Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 MFT compact unveiled
This week's 'world's smallest' system camera
Hands on Last week, Sony announced to the world that it had produced the smallest APS-C interchangeable lens camera, the NEX-C3. The timing suggests the company might have got wind of something, as a couple of days earlier Panasonic had been busy showing off its latest micro four thirds (MFT) models in an exclusive press preview in Rome.
Big idea: Panasonic's Lumix DMC-GF3
Here, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 made its debut, which has been hush-hush until now. This diminutive 12.1Mp model has fewer physical controls and lacks the viewfinder of the 16.1Mp Lumix DMC-G3 announced last month. With the catch-all phrase, ‘compact system camera’ (CSC) now describing these lens swapping, mirrorless marvels – from the likes of Samsung, Sony and Olympus – Panasonic now lays claim to having the world’s smallest of this particular breed, albeit sporting the smaller MFT sensor to match.
Being best buddies with Leica, Panasonic was also touting a new addition to the MFT optics range, the DG Summilux f1.4 25mm (50mm equivalent for 35mm camera) standard lens. At £549, this Leica lens costs more than the £499 being asked for the GF3 with Panasonic’s own 14-42mm lens kit.
Still, if you’re serious about micro four thirds as your compact system of choice, when it comes to creative options, this bright chunk of Leica glass certainly delivers that depth of field flexibility to make your subject really stand out.
Leica DG Summilux f1.4 25mm H-X025
Indeed, the Leica lens, along with Lumix kit optics and the G3 and GF3 cameras were handed out as part of the snap it and see shoot in Rome. I started off with the G3 plus the 14-42mm zoom and immediately took to its electronic viewfinder – clasping the camera at eye level being an instinctive response to handling this SLR-style body. So much so that the niceties of articulating 3in touchscreen LCD panel were largely overlooked – with just the occasional toggling between EVF and LCD from the dedicated button next to viewfinder.
Next page: Touch and go
"The trouble with micro 4/3 (and compact digicams)"
You say that as if their sensors are in any way close to the same size. You can fit up to ten compact camera sensors on one 4/3 sensor.
Depth of field control on 4/3 obviously isn't as versatile as on 35mm, getting twice the DoF for the same f-number, but the idea that "pretty much everything is in focus, all the time" or equating it to compact camera sensors is simply wrong. So, so wrong.
... is the one which you can take the picture with - because it's with you. So it doesn't really matter how good other cameras are, if they are too big to be carried along. Some amateurs won't bother carrying anything bigger than average compact - micro 4/3 is just the right size for such target audience. Yet the sensor is big enough to give good picture in good light (i.e. low enough ISO). I've seen RAWs from GF2 and they are quite good, opposed to JPEGs straight from the camera (too many typical compact-like artifacts). Assuming you pair it with small lens (e.g. Panasonic 20/1.8) it is one sweet kit.
And of course, shooting with fixed focal lens has other benefits I won't elaborate on - few would understand. Mine is the one with camera in the pocket.
I've never been quite sure who the market is for a camera like this. Interchangeable lenses, but a severe lack of controls? Who goes to all the trouble of carrying a bag full of lenses, but doesn't want to make manual tweaks to their settings?
I've been in the market for a small mirrorless interchangeable lens camera for some time, to sit in my jacket pocket when I can't be bothered lugging my SLR around. But just because the body is small, it shouldn't mean any less flexibility than an SLR.
Re: Target market
Agreed. The big attraction of the GF1 when it appeared was that it had a fair degree of manual control - not ideal, and felt a bit retarded coming from a Canon DSLR, but good enough once you get used to it. The main thing is that it's pocketable, especially with the lovely Panny 20mm lens, and easy to have always on hand.
Unfortunately the trend with the GF2 and now the GF3 seems to be increasingly to dumb them down. No thumb wheel for exposure adjustment, no mode dial, no exposure lock button, and unlike its two predecessors, it would appear no ability to add on the (ridiculously expensive) Panasonic EVF.
I'd been hoping Panasonic were going to develop this range to have an appeal to the serious photographer, but I'll have to hope that this is in their future game plan, or I'm going to be a bit hosed when upgrade time comes a few years down the road, or sooner if one of the kids bounces it off the floor!
I don't find that to be the case. I use a GF1 with the 20mm f1.7 lense, and even at that focal length can get decent bokeh at wide enough apertures. The slightly longer, not to mention brighter, Leica lens should fit the bill even better, and I'd imagine is a lovely bit of glass.
Admittedly, the range is (natively) a bit lacking yet in a prime in the short telephoto length (e.g. 40mm) which would hit the sweet spot for portraits