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Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, I can stop comparing hundreds of cameras, May 1, 2012
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This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3 16 MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Free-Angle Touch-Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 Lens (Camera)
I've been living with a piece of crap Sony Cybershot camera I bought out of necessity years ago when my real camera got stolen on a vacation, and the frustration of shooting on this thing finally got to me. I spent literal weeks annoying my wife and giving myself migraines by comparing all the different kinds of cameras on the market. I'm an amateur, so my priority with photography is having a camera that gives me the simplicity I need now with the potential for greater control down the road. With this in mind I narrowed down my choices to a few camera classes: the Micro 4/3s, Sony NEX's, and enthusiast P+S.

Very difficult to only pick one of these. If money was no issue, I'd get at least one interchangeable lens system and one P+S. But alas, money is always a primary factor in these things so I had to make a decision about what was most important to me: picture quality & versatility or portability? After much mental exercise, I decided that having a versatile and high quality camera was more important than something that could fit in my pocket. So that eliminated the Olympux XZ-1 and Canon Powershot S100 that I had been considering (though I'd still love an XZ-1 one of these days).

The second decision was far more difficult. Micro 4/3s or Sony NEX? The Sony NEX series is the most popular on Amazon and has all sorts of hype around it. It's so slim, it looks cool, it has that huge APS sensor, etc etc. And in the Micro 4/3s class, there are so many more affordable options and way more lenses available (and let's be honest, glass is a huge element in taking good photos). While I've wanted a Sony NEX since it was first introduced, I actually started leaning towards the Panasonic G3 when put side by side in my comparisons. What really intrigued me about this camera was that it had all the DSLR features built in already and even resembled a DSLR, but at about half the size and weight, and at a pricepoint that was much more agreeable than competing models without those features. No, it didn't have the supermodel body of the Sony NEX, but seemed quite a bit more practical. Personally, I am not always going to remember to bring a detachable flash with me when I take my camera out on trips. Nor am I going to feel excited about spending $200 or $300 on a separate viewfinder that I also need to keep track of. The G3 integrates these basic (and in my mind, essential) functions into the camera body, eliminating the possibility of someone absent-minded like me forgetting items at home... or worse, on the road.

The other thing that made the G3 rise to the top of my list was the swivel LCD screen. While the Sony NEX-5N has the articulating screen, I find the G3's screen with its full range of motion to be significantly better. I prefer the screen being off to the side so that my hand holding the camera doesn't interfere with my view of the screen, especially if I'm holding it way above my head. Both cameras can achieve the same kinds of photos, but the G3 makes it easier. The EVF on the G3 is also pretty good. It's a lot easier to adjust menu settings on the LCD, but the EVF controls are sufficient for most things I want to do, and I find myself using the EVF just as much if not more than the LCD for composing shots.

So anyways, I ended up getting the G3 (obviously). I've only had it for a few days and still learning the basic modes and settings, but I can say pretty definitively that it takes excellent photos, gives me the fast autofocus and blurred backgrounds I was craving, is extremely well constructed and feels great in the hand, and is just a pleasure to use. The included zoom lens is not that fantastic, but it's a good enough starter lens for someone like me. With a 32GB SDHC card installed I can take 1,141 photos in combined RAW+Fine mode which is more than I'll ever need in one day. Well, who knows - I am traveling to Yellowstone soon :)

PS: Definitely keep your eye on the price of this camera as it dropped twice within a week from the date I purchased it.

EDIT 5/10/12: After a few hundred shots in different conditions I've learned a few extra things I wanted to share. The main thing I've noticed is that in low light, indoor situations, the iAuto mode will not raise the ISO sufficiently to capture the shot. It seems to always want to shoot at 800 during the night, so I find myself switching into Program mode and changing ISO to 1600. It makes a tremendous difference. Noise is completely absent from these shots too. Another thing I've had to change is the behavior of the manual focus ring in different record modes. It's called MF Assist, and if you start adjusting the manual focus ring on the zoom lens when in MF mode, it will zoom in on the area you're pointing at on your LCD or EVF. This makes it very difficult to compose a shot, because now all you can see is a fuzzy square in the middle of your screen resulting from that digital zoom. I promptly turned this feature off after missing a few great photo opportunities while in MF mode - I have no idea where this would ever come in useful. One last thing, the delay when recording an image in RAW+Fine mode is substantial, so I would go to only Fine or only RAW mode when you are doing any kind of action shots, even some photo shoots. Maybe I'm just impatient, but a few seconds can mean the difference between THE shot and a throwaway shot.

That's it for now - all in all I am still enamored with this camera. Because of the inadequate ISO in iAuto mode in low light, I'm pretty much staying in Program mode these days, with white balance set to Auto and ISO manually adjusted based on what I'm shooting. It didn't take long to figure out how to cycle between these settings quickly, another reason I love having the manual mode dial on the camera body.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 1, 2012 5:47:40 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 1, 2012 5:48:28 PM PDT]

Posted on May 1, 2012 5:48:19 PM PDT
C. Levasheff says:
Your review is SO helpful as I feel like your process and your needs are much the same as mine. I have not yet pulled the trigger on the G3 but that's where I'm leaning. I'm just curious, you said you saw the price drop several times and I am curious if the price here on Amazon today for the black model is as low as you've seen it (I've been afraid that it will go up if I wait much longer). Did you feel like the resolution of the LCD is sufficient? How 'bout the color depth of the photos? How do you feel it performed in low-light situations? I am concerned about the image stabilization and wonder whether you're getting a number of blurry photos. Lastly, do you feel like it can capture a decent action shot? I welcome any other thoughts from you as I feel like you are on such a similar page. Thank you!!

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012 3:06:38 PM PDT
Steve E. says:
1. The current price ($574) is definitely the lowest I've seen it. Panasonic is probably preparing for its next camera in this line or a comparable model that it wants to promote, so I wouldn't expect it to jump back up in price.
2. The resolution on the LCD is fine for me. I really don't buy into the whole pixel war when it comes to these tiny LCD screens - as long as it gives me enough resolution to compose my shot, I'm happy.
3 & 4. I haven't analyzed color depth or high ISO photos yet - let me get back to you on this as I'm sure after the weekend I'll have a lot more to say about it.
5. The image stabilization in this lens is great and I really have to try and get blur. It will happen if you don't give the camera enough time to autofocus but the autofocusing is so fast that it's rarely an issue.
6. It can absolutely capture an action shot though keep in mind the supplied lens is on the slower side so you'd probably want to upgrade the lens to do action type photography. But the camera itself is perfectly capable of fast shots.

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012 3:22:08 PM PDT
C. Levasheff says:
Sooo very helpful. I took the plunge and made the purchase. I'm excited! Thank you so much for your review and response!

Posted on May 3, 2012 9:01:18 PM PDT
Roger James says:
Thanks for the nice review. I have a question. When trying out the G3 it seemed like the focal plane shutter was quite noisy each time the shutter was pressed. Is this normal for all shots. I tried it at all shutter speeds and the shutter noise was consistently loud. I know it's a mechanical shutter but most DSLR noise is mirror slap and this has no mirror. Was this camera defective or do all the G3 cameras have noisy shutters? I have not noticed any comments on reviews about shutter noise so I wonder if it was just the camera.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2012 3:01:32 PM PDT
Steve E. says:
Yes, there is definitely an audible click from the shutter. I don't find it too annoying, but I don't have much to compare it to considering this is my first higher end camera with a mechanical shutter.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2012 3:05:51 PM PDT
Steve E. says:
@ C. Levasheff - cool, I know you're going to love it! I spent a lot of time with it this weekend on a hiking trip through Malibu, and was consistently impressed with its iAuto mode (automatic everything). Also, I did some indoor, intentionally low light shooting to see what kind of quality this camera can produce in this situation. First, you definitely want to have iAuto mode off, because it doesn't increase the ISO enough in low light. A quick press of the iAuto button on the top of the body, followed by one press of the ISO button, and you're in the ISO menu - super fast and easy to change it. I shot mostly at 1600 and the photos look fantastic. Basically no noise at this setting. I don't think I will ever need to go up to 6400, so I'm certainly happy with its low light performance.

Color depth is also very impressive. Detail and contrast in iAuto mode are pretty darn good - I'm sure it will only get better as I learn to shoot in a more manual way, but for now as an amateur P+S user, it is perfectly acceptable.

Amazing what today's cameras can do with automatic settings. Makes you feel like a pro every time you press the shutter button :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 8:15:50 AM PDT
Setter Dog says:
I'm about ready to buy the G3, based on an information overload that mainly turned me off to the newer Olympus E-M5. I like the features of the G3, the screen, size, menus etc. I have several Panys and find the IQ just fine.

Wondering if anyone subscribing to these comments could recommend a minimal case for belt carry. I want the smallest possible, just the camera with the 14-42mm kit.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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