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254 of 263 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy so far. Compared to Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1
Forgot to check Amazon reviews before buying this, but glad I didn't because the camera is quite good for my needs and I might not have bought it based on the mixed and sparse reviews on Amazon. I did look at "professional" reviews on photographyblog and dpreview, which were much more positive.

I was deciding between the new Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1, Sony NEX...
Published on December 3, 2011 by SmartShopper

versus
107 of 119 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Micro Four Thirds w 14-42 lens Update
I am not a pro photographer. I don't usually make money off of my photos but I like good photos. I am mainly a very enthusiastic amateur portrait photographer. Anything that gets in front of my camera is fair game so.

The camera:
I bought this camera to fit a specific niche. I'm not looking to retire my DSLR. I don't want a bunch of lenses for this...
Published on July 12, 2012 by li'l bamboo


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254 of 263 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy so far. Compared to Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1, December 3, 2011
Forgot to check Amazon reviews before buying this, but glad I didn't because the camera is quite good for my needs and I might not have bought it based on the mixed and sparse reviews on Amazon. I did look at "professional" reviews on photographyblog and dpreview, which were much more positive.

I was deciding between the new Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1, Sony NEX C3, and GF3. Tried out the Olympus and GF3, and decided on the GF3. I got a better price on the GF3 than I could for the Pen Mini, but that was just icing on the cake, because the features on the GF3 meet my needs better.

Similarities between GF3 and E-PM1:
--body size about the same
--similar price range
--Micro Four-Thirds sensor
--both are the budget, easy-to-use version of their respective camera families
--instant-record movie button
--kit zoom lens 14-42mm
--neckstrap
--to my layman eyes the photo quality was about the same, as was auto-focus speed, though E-PM1 is billed as having the fastest auto-focus in this category.

The features that put the GF3 over the top for me:
--Price. I got a great deal on the GF3. Sony was just too expensive, though I've read great things about photo quality
--GF3 touchscreen, while not very responsive (resistive screen you have to press down on, rather than capacitive screen like iPhone), is very useful for quick adjustments. It just makes the camera easier to use, much like an iPad is easier to use than a laptop. Deleting batches of photos is much easier than using buttons. So is scrolling around a photo you're reviewing in close-up. You can also touch to change the subject of focus, like on an iPhone.
--Flash is built in--not so on the Pen Mini or NEX. I'm not an "enthusiast" and have no intention of ever buying an external flash or viewfinder, so lack of a hotshoe was not an issue. Flash can also be tilted up to the ceiling (with some finger dexterity) to do a bounce-flash that brightens up indoor photos without that nasty flash look. Other 2 cameras come with a small add-on flash, but that's just too much trouble.
--I like the physical on-off switch rather than the Pen Mini's button
--Menus and options were slightly more intuitive, though I admit my previous camera was a Panasonic as well, so I may be used to their menus.
--In addition to dedicated movie button, there's a dedicated "iA" full-auto button, which my wife can press to go to full-auto mode without digging into menus (it lights up).
--Big lens cap seems easier to handle.
--Comes with lens hood, which I might not use but is nice to be included.
--Battery charger is a one-piece mini brick with prongs built in, making it very portable. E-PM1 comes with a brick with power cord attachment.

I can't speak to other reviewers' issues with the pancake lens (since I don't have it) nor the flash durability (since I've only had the camera a week).

About the Pen Mini:
--Body is about the same size as the GF3, but the kit zoom lens is smaller (shorter and narrower)
--Stabilization is in the body, not the lens like GF3. From what I read this is supposed to be an advantage, but I think it was adding noises to the videos I took (turning off stabilization stopped the noises). I haven't noticed similar noises in GF3 videos with stabilization on.
--Lock on the lens to close it (but not open it) started to get annoying quickly.
--Flash was impressive--power is adjustable, and I think it auto-adjusts based on subject distance. From what I can see of the GF3, it fires full-power all the time, which can make photos look washed out. Fortunately the bounce-flash trick mentioned above avoids that problem.
--Neck strap attachment loops are hinged and tends to kind of make click-clack noises when handling the camera.

About me: my main photo subject is my 2 yr old daughter, so I was looking for a camera that would focus quickly, take decent pics in indoor light without flash, and still be small enough to throw in the diaper bag with room to spare for, well, diapers and stuff. These criteria rule out bulky SLRs, and most point-and-shoots. For my daughter's first 2 years I had the Panasonic LX-3, a "high-end point-and-shoot". The LX-3 produces great pics in good light, and decent pics in low light, but I find the focus is too slow (esp. in low light) now that my daughter is moving around (a LOT).

Long review and naturally biased toward the GF3, but I hope it helps your decision process!
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125 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great option for point and shoot upgraders who are willing to invest into the system, December 28, 2011
I think how you feel about this camera is really going to depend on where you're coming from. If you're a DSLR shooter and are looking for a portable body you're likely going to be frustrated by the lack of control points on this camera.

On the other hand, for those upgrading from a point and shoot camera like myself, this camera can be ideal. I came from a Canon S90, which I purchased a couple of years ago looking for a camera that does a better job in low light than the typical point and shoot. The S95 was definitely a step up from what I had before, but more recently I've become frustrated with the limitations of the sensor and was also interested in exploring the world of interchangeable lenses.

What I didn't want, however, was to get a full DSLR. Portability is extremely important to me, any camera that can't be slipped into a coat pocket or small bag is simply useless to me. No, the GF3 can't fit into a pants pocket like my S95 did, but it's still massively smaller than even the smallest DSLRs and it's amongst the smallest models in the mirrorless camera class.

With small size taken care of, the next question is how good is the image quality? If you're stepping up from a high-end point and shoot like I am you're probably not going to notice a major difference in good lighting conditions, but where the GF3 blows my old S95 away is in low light situations. This performance does come with a caveat, however, which is that you need the right lens on the camera in order to get the low light performance you want. If you are not going to buy any additional lenses beyond the kit you're not going to see any benefit over a high end point and shoot and you should probably consider one of those cameras (Canon S100, Olympus XZ-1, Fuji X100).

In my case I was happy to go out and purchase the 20mm f/1.7 Panasonic lens for low light photography. This lens allows me shoot at shutter speeds ranging from 1/40 to 1/100 of a second in very low light situations, at ISOs that would have ended up unacceptably grainy on my S90 (1600 or 3200). The result is that I'm getting indoor shots of pets and kids that I simply wasn't able to get before.

Now, some people coming from a pro level camera will probably tell you that I'm crazy to shoot at ISO 3200 with this camera, but if you're coming from a point and shoot you'll find the noise so much better that it will be hard to notice. Yes there is a slight grain to shots, but it's very fine and if all you're doing is sharing photos on Facebook or via email it's barely noticeable. I wouldn't push it to 6400 ISO, however.

What about controls? In my case I find that the combination of the four-way controller, rotating dial and touch screen give me all the control points I want or need. I've got the FN button assigned to ISO control, and access Metering, Image Size and Flash controls via the touch screen Quick Menu, which can be customized to include a wide variety of controls. The four-way controller then gives me access to all the other controls I want: drive mode, white balance, focus point and exposure compensation. I shoot mostly in Program or Aperture Priority mode and am very happy with how quickly I can adjust my settings.

So, bottom line, if you're upgrading from a point and shoot and are willing to take advantage of the fact that this is an interchangeable lens camera to buy the lens(es) that fit your needs, this can be a great upgrade camera for point and shooters. Don't forget that the real long-term investment is in the lenses, you can always upgrade to a better body in the future and continue to use whichever great lenses you purchase on those future bodies, one of the great features of a camera system like this.
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No regrets. This camera is sexy., December 3, 2011
I got this kit about a week ago at Target. It was a deal I couldn't pass up: $400 with a free $75 Target gift card. I'd been obsessively researching system cameras for a few months, and I thought I had narrowed it down to either the Canon T2i or the Nikon D3100. I wanted something that could do full HD as well as sophisticated focus pulling. I was pretty sure I wanted something that could shoot at 24 fps, but this deal got me rethinking that. The more I read, the more I realized that you don't really need 24 fps to get that film look, that there are other factors that go into profession looking shots. I wanted to be able to achieve the rack focus effect of pulling the focus from the background to the foreground or between different subjects in the frame. With the touchscreen and the crazy-fast autofocus on the GF3, all you have to do is point where you want to focus. It makes it so simple, and if you want more controll, you can still focus manually. The mic is mono, but I decided I could live with that because I can alway use an external recorder and microphone and add the audio track to the clips later, which would lead to better sound anyway. The lack of viewfinder option is a little disappointing, but I'm over it. I may eventually get a third party LCD viewfinder for shooting in sunlight.

I had no trouble importing clips to Corel Videostudio and editing them.
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107 of 119 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Micro Four Thirds w 14-42 lens Update, July 12, 2012
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I am not a pro photographer. I don't usually make money off of my photos but I like good photos. I am mainly a very enthusiastic amateur portrait photographer. Anything that gets in front of my camera is fair game so.

The camera:
I bought this camera to fit a specific niche. I'm not looking to retire my DSLR. I don't want a bunch of lenses for this camera. I have all Pro Glass for my DSLR. I'm not going to shoot any production videos with this camera as my DSLR shoots also video. The niche was for me to have available a camera that is smaller and lighter than my DSLR with nearly the same range coverage. During a trip to Europe a few years ago I realized that nearly half of the several thousand photos I took were with my P&S. I realized in some situations a smaller camera can be advantageous. I've seen these micro four thirds in action and I liked the idea of being able to shoot RAW instead of JPEG. This is a personal preference. I didn't buy this camera to replace my DSLR. For me it is a walk around / scout camera. The size and weight advantage this camera are evident at 17 ounces it beats carrying my 5 pound DSLR. I also got a 45-200 lens to go along with my 'kit' so at somewhere just over 2.5 pounds I have nearly as much range as 30 pounds of DSLR and three lenses with flash.

I like the fact that I'm able to 'set up' the different modes to my liking. I tend to use more sharpness to my photos and I have that ability with this camera.

dislikes out of the box: This is the second Panasonic camera that I have. Both of them have this really flimsy battery/card access door. There is no question that anywhere near water this could be a problem. There was also a noticeable gap along the bottom where the two halves of the body joined.

Overall I like the camera's size. It is a little awkward feeling in the beginning simply because of the lens being nearly as big as the camera. This awkwardness quickly goes away. For me out of the box the camera is pretty simple to operate. The small pamphlet type of instructions are mainly people who don't know about cameras to get the pieces of the camera to fit together. If you are familiar with cameras then it really isn't very useful. The instruction manual is on a disc. I'd prefer a real manual as I tend to carry my camera manuals in my camera bag or a cheat sheet.

I've had this camera for about a month. I've done a few different 'events' with it. The first night I had it I took it to my photo club meet and took photos indoors shooting at ISO 1600. The results of those photos weren't bad. A little more noise in the darker areas of the room but that is to be expected at higher ISOs. I experimented with the Auto ISO and found that it wasn't as intuitive as I like. I tried a couple shots with the AI mode and figured that didn't work for me. I experimented with ISO 3200 in a restaurant party room and found that there was way to much noise for my liking.

I've taken close to 500 photos with this camera in a month. In most situations this camera is really nice to have around. I did take it along on a photo club outing and I gotta tell you that in direct sunlight was a major fail. Nearly all of those helpful screen aids become nearly impossible to see.

The LED screen has many features and I like them for the most part. The touch screen is really nice. The menu selection isn't as intuitive as I'd like, but I typically tend to not change settings all that often during a shoot. I tend to run several of the 'accessory' style features like the histogram, display and grid. These seem to use a lot of battery power. I spent nearly twelve hours on a short road trip with this camera taking nearly a hundred photos and by the time I got home I had two bars on the battery. Not great but then again with all the extra stuff on the LED going too it really isn't all that bad. I typically like to leave my cameras on when I'm walking around. I turned this camera on and off during the long day. I worked around the bright sunlight and when I was out of the direct sun the camera functioned very well.

I tried to use the editing program that came with the camera. I have already several editing programs and really didn't need this program taking space on my computer. Part of the reason I don't use this camera's editing program is that the first time you open the program it will attempt to catalog every photo on your computer and external drive. As I have several thousand photos on my external drive this takes a very long time. I just modified my work flow a bit as the Panasonic RAW files apparently covered by my version of Photo Shop, but are in Lightroom. So instead of having the program automatically download the new photos into their own folder I create it and cut and paste them. I've noticed that the Panasonic movie files don't transfer automatically. You need to move them yourself.

Conclusion:
The camera fits pretty well the niche I wanted it to fill. There really isn't a macro capability with this camera unless you get a macro lens. I'm pretty much back to using my P&S for that. There are times when a macro lens is handy. The camera has a macro selection but that tends to be more of a bokeh style function than macro.
The camera strap is to short and the small nature of the body means that finding something longer might be an issue unless you come up with a hack. A couple of small key ring holders would work to put a longer strap on. The battery life is a little short especially if you are using the 45-200 lens with the IS switch.
The camera won't fit in your pocket if you don't have a pancake lens on it. You'll need a bag. I have a small military surplus bag that I carry the camera in. I don't so much like the idea of a wrist strap as they aren't all that practical for me.

If you are looking for a nice camera that takes good quality photos, is easy to operate and yet has DSLR capabilities then this is a camera worth taking a look.
2012_07_17 Update:
I've had this camera combo for several weeks and have taken close to 500 photos with it. I believe the newness has finally worn off and while I like the camera still I am disappointed with its overall performance photo wise. I've been shooting photos with this camera in low light situations and at sunrise. I'm finding that the noise level at 400 ISO isn't what I think it should be. Then again I'm use to a Canon 5Dmkii and have no issues with using 1600 ISO with that camera. The grain is very noticeable @ 400 ISO with the Panasonic even about a half hour after sunrise. It is hard to get a tack sharp photo with the telephoto lens extended partially out. I don't think it should be an issue at ISO 800 but apparently with this camera the noise is terrible. Even with the IS function it is very difficult to get a hand held shot. I think there is room for improvement with the technology. I've lowered my rating of this camera to 3 stars because I'm having lots of difficulty taking photos with this camera during the time I normally take photos which is low light and sunrise. I also find the menus a bit cumbersome and non intuitive.
It can take a decent portrait shot when there is nice available light. So if this is when you take most of your photos then this is a terrific camera. I like the weight and its potential reach with the long lens. I think there needs to be more improvement. I can say it is a good camera. Would I recommend it? I think yes with the caveat of if you are using it for fun photos it is a good camera. If you are looking to entry level DSLR quality this probably isn't the best example.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tiny Body, Mighty Power, March 29, 2012
My husband and I recently bought this camera and were able to test it out in Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival. We were upgrading from an old point and shoot and a couple of camera phones so neither of us has much real photography experience.

We were instantly surprised with how easy the camera is to pick up and start snapping with. With the guts close to that of a DSLR but the size of a point and shoot, the camera is small enough to fit into a jacket pocket but mighty enough to get incredible detail (sorry camera phone... I don't think we can see each other anymore). I've read some complaints that with the longer lens the camera feels unbalanced, but the only time I ever noticed this was in between shots when the camera was hanging around my neck. In my hands it felt great.

The camera did a beautiful job handling close up pictures of the individual blossoms as well as getting great shots of rows of trees. The auto-focus setting made the camera feel just like a point and shoot which made both of us instantly more comfortable playing around with some of the other settings. Looking at the photos on the computer we are thrilled with the quality of the shots and the depth of field that is produced. With little to no effort on our part the pictures came out with beautiful color and detail.

The only negative we've found so far is that the battery life seems to leave a little to be desired. By the end of the day we were opting to turn the camera off in between shots to conserve power. We have since picked up another battery which quickly makes this a minor issue. Also in the camera's favor, even when we were shutting the camera completely off between shots, it only took a matter of seconds to get it turned back on and photo ready. Short of the rapid spontaneous shots, this camera should be able to boot back up in plenty of time should you need to save some juice.

Over all this camera has exceeded our initial expectations and seems to be a great entry level camera for those toying with the idea of a DSLR. The price is great, and for those coming from a point and shoot, the results will knock you off your feet.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice camera, but didn't focus well with pancake lens, November 2, 2011
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I own the older version of this camera (GF1) and was looking for something smaller to capitalize on the compactness of the micro 4/3 system. The GF3 is significantly smaller than the GF1, small enough that I could carry it in my jeans pocket with only a slight bulge (the old camera wouldn't fit at all!).

The camera is a 'downgrade' functionality wise because it loses the mode dial, hotshoe and real jog dial of its ancestor but nevertheless functions just as well in terms of operation and speed.

Problem is I had a 20mm f1.7 pancake lens with my GF1 and focusing was very erratic on the GF3. Electric contacts were clean on both the camera and lens but focusing is a 'hit or miss' beyond acceptable levels. Focusing was always sharp and accurate with the same lens on the old camera
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This product exceeded my expectations, February 7, 2013
By 
This cam takes the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera to a much wider audience. It pushes the GF series further towards the casual photographer and away from the enthusiasts at which ILCs were initially aimed.

What that means in terms of specification is a body with the same sensor and LCD screen as its predecessor and the loss of some key features including the rear thumb push-wheel, hotshoe and accessory port, and the replacement of stereo mics with a mono one.

This has been traded for a smaller lighter better-designed body with faster AF performance, new focussing modes, more versatile Photo Style customisation and Creative Control effects. It all adds up to a model that will have much broader appeal, particularly to those looking to trade up from an advanced compact.

It won't be to everyone's liking though, particularly enthusiast photographers who care more about control than simplicity, but the writing has been on the wall for some time now. And these changes don't necessarilly rule out the GF3 for serious photography. Let's not forget that it still provides the ability to use a wide range of micro Four Thirds and legacy lenses, offers fully manual control of exposure and focussing, shoots RAW and handles extremely well.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent camera with some important flaws, December 10, 2011
Below is my original review in which I gave a four star rating. I have since done some more shooting and the shadow created by the lens when using the flash has ruined way too many shots. This seems like a HUGE design oversight and I've decided to downgrade it to 3 - even with the deal I got on it. You would do better to spend $100-150 more and get a camera that is designed well - I did so and purchased the Sony NEX5 and am quite happy with it.

Looking for an upgrade from a point and shoot I came across a this camera - reviewed fairly well and the idea of a better camera that was still somewhat more compact (and cheaper) than the higher end models was appealing. It has taken some good photos, and I am still learning the ins and outs of the options that allow for more flexibility in the kinds of photos I can take. Downsides - This option with the 14-42mm lens ends up not feeling all that compact. You have the option of getting other lenses which is nice, but expensive. And while the pop up flash is touted as a plus when compared to similar cameras, it doesn't pop up high enough to avoid a shadow created by the lens, at least when objects are relatively near. Conclusion, I feel like I'm going to outgrow this one pretty quick. However, having found an in store deal that ended up at $350 after tax, it was worth it. At full price I would have my doubts.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cute little camera but has an epic flaw, October 22, 2012
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The camera is adorable and truly does produce great photos. I loved the look of the camera since I first saw it, it is sleek and slim. The touchscreen is handy as well as the top IA (Intelligent Auto) button.

Overall I was happy with the purchase, until I used the pop up flash. On every indoor picture I took, the lens barrel shadow was present. The bottom 1/4th of the picture has a dark black shadow...even when you take off the flare ring. Ultimately as small and cute as the camera was I returned it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly the camera I have been looking for, June 23, 2012
By 
donny "don130" (Maryland United States) - See all my reviews
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If you are looking for a dslr sle cams without the bulk or the price this is the camera for you. It is fantastic. I wanted a camera with the speed of a DSLR and found it in this camera. It is fast. I can snap the shutter constantly and not miss the shot I always missed with a point and shoot. Burst mode makes it even faster. I have been jealous of those with a DSLR and the speed they could take pictures. No longer and my camera is a lot smaller and lighter.

It does not have a viewfinder, but if you are like me you have grown to not need it.

I just took this on a trip and it worked perfectly. I don't think I have to color adjust a single picture it took. At night the camera new it was night and the pictures were crisp and clean without a flash. Same goes true for low light situations.

The flash works great. However, my one complaint is that the flash buttons easily pushed inside a bag. I kept finding the flash open side my backpack with a fear it had bent of broke. It didn't but I am researching a case for that reason.

The touch screen works surprisingly well. It is sensitive and I don't find myself pushing hard like others had said. I didn't thinkiwouldusit, but I used it a lot. It is great for previewing and zooming in on your photos.

Personally,I keep the camera in full auto mode. It has great manual features, but not what I need.

I bought a bigger zoom lens and haven't even used it yet. The 14-42 is great and the picture quality is so crisp that I cam able to crop and zoom on the computer and maintain a high quality

I cannot recommend this camera enough.
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