Friday, December 28, 2012

Panasonic DMC-G3 Deal and Quick Review

Panasonic DMC-G3 Deal and Quick Review
December 2012, Carl Garrard


Panasonic DMC-G3 Review-  The last Panasonic I reviewed was the excellent DMC-L1. That camera is truly a work of art, and shows what Panasonic is capable of. And now the Panasonic G3 gets my attention. Yes it's a bit older but I don't feel constrained to just review new cameras. So lets get right onto my real bonafide quick review. Let me start by saying that I feel in a way  Panasonic has been slipping lately- trying to keep up so much with the heated race of m4/3 has left them a bit desperate with designing and functionality. The newest designs just seem nervous to me, for lack of a better word- and the G3 is no exception. I didn't like the G1 nearly at all, so how does the G3 sit with me?


B & H Panasonic G3 Excellent Deal

Panasonic prior to m4/3 (Micro Four Thirds) had a good reputation for cleanly designed and well sorted cameras- today there are questionable design decisions being made that are clouding up the clarity and vision Panasonic once had. The G3 looks clean enough though and what not, and definitely is a nice camera, but I have some niggles with it. For the price its available now though you may forget all about that. Check the link below for this deal:

B & H Panasonic G3 Excellent Deal

Although not pocketable the G3 is definitely highly portable- but the small size of the body just begs for a small bright pancake prime to be attached to it (such as the 20mm f/1.7 or 17mm Oly f/2.8). The kit lens is just too large to make the best of the small body. When attached I find that I'm asking myself why I don't just use a full size DSLR at that point- handling would be better and so would comfort too. But I feel that way about all the mirrorless cameras just about, so the G3 is  no different in that regard.


The good thing about the kit lens is that is shows off one of the G3's greatest strengths- it's AF speed. For static subjects the G3 in some ways is even faster than some DSLRS phase detection auto focus systems- it's truly blazing even in low light. Kudos on that Panasonic.

B & H Panasonic G3 Excellent Deal

The last Panasonic I reviewed was the excellent DMC-L1. That camera is truly a work of art, and shows what Panasonic is capable of. I feel in a way that Panasonic has been slipping- trying to keep up so much with the heated race of m4/3 has left them a bit desperate with designing and functionality. The newest designs just seem nervous. Panasonic prior to m4/3 had a good reputation for cleanly designed and well sorted cameras- today there are questionable design decisions being made that are clouding up the clarity and vision Panasonic once had- and it's not necessarily about the exterior of the camera either.

A handsome camera and pretty well sorted. Smallish buttons and the big screen dominates the back though a bit too much for my taste.

The G3 is definitely more likeable in some regards than the G1 (the last Panasonic m4/3 camera I reviewed), and in some ways more complicated. Overall the G3 gets a nod of approval from me but just earns that right. I had to turn off more features than I ever have with a camera before, and was daunted by lets face it- too many options. The G3 feels over engineered and gadgety in the firmware- almost camera phone geeky in a way. It's as if it was designed for the pimply teen who has nothing but time to fidget around and discover tons of new shooting features and how to implement them (hey no offense, I was a pimply teen once too). But what about the growing/learning photographer, or heck, the enthusiast/prosumer?



If that was Panasonic's target audience (camera phone photogs/users that is), and it is turning out to be lucrative for them- then so be it. But personally I feel that they have muddied up what is best about Pansonic's engineering bravado, and have tried to become too much like the competition (cough, NEX). Especially with the menu system that when you first enter looks strikingly familiar to the frustrating NEX menu- ick! No I don't like it's menu nor the NEX's. I like a well sorted menu system and today there's no excuse for a messy menu system.

Panasonic, you don't need to do that.



Now all that being said, after I set up the G3 to best serve as it's primary function (being a CAMERA) and got used to where everything was and how it was to be adjusted etc., the G3 became a pleasant camera to use- namely because of its size, comfort, EVF, and nice shutter sound. The picture quality was decent for a camera of it size, although nothing to rave about- Raw images look much better than what the Jpeg engine is capable of however and I am a raw shooter convert through and through.

For the deal at B&H right now though, this camera is simply a steal if you want to get into m4/3 or mirrorless cameras.

B & H Panasonic G3 Excellent Deal

Be safe and happy shooting,

-Carl Carrard


What I Like about the G3

Gone is the stubby sharp d-ring strap mount on the hand (hello G1), celebrate good times!
On/off switch position is slick and near perfect
Grip is actually comfortable
EVF is as good as the best of the best, huge view, sharp, low tearing at all even in low light
Small size begs a small prime, slick set up potential
Manual Flash catch (as opposed to electronic button release- hate those)
LCD is very nice, good and solid/sturdy and flexible*
Centered tripod metal tripod mount (kudos on both)
Good price for performance and image quality
Inclusion of AF assist lamp
Video is ridiculously good
Better image quality than I'm used too for m4/3 cameras (still not APS-C level yet)

 

What I Dislike about the G3

Rear thumbpad isn't rubber, rear wheel difficult to adjust (both click and rotation, frustrating)
*LCD 16:9 aspect ration of LCD should give way to 3:2 format, leave room for rear controls
Bit cramped on the back, FN1 button difficult to engage (but I do see the reason it is flush/flat)
Feels a bit plasticy although pretty dense
Menu system is a bit daunting, usually a strong point for me on Panasonic cameras (it's a bit NEX like, yuck!)
Changing AF spot area position was challenging and not obvious (had to go to the manual- which is only on CD, sigh)
Write times for Raw+Jpeg recording took a bit longer than I expected
Playback button in inconvenient location
EVF should have eye sensor for automatic changing
Feels gadgety and fiddly, not camera like (controls in odd places menu items hard to find or change etc.)



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