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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lumix DMC-G3 is a winner
Technicals for this camera have been expounded upon ad nauseum already and they are mostly good. So lets go in another direction.
I am a photographer who uses a Canon 5D2 DSLR with the Canon 24-70mm L lens as my every-day setup. It yields superb images for this format.
But, after years of using this combo, you start to feel weighed down ... I needed an...
Published on November 12, 2011 by mavn

versus
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cool camera at first look, but image quality not quite good.
It was a pretty cool camera and I used it as a back up camera for my canon 7D. Seconds I took it out for some test, the result was pathetic. But, of course, better than most DC such as sony T series. It was well built and I think the quality was good. However, I can not stand the digital viewfinder and relatively poor image, I returned it about a week after I received.
Published 21 months ago by Song


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lumix DMC-G3 is a winner, November 12, 2011
This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
Technicals for this camera have been expounded upon ad nauseum already and they are mostly good. So lets go in another direction.
I am a photographer who uses a Canon 5D2 DSLR with the Canon 24-70mm L lens as my every-day setup. It yields superb images for this format.
But, after years of using this combo, you start to feel weighed down ... I needed an alternative to "shlepping" this setup when going on a casual hike or family outing. I ALSO wanted a backup to the Canon 5D2 for those photo trips/assignments where the Canon setup might become inoperative ... sure, I could get another 5D2 body and get weighed down even MORE ... no thanks.
My solution, at this time, is the Panasonic Lumix G3. For now I use it with the 14-140mm Panny OIS zoom lens (I don't particularly like the kit lens that comes with the camera). I also particularly like the Panny 20mm f/1.7 lens which is tiny. The G3 is NO Canon 5D2, BUT it is very convenient and the images are very good compared to what most lightweight cameras can do. It took me awhile to be confident enough to trust this camera for images that I care about capturing, but it does a pretty good job considering the relatively low price of admission.
YES, there may be better small cameras coming out (usually you're obsolete in 4 months after your purchase of a small camera).
The Sony NEX-7 looks promising. If it lives up to its promise, it will probably edge out the G3 in image quality, BUT at twice the price.
The inexpensive G3 fills a niche for me: as a fun camera which I have confidence in and as a backup for my DSLR. The 4 stars represents the combination of G3 value and performance for me at this point in time. And lets not forget the G3's "fun" factor.

UPDATE March 2012: I've purchased Panasonic's new micro 4/3 14-42mm "Power" "X" zoom lens from Amazon and it has become my new walking around lens. The quality of the images that this lens produces is remarkable, certainly exceeding my expectations. Now I trust this camera/lens combination even more than before. This new lens/camera combo requires a Panasonic firmware update for best performance, but it's very easy to do. The zoom lever is necessarily on the lens and that position takes a bit of getting used to, but it is silent and the lens zoom is right in the range that I prefer. Bravo. I raise my rating to 5 stars with the proviso that this new setup is still no 5D2, but is great for what it is.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally the True Heir to the GF1. Another winner from Panasonic, September 8, 2011
This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
If you look at the controls on the G3 they look remarkable similar

If you have looked on with dismay as Panasonic abandoned the enthusiast small M4/3 and instead chases a smaller and smaller and dumber and dumber form factor with the GF line, then you now have a reason to be happy. It appears Panasonic is positioning the G3 as the successor to the GF1. They might not know that but that is how I view it. Viewed as a replacement to the G2, the G3 is a bit of a let down. Much the way the GF2 was compared to the GF1. However, the G3 is a great replacement to the GF1. It is a little bigger but not that much. The physical controls are the same but now there is touch screen controls and to make up for many of the missing physical controls there are the C1 and C2 modes on the mode selector. a Before continuing something that very few people seem to understand with these camera systems is the lens, not the camera body, determines how big the camera is. I will use extremes to illustrate the point. Put a 14mm f/2.5 on a GH2 and it seems very small. You can't put it in a shirt pocket but it will fit inside a jacket pocket. Also, you can get it in a very small carry case. It is so small and light I use a wrist strap and not a neck strap. Put a 100-300mm on a GF3 and it is going to be huge and because of the form factor really unusable.

The first thing to note about the G3 is the price is $699. That is $100 cheaper than the G1 or G2 at launch and $200 cheaper than the GF1. In addition to being $200 cheaper than the GF1, the G3 has a built in EVF (would have been nicer rangefinder style) and a swivel screen.

Another nice change from the G2 and the GF line is the new sensor. Panasonic and Olympus have been using a 3 generation old sensor in every m4/3 line except the GH line. The G3 now has a new 16mp sensor and updated image processing engine. The G3 takes slightly better pictures than the GH2.

As far as IQ goes, the m4/3 are not as good as DX sensors and they never will be as good. The same way as DX sensors will never be as good as FX sensors. All else being equal. With that said, IQ merits some discussion as most people don't really understand it and most "professional" review sites confuse the whole issue. Here is everything you need to understand on the issue. First every generation of sensors the differences between m4/3, DX, and FX decreases. At some point the difference become negligible. Where that point is depends on what you want to do. IQ is very dependent on the size of what you are going to do with the image. I think for the vast majority of what people are doing, the differences are already negligible. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean. The biggest of computer monitors is right at 3.6mp. Most are around 2mp. That means to view a medium format 40mp image on a (2mp) monitor you are only using 5% of the image data. The rest is getting thrown away. For a 16mp image you are using 12.5% of the data. So that means noise, detail etc is getting thrown away as you deres the image. The same goes with printing. The human eye can see 200-300 dots per inch (A useful piece of information is monitors used to be 72 dpi and are somewhere around 96 dpi. That means if you blow an image up to 100% on your computer screen you are effectively magnifying by 2 to 3. Therefore, the images at 100% on the computer monitor are not going to look as good as on paper) Using 200 dpi, that means you need 2000x1600 pixels to print a decent 8x10. If you do the math that means you need 3.2mp to print an 8x10. (At 300 dpi you would need 7.2mp) That means for a 16mp image you are using 20% of the data. If this fits what you are doing, then any IQ differences are not important for you. As you start printing larger than this, the difference can be noticeable.

Where these m4/3 cameras excel is handling. The GH2 is the king, in my opinion, for handling. The controls are so well laid out it is a breeze to do anything you want quickly. Additionally, the contrast based auto focus is so fast, that live view is exceedingly useable. The swivel screen gives you huge options over a hold up to the eye only or a fixed back screen. You can hold the camera way over your head or way down by your feet and still frame the image.

On top of that is the light weight. It has gotten to the point that I don't travel with my Nikon D7000 at all. I only keep and use that for portrait/wedding/event type photography (I did however just shoot a wedding with m4/3 only. The 100-300 was my primary lens. It is a little slow but still grabbed some amazing shots). I usually travel with 2 GH series bodies, 5-8 lenses, and an iPad all in a Domke F4 bag. (With my G3 I will now travel with 3 bodies) All of this weighs right around 10 lbs. You could also just carry the 7-14, 14-140, and 100-300 lenses and cover from 14mm to 600mm equivalent with 3 lenses. All of these lenses can be attached to 3 camera bodies and in the F4. You could even add a 4th body and add the 20mm f/1.4. That would still fit in the F4 and weigh in around 10lbs.

I don't really do that much with video so I am not really going to comment that much on it. However, video on the G3 is far easier and more useable than any DSLR except for the Sony A33/55. Also, there is a built in stereo mic but no external connector. I don't think the latter is big deal for most people.

Construction on the G3 is very nice. It is the first of panasonic m4/3 which uses aluminum in the construction instead of all plastic.

Handgrip. I am a little disappointed at the loss of the handgrip as it is essentially free. I am still not sure how I feel about the new hand "bump" especially for the bigger lenses. I will have to report on that one later. If you are coming from a GF1 then this is a step up. Since the old handgrip was shorter than the shortest lens, I am not sure what we are really gaining by this. It also means the loss of space for the battery so Panasonic had to use a smaller battery. I believe it is the same as the GF2. The smaller batteries means less pictures so make sure you have a spare. It is rated at 270 shots but a secret with Panasonic m4/3 is to turn your camera off after shooting. Doing that I get around 750-800 shots. I also have the auto review switched off.

For anyone who is new to a more complicated camera, Panasonic has two very cool features to make it a little easier to use. The first is Program shift mode and the newest one, only on the G3 right now, is iAuto+. The program shift mode obsoletes the Aperture priority mode. As you press the button half way down to get the exposer numbers. You can then rotate the thumbwheel to goto a bigger aperture (smaller DOF) or larger aperture (larger DOF). The iAuto+ now allows you to adjust white balance, exposure compensation, and aperture (defocus control). This is a very handy feature and is good for the expert and beginner alike. For the expert you can now stay in iAuto more often when in a fast moving shooting situation. The camera will recognize the scene and make hundreds of changes to make the scene look best as possible. You can now easily change the exposure and work the aperture. For the beginner, you can start in iA. After getting comfortable with that you can now start playing with aperture and exposure (the 2 most important controls in my opinion) while still having the "safety" of iAuto. When you get more comfortable with that then moving to P mode is an easy jump. With program shift there are not many reasons to shift over to A or M mode but when you need to it is there for you.

Auto ISO and iAuto ISO. Auto is based on light level and iAuto is based on light level and movement of subject.

MF Assist The manual focus for m4/3 lenses is fly-by-wire. That means there are no stops. On the first generation G bodies it was horrible. On second generation Panasonic added a scale marker which was really nice. On this generation, Panasonic added picture in picture for manual focus assist. This is a really nice feature as I can focus and frame at the same time. The m4/3 allows the use of just about any lens made. However, you lose auto focus. So for those with old film lenses there is probably an adaptor that can allow it to fit on the m4/3. For that purpose and when auto focus has trouble the new manual focus assist is very nice.

I mentioned before the loss of physical controls on the camera. For enthusiast this is a step backwards. For newbies this is probably a good thing. The touch screen implementation is very nice but I am still not convinced I like it better than physical controls. However, for enthusiast the loss of these controls is partially made up for with the C1 and C2 modes. Now before you get into the fray, you can set the camera up for 2 custom modes and then just switch between the modes. Therefore, you don't need to do as much fiddling. Also, Q menu and Display buttons are now programmable functions buttons. Therefore, if there is some function you use a lot and can't get to easily, now you can put it on one of these buttons. Panasonic's menus aren't that great. So I recommend leaving the Q menu button as is. It relieves a ton of scrolling through menus. I rarely ever use the Display button, I think the most I use it is when I am trying to go back to the display I want after it was accidentally touched.

A big loss is the auto switch between EVF and screen. On the previous Gs and GHs, there was a sensor to determine if your eye was up to the EVF. If so it switched off the back screen and switched on the EVF. Now you will have to use the button to switch. Bad move from my perspective. However, if you are coming from a GF1 or P+S, the fact that it has an EVF is a big plus.

Overall, this camera has amazing capabilities in a small light and easily accessible package. The handling on these cameras is amazing and the camera gets out of the way to let you do what you want to do. This camera has so many capabilities there is no way to review them all in one of these reviews. If you have any specific questions, please ask in a comment and I will get back with you as soon as possible.

I have the Red version. My wife says with the RED version of the G3 you can't help but smile when you see it. So I am hoping for some great pictures.

Pros
Amazing handling - Not as good as GH2 but almost - For me GH2 is best in the business for handling
Small- Not pocketable but then again neither is the G12, LX5, OZ1, or P7000 and this camera spanks all of the above mentioned cameras for IQ and features.
Light
Nice construction - Some aluminum
Nice new feature set (focus assist, iAuto+, C1+2, F1+2, etc)
Nice new sensor
Best high ISO of any m4/3 so far - ISO 1600 JPGs good and ISO 3200 usable for on screen
Very good GF1 replacement

Cons
No auto switch between back screen and EVF. This is almost unforgivable and is a huge pain. However, seeing that DSLRs don't have auto switch and neither does most anything else besides the Panasonic line, it should not be a deciding factor. Just a big irritation for no reason.
Disappointing G2 replacement - Panasonic still has yet to make a high end enthusiast/pro stills focused camera.
Same mediocre shutter specs - 1/4000 and 1/160 or worse flash sync
No electronic shutter
IQ not as good as DX or better (However, better than my 3 year old DX Nikon D300)
Smaller battery due to loss of grip
No social networking features

Buying Considerations

Someone Stepping Up to a "DSLR" category camera
Of the Panasonic m4/3 this is a great one to start with. Lots of features but accessible. The only other m4/3 I would currently consider is either of the GH cameras. (GH1 is $399 for body only). Olympus still has 3 generation old sensor and molasses slow focus. (From what I have seen, Olympus is about to announce a new PEN camera that uses a new 12mp (I am glad they are stopping at 12 as that is more than enough) and new lenses that feature blazing fast autofocus (faster than the G3). If it pans out it could be the new camera to own. Of note, Olympus made the Pro lenses for the 4/5 cameras and they were great. They are bringing out a 12mm f/2.8 for $800. So this is going to be for enthusiast or pros.)

Someone who already Owns a M4/3
For the G1 and GH1 this is a very good trade up. Skipping each generation is actually a good technique. The G2 was a huge disappointment for me so this even makes sense as an upgrade over the G2 since that camera had the same sensor as the G1. None of the Olympus has an EVF built in or a swivel screen. They do have better IQ generally and internal image stabilization. The autofocus is also really slow. To me the handling and auto focus speed trump the other considerations so I think the Panasonic is better. Others prefer the cache of the PEN. If it is form over function, then stick with PEN otherwise G3. Do take note of what I wrote above about new PEN.

Someone who owns a DSLR and is tired of lugging the weight and wants a portable high quality camera.
This is a great choice. The price is only $200 more than the advanced compact cameras. None of them can approach the G3 for what it can do. It is not pocketable but neither are they. A G3 with the 14mm, 25mm, and 45mm primes makes for a very lightweight and portable system that can cover just about any situation.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Camera With Lots Of Features, September 1, 2011
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This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
Purchased the G-3 with 14-42 kit lens plus a 45-200 and 20mm lens for travel. I am a serious digital outdoor/travel photographer but tired of traveling with 28+ pounds of pro. level equipment. I was looking for a "go light" quality built camera with lot of features and adjustments. It came down to the Panasonic Lumix G-3 or Olympus Pen. The Panasonic won the contest because it has both and high quality LCD screen AND a high quality viewfinder (although it is electronic not optical.) In addition the LCD screen folder out and rotates270 degrees which is a very handy feature. If you want a smaller 4/3 camera and are happy with just the LCD (no viewfinder) the Olympus may be a bit better camera. The G-3 is much much lighter and smaller than my Canon 5D. The only serious limitation is with the available reasonably priced lenses, the are relatively slow compared to more expensive 35mm camera lenses. This is the reason for the 20mm lens, at F1.7 it is better for lowlight indoor or outdoor shooting.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful HDR camera; high level dslr-quality resolution, April 26, 2012
This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
For HDR afficionados this a wonderful camera. One little known feature of the Panny G-series is that it has really generous exposure auto-bracketing. The G1 and G2 will auto-bracket 7 exposures at 2/3 of an f-stop (so total +-2). The G3 expands that to a full f-stop per bracket for a total +-3, and to that you add greatly improved high-ISO performance. So unquestionably the best hand-held HDR camera on the planet. It also has a pretty decent in-camera HDR feature.

I actually prefer the handling of my G1 to this G3. The G1 has a little bit bigger bump on the right side and the surface is a nice grippy rubber. This camera is much smaller and made of slippery enameled metal. They also stripped off some of the hardware controls from the G1 -- you have to do more with menus in the G3, which is a pity.

But everything else that I love about the G1 is there in the G3. The picture resolution is remarkable -- comparable to a Canon T2i/T3i, which is to say it captures as much detail as you're going to get short of lugging around a $3,000 full frame DSLR. (a good place to see this in action is the Imaging Resources Comparometer -- just google it and try it out. The G3's resolution is better, somehow, than the average consumer DSLR.)

The Panny lenses are expensive but almost without exception terrific. The 14-45 (which shipped with the G1 and can be bought separately; much better than the 14-42 that ships with the G3 kit) is just a wonderful walking around lens, small, versatile and razor sharp.

The downside of the G1 is speed in medium and low light. So it wouldn't be your best camera for sports indoors or on a cloudy day. The G3's low light performance is so much improved it may have closed that gap, but you do your own research on that point -- I don't shoot sports or a lot of birthday parties.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic image quality from a modest sized camera, September 10, 2011
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This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
I have used the G2 for over a year and loved it. The G3 is a step up with higher resolution, slightly better noise, and a truly usable touch-screen interface. The Lumix lenses are top-notch, too. For low-ISO work, the results from this camera are every bit as good as from my Nikon full-frame D700. Being light and compact, it's a great travel outfit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great downsize from a DSLR, October 24, 2012
This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
I have owned my G3 for about a year now and have never regretted buying it. I moved "down" from a Canon 450d with 4 lenses (17-70mm f2.8 Sigma, 50mm f1.8 Canon, 70-300mm Canon and a 10-22mm Canon)due to bulk and enormous weight that was burdensome on vacation and even on local trips. I wanted to downsize and could not see the point in going with a micro 2/3rds without a built-in, no extra cost, viewfinder when the G3 was available with a free viewfinder and a swivel screen. The downsize has been bliss as I now have the G3 body plus the 14-45mm MIJ "kit +" lens and a superlative 45-200mm. It all fits in a kit bag about one third of the size of my Canon gear and the weight saving is extreme--no more aching back and neck. Viewing the pictures on a 42 inch high end Panasonic Neo-Plasma and the results are every bit as good as my Canon--maybe even a little better with more contrast and slightly sharper. The ability to take HD movies without the complications of a mirror opens up a new world and the results are extremely good. The touch screen was daunting at first but once you have used it once or twice it becomes second nature and extremely easy to use. The ability to move around focusing areas according to order is a big plus for me.

Downside: Battery life is very poor and you will need to buy a decent cheapo on Amazon--mine is just as good as the rip-off factory offering. The EVF is not as good as a glass pentaprism on an SLR. But the EVF on the G3 gives a huge view and once you get used to it you do not really miss the old system. If you are into easily blurred backgrounds you will find depth of field is much larger the smaller the sensor. Panasonic lenses are very expensive-but quality does seem a cut above the prosumer plastic Canon and Nikon put out. TBH, I found my Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 to be vastly superior to the standard kit offerings from Canon or Nikon. You can opt for equally excellent Olympus 2/3rds glass but you lose on the image stabilising facility as Olys have it built into the body.

If bulk and weight were not an issue, I would probably have stayed with Canon (upgraded to T4i/650d) but I really wanted to downsize and I give the G3 a highly recommended score. Now that I have become used to the huge weight saving I would never go back to a larger camera. The price as of writing is bargain basement and that is probably because the G5 is out and it does not seem to offer much more other than a slighly larger body (a negative), better battery life and a useful AE lock button.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome for the price?, December 10, 2012
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This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
I've owned in the past, the canon 20-30-40-D w/24-70 2.8L and 70-200 2.8 L IS and a 100mm 2.8 macro. I sold them 3 yrs. ago because I never took them anywhere! 2 months ago I discovered for myself the m4/3 system. I bought a G3 and the 14mm 2.5. Since then I've added the 25mm PL and the 45 1.8 Oly. These lenses w/ the G3 are equal in every way to that previous system( not the same focal length) except I actually take them, in a small shoulder bag, everywhere! With the addition of several high quality lenses ( I lust for the 60mm Oly macro and the 75mm 1.8 Oly) you can make a wonderful kit. And, at $299, the G3 is going to be my 2nd body also. The G5 is intriguing @ $499, but I really want an OMD-EM5. However with the pace of advancement in this genre of camera systems, I've decided to wait a while for better prices ( 6 mo. perhaps). The G3 has wonderful ergonomics for advance camera usage, an excellent electronic viewfinder and a nifty articulating screen with touch function abilities( touch focus and shoot is awesome)! Probably its only drawback is low light usage even with fast lenses. I'd expect significant advances in the sensor over the next 1-2 yrs. The EM5 has a better sensor and in-body stabilization, which is its advantage and why I want one. But at 3-4 times the price of the G3, I'll wait! Some might say, " why not the epm2 or the epl-5?". Quite simply,lack of EVF and ergonomics. Like I said, I'll wait!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for amateur and pro alike!, October 16, 2011
This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
I am an amateur photographer looking to break into the photography world and this camera has really helped me step up my game. I have another camera, a Canon powershot S5-IS and it could never get the photos as fast as I wanted them to. Kids were horrible for me to photograph because they don't sit still. I have now successfully shot 4 different familys' and have been been able to keep up with all the kids, the parents working with the kids and all the silly little faces in between.

It has been very easy to learn, even in the beginning when I was just playing with the auto settings this camera really did great and has only gotten better.

I have a soft spot for my canon as I have had it for so long, but I think this has become my main camera without me even noticing. It slipped into my photo shoots to effortlessly that I didn't even notice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Camera, December 6, 2012
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This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
I have owned Roliecord, twin lens reflex, Linhof Technica 2 1/4 x3 1/4 press camera, and several Olympus single lens reflex 35mm cameras in the past 50 years, however for about 15 years I have relied on several point and shoot digital cameras. I wanted to improve my photo results, but didn't want the size and bulk of DSLR cameras. I need the eye level view finder due to my age and tremor, and the articulating 3" screen is a real advantage for certain shooting angles. The camera is very easy to use in manual mode as well as the iA automatic mode. There is a very good selection of micro four thirds lenses for this camera. I have had very good success with this camera. The autofocus is fast and manual focus is quite easy and accurate. In short, this camera is a very good step up from point and shoot digital cameras
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Camera, November 26, 2012
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This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD (Body Only) (Electronics)
Compact feature loaded camera. I has all the things I need without the wight of my Nikon DSLR's and glass when I don't need them. Great image quality and video.
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