Panasonic surprised just about everyone in the digital imaging industry by introducing the Lumix DMC-GF3 less than six months after the debut of the GF2. The GF3 is not the GF2's replacement - the larger and slightly more complex GF2 (which is targeted primarily at photo enthusiasts) will remain in production.
The GF3 will be Panasonic's entry-level Micro Four Thirds digital camera - aimed primarily at point-and-shoot users who want to move up to a camera that provides more control, better image quality and interchangeable lenses without any significant increase in size, weight, or operational complexity.
The GF3 was briefly the smallest and lightest Micro Four Thirds format digital camera in the world, but Sony's tiny new NEX-C3 quickly bumped it into second place. The 12 megapixel GF3 features a 17.3 x 13mm Live MOS sensor (substantially larger than most point-and-shoot sensors), a built-in pop-up flash (but no hot shoe), a 3.0-inch (460,000 pixels) touchscreen LCD and a full HD (1920 x 1080i at 60fps) movie mode.
The GF3 is remarkably easy to like - it's tiny, really easy to use, capable of producing excellent images - with very little effort on the part of the shooter, and it's stylish in an understated way. Some users, especially those graduating from zoom equipped compacts, may find the 14mm (28mm equivalent) pancake kit lens a trifle disconcerting, but they will soon learn to zoom with their feet or they can buy the Lumix 14-42mm zoom instead of (or in addition to) the 14mm pancake prime.
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