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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Digital Camera Review

panasonic20111121a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Michael Gazzola

In the latest instalment of the 4/3rds interchangeable lens GF series, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 improves in almost all areas on the two previous GF models, including RRP. In a tight 4/3rds market dominated by three companies we were very keen to see how the GF3 stacked up and what it offered as a point of difference. On the web there is a fair amount of hype, but when Panasonic offered the camera to be reviewed we took it on as a perfect opportunity leading into Christmas to put it through its paces and see just how much of the noise was accurate...


Appearance & Functionality


In short the look of the new GF3 is stylish and clean.

Panasonic’s GF3 has been given a few softer curves this time around incorporating the round circular lens curves into the body shape, stepping away from the squarer finish of the GF1 and GF2. With the body size being reduced by around 17% and lenses staying the same size it was a wise move for Panasonic to look at reshaping the body, as the aesthetics have been improved with great success. In the process, they’ve also managed to shave off 15% of the weight… all without affecting the comfort and handling when in a users hands.

panasonic20111121c.jpgAs it seems the norm for all cameras in this class, as they reduce in size something ‘old-school’ seems to go missing with each technological advancement. The GF1 started out with a Program dial on the top of the camera to select ‘Modes’, and also had a ‘Hotshoe’ used for adding a larger external flash. When the GF2 came along it did away with the top Mode dial, incorporating it's functionality into the screen Menu, accessed by buttons next to the LCD. Now that the GF3 has arrived, Panasonic have said goodbye to the ‘Hotshoe’, and moved the pop-up flash that was previously to the right now into the center where the ‘Hotshoe’ occupied.

For those with an iPhone, the touch screen functionality will be instantly appealing. With the option to easily zoom in on a picture taken, ability to move around within that zoomed image and flick through shots is all very much smart phone stuff, and all without pressing a traditional button. Considering mobile phones have for years been lending technology from cameras, the same is finally being done in return. This also includes the way people can now take pictures on mobile phones – as an alternative of course to pushing the old-fashion 'button'. By just touching any place on the 'Live View' screen where you want to focus your composed image and holding your finger there, just like that... the picture is taken. No button pushing required. Even when trying to trick the camera through glass or focussing on small objects in busy pictures, the Panasonic GF3 user selective focus works amazing well.

Panasonic have not just stopped at incorporating a touch screen but added buttons to the screen to easily source more camera functionality, suggesting that if there was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF4 in production that there may be no need for buttons on the rear at all – working much in the same fashion as a smart phone.


Image Quality / Lens Quality

Panasonic have not taken their foot off the accelerator here with the reduction in size and weight of the unit, when it comes to image quality. Our GF3 test unit was accompanied with a 14mm pancake lens and produced sharp, beautiful quality images over and over thanks to a 12.1 megapixel Live MOS sensor. The 14mm prime lens is as good as it gets in this category of camera, with a steel mount to match the camera’s body which is generally, a reflection of camera manufacturing quality. At an RRP of $599 for the lens alone, the world’s lightest slim interchangeable single focal length lens (as they have been quoted), with 3 aspherical multi-coated lens elements has a 28mm wide angle (35mm camera equivalent) and f2.5 brightness.

panasonic20111121b.jpgOn the responsiveness side the GF3 has that well covered too, with another “world’s” fastest pinpoint auto focus speed, at approximately 0.1 second – if the speed improves I won’t be able to count any quicker…

The ISO on the Panasonic DMC-GF3 like its competitors, has improved and allows for shooting comfortably up to film speed equivalents of 1600 ISO. After this 3200 and 6400 ISOs become very grainy with image quality compromised as expected. But none the less, it’s great to see Panasonic pushing in the direction of finer grain at higher speeds. With the megapixel race virtually dead this is no doubt one of the areas where manufacturers are putting their energies into refining. Once the quality of 6400 ISO images begin looking like 400 ISO images, we can virtually say good bye to a reliance on flash photography… as cameras will see in the dark better than the people holding them, and the trusty old flash will become used in just a ‘fill’ lighting role.

Panasonic have this time around also opted for a pop-up flash where the hot shoe originally was, moving the flash closer to the lens. Although we did not test with any long lenses (in length), I suspect there may be a shadowing issue. Otherwise, the flash worked quite well and balanced up against natural light with pleasant results. Even holding the flash back on it hinges and bouncing light off a ceiling producing surprising great results.

One of the more fun, quirkier features worth mentioning is the ability to easily change focal depth within the 'Intelligent Auto+' setting. With a slide of a finger over the LCD screen you can change how much of the image in both the foreground / background stay in focus and also use the same on-screen slider bar to tweak white balance, and even image exposure compensation. But the real beauty of this function though is that the user doesn’t need to be a photographer or understand what ‘exposure compensation’ is to use it. In short, Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto+ just makes the stuff for pros, easy for everyone.


LCD / Viewfinder


As used in the GF1 and GF2, the Panasonic GF3 inherited pretty much the same TFT LCD Touch panel, featuring a 3.0 inch, 3:2 Aspect, Wide-viewing angle at a 460,000-dot resolution. Although the screen is bright and clear I’m surprised Panasonic did not take the opportunity to push the screen resolution higher and really 'wow' the user. So in the end the only real difference here is an additional tweak to the LCD for Contrast and Saturation (7 levels), Red tint (7 levels) and Blue tint (7 levels), on top of the existing Brightness (7 levels).



The DMC-GF3 has Full HD video capability with 1920x1080p AVCHD format recording. Coupled with Panasonic’s advanced Auto Focus system with full-time AF and AF tracking, shooting video is a breeze.

One particularly useful feature is the option to touch the LCD screen while recording and choose the focal point for the camera, then sit back and let the camera automatically track that subject / focal point as it moves through / within the frame. Furthermore, as this all happens the GF3 manages to continually adjust the focus settings for best results.

Rounding out the video features, Panasonic have included Dolby Digital Creator sound using a microphone positioned on the upper body where the flash was previously housed in the GF2 and GF1, delivering “true-to-life audio” as they say.






There is little going against the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 digital camera other than a missed opportunity to upgrade an LCD screen used in previous models.


However, the GF3 on so many fronts just gets it right. From retailer shelf appeal, to the quality of images it produces, to Full HD video recording and a bonus $100 price tag reduction from the GF2 to the GF3... this camera is definitely a contender for camera of the year. The Intelligent Auto+ features certainly makes it easy for happy snappers to achieve great images effortlessly. And coupled with a 3.0 TFT LCD Touch panel embracing all the functionality that is a buzz with smart-phones there is no doubting this camera is a winner.


This camera is highly recommended.


Appearance rating 5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars (from kit lenses)
Lens quality
5 stars (from kit lenses)
View finder / LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 4 star
RRP (AUD) $899
$899 single 14mm lens kit
RRP (AUD) $899
$899 single 14-42mm zoom lens kit
RRP (AUD) $999
$999 twin 14mm & 14-42mm lens kit
Effective Pixels 12.10 Mega pixels
Sensor Type
Live MOS Sensor
Image Sizes 3 Sizes / 4 Formats
Lenses 14mm/F2.5 ASPH Micro 4/3rds
Resolution Settings 4000 x 3000 pixels - 1440x1440 pixels
Shooting Modes 16 Still / 11 Movie
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds Stills: 1/4000 ~ 60
Motion: 1/16000 ~ 1/30 (NTSC), 1/16000 ~ 1/25 (PAL)
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO ISO 200 - 6,400
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 3.0inch/ 3:2 Aspect/ Wide-viewing angle, 460k Resolution
Viewfinder -
Flash TTL Built-in-Flash, GN6.3 equivalent (ISO 160 ・m), Built-in Pop-up
Hot Shoe No
White balance 15 settings: Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Flash / White Set 1, 2 / Color temperature setting / Portrait / Beauty skin / Sport / Flower / Collection / Baby / Pet / defocus control
Self Timer 10sec, 3 images/ 2sec/ 10sec
Video Options AVCHD with picture quality set to [FSH]: Approx. 160 min with H-FS014042 / Approx. 170 min with H-H014
Video Out Monaural Type, NTSC/PA, 
Storage Type SD memory card, SDHC memory card, SDXC memory card
Image / Audio Formats Still Image: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.3), RAW,
MPO (When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Thirds standard)
Connectivity miniHDMI TypeC
Power Source Charger included
Battery Options Li-ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 940mAh)
Battery Life Approx 320 images with H-FS014042
Dimensions 107.7 mm (W) x 67.1mm (H) x 32.5mm (D)
Weight 264g (inc. Battery & Memory card), 222g (body only)












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