With its 15.8-million-pixel sensor, improved AF system and a smaller body than its predecessor, the Panasonic G3 could be the upgrade that micro four thirds users have been waiting for. Our Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 review finds out more...
Build and Handling
Impressively, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 is 25% smaller than the G2. In fact, it is very similar in size to the compact-style GF2, except for a more pronounced handgrip and, of course, the addition of the electronic viewfinder. The obvious concern when reducing the size of a camera is that it will be awkward to hold and fiddly to control. However, I had no problem holding the camera thanks to the contoured handgrip. My only slight complaint is that the smooth rubber and plastic on the handgrip should be textured to allow for better grip.
Reassuringly, the G3 retains the excellent handling of the G2 and GH2 with only a few tweaks to the placement of buttons. One of these changes is that the quick movie capture button has moved from its position on the top-plate to the rear of the camera, making it easier to press with a thumb while holding the camera in a shooting position.
Two buttons – the AF/AE lock and depth of field preview – that are found on the G2 are missing from the G3. However, both of these functions can be programmed to the two function buttons should you require them.
The G3 is the fourth Panasonic G-series camera to have a touchscreen. As well as letting you change various settings via an on-screen menu, it also allows the AF point to be selected. I admit I had a few reservations about the technology when I heard this was going to be introduced in the G2, but I am pleased to say my fears of it being unusable were unfounded.
While the touchscreen on the G3 is not as sensitive as those found on, say, Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad, it is fairly responsive to the touch. In fact, if you find it easy to use then it replaces the need for the Quick Menu button, freeing that up for other duties.
For the most part I still used the Quick Menu and traditional directional buttons to change settings quickly – not because the touchscreen wasn’t up to scratch, but because old habits die hard. Using the touchscreen to select an AF point and take an image is something that is genuinely useful, and its operation is intuitive so it is easy to get used to.
One annoyance is that Panasonic has chosen not to include an eye-sensor to switch between the rear screen and EVF. There is a button to the left of the EVF to toggle between these two displays, but an eye-sensor would automatically switch the view when the camera is held to the eye. Again, I presume the sensor has been omitted to help distinguish the G3 from the GH2, which has this feature.
The menu system of the G3 is largely the same as that of other recent models in the G series, although there have been a few tweaks to help improve it for entry-level photographers. There is a new IA+ mode that offers users a simplified aperture priority called Defocus Control. White balance and exposure compensation have also been given simplified controls for those using a system camera for the first time.
To help avoid confusion, the My Colour Mode has been renamed Creative Control. This function allows you to adjust the image to various preset styles, including expressive, retro, high key, sepia and high dynamic, and it is similar to the Art Styles found on Olympus cameras. The Film Mode found on previous G-series cameras has also been relabelled, as Photo Style. This is the standard image style mode that allows you to choose the different colour and black & white settings that can be applied to photographs.
While these small changes in the naming of items and the new iA+ mode may be useful for beginners, enthusiast photographers will notice very little difference.