Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3K Camera
By Branko Miletic
Shipping with a DSLR interchangeable lens system along with being light and simple to use, Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-G3K camera is a nice little unit, albeit a bit on the basic side.
Comparing it to the previous model, which was known as the G2, there has been some reduction in size and weight, meaning it has a weight and compactness that we don’t often see in traditional DSLRs.
Although the G3 is a highly capable, easy-to-use and lightweight alternative to many other cameras in this arena, I found the image quality not always in the same league as the competition and this was best illustrated by the fact that there are fewer controls on the G3 than previous Panasonic models.
For example, the auto/manual dials for controlling the focus area have disappeared. As has the depth-of-field preview button, which goes a long way to explain the fiddling I had to do just to get a decent shot of a flowering geranium that I have in my garden during a dusk-time shot.
Panasonic claims the G3 is the smallest and lightest camera with interchangeable lenses and a built-in viewfinder currently on the Australian market. Although it does look small, and feel quite light, I am unsure as to the exact veracity of that claim.
For those that like their HD video filming, the unit will allow filming in 720p or 1080i video plus it will pick up audio via a stereo microphone on the viewfinder head.
It has an easy-to-see three-inch LCD touch-screen and a useful picture-in-picture option, which gives you a small magnified window when manually focusing, while also showing the complete picture for your shot.
With its 16 Megapixel sensor, or if you like, a massive 33 percent improvement on the previous 12 Megapixel sensor of the G2 model, this is certainly not a toy. Once you get used to the unit, it does take some rather decent shots. Having said that, whilst providing fairly good shots, I was not overtly thrilled with the lens kit and I was surprised that Panasonic would release a Micro Four Thirds Sensor camera without a much better lens.
Don’t get me wrong, the Vario 14-42 mm lens isn’t bad and it does the job efficiently, it’s just that I have seen better lenses, even with kits in this category.
In auto terms, the entire G3 unit is not so much a sports car but perhaps more of a Commodore sedan – not super flashy, but reliable, functional and comfortable just the same, although at an RRP of $899 for the basic lens kit, it is a bit on the pricey side for what you actually get
According to Panasonic, the G3 also features the world’s fastest Light Speed Auto Focus of approximately 0.1 second, which they say, has been achieved by reducing the detection time for focusing, which in turn doubles the drive speed from 60 fps to 120 fps.
In terms of the body, which is mainly plastic, the G3 comes in black, red and white, for those that want to co-ordinate the G3 with their outfits.
Overall, I found the Lumix DMC-G3K camera to be a solid and easy-to-operate performer, however at the same time, I wouldn't swing from the rafters espousing its virtues. But if you want a decent, reliable digital camera, the G3 isn't the worst you can do.
Pros:Face detection is supported for up to 15 faces; lightweight; easy-to-operate
Cons:Some basic controls missing; needs a better lens kit and needs a price drop
3.5 Shacks Out Of 5