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Customer Review

131 of 141 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT camera, but GREAT, depends how you will use it..., August 10, 2011
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3CW Kit 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 14mm Pancake Lens (Electronics)
This Panasonic GF3 is a rather impressive camera that can take VERY sharp pictures with really good IQ/Dynamic range, and color overall. Besides my love for Photography I also enjoy using the best of the best cameras in their category if I can afford them. I have owned, or own the Canon S95/Fuji X100/ Sony NEX-5, Had the original E-P1, Had the GF1 prior.

I have been searching forever for a VERY SMALL camera that can take DSLR like pictures. Though the GF1 did have a little bit more manual control than the GF1 does, for instance even flash compensation..I can't seem to find that adjustment on this GF3. Even cheap point and shoots often let you change the amount of flash you will use, That's one con here.

Overall though, though using the same sensor as the older GF1 and GF2 my pictures from my GF3 look BETTER overall as to color, noise, IN focus, virtually no Moire pattern problems..the GF1 had a lot of Moire pattern noise, the GF3 seems much cleaner.

The GF3 has something called pinpoint focus. It works GREAT and so super fast. You choose ANY point on the lcd you want to focus on, drag the POINT where you want it. Press the shutter 1/2 way can focus on just an eye or any small spot you like. The screen will first show you an enlarged view so you KNOW you have perfect focus..that's a great plus being able to have picture after picture IN focus. Also depending upon what focus mode you choose the focus speed is rocket fast on this camera and usually quite accurate. Pictures outdoors look as good as a high quality DSLR as to overall dynamic range, very little highlight clipping, color..and the 14 mm lens has virtually no purple fringing. The reason for just four stars is though the GF3 is pretty good up to 800iso still see a bit too much noise and yellow splotches on jpegs indoors unless the light is rather bright or you use 400 iso and under. It's too bad there's no in camera image stabilization like Olympus does..another con if you are using the 14mm lens or the 1.7 aperture lens here. My Fuji x100 can use iso 2000 in poor light and still look amazing. BUT the x100 has a full sized sensor and is a fixed lens camera..and it's much more expensive and larger than the GF3, so not a fair comparison.

Overall as to overall picture quality, SMALL FORM factor, this camera with LARGE sensor is almost the exact same size as the Pana LX5 which I also just can't beat the GF3 overall,as far as the camera you CAN take with you..vs some bulky heavy camera that will drag you down.

I have not used the video function as it is not important to me so I can't comment about that.

I like the pictures from this GF3 overall a bit more than my NEX-5 because the NEX-5 pics to me all look all a bit too mis focuses too often..and NEX color seems a bit too saturated..(Just not right). That said, the NEX5 blows away the GF3 on high iso..hence it depends how you are going to use your camera most.

Overall..I think most people will really like the GF3. Sure if you NEED a hot shoe..obviously it doesn't have one. For me if I'm going to use a hot shoe..It's going to defeat some of the SMALL factor, so why bother with a small camera like this in the first place. I applaud Panasonic for getting most things right here. The touchscreen works just fine, you just need get used to it. It's 2011..maybe this will be the way of the future, change is often painful..:)
Overall..this is an excellent camera..maybe a tad overpriced I feel..but an excellent camera on most points.
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Showing 1-10 of 35 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 31, 2011 11:25:26 PM PDT
Nice review, by any chance out of the cameras purchased (Fuji X100, Sony Nex-5, and the GF-3) which one would you recommend. I'm looking for a smaller digital camera that can take DSLR quality or close to DSLR pictures. I have a Nikon D7000 and Canon S90 but the D7000 isn't too portable and Canon S90 while being good for a camera with a smaller sensor doesn't take good quality pictures at high ISOs. Thanks ahead and I look forward to hearing your reply.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2011 6:13:21 AM PDT
Radio Man says:
Hi Rockjon, Sorry lost power due to the hurricane just saw your comment here finally. I have the Canon S95 so I can relate..but it's still not great REALLY at higher isos. To cut to the chase..well you may have seen Panasonic is coming out with a 14-42mm TINY zoom lens (About same size as the 20mm pancake lens)for the micro Four cameras. That is going to make the GF3 truly right around the same size as the LX5. So perhaps the GF3 may end up the most versatile camera of the bunch. BUT, I have to say by FAR the x100 even with it's little quirks and maybe not having the most spot on focus ALWAYS, and it's a fixed lens camera, will blow you away with it's color accuracy and high iso capability, it's truly amazing. You can REALLY use iso2000 and get pictures that look VERY good.. If I had to ONLY keep one camera I think I would choose the x100. BUT as small as it is it's still sort of heavy and kind of much larger than the gf3.

Outdoors I am blown away with the GF3's pictures. I'd say out of all the cameras you mentioned the GF3 may actually have the sharpest pictures outside, great color, excellent dynamic range. I rarely see blown highlights with it though if you read reviews it supposedly can't compete with the NEX5, NEX C3, etc as to dynamic range. My only gripe with my NEX5 is that to me pictures never look THAT crisp. Also color on my NEX though mostly accurate, JUST doesn't actually look so's close though. Of course you can sharpen them up, tweak color...they are not BAD..but they don't "sing to me" Wow a singing camera.!

HOWEVER as to high iso the GF3 is a disappointment.
All things being equal as to similar aperture..say all the cams are at 4.0 aperture the NEX will be much more useable at say iso 1600 than the gf3. For me I don't use any iso above 800 on the gf3 as I just see too much noise. The GF3 does have a feature the NEX doesn't however, that you can use "ISO in 1/3 increments." That can SOMEWHAT level the high iso playing field as say, you only REALLY need iso 1000, you can choose that on the gf3. The NEX you must jump from iso 800 all the way up to 1600 else to think about. But THAT'S why I wrote "It depends how you are going to use it' In other words for an all around walk around camera the GF3 is really fantastic in my opinion. With any type of zoom lens it will be more versatile than the x100 even. But say you are on vacation..taking great shots out doors, now you wander into a dimly lit museum. The GF3 will be the worst choice vs the NEX and certainly the x100 because it can't compete at ALL at higher iso.

It's NOT bad..but if you had an x100 with you AND the gf3..the x100 will kill the gf3 at higher iso. BUT all the cameras you mentioned are quite good. The biggest problem? With the NEX cameras appear to be that the lenses are not as good/sharp as Panasonic lenses. The x100 is amazing but obviously it has a fixed lens which may or may not bother you. Of course IT'S optimized for the sensor and all that you can lose you mind with all this. If you are rich buy all of them haha.

In any case you can't go very wrong with a GF3 or a NEX...but DEPENDS how you will use it most. I tend to take more outdoor shots so the GF3 in many ways is my camera of choice for overall picture quality, PORTABILITY and versatility.. Have fun..and take an aspirin.. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2011 8:40:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2011 8:42:17 PM PDT
Thanks for the really detailed response, Radio Man. I've thought of getting one of the brand new Nex 5N but the only thing bothering me about Sony is that they kind of have a poor lens collection. The 18-55 kit lens seems to be decent though really large compared to 4/3rds kit lenses. The 16mm f2.8 pancake seems to not be that sharp in the edges and corners unless the aperture is stopped down. The Zeiss 24mm f1.8 for the Nex is probably going to be good but also huge and expensive compared to any standard pancake lens among 4/3rd, Samsung NX, and Nex systems.

For 4/3rds cameras, I like the lens collection but I don't like their sensor development. For the smaller body micro 4/3rds, it seems like they've just been recycling the same 12 megapixel sensor for the last couple generations. I would have hoped that the GF-3 would have had the same 16 megapixel sensor as the Panasonic GH-2 which I've heard has better high iso performance.

The X100 is interesting due to its image quality and high iso performance. For example, this Zach Arias guy normally shoots only with the X100. The IQ he's able to get is actually better than my D7000 which is amazing considering the X100 uses an older 12 megapixel sensor. However for the price I wish they had fixed the autofocus problems, had usable manual focus, and had better performance. For the price of an X100, it buys a Nikon D5100 along with 18-55 kit lens, a 35mm f1.8, and 50mm f1.8 and maybe even fit in a Nikon SB-400 external flash although it's not as remotely as small. It's a rather large investment into the X100 that people say has autofocus capability more similar to a Canon G12 than an Olympus EP-3.

Personally, what I would have like to have is the something with the quality of sony Nex sensors being used with 4/3rds lenses or an X100 without the performance problems. I am planning on buying Fuji X200 when it eventually comes out however I would like something mobile to use in the meantime. I thought of either buying the Nex 5N with the 18-55 and 16mm pancake or the Panny GF-3 with the 14-42 collapsible pancake zoom with the 20mm pancake f1.7 though I'm not sure what to get.

Do you own the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake? I am thinking if I shoot wide open at f1.7 with that with a slower shutter speed I can potentially keep the ISO lower on the GF-3. Anyway thanks for the reply and look forward again for your response.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2011 8:46:01 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 5, 2011 8:40:51 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2011 11:24:20 PM PDT
Yeah, wow it really is like public e-mail. Anyway, I'll probably wait until I can read some reviews on the new Sony Nex 5N and the Panasonic 14-42mm pancake lens. I'll probably decide between the Sony, Panasonic, and maybe the Fuji (the pictures I see from other people make it really tempting) after I get a little more info about the new bodies and lenses. Thanks again for your input and help.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2011 8:53:00 AM PDT
Radio Man says:
Rockjon, You can't go too wrong with any of the cameras you have interest in. I guess each one has it's strengths and weaknesses. Don't know why though, I am definitely using my GF3 though the most out of all my cameras presently. PROB cause it IS the smallest and lightest of the bunch I own with the 14mm pancake lens. But again if I knew I was going to be shooting mostly indoors. I'd prob take the x100. The Nex as I stated is also a great camera..but..I just prefer my x100 OR gf3 over my NEX5 somehow..I suppose it's all subjective. Best of luck with your choice!

Posted on Oct 26, 2011 5:41:59 AM PDT
D-Squared says:
Thanks for a great review. Would you post some sample photos you've taken with the GF3?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2011 7:24:58 AM PDT
Radio Man says:
D, thanks.. Unfortunately seems any link one includes on Amazon gets deleted. In any case I am not a member of Flicker, Photobucket etc.
Best bet is google GF3 "sample pictures". Should be a lot to find that way..wish I could have been of more help. STILL loving the GF3. Waiting for the tiny collapsible zoom lens to be released. That should really make this camera shine even more.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2011 9:10:49 AM PDT
D-Squared says:
Hi - thanks for the reply. You can actually upload photos to Amazon right here on the product page. Look for the link next to the product photos that says "view and share your own photos." (or something close to that.)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2011 12:31:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 26, 2011 12:35:23 PM PDT
Radio Man says:
Ok thanks..I checked some other Amazon customer pictures related to product. Seems they down size the photos SO SO much it will be a bit of a waste. My cell phone pics will even look good at the tiny size that they re size to. In this case guess I may not post pics taken with my GF3..too bad they re-size them SO small but thank you.
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