Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 full review

The aluminium-clad DMC-GF3 is Panasonic’s most compact CSC to date; it just about fits in a jacket pocket, though it’s a squeeze. And Panasonic has been careful to market the camera with a matching compact lens in the 14mm prime (28mm equivalent in 35mm terms) rather than a physically larger zoom.

While resisting the urge to label the 12.1-megapixel GF3 a ‘dumbed-down’ GF2, that’s not actually far from the truth. What we’ve lost here is its predecessor’s hotshoe for accessory flash – a built-in flash now sits in its place – stereo sound, and the accessory port for adding extras like an electronic viewfinder or additional microphone.

The GF3 doesn’t feature built-in image stabilisation, nor does the included lens, so it’s good there’s a handgrip, though small, and that the lens itself offers a bright f/2.5 aperture for low-light work. On the backplate is a scroll wheel for flipping through settings faster – though we’re not big fans – and a video record button for Full HD clips. This being a Panasonic, there’s an intelligent Auto (iA) button, so users can slip effortlessly into scene- and subject-recognising point-and-shoot mode if desired.

Everything falls readily to hand and part of the reason for the simplicity of the layout is because the 3in LCD is a touchscreen with decent clarity, though it’s no match for the E-P3. The screen is responsive and it’s easy to fire off a shot simply by tapping it – almost too easy. We preferred to use a combination of physical controls and touchscreen, deferring to the strengths of each. Battery life is 340 shots from a full charge, so the screen doesn’t noticeably drain power.

The DMC-GF3 is a downsized version of the acclaimed GF2 hoping to hit a wider market by jettisoning some features and bulk

Like Olympus, Panasonic claims the world’s fastest auto-focus for the GF3, and it’s as quick to start up as the Olympus models, at just over a second. Auto-focus really comes into its own when shooting video. Focus adjusts silently and smoothly as you pan from one subject to the next.

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