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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

The layout of controls is very similar to those on the GF3’s closest rival, the Sony NEX-5. However, the GF3’s touchscreen speeds up certain functions and transforms the accessibility of autofocus options. We particularly appreciated being able to touch the screen while recording a video clip, whereupon the camera automatically tracked the subject in question to keep it in focus.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 rear

This is one of many reasons why the GF3 excels as a video camera. The 1080p resolution and AVCHD format encoded at 16Mbit/s helped to deliver sharp details with minimal compression artefacts, and autofocus was smooth and virtually silent. There was remarkably little noise in low light, and close-up shots exhibited a film-like shallow depth of field. The lack of an exposure lock for video is disappointing, but the camera reacted smoothly to changing lighting.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 top

Taking photos with the GF3 was an extremely satisfying experience, too. It’s not the most secure camera to hold one-handed, but its shape and feel – and the solid clunk of its mechanical shutter – give a sense of real luxury. Even the leather neck strap is a step up from the norm. It’s seriously fast, too, switching on and capturing a shot in just one second, and taking just 0.6 seconds between subsequent shots. Continuous mode ran at 4fps for 13 JPEGs or six RAW images before slowing to a slightly disappointing 0.5fps.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 sample 1
The GF3 can take some astonishingly good pictures – Click on this image to enlarge it

Image quality was excellent, as long as we kept an eye on the shutter speed in low light and switched to manual ISO speeds to avoid blurry shots. Details were astonishingly sharp, and in bright light, subtle textures such as foliage and skin were captured with superb clarity. We failed to replicate the problem of under-saturated bands in skin tones that we’ve seen in previous G-series cameras’ JPEGs. Noise levels inevitably rose when lower light demanded fast ISO speeds, but noise was lower than we saw from the GF2. However, it wasn’t as low as from the best consumer SLRs – and also, crucially, the Sony NEX-5.

Turn to page 3 for our take on pricing and offers …

Pages: 1 2 3

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