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?
Noise, resolution and sensitivity
Back in January this year, we thought that the GF2 felt a little dated with its 12.1-million-pixel imaging sensor. So it is disappointing, to find that the GF3 has kept the same sensor as the GF2.
However, the GF3 is not a direct replacement and, in this respect, what is on offer for the size and price of the body is respectable. I expect improvements to the imaging sensor for the GF2’s direct replacement, most likely in the form of the 16.2-million-pixel sensor found in the DMC-G3.
A 4000×3000-pixel output equates to a 13x10in-sized print without any degradation in image quality, so if you want to print much bigger, a larger sensor is more appropriate.
According to our resolution charts, the GF3 is capable of resolving detail up to 26 in raw format at ISO 160, and up to 24 in JPEG files. This is respectable, and matches the direct competition despite the smaller sensor. At ISO 6400, resolution detail drops to around the 20 mark, which shows that while noisy, there is still a good level of detail at the highest settings.
Smaller sensors often suffer from high levels of noise as the photosites are less able to collect light, especially at high sensitivities in low-contrast light. The GF3 offers a wide sensitivity range of ISO 160-6400, but images are particularly noisy at the top end of the range. While the GF3 is still a strong performer, this is perhaps the most significant area where it is found wanting.
Image: Using a prime lens such as the 14mm here, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 gives sharp results with plenty of resolved detail.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 – Resolution
Resolution, noise & dynamic range: These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens set to f/8. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.