13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Compact, easy to use, and producing relatively great photos,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3KK 12 MP Micro 4/3 Compact System Camera with 3-Inch Touchscreen LCD and 14-42mm Zoom Lens (Black) (Electronics)
First of all, you have to know that this is a mirrorless camera in the category of micro four-thirds system. Panasonic is one of the two companies producing m 4/3 cameras. The other one is Olympus. In the line-up of m 4/3 cameras from Panasonic, GF1/2/3 are relatively cheaper and meant for the people who want to upgrade from compact cameras. GF3 is an intent to attract that crowd even more aggressively with the features of compact cameras and without advanced features of typical DSLRs that this group of people may not care about. So I cannot say those missing features are the weakness of this camera. They are simply product design choices based on the target market. Here are things you may want to know in choosing this camera over other m 4/3 cameras.
1. Body: It is probably the smallest m 4/3 or even mirrorless camera on the market. I like the convenience of it. But I do see a design problem for people used to compact cameras. Those people are used to holding a camera with left hand on the left edge of it. Unfortunately, the microphone is right on the top left side. You will be blocking it if you hold it that way. People use left hand on the lens to hold a DSLR. That is something you have to get used to. The manual does warn users on that.
2. No hot shoe or viewfinder port: That means you won't be able to attach an external flash or a viewfinder. You are stuck with the built-in flash and LCD screen. These limitations may not be problems for people who will never need those two accessories. The design of the built-flash is very smart. You can bend the pop-up flash to direct the light to the ceiling, for example, to get the indirect lighting on the subject to produce better flash pictures.
3. Photo quality: Again don't expect GF3 to produce photo quality as good as top-of-the-line m 4/3 cameras like Panasonic GH2. ISO can go up to 6400 on GF3. But I would only go up to 800. Beyond that the images are too noisy to me. But for many people who won't print the photos larger than 8 x 10, the image quality is quite acceptable. Also you have to know, it has an old 12MP sensor, which is supposed to be not as good as the latest ones on higher-end cameras.
4. Audio: No connection for external mic. Audio is mono not stereo.
This is a relatively cheap m 4/3 camera. You simply have to know what you are getting and what you are not getting in choosing GF3. Then you will be very happy in your decision. While you are on it, you may also consider Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens (Black). It is the first generation Panasonic m 4/3 camera. It has the same sensor as GF3. Photo quality is comparable. Size is slightly bigger, but not much. It has a hot shoe and a viewefinder port. The biggest drawback is probably video. It is 720p instead of 1080p. And you can only record 7 min of video in 720p. But most importantly, it is about 200 hundred bucks cheaper! You can use that money to invest in a good fast prime lens like Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lens for Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Cameras. It will make your camera really shine.
update on 6/25/2012: With the release of GF5, the price of this camera has dropped considerably. E-PL1 is no longer a good alternative for the sake of cost unless you want the capability to attach an external flash or electronic view finder.