Panasonic’s DMC-G3 combines the features and handling of a DSLR with the reduced dimensions of a compact camera. It also features a unique 3in flip-out rotating touchscreen display which enables shooting from a variety of angles and allows the use of the screen to focus and take photos.
Like Samsung’s NX11, it features a hand grip on the right-hand-side and an electronic viewfinder placed slightly off-centre to the left although, unfortunately the viewfinder doesn’t automatically activate when you look through it. It also sports a pop-up flash unit in the middle of which nestles a hot-shoe mount and a stereo microphone which is the perfect complement to the cameras strong video capabilities. The DMC-G3 supports full HD capture at up to 60fps interlaced or 30fps non-interlaced and offers a dedicated video capture button for switching quickly between stills and video.
The DMC-G3 uses the Micro FourThirds system, jointly developed with Olympus and share with the PEN mini. This 4:3 format sensor is a little smaller than the APS-C sensors found in the competition and therefore has to work a little harder to compete in terms of image noise. However despite its size limitations, the DMC-G3 produces surprisingly clean pictures. Images remain usable right up to ISO 6400 when pushed, although here the best of the APS-C cameras are able to outstrip it in low-light performance.
The Micro FourThirds format also enables Panasonic and Olympus cameras to share lenses, opening up the widest selection of possible glassware to both manufacturers.
Quick and responsive, the DMC-G3’s autofocus system is lightning fast. Despite Olympus’s claims to the contrary, it felt faster than the PEN mini– It’s in a different league to both Samsung’s NX11 and the Sigma DP2xi. We also found focusing to be very accurate. The camera’s operation is speedy throughout. No-longer should mirrorless cameras be regarded as the slower cousins of full-sized DSLRs.
Although the DMC-G3 offers some degree of built-in assistance, it’s still a rather complex and at times bewildering camera. Thankfully, if you just want to point and shoot, you can press the dedicated iA button, or ‘panic’ button as we like to think of it. This shifts the camera into fully automatic mode, while simultaneously lighting up bright blue to alert all around to the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing.