Micro 4/3 The forgotten Panasonic GF3

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
When Panasonic announced the GF3 I immediately disliked that camera. I disliked the direction Panasonic is going. What was Panasonic thinking when they started with the GF1 and ended up with the GF3 for now? They have gone all the way from a compact system camera with many manual controls to something which looks like a point and shoot camera! Has Panasonic gone crazy?

However, when I saw the camera for the first time with the 14mm on it, I liked its looks much more than I did by looking at the photographs of this camera. At home I realized that the 14mm lens does not cost much less than the GF3 with the 14mm together, which is astonishing, but fine. Then someone posted some pictures of this camera showing the GF3 side by side with the Olympus XZ-1 and the Canon S95. The GF3 has about the same size as those nice compact cameras. I had not realized until then, how small the GF3 is! Finally, the GF3 has found my interest.

The gear lust, I have become addicted to, targets the best possible image quality. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am very fond of photographing with small and light cameras. My µ4/3 gear is small and light, but not really light and small like compact cameras. I have tried a Leica D-LUX 5 in March, but returned it because the sensor was defect. Two months later I contemplated, if I should buy a Canon S95, but scrapped this idea soon, because that would not make any sense at all. That showed, however, what I miss: the lightness of my Canon S90 and going really light. I don't take more than two lenses and a body with me, but even the small size of my lenses and my camera require a bag, which is big enough to hold a small DSLR with two small primes. I really enjoy photographing with that gear, but having a camera which is as small as a compact camera and as good as my Olympus gear would change the game for me!

The GF3 with the 14mm or 20mm is as small as a compact camera with the image quality of a DSLR. This combination weights about as much as my Canon G12. The GF3 with one of these lenses fits in the same case as my G12 and is light enough to be with me all the time. Today I took the GF3 with the 14mm and tested it in my favorite shop. The camera is really great and I just could not stop holding it and playing with it! It is small, but I can handle it very well with a light lens on it. The GF3 is fast, really fast, much faster than my Olympus E-PL1. The 12mm might be better than the 14mm and the 25mm better than the 20mm, but the difference does not change the game as much as the compactness does. Unfortunately, they had only the set with the 14mm and the 14-42mm, which I do not need. Thus I have ordered the GF3 with the 14mm and the 20mm today.
 

Photorx12

Regular
May 31, 2011
68
it did look nice in person for me as well. And it has the capability to be an alternative pocket camera, my wife wants my s95....so, hmmmmmm.
 

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
it did look nice in person for me as well. And it has the capability to be an alternative pocket camera, my wife wants my s95....so, hmmmmmm.
When I wrote that long posting, I wanted to call the thread "The end of small sensor compacts?". That would have been a good title, too, because choosing the GF3 instead of a compact camera makes so much sense. I don't think that I will buy a compact camera again, if there is a compact system camera of the same size. The Canon S95 is a great compact camera and lighter than the GF3, but the GF3 has the larger sensor. I also like to use primes. Other people want to use zoom lenses and do not want to loose their versatility. Well, one could use a zoom lens, but putting a lens like the 14-42mm on the GF3 counteracts the smallness of the body and does not come into question for me.
 
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dixeyk

Guest
I just went through much the same kind of thing. I have a G2 and (until today) an E-P1. I love my G2 and it has become my most used camera but my E-P1 wasn't really what I wanted as a second body. I was looking for simple, fast and something I could throw into full auto and call it good. The closest I had come was a Panasonic LX3 but even that wasn't quite what I wanted. Then I cam across the GF2 (and I would think the same goes for the GF3 only more so). We have a few GF2s at school and I checked one out for the day to play with (too bad we don't have more models to choose from). I was immediately struck by how small it is (just a tiny bit larger than an LX3) and with my Panasonic 14 or 20 attached it was a real kick to walk around and shoot with. The touch screen was useable, the hard controls sufficient for most things and the most surprising of all it was pretty darned fast in AF and shooting. I was able to capture my son's running around quite easily. I also found that the LCD was pretty useable in bright sun (well...better than the E-P1 or the LX3).

I then did a side by side with the E-PL2 we have at the lab. The E-PL2 is a fine camera but for just throwing in my bag the GF2 was a lot more appealing to me. I am very willig to give up I and features for the smaller size and quick operation. The GF2 even has a focus assit light making it a nice option for focusing in low light. It certainly isn't the most popular of cameras and will forever live in the shadow of the GF1 but I like it.

I am not sure if I can see a reason (at least for me) that I would choose any compact point and shoot over something like this. I think the newly announced E-PM1 is the same kind of camera. I am curious to see if more folks find this as compelling an alternative as I do.
 
Sep 8, 2010
123
London UK
Andy
I'm glad someone has seen the benefit of the GF3 and what Panasonic are trying to do with that camera. It was designed as a step up from a point and shoot which it kind of is except for the lens swapping. I think it's a really nice looking camera and I was going to buy one to replace my GF1 but for some reason I can't let that camera go. My G3 is the replacement for the GF1 as it's about the same size but with swivel screen and an EVF so I really don't need either the GF1 or GF3 but yet the GF1 sits proud on my camera shelf in my office. If i bought a GF3 it will purely be just as an extra, certainly not that I need one. I already have more than enough cameras!!! Mind you I could just say that I collect cameras:biggrin:

I suspect I will buy a red GF3 to go with my red G3 but I'll see how the prices go as they will fall eventually.
 

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
What's the estimated arrival date?
The 20mm is available and will arrive the next week, the spare battery will take one week to arrive and the camera with the 14mm about two weeks.
 
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Sep 8, 2010
123
London UK
Andy
Having played with one....quite a lot i can say that it is a fine camera and I'm sure you will get many happy hours with it. I'm sure we are all looking forward to seeing your shots soon.
 
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dixeyk

Guest
Congrats on the choice. I'm sure you'll do some cool stuff with it. The GF2, 20 and 14 are a really fun combo so I suspect the GF3 will be even more so. Here is my first shot with the GF2+20. With such a small kit you can easily have it along with you wherever you go. That's half the battle right there. Did you go for basic black or one of the colors?

View attachment 39677
 

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
The GF2, 20 and 14 are a really fun combo so I suspect the GF3 will be even more so.
I am sure you are right. These are very classic lenses and a combination of both is what many great photographers have used for their work.

Here is my first shot with the GF2+20.
That's a great first shot! Is this your son?

Did you go for basic black or one of the colors?
I chose the black version. I like it best and it is unobtrusive, which is exactly what I want to be.
 
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dixeyk

Guest
I am sure you are right. These are very classic lenses and a combination of both is what many great photographers have used for their work.
Hopefully they also work for a not great photographer as well otherwise I'm outta luck. :eek:



That's a great first shot! Is this your son?
Yep...he's eight going on twenty.



I chose the black version. I like it best and it is unobtrusive, which is exactly what I want to be.
I like the black. I got the silver one but mostly because I got a deal on it so I figure it wasn't a time to be choosey.



I'm really interested to see what you think of the GF3 when it arrives. In looking at cameras like the NEX, GF series and the new Olympus E-PM it's pretty clear that the manufacturers see a demand. What I am finding curious is the way I use it as opposed to my G2. I use it as a sort of "image capture" device as opposed to as just a camera ro video camera. It's very different in some ways from the way I use the G2..it's more like the way I use my phone camera. It's a more utilitarian than the way I use the G2 (and oddly...more liberating).
 

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
I am going to write about my experiences with this camera as soon as I have got it.

There are may people who are very negative about this camera. Some say that this is no real camera and this is one of the nicest remarks. Of course, there are some who are more creative and realize the potential of the GF3, but in general this camera is not taken very seriously by enthusiasts, because on the surface this camera has all the characteristics of a point and shoot camera. The GF3 may be a point a shoot camera, but with the image quality and responsiveness of a DSLR. The GF3 also allows a lot of control and unless you change many parameters very often, there is no reason why it should not be possible to use it seriously. It seems to be a the perfect tool for taking snap shots. At least that is my first impression. I also understand your comment on the different way you use your GF2, because that's exactly what I see as strength of this type of camera and that's what I am after.
 
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dixeyk

Guest
You see it quite often where these small more point and shoot like cameras are dismissed because they of what they are not as opposed to being celebrated for what they are. I fully appreciate the GF1 and similar cameras for what they are but if Panasonic had released the GF3 as the LX6 people would have been going on and on about how AMAZING it is. Take a look at the E-PM1 and the XZ-1 by Olympus and you can see how close THEY are. I have been playing with the GF2 and you are exactly right...the settings are there if you want them but in truth I am finding that I only change a few of them frequently. I change aperture and exposure compensation and both are changed by clicking the thumbwheel. Prior to getting the GF2 I would have argued that I NEED more control in the form of more buttons. Turns out I don't.

Looking forward to your GF3 field report.
 

wolfie

Veteran
Sep 19, 2010
68
My name is *****, for weeks since I've only used A-mode on my fully featured camera

Yep - and also P-mode. Never used S-mode at all, ever. Any adjustments are usually exposure compensation +/-.Or AE lock.
I can't be bothered with manual mode (oops, did I say that out loud ...:eek:) unless nothing else works.

I still like direct buttons for settings, but I can live with a one-stop super-settings screen.

I'm not sure I can change my ways - heck, I was even thinking about trying that iAuto setting - just once couldn't hurt - could it?
 

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
I still like direct buttons for settings, but I can live with a one-stop super-settings screen.
It depends on the camera. The GF3 is so small that there is not enough place for more buttons. If they had put more buttons on it, people would complain that they pressed buttons accidentally just by holding the camera. After testing this camera in the shop I am sure that the concept of this camera is very good for its size. I would welcome, if Panasonic made the movie button programmable, though.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
123
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
I never like to presume to use the "royal we" when making a statement about personal preferences, but I still don't get why the movie mode warrants it's own dedicated button on a stills camera. Great if the button can be assigned, but wasted otherwise IMO.
 

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