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?
The more I used the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3, the more it became apparent that this model is a clear move to tap into the entry-level market. However, other users should not let that put them off.
The combination of touchscreen and on-camera buttons, such as the control wheel, provides excellent and intuitive handling. Combine this with a superb AF system, and the GF3 is a pleasure to use. It is backed up by an increasingly strong selection of lenses, too.
The small body puts the GF3 on the verge of compact camera status, and has led to the sacrifice of a hotshoe port. Users are therefore reliant on the limited-output built-in flash for any flash photography, and the touchscreen for viewing and composing images. Bright sunlight can be a little problematic for image composition and viewing.
Where the GF3 falls a little short is through its imaging sensor, which has remained unchanged since the first-generation GF model. This now makes it a little dated when compared to its competition. This latest offering, however, is a much cheaper and smaller version. I would expect the true replacement for the GF2 to develop the imaging core, most likely through the 16.2 million pixel sensor found in the G3.
I enjoyed testing the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3. It offers a compact and affordable entry point to what is an increasingly strong system.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 – Key Features
There is no hotshoe adapter. Instead, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 has a built-in flash with a GN of 6m @ ISO 100
Viewing and composing images is achieved solely through the 460,000-dot touchscreen
Creative control effects such as HDR (high dynamic range), high key, sepia, miniature effect and retro can be applied to both still and moving images.
Like previous models, the GF3 offers intelligent auto (iA), but this time there is also iA+. Both modes assess the scene and select the most appropriate shooting setting, but iA+ uses a slider on the touchscreen for adjustments, with on-screen diagrams rather than jargon to aid the user.
In the photo style menu, there are different colour settings such as natural, vivid and monochrome. Each setting can be tweaked ±2 for saturation, contrast, sharpness and noise reduction.
The GF3 is the interchangeable-lens-system camera with a built-in flash. Its output of GN 6m @ ISO 100 is a little limited, but still good for close-range portraits.
The control wheel is new to the Lumix G-series range, taking the place of the D-Pad. The wheel works very effectively with the touchscreen for quick handling and menu navigation.
Because the GF3 is 17% smaller than the GF2, it requires an elegant curved design in order to effectively hold some of the bulkier lenses in the Lumix range.