Noob Conundrum: Canon 60D or Panasonic GH2?

by planetSven10 Comments

Here at planet5D, we try to bring you the best HDSLR content and news on the planet and it isn't always easy for just one writer to provide the wide variety of content that you'd like to see – so today, we're starting to bring you material from writers other than just good old planetMitch. It will especially helpful since they'll be focusing on different aspects of the HDSLR revolution as well.

Today's first post is written by planetSven. We met planetSven in the HDSLR chat room a while ago and found out that not only is he a noob (for those of you maybe not familiar with the term ‘noob', it is a derivation of ‘newbie' and is pronounced the same way) but he has decided to start his HDSLR awakening with the Panasonic GH2 – something that has been under-reported here on planet5D.

So we welcome today's first post by planetSven!

Redrock Micro

What’s the most revolutionary aspect of the HDSLR phenomenon? It’s the affordability, especially for amateurs.  Technology for professional film and video is now priced within reach of many beginner enthusiasts. This democratization has spawned a swarm of newbies scouring the internet, trying to figure out how to make their filmmaking dreams come true. One of the most common noob questions is, “Should I buy the 60D or GH2?”

This is obvious to experienced HDSLR professionals, but I’m not speaking to them. I’m a wide-eyed HDSLR newcomer who bought into the revolution a few months ago. And planet5D has graciously asked for my perspective.

What’s the first big step for a newbie who wants to create quality HDSLR content? Of course, it’s choosing which camera to buy! Researching, comparing and deciding are joys for some, but the complexity can paralyze others. You have to choose not only wisely, but also decisively. Don’t let rumors about the next game-changing camera haunt you; there’s always talk of something better down the road.

So, what is the best all-around HDSLR right now? According to consensus as of March, 2011, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is King. But what if you don’t have $2500 to invest in your core equipment (not counting lenses, accessories, aftermarket add-ons and computer upgrades)?  If your budget dictates the best HDSLR camera body under four figures, the decision sits with the Canon EOS 60D ($999 MSRP) or the Panasonic DMC-GH2 ($899 MSRP).

Both are excellent cameras, but neither is universally superior. You must decide which system better fits your wants and needs. Yes, I said, “system.” The camera body is a foundation, but consider also the variety, availability, compatibility and affordability of many other parts (lenses, accessories, aftermarket, etc.).

There’s too much information about that to compile here, so I’ll just offer a guideline. With which of the following do you identify more: Photographer/Mac, or Videographer/PC?*  If the former, you might want to lean toward the 60D. I say “lean,” because it’s a generalization. You need to examine your own circumstances in detail. The latter seemed more appropriate for me, so I bought the GH2.

I got into HDSLR to shoot cinematic HD video, and the GH2 seems better for video. I especially like the GH2’s video autofocus, low video noise (aliasing, moiré, rolling shutter), good internal audio, and compatibility with many lens brands.  Also, in my opinion, combining the GH2 with the all-around capabilities of the video-optimized Panasonic 14-140 lens creates the best available starter package for an aspiring HDSLR filmmaker.

You can view detailed discussion of both cameras in planet5d's Canon EOS 60D and Panasonic HDSLR forums. Please also look for my upcoming GH2 review here on planet5D.  It’ll be up in about a week.

*PC/Mac pertains to going with common standard, or not.  I'll talk more about computers in a later post.

Cover photo credit: Image: graur codrin /

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. I think I would say Canon T3i. Articulating screen, manual volume, and cheaper.

    1. And crappy audio, horrible aliasing, moire, worse rolling shutter, poor video codec, more noise, less detail and dynamic range for video.

      GH2 has the articulating screen, smaller form factor, a useable EVF for video and the excellent 1:1 crop mode. Plus vertually any lens under the sun can be mounted on it.

  2. I don’t think “5D mkII is king”. Why? Because of it’s bigger sensor? OK, it has a really sexy image aesthetics. But otherwise, it hasn’t got an articulating screen, it line-skips and has lots of moiré and alias. Its resolution is not true 1080p. And, between these two cameras (60D and GH-2) I see the Lumix as the winner for video, as you said. It has better resolution, articulating screen, 1080 HDMI output, smaller flange distance so you can put almost any lens on it, 1:1 crop mode which lets you use 16mm lenses and have macro/zoom with your existing 35mm ones, better audio recording… the only downside is the not so shallow DOF and smaller FOV because of the smaller sensor of micro four thirds, and that the Canons seem to have better color rendering.

    For me, the way to go is to use Nikon mount lenses (be it Nikkor, Zeiss, Samyang…), which have manual iris control, so you can use them in Canons, Nikons, Panasonics and so on. I wouldn’t invest in Micro Four Thirds lenses, since they’ll crop on APS-C sized bodies, and APS-C nearly matches super 35mm motion film. Downside is those lenses usually focus in the opposite direction… but it can be fixed using a follow focus unit with a forward/reverse switching system, like the upcoming one from Letus.

    The camera bodies come and go, but lenses will stay within us. I currently have a Canon 550D. If I were to change body just now, I’ll have a Lumix GH-2. But, I’m sure next year we’ll see some new models from Canon based on 5D MkIII technology (new sensor, new Digic processor…), let’s name it 70D, 700D… and I’d love to have an APS-C body whith no moire/alias, lower rolling shutter and full clean 1080p monitoring via HDMI. Let’s hope Canon does it right!

  3. This article had me up until the Mac and PC comparison.

    What doesn’t make much sense is that the Mac is more geared toward FCP while the PC has been known more for CS5 and AVID. I’m a PC user and ended up getting a 60D. Not because I owned a PC, but because the camera is more flexible with options.

    The GH2 is respectable for sharper image and moire/aliasing solutions. But the fact of the matter is, it’s a M43 sensor which is not nearly as flexible as an s35 caliber sensor of the 60D/T3i. It also doesn’t have the same lens choices, even WITH converter mounts (which I use 90% of the time).

    I personally LOVE the autofocus system that comes with Panasonic’s baby. But, I use manual anyway, so it’s of no use to me. Again, personally.

    This article is nice to a point, but becomes bunk later on. The 60D vs GH2 debate is one of PURE preference and not computer platform.

    1. Only PlanetSven knows for sure, but I think he meant that the 60d vs GH2 debate is similar to the Mac vs. PC debate – not that the 60D is right for the Mac and the GH2 is right for the PC. In fact, I think his point is similar to your own. It all comes down to personal preference and what you want the camera to do.

  4. I’m a film school grad and long time freelancer, but the lion’s share of my experience came with 16mm celluloid and the first wave of tape-based indie cameras (XL1, PD150, DVX100). I took a two year hiatus from production, and now the entire game’s changed. So in a sense, even with a graduate degree and a modest amount of freelance experience, I’m a noob, too.

    With all that in mind, I’d throw one other critical element into the platform decision: community.

    In an instance of perfect, solitary use, I would almost certainly choose the M4/3 platform for what I perceive to be its greater focus (pun!) on videography.

    HOWEVER: I have two good friends, both of whom I respect and both of whom are dedicated EOS shooters, each with an array of lenses, accessories, expertise, contacts and so forth. And then there are the experts like Danfung Dennis and Shane Hurlbut, each of whom peddle a mad scientist’s approach to imagemaking that fits both my personal tastes and professional goals.

    So my attachment with the community surrounding EOS videography, from my close friends to the high priests, trumps the technical superiority I see in the M4/3 platform.

    I look forward to more of this conversation!


  5. Author

    I appreciate the comments, and thanks to all who’ve taken time to read the article.
    The computer reference actually comes from my background in economics, political science and ethics. What?? I’ll try to keep the explanation brief 🙂
    If you’re really serious about getting into HDSLR, social factors come into play. Anthony is right on about community. Canon and Mac have been the dominant systems in HDSLR (and the overall creative community), and a noob will “fit in” better by purchasing them.
    Les is correct, too. Just like the PC vs. Mac issue, the camera system you buy can place you in a particular “camp.” It affects some more than others, but it’s a factor.
    I find this stuff interesting, but the social aspect is quite a can of worms. I hope noobs will understand their decision could involve much more than just budget and the camera’s features, specs and accessories.

  6. Nice write up, planetSven. This article really helped me decide between the two cameras…I was in a toss up and I love both, but I think I’m going with the Canon. You can’t lose with either though.

  7. One very important point highlighted by the introduction of the GH2 is that sensor size is no longer the primary factor when choosing a DSLR for video. I’m also a noob, and I strongly considered the GH2 before buying a T2i. Why not the 60d or 7d? Because for video, there’s virtually no difference in the image. Camera manufacturers are in a real pickle similar to what IT companies have been dealing with. Their consumer gear is getting so good, it’s cannibalizing the profits from their pro systems. Let’s face it, what we really want is the 5d sensor, interchangeable lenses, and connections for external power, off camera audio, standardized rail systems, flash memory, and much better, preferably open source video codexes so our equipment. is upgradable instead of replaceable.

    1. You’re talking about the gh2 there, not the 5D. The gh2 sensor is MUCH more advanced than the codecs/ os that it’s operated by, which is why people have had so much success hacking it. Not that the codecs aren’t great; Intra is top of the line, but you can create the same by modifying AVCHD on the GH2. The results are better than anything i’ve seen shot on canon outside of the c300. You yourself said sensor size is unimportant, and your right, it is unimportant. I don’t dislike canon, i’m lusting after a c300, but i wouldn’t buy any other camera they offer because none of the perform to the same standard as the GH2 for less than the AF100, which would be my second choice.

      google: driftwood GH2 intra

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