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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 MFT compact unveiled

This week's 'world's smallest' system camera

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Touch and go

There’s little to complain about with the Lumix DMC-G3, you can just pick it up and run with it. Start up is swift at well under a second. Everything seems to be in its place, with the centre menu button surrounded by dedicated keys for AF mode, ISO, white balance and burst shooting. You also get a couple of assignable function buttons and an embedded wheel dial as part of the thumb rest.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

The Lumix DMC-G3 has all the extras

The top plate features a PASM modes dial with two custom settings. I would have liked a dedicated exposure memory lock on the body, which was on the G2, but the movie record button has taken its place. Apparently, there’s an option to assign this to a function key buried in the menus.

Nifty phase detection AF remains the preserve of DSLRs, so the Lumix G-series relies on contrast detection which features on cheaper compacts and is typically slower. Yet, Panasonic has managed to eke out a respectable performance with response claims of a mere 0.1s on some lenses. Indeed, the G3‘s AF worked swiftly and silently on the lenses tested. Only a few opportunistic off-centre challenges foiled it – with focus favouring the background – but with AF tracking available, there are workarounds on-board.

Swapping over to the Lumix DMC-GF3 was a bit of a jolt. To frame shots, the 3in touchscreen LCD panel is all you have to go with and it’s fixed too. With few exceptions, the majority of the G3’s dials and buttons have disappeared. There’s no top plate mode selector and the back panel offers D-pad/dial arrangement to navigate the functions. Even here, the dedicated ISO found on the DMC-GF2 has been replaced by the EV option. Indeed, to say that the GF3 is a menu driven camera is an understatement.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

The minimal approach may take some getting used to if you tweak regularly

In the hand, the GF3 gives the impression of being the sort of compact few would take out of auto. Having only shutter release, video capture and iA (intelligent auto) buttons on the top plate does suggest the essence of the GF3 seems to be point and shoot with interchangeable lenses.

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