I’ve been a little obsessed with weight recently. Not so much in terms of my body weight (although to be fair, I’ve been adjusting my diet as well over the past weeks), but in terms of the weight of the things I carry around with me. Over the past year or so I’ve been slowly “downgrading” my primary laptop from a 15” 2.8GhZ, 6-lb Macbook Pro to a 13” 2.66Ghz, 4.5-lb Macbook Pro to (finally) a 13” 2.1Ghz, 3-lb Macbook Air. And although the Air is significantly slower in CPU speed than any of the current generation MBPs in the same price range, the technology has progressed to the point where it’s “fast enough,” in my opinion.
I’m doing the same thing with my camera. I’ve found that I’ve been lugging around my Nikon D90 less and less recently, due to the fact that my neck just isn’t friends with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. The whole package weighs 2.2 kilos for crying out loud, and that doesn’t even include the frickin’ speedlight. And so it was that I’ve started reading up on Micro Four-Thirds format cameras, and seriously considering another “downgrade.”
My strategy is similar to how I finally embraced the Air as my main portable: was it good enough? For the MBA, it definitely was. The combination of the reasonable CPU and the super-speedy SSD makes for some very responsive computing. And likewise, Micro 4/3s cameras have had 3 years to work out their early flaws and initial missteps, so my fingers are firmly crossed that this experiment won’t be a total wash.
The particular model I’ve been looking at is Panasonic’s GH2, which is at the very top of the four-thirds line. Unlike its younger siblings, the GF and the Gx series, the GH line yearns to be a DSLR. It’s got a pronounced grip on its left side and a proper viewfinder in the back. I’m not a purist by any means, but any camera that you hold at arm’s length to take pictures with, I simply cannot take seriously. The viewfinder, electronic as it may be, was a must for me.
The GH2 also sports a healthy amount of buttons and dials on the body where the rest of the Pana line has opted for all-touchscreen controls. Now, I love touch interfaces as much as the next guy (I was one of the first in line for the iPad after all), but not for devices that you need to be able to operate without looking. Also, since I spend most of the time peering through the viewfinder, I hardly think I’d be able to use a touchscreen menu much, if at all.
Early reviews of the GH2 have been largely positive, with quality rivaling that of mid-range DSLRs like Canon’s 60D and Nikon’s D7000. It’s not cheap, and certainly wouldn’t be something I’d recommend to beginners, but for enthusiasts and people like me who are obsessed with frivolous issues such as weight and volume, it seems like a very promising choice.
I ordered mine earlier today, coupled with the very standard 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. (Don’t let that focal range and aperture fool you, by the way; that’s a $300 piece of glass.) I was debating whether I should go with the $800 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8, but in the end I decided to stick with a walkaround, and just work my way up.
Oh, and did I mention that the GH2 and its kit lens weigh a grand total of 650 grams?