Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 review
A highly capable, lightweight alternative to an SLR, but image quality isn't flawless and we miss its predecessor’s more hands-on controls
Review Date: 5 Jul 2011
Price when reviewed: £630
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
The G3 is the third generation of a camera that created a new subsection of the digital camera market. These models have large sensors and interchangeable lenses to give the image quality and flexibility of an SLR, but they omit optical viewfinders to keep their size and weight down.
The G3 is a big departure from the outgoing G2. It's even smaller and lighter, although the zoom lens and hump for the electronic viewfinder mean that it still has SLR-like proportions. Unlike the Panasonic GF2 or its recently announced successor, the Panasonic Lumix GF3, it won't squeeze into a pocket. We can't say we're impressed by the remodelled handgrip. The G2’s chunkier design felt more secure in the hand, and posed no practical problem as it was still much shorter than the kit lens. The battery is smaller, too; just 270 shots from a charge is disappointing.
We're happy to see the same electronic viewfinder as on previous models. Its 1.4-megapixel resolution and expansive size mean it's just as detailed as consumer SLRs' optical viewfinders. However, there's no longer a sensor to detect when the camera is raised to the eye, which on the G2 automatically switched between the 3in articulated LCD and the viewfinder. Having to switch manually took some getting used to, particularly when using the viewfinder to frame shots and wanting to jump quickly to the controls or touchscreen to adjust settings.
On the subject of controls, there are significantly fewer this time around. The dials and switches for selecting the drive mode, focus area and auto/manual focus have disappeared. So too have the AF/AE lock and depth-of-field preview buttons, although the Disp and Q.Menu buttons can be reassigned to these functions. After doing so, the Disp and Q.Menu buttons are still available on the touchscreen.
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