With the launch of Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GF3, the company’s smallest interchangeable-lens camera just got even more compact and lighter while maintaining a strong set of features. Surely there has to be compromises?
Like the GF2 before it, the GF3 is particularly impressive with regard to autofocusing.
As with the metering, single-point AF can be defined by touch, so it’s a breeze to use and very responsive. On a similar basis, and for even more precise focusing, there is the pin-point AF mode.
It operates in much the same way as single-point AF, although in the latter, the focus area can be adjusted by the control wheel or by touch, and the size of the area changed.
With pin-point AF, the desired focus area is assisted by viewing magnification (as in manual focus) and the photo is taken using the shutter on the touchscreen.
In good light, 23-point AF is virtually instant, and almost as quick in low-contrast light. The exact timing does depend on the lens and body combination and the level of available light, but for a camera at this level I am very impressed.
Image: Pin-point AF makes use of the touchscreen and covers the majority of the frame, enabling a quick and precise shift in focus
I found the AF to be reliable and manual focus to be a useful back-up.
I have generally been disappointed with tracking AF mode because all too often a camera cannot keep up with a moving subject, particularly in crowded scenes. In this respect, the GF3 is actually rather good, and a viable option for high-speed action. Continuous contrast detection AF is smooth and precise.
The final AF option is face recognition. There is the option to store several faces, and the AF areas are indicated on the screen around the subjects. This is a useful feature for those who regularly shoot portraiture.