Panasonic has been including video capability in its Micro Four Thirds lineup since the introduction of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 back in 2009. The mirrorless design of the G-series cameras makes them particularly suited to movie shooting since unlike DSLRs, the sensor is unimpaired by a mirror in the light-path, and is used full-time for image composition and focussing.

Video specification

The GF3 can be set to capture video in one of two formats, AVCHD or Motion JPEG, and has a capture rate of 30fps. In AVCHD mode, when set to its highest quality setting (FSH), the GF3 offers true HD video capture at 1920 x 1080 pixels in 60i (interlaced) mode. In SH mode, video is captured at 1280 x 720 pixels in 60p (progressive) mode.

Motion JPEG video is captured at 30fps, in a choice of 1280x720, 640x480 or 320x240 pixel resolution. The GF3's built-in microphone captures mono audio. There is a small built-in speaker for in-camera video playback.

Sizes • AVCHD :
FSH: 1920 x 1080, (60i*, 17 Mbps)
SH: 1280 x 720, (60p*, 17 Mbps)

• Motion JPEG:
1280 x 720, 30fps
640 x 480, 30fps
320 x 240, 30fps

* Sensor output = 30fps
Audio Dolby Digital Stereo Creator format, wind-cut feature
Format AVCHD / QuickTime Motion JPEG
File size Max 17 MB/sec (1080p AVCHD)
Max file size per clip 2.0 GB for Motion JPEG, card capacity for AVCHD
Running time Up to 2GB for Motion JPEG, up to capacity of card for AVCHD (Limited to 29 minutes on models sold in Europe).

Using Movie Mode

Capturing video on the GF3 is no more complicated than pressing the dedicated motion picture button on the top of the camera. As with the GF2 though, exposure control when shooting video is rather limited. You can, however, capture video in any of the 'Photo Styles' or 'Creative Control' modes.

This screen shows video capture with key shooting information overlaid. In iA mode, the 'defocus' slider allows you to change aperture during the video.

When compared to shooting stills, working in video mode offers you significantly less control over exposure parameters. User-selected ISO settings are overridden by the camera. The cumulative exposure value is set by the camera, regardless of the exact combination of shutter speed, ISO and aperture that appear on the screen before you start recording. In other words, the camera will make adjustments on its own to try and achieve a pleasing exposure.

Ironically, to obtain more direct control you need to switch to the (automated) iAuto modes. Either of the two modes will allow you to adjust aperture during the video via the 'defocus' slider. Setting the camera to iAuto+, however, gives you the additional option of setting exposure compensation and white balance before you start recording.

During video recording you can focus manually or use continuous AF so that the camera will automatically lock focus on a subject within the AF area. As with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, the GF3 is capable of rack focus during videos. This feature allows you to choose a specific area on which to set focus simply by touching the screen. The camera will then shift focus from its current location to the one you have just designated.

Sample videos

These videos are representative of our day-to-day shooting experiences with the GF3. While the audio spec has gone from stereo to mono recording, video quality is very similar to our GF2 review samples, with additional features we first saw in our G3 review. We are pleased to announce that is now partnering with Vimeo to bring you high-quality embedded video in our test pages, but as always, the original files are available for download from the links beneath the thumbnails. We've turned HD playback on by default for our embedded videos, but depending on the speed of your internet connection, you may get better performance by turning it off.

Note: the .MTS file extension of videos created by the Panasonic Lumix DMC GF3 is not widely compatible. If you chose to download the original .MTS files using the links provided you may need additional software to play them. The Open Source VLC player is able to play the .MTS files that are generated by the GF3's AVCHD mode.

Sample Video 1

This video shows the GF3's Mini mode Creative Control filter. In this mode, audio is disabled and video is captured at roughly 10fps. Playback is therefore accelerated, with playing time about 1/10 of the actual recording time.

1920 x 1080i, AVCHD, .MTS file, 6 sec. 16.48 MB Click here to download original .MTS file

Sample video 2

This hand-held video capture shows the image stabilization effect of the GF3 using the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140 OIS lens at its telephoto end. The GF3 allows no control over shutter speed in video mode, and as you can see, in this bright scene, it has selected quite a high speed, which has resulted in the water being 'frozen'. For more advanced manual control in video mode you'll need to look higher, to the GH2.

1920 x 1080i, AVCHD, .MTS file, 14 sec. 32.67 MB Click here to download original .MTS file

Sample video 3

This clip shows the abilities of the GF3's built-in mono microphone. The GF3 can't boast the same audio recording options as the stereo- microphone-equipped G3, but it is perfectly capable in everyday shooting situations. The audio in this clip is crisp and clear, and background noise, although audible, is not problematic.

1280 x 720, Motion JPEG, .MOV file, 17 sec. 61.47 MB Click here to download original .MOV file