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?
LCD, viewfinder and video
There is no viewfinder and neither is there an option for one, which pushes the GF3 further towards the compact camera market. There is, however, a very effective touchscreen instead. Combine it with the control wheel, and navigating through all the menus and shooting modes is surprisingly quick, especially once you are familiar with the system.
In most lighting situations the touchscreen’s bright and crisp display means that information is clearly visible. In bright sunshine, however, it is a different story and it can be difficult make out what’s on screen. An ideal solution would have been to articulate the screen so it can be angled away from strong light, but this would push up the cost of the camera.
There is plenty on the GF3 to please video users. Full 1080p HD videos are backed up by a superb AF system and a host of lenses that feature Mega OIS for steady shots. There is no in-camera stabilisation, however. Continuous AF gives smooth focusing with minimal noise.
There is the option for AVCHD and MPEG movie files, which covers all bases from those who watch videos on the computer to those who watch on their HD television sets. MPEG files are up to 720p at 30fps, while the better quality AVCHD format can record up to 1080i at 50fps. Clip length is limited to 11mins 40secs in full resolution, and I found the camera does get a little hot towards the end of recording. Handily, all the photo style colour settings and creative effects are available in video mode as well as for stills, so both video and photo users should be equally pleased.
Unlike the GF2, the GF3 only records audio in mono, and there is no option for an external microphone. If audio is of key importance to your videos, then the GH2 is a better option.
Image: Using the touchscreen for spot metering is an effective way to ensure the correct exposure for highlights. it is achieved simply by pressing the relevant area of the frame