Panasonic DMC-G3 REVIEW - Digital Photography School
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Panasonic DMC-G3 REVIEW

In spite of industry leaders Canon not following the trend, Panasonic and Olympus are certainly making hay with their Micro Four Thirds models as we watch Nikon’s exciting entrée with interest.

There is a demand for a faux DSLR that doesn’t break your back nor your budget and still allows access to a fine range of lenses by such companies as Carl Zeiss, Schneider, Sigma … and others.

Panasonic DMC-G3 front.jpg

The aluminium bodied Panasonic DMC-G3 is light and it’s small, ‘suffering’ a 25 per cent reduction, compared with the previous DMC-G2 model. That means you could easily carry the camera body and two lenses in a coat pocket. I know I did, happily stowing into my jacket pocket the review camera, the 14-42mm zoom plus the gorgeous f1.4/25mm aspheric lens … all supplied for this review.

Panasonic DMC-G3 Image 14-42.jpg

Panasonic G3 top.jpg

Panasonic DMC-G3 Features

The Live MOS sensor carries 16 million pixels and can capture a maximum image size of 4592×3448, or 39x29cm as a print.
Movies are taken care of, with the ability to shoot Full HD 1920x1080i movies in AVCHD or 1280×720 in MPEG4, triggered by a dedicated button just beneath the mode dial. The even better news is that AVCHD shooting is performed with full-time AF tracking and exposure control. And … you can shoot a still whilst recording video.

Menu 1.jpg

Menu 2.jpg

You have two viewing options: the turret LCD finder and the rear articulated 7.6cm LCD screen that swings out, up and down, rotating 180 degrees sideways and tilting 270 degrees up and down. I have to admit that the turret finder did give a flared view at certain angles but, once your eye adjusted to the correct angle the view was bright and sharp and very useable in bright light.

The control layout is elegant and simple: you can directly access ISO settings, AF mode, white balance and single or burst shooting from the rear four-position dial; the top dial carries positions for Program AE, aperture or shutter speed and manual settings as well as scene modes and two custom settings; creative control setting gives you direct access to colour control in the fashion of ‘retro’, sepia, high dynamic range etc.

There’s only one button that perhaps needs a little explanation for the newbie: tucked away at extreme right of the top panel is iA (intelligent Auto mode) … there is no auto setting on the mode dial. This iA function is available in both stills and movie shooting.

Once this button is touched an internal blue light shines, indicating that the camera is taking control and making the most appropriate settings for the subject before the lens: scene and face detection, backlight compensation and auto balance are all in play here. Another trick is intelligent Auto Plus, which offers adjustment of focus (it even lets you defocus part of the scene), exposure compensation and white balance.

Touch focusing is a nice attraction: simply touch the screen where you want sharp focus to fall and the system obliges. If you need more precision you can enlarge the focusing area and set focus, even on an eye of a subject. You won’t need to be told this is a useful feature in movie shooting!

In manual focus mode, touch a section of the image on the LCD and the G3 shows an enlarged view of that area up to 10x.

In replay, touch the screen and you can scroll through the stored images or even enlarge them to 16x.

The G3 is available in three colours: black, red and white. For the stereo crowd the camera is compatible with Panasonic’s 3D lens, the H-FT012E.

Camera doll 2.JPG

Car blurr 1 7.9.11.JPG

Startup

The G3 is very responsive: fire it up and you can shoot immediately; keep hitting the shutter button and the shots keep a’rollin’ in.

Panasonic DMC-G3 ISO Tests

Panasonic DMC-G3 ISO 160.JPG

Panasonic DMC-G3 ISO 400.JPG

Panasonic DMC-G3 ISO 800.JPG

Panasonic DMC-G3 ISO 1600.JPG

Panasonic DMC-G3 ISO 3200.JPG

Panasonic DMC-G3 ISO 6400.JPG

Quite smooth all the way up to ISO 1600. At ISO 3200 a little noise kicks in and by ISO 6400 noise ‘just’ starts to become a problem.

Panasonic DMC-G3 Verdict

Quality: excellent colour capture with images as sharp as a tack.
Why you’d buy the G3: you want a precision, interchangeable lens camera that doesn’t cost the earth.
Why you wouldn’t: you’re wary of upstarts like Panasonic or Sony!
As for me: I want it! Has everything I need.

Yellow fence.JPG

Panasonic DMC-G3 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.0 million effective pixels.
Metering: Intelligent multi zone, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds.
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.0mm Live CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 2x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 120 to 1/4000 second and Bulb. Video 1/25 (PAL) 1/30 (NTSC) to 1/16,000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 2 to 20 fps (various sizes).
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4592×3448 to 1712×1712.
Movies: 1920×1080 (AVCHD); 1280×720 (MPEG4).
Viewfinder: Live (1,440,000 pixels); 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPEG4, AVCHD.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 160 to 6.400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 115.2×83.6×46.7 WHDmm.
Weight: 544 g (inc 14-42mm lens, battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic DMC-G3 at:

Amazon Prices

B&H Photo

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Panasonic DMC-G3
Author Rating
5

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • Bob

    Micro 4/3 cameras are not “faux DSLR’s” – they are a viable and credible alternative. After using the Olympus E-P1 I have completely walked away from my Canon 40D. The E-P1 will do almost anything the large, heavy DSLR will do and do it extremely well. I also find it humorous to label Panasonic an “upstart” – the Canon/Nikon bias continues to rule the camera world – to the detriment of everyone. The Nikon entry into mirrorless cameras is rather pathetic, suggesting that Nikon is more interested in protecting there lower end DSLR market than producing a quality mirrorless. Canon hasn’t even tried. The Canon/Nikon folk seem bent on protecting sales of low-end DSLR’s to soccer mom’s and others who think that having a “professional type” camera will make them a better photographer.

  • http://www.basilicasoftware.com MM from Vancouver, Canada

    I just received a slideshow documentation of a relative’s cruise to the Caribbean with her family. She used a Canon DSLR with the 18-55 mm lens. Much of the pictures are basically ok, capturing the fun of being on a cruise. However, the composition and lighting are not really one would find astounding from a creative and artistic photography standpoints. I think these are the instances when a good quality point-and-shoot would be good enough. So I believe, the advances in technology today are such that if all you need are family type pictures, one need not purchase the big heavy bricks that DSLRs are. Even the small Canon 300 HS or Fuji EXR point-and-shoots would do well for the purpose. These four-thirds such as Panasonic G series or the Olympus series have elevated the capability somewhat, but would be more than enough. Of course, if you are a professional photographer who has the need for quality enlargements, control over your photography and must project the professional image, you gotta hang those heavy bricks around your neck. There is just no alternative. Or, is there?

  • Bob

    “These four-thirds such as Panasonic G series or the Olympus series have elevated the capability somewhat, but would be more than enough.”
    The sensor in the Micro 4/3 cameras is eight times the size of a P&S. The lenses are larger, of higher quality and primes are available – far better than the zooms built into most P&S cameras. Overall, they are vastly superior to any P&S on the market and definitely in a class of their own.
    “Of course, if you are a professional photographer who has the need for quality enlargements, control over your photography and must project the professional image, you gotta hang those heavy bricks around your neck. There is just no alternative. Or, is there?”
    Actually, yes, there is an alternative. :-) The M4/3 cameras can easily produce high quality enlargements. I know pros who got beautiful prints with 5MP cameras for years. The new 12-16MP sensors on the M4/3 cameras produce stunning prints, especially when a pro shooter uses one shooting RAW. I have been amazed at what these little cameras can do.

  • Mari

    Definitely in my shopping list. Have been waiting for an upgrade from G2 and G3 really seems to be it! I have Panasonic LX3 (a brilliant little point and shoot) at the moment and would like to get more options with my next camera. I compared G3 in a shop with starting range Canon or Nikon cameras – they are so huge and clumsy compared to this little beauty and I can’t even hold them properly with my small hands! I know I wouldn’t take half as many pictures if I had a DSRL just because of their size. I would agree that Micro 4/3 shouldn’t be compared with point&shoot as they really are a class of their own and fit in perfectly between point & shoot and more professional DSRL-s.

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Some older comments

  • Mari

    October 16, 2011 09:35 pm

    Definitely in my shopping list. Have been waiting for an upgrade from G2 and G3 really seems to be it! I have Panasonic LX3 (a brilliant little point and shoot) at the moment and would like to get more options with my next camera. I compared G3 in a shop with starting range Canon or Nikon cameras - they are so huge and clumsy compared to this little beauty and I can't even hold them properly with my small hands! I know I wouldn't take half as many pictures if I had a DSRL just because of their size. I would agree that Micro 4/3 shouldn't be compared with point&shoot as they really are a class of their own and fit in perfectly between point & shoot and more professional DSRL-s.

  • Bob

    October 14, 2011 08:24 am

    "These four-thirds such as Panasonic G series or the Olympus series have elevated the capability somewhat, but would be more than enough."
    The sensor in the Micro 4/3 cameras is eight times the size of a P&S. The lenses are larger, of higher quality and primes are available - far better than the zooms built into most P&S cameras. Overall, they are vastly superior to any P&S on the market and definitely in a class of their own.
    "Of course, if you are a professional photographer who has the need for quality enlargements, control over your photography and must project the professional image, you gotta hang those heavy bricks around your neck. There is just no alternative. Or, is there?"
    Actually, yes, there is an alternative. :-) The M4/3 cameras can easily produce high quality enlargements. I know pros who got beautiful prints with 5MP cameras for years. The new 12-16MP sensors on the M4/3 cameras produce stunning prints, especially when a pro shooter uses one shooting RAW. I have been amazed at what these little cameras can do.

  • MM from Vancouver, Canada

    October 14, 2011 07:33 am

    I just received a slideshow documentation of a relative's cruise to the Caribbean with her family. She used a Canon DSLR with the 18-55 mm lens. Much of the pictures are basically ok, capturing the fun of being on a cruise. However, the composition and lighting are not really one would find astounding from a creative and artistic photography standpoints. I think these are the instances when a good quality point-and-shoot would be good enough. So I believe, the advances in technology today are such that if all you need are family type pictures, one need not purchase the big heavy bricks that DSLRs are. Even the small Canon 300 HS or Fuji EXR point-and-shoots would do well for the purpose. These four-thirds such as Panasonic G series or the Olympus series have elevated the capability somewhat, but would be more than enough. Of course, if you are a professional photographer who has the need for quality enlargements, control over your photography and must project the professional image, you gotta hang those heavy bricks around your neck. There is just no alternative. Or, is there?

  • Bob

    October 14, 2011 03:01 am

    Micro 4/3 cameras are not "faux DSLR's" - they are a viable and credible alternative. After using the Olympus E-P1 I have completely walked away from my Canon 40D. The E-P1 will do almost anything the large, heavy DSLR will do and do it extremely well. I also find it humorous to label Panasonic an "upstart" - the Canon/Nikon bias continues to rule the camera world - to the detriment of everyone. The Nikon entry into mirrorless cameras is rather pathetic, suggesting that Nikon is more interested in protecting there lower end DSLR market than producing a quality mirrorless. Canon hasn't even tried. The Canon/Nikon folk seem bent on protecting sales of low-end DSLR's to soccer mom's and others who think that having a "professional type" camera will make them a better photographer.

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