine. There must be some mistake! 


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Its really nice to get out and take some pictures after the period of weather that the UK has endured. Compared to many places in the world we still get it pretty easy, but this winter has been particularly dramatic, with a long period of record low temperatures and snow followed by days of rain. The past few days, though cold, have produced wonderful clear winter light. 


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Its given me the chance to use to give the GH2 some serious use, and I'm beginning to see the differences from the GH1 more clearly. 


Last month I wrote two pieces:-
/soundimageplus/2010/12/panasonic-gh2-compared-to-leica-m9.html
/soundimageplus/2010/12/panasonic-gh2-compared-to-leica-m9-take.html
These were comparison tests between the GH2 and my Leica M9, using the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 Nokton lens on the Panasonic. The tests were done tripod mounted indoors, and while this is useful, it can often give a false impression as to what the results will be outdoors in the real world. Yesterday I took the opportunity to try the Voigtlander and my Leica Summarit-M 90mm f2.5 on the GH2. 


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The results showed the first of the differences between the GH1 and GH2. 


I have written several times about using m-mount lenses on the GH1. I always felt that the claims that this produced significantly better images was somewhat exaggerated. A view shared by Michael Reichmann at Luminous Landscape. 
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/m-43.shtml


"There's no doubt that Leica M primes are in another league than Panasonic's moderately priced zooms, but the difference in price and convenience is considerable. And, the theoretical advantages also don't seem to actually deliver when the photons hit the silicon, as it were.
The bottom line is that I definitely wouldn't go out and buy Leica M lenses to put on a Panasonic G1. But anyone that already owns some of these optics should definitely consider picking up a G1 or one of the new Micro Four Thirds cameras coming later this year, along with a CameraQuest Leica M mount to Micro 4/3 lens adaptor. It's fun, and an inexpensive way to explore using these optical gems on a sort-of DSLR."


In terms of all previous m4/3 cameras I would very much go along with this. I never found any particular advantage in using Leica, Zeiss or Voigtlander lenses on any of my Panasonic or Olympus cameras. Until the GH2 that is. This camera is throwing up some interesting results. Lenses that performed really well on my GH1, such as the Olympus 50mm f2 macro and the PanLeica 14-150mm zoom are still producing excellent images but I'm not getting the same "wow factor". The m-mount lenses and the Voigtlander 25mm however are producing spectacular results. The Summarit-M 90mm f2.5 in particular is stunning.


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The new sensor on the GH2 seems able to show up the differences between lenses to a much greater degree than the GH1. For example there is a significant increase in sharpness from the Leica 90mm as compared to the equivalent focal length on the 14-150mm zoom. This was not evident on the GH1. Also the results from the Voigtlander 25mm are again stunning on the GH2. They were good on the previous camera, but not this good!


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So does this mean that the GH2 plus these high quality manual primes is the equal of the M9?
Well no its not. But its close. Whether its close enough remains to be seen.


The second difference the GH2 demonstrates is its ability to produce files that respond very well to interpolation. I've written before about the requirement of certain picture libraries for 48MB+ files. I've been upsizing my m4/3 images to comply with this but have always been somewhat unhappy about it, as there was a distinct quality drop after doing it. However my experiences with the GH2 are different. The files seem to suffer much less when interpolated. One of the great advantages of the M9 is the ability to enlarge the 18MP files with virtually no drop in quality. Blowing an M9 file up to the same size as that generated by a Nikon D3X still produced a superior image to my eyes, but I always felt that m4/3 files suffered from this enlargement, until now. 


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So an interesting day. I spent a long time looking at the images I took yesterday as I was very impressed with them. I'm going to try the rest of my m-mount lenses to see if they produce similar results.


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Words - David
Images - David and Ann