The Panasonic GF3’s across the board performance is competitive with or better than every entry level DSLR I’ve used to date. Turn the camera on and it is ready to rock and roll almost immediately (and that includes the dust removal cycle). Shot-to-shot times (for single JPEG images) run from about one second without flash to about two seconds with flash. Shot to shot times will obviously be longer, but not objectionably so, when shooting RAW images.
The GF3 comes in right at the top of its class – equivalent to or faster than its competition in every timing area except Continuous Shooting where it comes in second to the class leading Olympus E-P3.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3||0.01|
|Sony alpha NEX-5||0.05|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3||0.22|
|Sony alpha NEX-5||0.39|
|Olympus E-P3||13.0 fps|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3||4.2 fps|
|Samsung NX10||3.3 fps|
|Sony alpha NEX-5||2.6 fps|
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
Image stabilization is almost ubiquitous these days, but the GF3 doesn’t provide on board Sensor Shift IS, each lens is either stabilized or it isn’t. The f/2.5 14mm Lumix prime that comes with the camera isn’t stabilized (and it doesn’t need to be), but the Panasonic Lumix G Vario f/3.5-5.6 14-42mm zoom (the other kit lens option) is MEGA OIS stabilized.
The GF3 draws its juice from a new rechargeable 7.2V/940mAh Lithium-ion battery that Panasonic claims is good for 340 exposures (with the 14mm lens). I had to charge the battery twice in eight days and while I used the camera pretty heavily I didn’t shoot anywhere near 700 exposures.
Panasonic claims one of the GF3’s big improvements over the GF2 is its better AF performance. The GF3 is the first Panasonic camera to utilize the new “Light Speed AF” system – The faster sensor drive speed (120 fps for the GF3 vs 60 fps for the GF2) permits faster AF. Panasonic claims the GF3’s AF is actually faster than some pro level DSLRs. The GF3 features a 23-point TTL contrast detection auto-focusing system. In addition the GF3 provides single point AF, pinpoint AF, tracking AF and face detection AF modes. In single-point mode, the focus point can be moved anywhere in the image frame by dragging it on the touch-screen display. Focus modes include Single AF (S-AF), Continuous AF (C-AF) and Manual Focus (MF).
Lens Mount/Kit Lenses
The GF3 comes (in kit form) with either the Lumix f/2.5 14mm prime lens or the Lumix G Vario f/3.5-5.6 14-42mm (equivalent to 28-84mm) zoom. The GF3 can mount any Micro Four Thirds mount lens, Panasonic Four Thirds mount lenses via adapter, and “R” and “M” mount lenses from Leica via adapter. The Lumix f/2.5 14mm prime lens that came with my test camera did show some very minor corner softness, but center sharpness is impressively good.
In fact those graduating from point-and-shoots will be amazed at just how much difference there is in basic optical quality between any P&S zoom and a very good quality prime lens. Barrel distortion is well controlled and pincushion distortion is non-existent. The 14mm prime will likely to be the kit lens choice of most photography enthusiasts who will want the large maximum aperture and better image quality of the wide angle prime lens. Casual photographers graduating from P&S digicams will probably opt for the convenience of the 14-42mm zoom, even if they have to give up some image quality.