New Panasonic GF2 is a November M43rds compact mirrorless surprise
The Panasonic GF2 is now officially announced, in-between Photokina 2010 and CES 2011. The timing is strange because unlike some other manufacturers, Panasonic does not have late-year announcements. Perhaps the popularity and/or low prices of the Sony NEX and Samsung NX offerings accelerated the announcement?
The camera has a 12mp LiveMOS sensor, as Panasonic previously stated that they had "reserved" the 18mp (16mp effective) sensor for the GH2. The raison d^etre of the GF2 appears to be to provide a compact alternative in the market and lure in the tech/gadget generalists. Compared to the GF1, the GF2 is smaller by 19% in size and by 7% in weight. Panasonic calls it the smallest interchangeable lens camera as of November 4, 2010 but footnotes it (in the press release) to say "...with a built-in flash" :)
The camera has a 3-inch touchscreen (460K dots), a built-in flash, a modest battery life estimate of 320, SDXC support, 1080 AVCHD video recording, compatible with the M43rds 3D lens, etc. The camera will be available in up to five body colors, black, red, pink, silver and white. I am sure eye-doctors will be tempted to business-expense the silver and white bodies as color-blindness test units :) [joke; not tax advice!]
This looks like a "freeze the market" attempt by Panasonic, trying to slow down the momentum of the Sony NEX-5/NEX-3 and Samsung NX100 - at the risk of hurting their own GF1/G-series sales during the holiday shopping season.
Panasonic GF2 sample pictures
+ four full-size JPEG samples provided by Panasonic itself (two w/14mm, two w/14-42mm, the GF2's kits lenses)
+ 21 samples from Panasonic UK on flickr (via Foto Actualidad)
Hands-on reports and previews
+ prototype sample preview at Imaging Resource
+ pre-production preview with Andy Westlake at dpreview
+ hands-on report with pre-production GF2 at Photo Radar
+ hands-on with camera body at Photography Blog and side by side with other mirrorless bodies
+ CNet Asia
+ preview at dpnow - a GF2 drinking game in last picture? :-)
+ lots of body pictures at Pocket Lint
+ text-based preview at What Digital Camera?
+ preview of features and such at Panasonic.net
Price and Availability
+ body colors: black, red, pink, silver, white (varies by region as usual)
+ US: January 2011, prices will be revealed 30 days before shipment
+ the GF2 kits are listed at Amazon but they cannot be pre-ordered yet
+ UK: 600 GBP for GF2 w/14-42mm, 630 GBP for GF2 w/14mm pancake, 730 GBP for both lenses
+ Japan: not announced yet?
+ interestingly, it gets the 14mm pancake instead of the 20mm pancake found in the GF1
In other Panasonic news
+ Panasonic makes $30 million investment in Tesla Motors