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Customer Review

28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, but there are issues, June 4, 2012
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This review is from: Panasonic DMC-G3KR 16 MP Digital SLR with Touchscreen (Electronics)
I enjoy using this camera a lot. It has a great deal going for it. Like, for instance, you can set it to Automatic (idiot) mode with a push of a button wherever you happen to be on the dial, and there's more. Unlike with most cameras, with the G3 you can set the camera to a super-auto mode (via the menus), which allows you to tweak three aspects of the auto mode, viz. exposure compensation, white balance (warmer or colder), and depth of field. This is great, though when you switch out and back into this mode, you have to reset any changes you've made: it goes back to the default settings.

Also very positive is the articulating screen, which makes getting flower shots from ground level very easy. So again, another facility that really makes this camera a delight to use.

Image quality isn't as good as my Canon S90. I know the cameras can't really be compared, but truth is, the S90 is a compact, fixed lens camera, which I carry around with me when I'm using the G3, so I get to compare similar shots all the time. The S90 is sharper, often gets a better colour balance, and has a superior screen. It doesn't have an electronic viewfinder, and you can't change lenses. The S90, and its successors the S95 and S100, are also a lot cheaper than the G3.

I'm just about happy with the image quality, but know for sure that if I want the best images, I would spend my money on a DSLR like the Nikon D5100, which is a $100 more expensive, but in a different world in terms of speed, ease of use, ergonomics, build quality, viewfinder, battery life, and just about everything else I can think of, except weight.

There are some negatives beyond slight reservations about image quality. Like, for instance, the fact that the lenses have an excellent manual focus ring, but -- and this is such a big but! -- you have to dive into menus to shift into manual focus. Ridiculous. You're lying on the ground trying to get a dynamic flower shot; the auto-focus is driving you crazy; so you have to dig into menus to get manual control. This is where we go back to a DSLR, which might even be the same price as the G3, but has the intelligence to give you the switch on the lens or camera. There are other important functions buried in menus, which always irritates me.

If you want to use exposure compensation you have to click the rear wheel (not totally pleasant for my fingers), then rotate it. To clear the viewfinder icon that comes up, you click the wheel again, which brings up depth of field tweaking, then click again. Three clicks to cycle through. I find this fiddly and ergonomically a bit lacking. It's also pretty easy to change depth of field by mistake, and vice versa.

My main concern is that very portable cameras like the S90, S95, and S100 get better image quality, and if you want a serious camera, for the same money or a little more you buy an entry-level DSLR. These are real cameras for people who know photography. Just little details, a certain fiddliness, the diluted image quality, lack of easy switching to manual focus, the limitations of an electronic view finder, the fact that the screen doesn't dim when you raise the camera to your eye, and other niggling details make me wonder exactly where the G3 fits in and whether it's worth its fairly high price tag.

It is light, and when you buy the longer zoom you have an amazingly portable package. That's why I'm hanging onto it. When I fly cheaply I can take little baggage, and this saves on weight in a big way.

UPDATE (25 June 2012): I should add that the battery life on this camera is about as bad as I have found. I don't use the LCD screen much and I do little reviewing of my snaps, yet I still get fewer than 120 shots per Panasonic battery (I'd say this battery has been discharged around 25 times). If I did a lot of reviewing this would probably fall to 90. A third-part battery manages about two thirds of this. My Nikon D7000 is at least eight times better in terms of battery life.

If you're buying this camera, add two or three batteries to your purchase.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 10, 2012 7:41:56 AM PDT
TC says:
So did the G3 do away with the focus mode that allows you to use both manual and autofocus at the same time? In other words, with the G2, pressing the shutter button halfway down would autofocus, but you could then use the manual focus ring while still holding the shutter button in the same position. It's this mode that my G2 stays in constantly.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2012 2:43:29 PM PDT
Yes it still works that way. Manual focus can be invoked by turning the focus ring with the shutter 1/2 depressed.

Posted on Oct 13, 2012 6:20:10 AM PDT
Kaiser Soze says:
There is no way in he## that the S90, with its itty-bitty CCD sensor, takes pictures that are better in any way that the pictures that the G3 takes. You claim that the S90 takes pictures that are sharper, with better color balance. Color balance is virtually impossible to judge subjectively. It can only be judged accurately using a sophisticated laboratory setup. As for sharpness, the only way that it is possible to the S90 to take sharper pictures is if the lens you are using on the G3 is defective in some way. Whereas the G3 has been praised for picture quality comparable to DSLR quality, the S90, with that little tiny CCD sensor, isn't even good for taking pictures above ISO 200, which greatly limits its usability. And as with all similar, small CCD sensors, you are going to get a horrific amount of sensor bloom anytime that you have very sharp contrast, i.e., bright lights, or daylight through tree branches, or even reflections off shiny surfaces. Look closely at any pictures that have these attributes and that were taken with a small CCD sensor, and this effect is beyond obvious. And the picture is just awful as a result. To even compare the G3 with the S90 is preposterous.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2012 6:34:29 AM PDT
Kaiser, Many thanks for your comments. They're much appreciated. It's not clear from what you say whether you've used the S90 or not. I own and use both cameras and consistently prefer the results from the S90. I'm not interested in lab. tests to determine whether I'm right or wrong. I'm simply expressing an opinion based on experience and my own impressions of the results (I use two G3 lenses). There have been occasions when I have used my D7000 and the S90 on a shoot and come to the conclusion that I prefer the S90 pictures. I have no doubt this flies in the face of reason, but it's just how it is. Since I paid over 4 times more for the Nikon, I have no agenda here. I'd prefer the expensive camera to be the one with the best pictures. The low light, high ISO performance of the S90 is excellent, by the way.

Mark: I have tried holding down the shutter to get the focus ring engaged on the G3, but it doesn't. With my G3 you have to go into menus to engage manual focus. That's bad design in my view.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 9:18:34 AM PDT
Sean Janson says:
I don't have G3 (only GH2), but I believe, there is an option in CUSTOM menu called "AF+MF" that allows you to do the hybrid MF focus discussed here. At least G3 manual mentions it.
cheers, sean

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 9:50:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2012 7:35:06 AM PST
I use the G3 and it does indeed support AF+MF option. I've added a photo to the "Customer Images" (for the G3) that shows the settings required for the desire behavior. The setting is found in the CUSTOM MENU. On page 3 of 7 the setting "AF+MF" can be set to "ON". Once this item is turned on, simply depress the button half way to auto focus and then with the shutter still depressed turn the focus ring on the lens. Note: this doesn't work for "iA" mode.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 1:54:57 AM PST
Yes, I mention this in my review, but it's no use if you are busy composing a picture. One has to have immediate control, which is what any half-serious camera would give you. It should be just a question of holding the shutter button half down and then using the manual focus ring or having a switch on the camera, but neither option appears on the G3.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 23, 2013 7:13:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 23, 2013 7:14:18 AM PDT
Wow. If I taught Netiquette, I would use Kaiser's comment and Simon's reply to illustrate how a commenter who cares about others' feelings replies to a commenter who doesn't.

Posted on Jul 11, 2014 2:39:28 PM PDT
inspector1 says:
I also agree with other comments that the Canon S90 does not take better pictures than the G3 base on professional reviews I have read so far. in fact, the Canon S90 amazon 3, 2, and 1 star reviews are terrible. the G3 only has 1 1 star review and the Canon S90 has at least 16 1star reviews.
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