Many photographers have delayed their entry into the world of interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs) because of one missing feature — viewfinders. Coming from the world of SLRs, doing without a viewfinder as part of many ILC configurations can cause much chagrin.
This is where accessories like the LVF2 enter; add-on electronic viewfinder purchases for ILCs. In this case it's for the Panasonic GX1 only, and is not backwards compatible with any of the previous Panasonic cameras.
As the LVF2 is connected via the accessory port, it has to sit on the hotshoe to work. So, you can't connect any other accessory such as an external flash while using the viewfinder. It sits neatly at the top of the camera and doesn't add much extra bulk as it only weighs 36 grams.
There's a small button that switches between the viewfinder and the LCD screen, but apart from that no other physical buttons appear on the unit. One design omission is the lack of automatic sensor to switch between the viewfinder and screen when you put your eye up to the level. It's not a deal-breaker, and some might prefer the ability to switch manually, but we would have liked to see the option included nonetheless. The LVF2 offers a 100 per cent field of view and is higher resolution than the GX1's LCD screen, at 1.4 million dots.
The LVF2 tilts up to 90 degrees and can be used at any angle in between. It locks into place when it is resting on the base. Underneath is a dioptre adjustment for levels from -4 to +4.
It's fair to say that a viewfinder's performance should be judged by what you don't need to say about it as much as you do say about it. The LVF2 does exactly what it says on the box, and offers the same displays and visual cues that appear on the GX1's screen, just on a smaller scale.
In dark situations the viewfinder's frame rate does drop and there is a small degree of grain visible, but, to the LVF2's credit, it is the same effect that appears on the LCD screen. While there are no specific adjustments applicable to the viewfinder, it does mirror the settings available for the LCD screen so you can adjust brightness and colour balance.
One of the main uses for a viewfinder is in bright, outdoor situations and the LVF2 excels here, as long as you don't expect a huge screen to peer through. Also, manual focus with the LVF2 is excellent, particularly with the GX1's magnified focus mode.
The LVF2 is a high-resolution electronic viewfinder that sits neatly on top of the Lumix GX1. It's only compatible with this camera so far, so other G-series users will have to miss out for the time being and be satisfied with the older model, the LVF1.