Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Refined design. Very good image quality. Touchscreen interface better than that on the G2.

The Bad No sensor to automatically switch between EVF and LCD. Short battery life.

The Bottom Line The G3 is a great addition to the already-strong range of Panasonic interchangeable lens cameras, with a few notable omissions holding it back from being top notch.

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Design and features

As part of Panasonic's third generation of interchangeable lens cameras, the aptly titled G3 pulls together bits and pieces from older cameras in the range. It's not some sort of Frankenstein's monster, fortunately — instead the G3 improves on each previous camera it is inspired by. The first thing to notice is the body style, which looks like a love child between the GF2 and earlier G2 cameras. The prominent right-hand grip is now much more slender, and as a result a lot easier to hold for smaller hands. Overall, the form factor is smaller, too, shaving off vital centimetres where it counts, which includes reducing the faux-pentaprism hump over the lens.

The G3 comes with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) as well as a 3-inch flip-out touchscreen. Unfortunately, there's no longer a sensor that automatically detects when the camera has been moved towards and away from your eye, switching between the EVF and LCD. There's a stereo mic on top of the camera, just in front of the hotshoe. However, this means that Panasonic hasn't included an external mic jack on the camera, so you'll have to rely on the in-built units.

Fortunately, the touchscreen has been refined from the version found on the earlier G2. It's much more responsive and has a few extra enjoyable features. Now, you can touch to focus on pretty much any part of the screen — even at the extreme edges. Pinpoint focus enlarges the portion of the image you want to focus on for more precise results. Never fear if touchscreen controls aren't your thing, though, as the G3 is also well endowed with physical buttons for the main controls. A PASM mode dial sits at the top of the camera, housing controls for some custom settings, as well as some picture effects and scene modes.

Inside, things look quite different, too. The sensor is a 16-megapixel Live MOS monster, which is similar but definitely not the same as the one found on the GH2. Panasonic also claims that the Light Speed AF system is able to seek and achieve focus within 0.1 second.

Connectivity is via a mini-HDMI port, mini-USB port and a remote port.

Compared to

E-P3

Olympus E-P3 Panasonic Lumix G3 Samsung NX11 Sony NEX-5N
12.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor (four-thirds type) 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor (four-thirds type) 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor (APS-C size) 16.1-megapixel Exmor HD CMOS sensor (APS-C size)
3-inch, 610,000-dot touchscreen OLED 3-inch, 460,000-dot touchscreen LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot AMOLED 3-inch, 921,600-dot touchscreen LCD
Full HD video (1080i, 24fps) Full HD video (1080i, 30fps) HD video (720p, 30fps) Full HD video (1080p, 25ps)
35-point AF 23-point AF 15-point AF 25-point AF
3.2fps 4fps 3fps 10fps

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Panasonic G30.80.70.70.2
  • Olympus E-P30.80.70.70.2
  • Samsung NX111.11.21.10.3
  • Sony NEX-5N1.40.710.5

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Panasonic G33.5
  • Olympus E-P33.2
  • Samsung NX113
  • Sony NEX-5N10

Panasonic rates the battery at 270 shots. In super high burst mode (with Live View turned off), the G3 can capture 40 shots in 2.5 seconds using the electronic shutter, and images are captured at 4 megapixels. You may notice that in the comparison table above, the G3 can shoot 4fps — this is Panasonic's claim, and we unfortunately couldn't get our review camera to perform that quickly.

Image quality

The G3 produces some excellent images with the kit lens, and very clean JPEGs as well. Its image quality is the closest to SLR (and APS-C sensor size) quality we've seen so far from Micro Four Thirds cameras. Its images are far better than those produced on the G2 particularly at high ISO levels.

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Where to Buy

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

Part Number: CNETPanasonic Lumix DMC-G3

Typical Price: $1,099.00

See manufacturer website for availability.