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Just posted: Panasonic DMC G3 in-depth review

By dpreview staff on Jul 11, 2011 at 20:19 GMT

Just posted: Our in-depth review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3. The G3 is Panasonic's smallest EVF-equipped G-series camera so far, and also the second highest-resolution in the range. At the core of the G3 is a brand new 15.8MP sensor, making it the first mass-market model to step away from the ageing 12MP chip. Like the G2, it features an articulated, touch-sensitive LCD screen but inherits its interface from the GF2 to make the camera ever-more accessible to beginners. On paper, the G3 is an appealing combination of enthusiast-oriented specification and beginner-friendly ergonomics - read our in-depth review to find out how it performs.

Click here to read our in-depth Panasonic DMC G3 review

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Comments

Total comments: 45
fivetonsflax
By fivetonsflax (Nov 7, 2011)

Anyone know whether this camera will automatically switch from screen to EVF when the screen is closed? I really rely on that for the G1 -- I keep the eye sensor turned off.

Also, how hard is it to toggle shutter AF on and off? The review makes it sound somewhat difficult. I like to shoot in low light, and sometimes I want AF off because it doesn't work.

0 upvotes
kpadude
By kpadude (Jul 14, 2011)

Own G2 (Kits lens + 20 F1.7), wont upgrade to G3 as the external controls are very reasonable for me. Thinking of upgrading to GH-2 + converter + Zuiko 12-60.

Also, as for the new menu touch system and Focus Pin opt. Panasonic could easily release the firmware upgrade for G2 with all this stuff, the camera base is the same, but ... now we see G3 (( Maybe it'll be possible to flash firmware in future. I like some options fo the G3.

2 upvotes
MP Burke
By MP Burke (Jul 14, 2011)

Panasonic seems to have done a good job in making a compact camera with a specification which is reasonably competitive with slrs in the same price bracket and it should attract some new users to the system.
I think many existing Lumix G system camera owners would be more interested in seeing this 16MP sensor to be incorporated into a GF1 type body.
I have the G2 and don't see the G3 as offering enough of an enhancement in performance to make me buy it. Improvements in AF speed are important for some people but I almost never have the perception that the AF speed of the G2 is a problem in the type of photography I am doing. The recently announced 25mm f1.4 lens would probably be a much more worthwhile upgrade to my system.
I will be waiting to see if the next generation of GH cameras offers enhancements in sensor performance, in the areas (primarily low ISO dynamic range) that I want.

1 upvote
luxmariaj
By luxmariaj (Jul 14, 2011)

Panasonic cameras offer us quality every time. I wonder though when you enter the market with a full frame ?...

0 upvotes
jimread
By jimread (Jul 13, 2011)

After reading the review, I'll stick to my G2, I can get beautiful A4 prints from it and I really like all the accessable controls. I came to this digital caper from D&Ping my own B&W, I don't need the 'modes' and other bells and whistles.

I would suggest with respect that anyone wanting to learn about how to use a camera should go and buy an old Zenith film SLR and find out how simple cameras actually are and how little knowledge you really need. After that it's possible to concentrate on making the image and nothing else.

I say Zenith, people laughed at them, but where all other film SLR's fail the Zenith keeps going and you can rely on them.

Jim

:-)

3 upvotes
Nerkdergler
By Nerkdergler (Jul 14, 2011)

I'm with you.
It's ironic that as cameras strive to become more 'ldiot-proof', they actually make the simple task of exposing a photo unnecessarily complex. I honestly think it'd be easier for a beginner to learn the simple relationship between aperture and shutter speed than to work out what impact the meaningless scene modes and in-camera processing will have on the final photo.
A camera should be a simple and intuitive tool, but sometimes I feel like my job as a photographer is to stop my 'clever' digital camera making stupid decisions!

2 upvotes
MonkeyHouse
By MonkeyHouse (Jul 12, 2011)

I went to Henrys with the intention buying one of these, and opted for the Canon T3i instead. Within 10-15 minutes, I knew a few things would be a pain for m, all preference-based and subjective:

1. The grip didn't feel comfortable in my hand. Thumb got crampy from the "pinchy" way I had to hold it.

2. I tried adjusting EVH with the dial but no matter what the edges were distorted. Overall, I found looking through an EVF distracting. I'm not AT ALL a DSLR "optical view" snob... like I said, I had every intention of buying the G3 knowing it had EVF.

3. It's smaller to the naked eye, but when a big attraction is "take it places I wouldn't bother to take a DSLR" it's still not small enough.

The auto-fucus was crazy fast, though, and full-time autofocus seemed to work like a charm. It was a plenty good camera, but left me no reason to not get the T3i instead.

0 upvotes
juergen hofinger
By juergen hofinger (Jul 12, 2011)

sounds familiar to me, but just the other way round. Have been at my dealer to look at the Fuji X100 and came back with a G3. Think it comes down to just two points: 1) does size matter 2) is the G3 small enough. For people who would answer both questions with yes, the Panasonic G3 is an option with a very good overall performance.

0 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Jul 12, 2011)

Conclusion, you prefer "big" things :)

I think that is not in 15 minutes that we can decide what camera to buy

0 upvotes
Nerkdergler
By Nerkdergler (Jul 13, 2011)

With the advent of mirrorless it's become even more obvious how the manufacturers artificially segment the market to protect their existing models and squeeze more cash out of us. Do we really need a G1/2/3, a GH1/2, a GF1 and a GF2/3? (yes, I'd consider the last 2 effectively different models). Looking at the patent specs there is no reason why all of these cameras couldn't have the same performance and features other than form factor. It gets tiring as a customer being told what to want, when the ideal camera they could easily make is either deemed not broad enough in appeal or, ironically, so broad in appeal that it would undercut their other models.

5 upvotes
jppentax
By jppentax (Jul 13, 2011)

Easy... stop buying their cameras.

0 upvotes
MonkeyHouse
By MonkeyHouse (Jul 15, 2011)

Aleo: no, I wanted the smallness. It just wasn't small ENOUGH ("no" to juergen's second question!) 15 minutes? I wish. I spend hours upon hours doing as much research as I could, including using borrowed DSLRs and of course my point and shoot. Couldn't get my hands on a G3 due to availability, but I had reached the conclusion after days of hours that the G3 was exactly what I was looking for. Until I actually held one and it just wasn't a good fit for me personally. Sometimes it doesn't take long to realize something's not right for you. ;-)

It was a lovely camera, but the uncomfortable (for me) grip and the disorienting (for me) EVF made it a no-go.

0 upvotes
juergen hofinger
By juergen hofinger (Jul 12, 2011)

It's been the first time that I had a closer look at the noise levels of RAW images in this test. My impression is that on one hand noise levels of the G3 are not only comparable to those of entry level DSLRs but also up to more expensive cameras like Canon's D60. On the other hand the same observation holds for older m4/3 cameras like the Olympus E-PL1. The quality difference to the G3 seems just to be the fact that Panasonic reaches this low noise levels at a higher resolution (16 compared to 12 MP).

As a conclusion, when it comes to hardware (sensors) it seems to me that all the discussion about superior image quality is more academic for a wide variety of cameras. Differences seem to be mainly due to different noise reduction algorithms and a question of taste in the consideration of noise reduction vs. image details.

1 upvote
juergen hofinger
By juergen hofinger (Jul 12, 2011)

I should confine my statement to ISO values up to 800. At higher ISOs differences between E-PL1, G3 and most of the DSLR league seem to be more apparent (in perfect accordance of what the authors say).

0 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Jul 12, 2011)

Panasonic Lumix is doing great, this is the first time Dpreview say that image quality at high iso is the same we can see on SLR and not only on the consumer SLR, and this with a smaller sensor

Anyway I always think that it is not fair to compare smaller sensor to bigger ones, Dpreview does not compare APS-c sensors to Fullframe sensors, neither compare compacts or bridge cameras with micro 4/3 or other mirrorless cameras

0 upvotes
MGJA
By MGJA (Jul 12, 2011)

Fair or not... it's information lots of people looking for alternatives to big dslr kits want to have. dpreview certainly does us a service by telling us.

0 upvotes
chekai
By chekai (Jul 12, 2011)

Can I request for the AF-Tracking capability test while shooting video?

0 upvotes
drwho9437
By drwho9437 (Jul 12, 2011)

You realize there are no RAW images on the RAW studio page right? As of 8 AM EST 7/12/2011.

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jul 12, 2011)

Right now, the marquee on the "Compared to" pages is defaulting to the bottom left. Our apologies. We are working to fix this issue. In the meantime you can drag the marquee to any position in the scene, as usual.

0 upvotes
MGJA
By MGJA (Jul 12, 2011)

dprewiew continues to deliver. We appreciate the work.

Q: Is it silent? One of the reasons I use a compact for my street shooting is that nothing destroys scenes quite as effectively as dSLR shutter noise. At the first mirror slap, everyone starts posing for the camera, and that's that. In comparison, once you disable the phony shutter sounds on compacts, you have genuinely silent cams that allow you to capture whole sequences of life without the awkward street theatrics people insist on otherwise. Being mirrorless, these things should be silent, but you never know.

0 upvotes
Wayne77
By Wayne77 (Jul 12, 2011)

Much quieter than my Canon 60D. Since there is no mirror to flip up, there is more of a slightly muffled click, rather than a slap-click. I doubt people will hear it unless they are pretty close, or in a quiet setting.

0 upvotes
MGJA
By MGJA (Jul 12, 2011)

Thank you for this information!

Alas, much more quiet than a dSLR doesn't cut it for me. A few days ago I got a great shot of a conductor raising his baton in total silence just before the opening chords of Figaro, and any noise whatsoever would be socially unacceptable in that sort of setting and with the short of acoustics you have in a concert hall. I guess I'm stuck with compacts for those purposes still.

0 upvotes
Jim King
By Jim King (Jul 23, 2011)

Have you checked out a Pentax K-5? It's compact as APS-C DSLRs go and has the quietest shutter/mirror I know of.

1 upvote
Fredy Ross
By Fredy Ross (Jul 12, 2011)

Thanks for the review but why no comment about the viewfinder's clarity? Is it as good as Canon's 600d for example?

0 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Jul 12, 2011)

Kidding right?

Its EVF, which means its clear + bright + 100% coverage + never too dark. Which makes it harder for future upgrade, cause you need to buy something like 1D or D3 or A900 to have comparable or better viewfinder. :D

1 upvote
AV8RYYZ
By AV8RYYZ (Jul 12, 2011)

Actually I find it can seem a little dim when transitioning to the EVF from a very bright sky. That being said it's still entirely usable to frame a shot and you can still do everything you need to, it's just a little tough to pick up on some of the details in the shadows. I still really recommend it though.

0 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Jul 12, 2011)

Good review, BUT, I never agree when Dpreview says that Panasonic Lumix, jpg is not so good or the skin tones, I use JPG a LOT, got all images with pleasant colors, even skin tones, I have seen JPG from other brands like Canon and Nikon or Olympus and do not found any better or worst than Panasonic Lumix ones, I think this is a matter of taste.

0 upvotes
evshrug2
By evshrug2 (Jul 12, 2011)

I suppose it is a matter of taste, but blue skies always look surreal and greenish. Like "living in the matrix" green. It's probably the only jpeg color from any brand that actually bothers me. But again, it's my taste, and from what I saw in this review, cyans and blues are actually looking cyan and blue. It's the kind of thing I don't need to pixel peep to see.

1 upvote
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jul 12, 2011)

I in general agree with you but looks like Panasonic tweaked their JPEG color profile in this camera to something that looks, at least in some shots I have seen, pretty decent.

0 upvotes
R Laing
By R Laing (Jul 12, 2011)

Where is the viewfinder?

0 upvotes
tmawest
By tmawest (Jul 12, 2011)

It has a viewfinder... as stated in the intro above.

0 upvotes
jwhig
By jwhig (Jul 12, 2011)

At the back.

1 upvote
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Jul 12, 2011)

At same place as dSLR. :)

0 upvotes
MtnBikerCalif
By MtnBikerCalif (Jul 12, 2011)

Now if Panasonic would only update the software on the G2 to pick up some of these improvements. The touch screen interface should be a software change. Computer manufacturers do this, at least Apple does.

0 upvotes
DougRight
By DougRight (Jul 12, 2011)

Great form factor, but once again, the manufacture believes that the audience for a small body does not want to be overwhelmed by too many control surfaces. It's the myth of the step-up camera and the jittery consumer who is easily scared off of cameras that have more than 3 buttons on the back.

0 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Jul 11, 2011)

Simply put, the G3 produces some of the finest images we have ever seen from Micro Four Thirds sensor technology. That it is possible to capture pictures with the G3 whose image quality is virtually indistinguishable from an entry-level DSLR is impressive.

For what I have seen, the G3 delivers best image quality and less noise than the GH2

4 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Jul 11, 2011)

I still prefer the G2, but this camera is a small wonder

0 upvotes
Ed Herdman
By Ed Herdman (Jul 11, 2011)

Regarding pinpoint autofocus: Is the G3's AF sensor dense enough to accurately sense from arbitrarily selected points all over the screen, or is it a design without a dedicated AF sensor?

60i and 60p from 30 fps capture: Is this from simply binning a continuously updated frame? A bit confused otherwise as to how the capture rate is 30fps yet apparently you can get up-to-date frames out of it at 60fps.

I have a feeling, jaggies on the frame of the park bench notwithstanding, that the 20fps drive mode will be used extensively. Loss of the viewfinder will make it hard to use though.

0 upvotes
Gravi
By Gravi (Jul 12, 2011)

this camera focusses on the image sensor and has no separate af sensor. in theory you can focus anywhere. not sure how exactly it is implemented - random choice or predefined zones that are selected based on your input.

0 upvotes
Henry Falkner
By Henry Falkner (Jul 11, 2011)

With a kit lens attached, the G3 has the dimensions of my 3-year old Olympus SP-570UZ, being a little heavier. It would take over the indoor and outdoor shots needing an external flash for filling in shadows, particularly in broad daylight. With a long zoom lens it would take over the yearly excursions to the Muriwai Beach gannet colony, having the benefit of a faster LCD-EVF refresh rate. For me its main gain over what I have is the HD1080p video with stereo sound recording. On the SP-570UZ the extra buttons do not make my operation any faster, so I welcome that the G3 has fewer of those. I cannot comment on the touch screen, none of my existing devices have. However, I mostly use now a 10x zoom pocket P&S camera.

0 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (Jul 11, 2011)

QUOTE FROM DPREVIEW:
From the GF2, the G3 gains a touchscreen interface that is a vast improvement over that seen in the G2. It allows lots of control over camera settings as well as direct on-screen selection of the focus point - something that no DSLR can offer. Further distancing itself from previous G-series models, the G3 allows you to place the AF point anywhere throughout the entire frame, as opposed to just within a central portion.
---
I believe that my G*2* has all the features attributed here more exclusively to the G3, esp on-screen selection of focus point throughout the whole frame. To me it seems the G3 is no improvement over the G2 in that regard - and the G2's focus-by-finger tip was already excellent, esp combined with the swiveling lcd.
(I understand that with the G3 you can change more camera settings via touch-screen than with the G2, okay, but i believe that focussing by finger tip might be about the same thing on both models.)

0 upvotes
mpgxsvcd
By mpgxsvcd (Jul 11, 2011)

Does the G3 aperture control in video mode allow you to select a discrete aperture or is it only setting the minimum aperture when there is enough available light?

1 upvote
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jul 11, 2011)

In iAuto mode when shooting video you can move the defocus slider in steps but you get no visual feedback as to precise aperture values.

1 upvote
mpgxsvcd
By mpgxsvcd (Jul 11, 2011)

Does the in camera Noise Reduction setting for the G3 affect RAW images like it does on the GH2?

1 upvote
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jul 12, 2011)

As we found with the GH2, the G3 raw files appear to have noise reduction applied when you set the camera to NR+2.

1 upvote
Total comments: 45