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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £550
inc VAT

Extremely compact and luxurious, takes gorgeous photos and videos but currently looks overpriced next to the Sony NEX range


17.3x13mm 12.0-megapixel sensor, 1.0x zoom (28mm equivalent), 319g

Expert Reviews is proud to bring you this Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 review from Short Sharp Reviews – click through to YouTube for a 1080p HD version

Big-sensor compacts are the most exciting development in camera technology in a long time. The gulf in image quality between conventional compact cameras and SLRs has never been bigger, but these hybrid models deliver the best of both worlds, with genuine SLR quality in a pocket-sized format.

The GF3 is Panasonic’s smallest, lightest G-series camera to date, shedding 46g compared to the GF2. There are a few casualties, most notably the accessory shoe that enabled using either an external flashgun or the optional electronic viewfinder. It’s disappointing, but these are niche features that few people will miss. The microphone has been repositioned, which meant we often accidentally covered it with a finger, obliterating the soundtrack. It’s also a mono mic, whereas the GF2’s is stereo. The battery is a little smaller but battery life is up by 20 shots, so we’ve no complaints there.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 flash

Panasonic appears to be on a mission to remove physical controls from its G-series cameras, but we’re glad to report that the changes this time are minimal. The GF2’s command dial is replaced by a wheel that encircles the navigation pad, in much the same way as the Olympus PEN range, and we found this just as quick to use. The command dial’s clickable action has been lost, though – that role is taken over by the up button on the navigation pad, which in turn relegates the ISO speed control to the menu. Thankfully, the Q.Menu button jumps to the last-accessed setting, which means it effectively acts as an ISO control for those who access it regularly.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 sample 2
Image quality at ISO 800 is excellent – it’s a shame the Auto ISO mode doesn’t go any higher. Click on this image to enlarge it

It’s something that’s worth doing when shooting in low light. Bizarrely, the automatic ISO mode was unwilling to venture beyond ISO 800, which often resulted in blur-inducing long shutter speeds – the lack of optical stabilisation in the kit lens didn’t help. There’s a menu option to set the maximum ISO speed from 200 to 1600, but switching to Intelligent Auto mode overrides this setting. It’s daft that a big-sensor camera like this can only shoot at ISO 3200 when the ISO speed is set manually.

Turn to page 2 for more on image quality and video …

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 17.3x13mm
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 460,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 1.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28mm
Image stabilisation none
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 25fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; AVCHD Lite, QuickTime (M-JPEG)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 340 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material metal and plastic
Lens mount Micro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier 2.0x
Kit lens model name LUMIX G 14mm/F2.5 ASPH
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 319g
Size 67x107x58mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £550

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 60 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/2.5 to f/22
ISO range (at full resolution) 160 to 6400
Exposure compensation +/-3 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets with fine tuning, custom, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, Intelligent Resolution, Intelligent Dynamic, colour space
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 18cm
Auto-focus modes multi, flexible spot, pinpoint, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket