Digital Christmas: Review – Panasonic DMC GF3 Lumix

7 Dec 2011

The Panasonic GF3 Lumix camera

The Panasonic GF3 Lumix camera is a versatile little wonder that brings the joy of digital photography to life and at the same time uses sensors and other digital trickery to make up for even the most amateur of photographer’s shortcomings.

The GF3 is supposed to be one of the smallest and lightest compact system cameras on the market.

Appearance wise, it’s a sturdy little number that has the appearance of a full-bodied SLR but once you’re holding it in your hand you realise just how compact it is, measuring 107.5 x 67.1 x 32mm.

The camera can be modified to switch between a 14mm pancake lens or a 14-140mm lens.

Despite the GF3’s vintage appearance (well, in black it looks pretty stylish and vintage, but it also comes in red), the camera is in fact a technological powerhouse with a whole array of sensors and settings that can make the most passable photographer scrub up to appear professional.

The camera is 12.1 megapixels and its micro four-thirds MOS sensor combined with a Venus Engine VII HD images processor allows you to take vivid images and sensitivity in the range iSO 160-6400.

Using an Auto Focus Tracking sensor, the camera doesn’t require you zooming and trying to finagle with focus settings but instead locks onto the subject and does the technical work for you.

Various auto-focus modes include AF tracking, 23 Area, 1-Area, Face Detection AF and a Pinpoint AF mode.

Users can quite simply set their camera to single mode shots, bursts, auto-bracket or set a 10-second timer.

A handy IA (intelligent auto) button let’s you switch the type of shots you want to take from landscape to portrait or increase the exposure time for a shot.

One of the stand-out pieces of technology on the camera, apart from the range of sensors, is its generous 3-inch LCD screen at the back, which is also touchscreen.

To switch to movie mode, or capture a movie, a separate video mode button exists right beside the main capture button.

One of the cool features about the GF3 is just how fast and accessible everything is. Touch the capture button and it is instant on for the device and most of the menu controls are within easy reach. Within record mode, for example, there’s a Creative Control option that lets you pan between different shoot modes, such as Retro or Sepia or High Key.

Despite all the technology and clever thinking, the only drawback from an appearance point of view is the built-in flash. Press a little button and it pops up a little ‘Inspector Gadget’ like – go, go, gadget ‘flash’ – all that’s missing is a few springs; no, wait, they are there.

It’s an impressive camera that quite quickly lets users become familiar with some of the advance settings that can take awhile to get the hang of on fully-fledged SLRs. In other words, the perfect camera to up your skills on and capture unforgettable photography.

The camera has a recommended retail price of €449 for the body without a lens, €569 for the body with a 14-140mm lens and €629 for the body with a 14mm pancake lens included.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years