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Panasonic Lumix GF3
Panasonic Lumix GF3
4.4
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Panasonic Lumix GF3

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B+
We've given the GF3 a grade of B+.
This product is ranked
44th of 48 in Mirrorless Digital Cameras
17th of 30 in Panasonic Digital Cameras
37th of 51 in $300 - $400
44th of 62 in 11 & 12 MP
50th of 78 in 10-12 Megapixels Digital Cameras

Editor's Review

The Panasonic Lumix GF3 is the company’s 2011 Micro Four Thirds-format shooter. At the time it was released, it was their smallest so far and arguably the most beginner-friendly mirrorless compact system camera yet. It sports a familiar 12-megapixel CMOS Four Thirds sensor -- comparable to though smaller than the sensor in most consumer dSLR cameras -- and a revamped processor for impressive autofocus speeds and burst shooting. Equipped with Panasonic’s 14mm pancake lens, the GF3 is about the size of a typical compact zoom camera, small and light enough to carry around in a pocket. With any zoom lens, it’s no longer pocketable, but it’s still cool to see high-quality shots come out of a small, stylish camera like this.

As what is essentially an overpowered compact, there’s a lot to love about the GF3. It offers the best aspects of a dSLR without the bulky, utilitarian design or intimidating control scheme. Thanks to the new Venus Engine VII HD processor, it’s exceptionally fast for a live-view camera. It cranks out about 3.8 frames per second in burst mode and, we’re told, can autofocus about as quickly as a camera with a mirror. The specs are about on par for the current spate of entry-level mirrorless cameras, including 1080i HD video, some built-in effects and filters, and reasonable price tag, either $600 or $700, depending on the configuration. And if the interface is anything like we’ve seen on every other Panasonic camera with a touchscreen this year, it should be a real charm to use.

Panasonic is clearly aiming to snag buyers from a much broader audience than the enthusiast niche. In a self-aware meta sense, the GF3 could be considered a disappointment, continuing down the same mass-market route as the GF2 did away from the GF1. It has no hot shoe or rear accessory port (which means no add-on flash or eye-level viewfinder). It’s laid out like a compact camera, with very few physical controls or direct-access keys. But the target buyers are clearly casual users or hobbyists who care enough about photography to drop a few hundred bucks on a serious camera, but who don’t need or want all the trappings of a traditional dSLR.

The GF3 will make for a great street-style candid shooter in public situations -- friendlier and less conspicuous than a dSLR at any rate -- especially with the pancake lens, which Panasonic is really pushing as the “must-have” accessory. The pancake comes out at least one month before the more typical 14-42mm kit, which is not a pocket-sized configuration. The drawback is that the pancake configuration runs for $700. That’s a little steep, considering that most entry-level interchangeable-lens rigs come with zoom lenses and run just $600. Anyone stepping up from a point-and-shoot is used to some zoom, so we shall see if primes will catch on with average users.

The GF3’s chief competition is the Sony NEX-C3, announced just one week prior. This camera is a bit smaller (though a tidbit heavier), but it does have a hot shoe, accessory port, and a bigger sensor. It does have a 16mm pancake option, so it’ll easily fit into a pocket, and the pancake kit looks like it will sell for $599 -- cheaper than Panny's prime option. The first-gen NEX models were more popular than most pundits had anticipated, so we’d expect the NEX-C3 to carry on with that trend, though buyers do have a compelling compact competitor in the GF3 this year. Photos have leaked of a miniaturized Olympus PEN as well, so this looks like a segment to watch.

The Panasonic Lumix GF3 with the 14mm pancake lens will be available in July 2011 for $700, and the 14-42mm configuration will hit shelves in August for $600.

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Panasonic Lumix GF3

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Specifications

  • 12 megapixels
  • Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • Micro Four Thirds-format mirrorless, interchangeable-lens system
  • 3-inch touchscreen LCD, 460k pixels
  • 3.8 frames per second burst shooting
  • 14mm pancake kit lens (also available in a 14-42mm configuration)
  • 1080i HD video
  • RAW capture
  • Various effects and filters
  • Pop-up flash
  • Weighs 7.83 oz.
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Release Date: Jul 15, 2011

Panasonic Lumix GF3 Reviews

Panasonic Lumix GF3 Reviews by Digital Camera-HQ Users

If you're looking for a camera with a longer zoom range and image stabilization for a cost that's affordable, Panasonic has several cameras that will suit you. For photographers that desire versatility in a small package, Panasonic digital cameras can provide many viable selections. Having something for amateurs and serious enthusiasts at the same time, Panasonic offers a wide range of digital cameras, from ultra compacts to mirrorless cameras. Each camera has its own distinctive features and traits, making them hard to compare.

Users who prefer to use automatic modes will find Panasonic digital cameras very useful. The camera will automatically select the perfect scene mode for a certain subject using the iAuto feature, which is included in nearly all Panasonic cameras made today. This tool, in combination with image stabilization will make it very easy for inexperienced photographers to take photos they can be proud of.

By giving users easy access to settings, reviews are correct in pointing out that Panasonic cameras are made for maximum ease of use. If you opt for a Panasonic camera, you will find that it has an LCD screen, an optical zoom lens which is very versatile, and is both lightweight and fairly compact.

The Panasonic Lumix ZS20 is one of the many notably excellent choices among Panasonic cameras. A GPS tracker, a 20x optical zoom lens, and image stabilization that will make sure your pictures are steady even when you're using maximum zoom are several of the features that make this camera a popular choice. Panasonic has included manual modes but the automatic modes and iAuto mode make the camera a perfect choice for amateurs as well. Image quality is quite competitive, too, although not the best on the market.

You can find informative and unbiased recommendations and reviews to help you find the right camera at Digital Camera HQ. We're not a store, but you can trust our camera grades to help find a great camera at the best price. Let us know if you have any problems or questions, we're happy to help.
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