Panasonic Lumix G3

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Now added to the Lumix G line of cameras from Panasonic is the DMC-G3. Panasonic says it is the smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens camera with a viewfinder from the company.

Lighter and smaller than a traditional DSLR, the G3 features a new 16.0-megapixel sensor producing rich, true-to-life, high quality images, plus 1920 x 1080 full-High Definition (HD) video recording capability with stereo sound in AVCHD.

The G3 provides a traditional DSLR-like experience with an external Mode dial for quick access to common modes like Program, Shutter and Aperture Priority, and Manual Model. Additional dial settings include two Custom Modes, Scene Modes and a Creative Control Mode. The camera also has a dedicated video button allowing users to switch to video capture quickly without changing modes.

It also has a built-in flash and hot shoe for connecting optional Lumix flashes.

For many, a traditional eye-level viewfinder is still a must have, so the G3 has one with 100 percent field of view. In addition, colour breakup has been improved when compared to the G2, says the company.

The G3 features touch-control shooting, which lets photographers focus on the subject by simply touching it on the 3-inch HD LCD touch screen. Once locked on by a touch of the screen, the G3 tracks the subject, even if it moves, with autofocus (AF) tracking. In addition to its 23 area autofocusing points, the G3 features new Pinpoint AF which allows extremely precise near-pixel-level focus point setting at the touch of a finger. For example, unlike DSLRs that limit the number of fixed hardware focus points, Pinpoint AF can be set by touch control to very fine points anywhere on the LCD.

With a new Precision Contrast LightSpeed AF system, the camera is said to be extremely fast. This feature is achieved by reducing the detection time for focusing by doubling the Live MOS Sensor drive’s speed from 60 fps to 120 fps. Manual control over focus has been greatly improved in the new camera when compared to its predecessor, the G2. When magnification is first enabled at 4x by simply touching the subject on the LCD, that subject is enlarged in a small window allowing you to keep the rest of the image in view as a framing reference. Beyond 4x, that small window fills the monitor to achieve even more control over focus fine-tuning. This feature is available from both the Manual Focus (MF) Assist and AF + MF focus modes.

The Intelligent LCD has a bright 460,000-dot equivalent resolution and rotates 180° to the side and tilts 270° up and down offering approximately 100 percent of field of view, making it easy to operate and shoot at different angles. In addition, the touch-enabled-screen operation excels not only for shooting but also for playing back images with outstanding visibility. Users can scroll through hundreds of images on the screen, simply by thumbing through the thumbnails. To play back images one-by-one, the user drags the image across the screen as though flipping a page in a book.

The G3’s newly-developed 16.0-megapixel Live MOS sensor, combined with the Venus Engine FHD image processor, contribute to the high-quality photo and video images, says Panasonic. The processor also provides selective noise reduction to create a more naturally-balanced curve without deterioration of the image. In the G3, image noise is suppressed by more than 66 percent, according to the company. Notably in shooting at high ISO settings, S/N value is improved by approximately 200 percent compared with the conventional 12.1-megapixel sensor. The sensor performance improves by 6dB at ISO 3200 and maximum 9dB at ISO 6400.

The G3 features Panasonic’s iA2 and new iA Plus modes, which are enabled automatically once the iA button is pressed. The iA features – such as Intelligent Resolution, MEGA O.I.S. (included in several lenses), Intelligent ISO Control, and Intelligent Scene Selector – are available when shooting still images. However, Panasonic’s new iA Plus mode adds greater flexibility with real-time visual feedback between automatic and manual shooting features, such as: Touch-screen-slider-enabled background defocusing; touch-enabled exposure control compensation; and touch-screen-slider-enabled white balance. A desired colour balance result under difficult lighting can be achieved visually from the LCD with a touch-enabled slider icon.

The G3 offers rapid burst shooting control at various rates and resolutions. Image capture at full-resolution (16-megapixel) is possible at up to 4 frames per second with its mechanical shutter enabled, or an even faster 20 fps using the electronic shutter feature at a reduced resolution of 4-megapixels.

Creative Control mode allows for images to be taken with popular visual effects that previously required software post processing. Effects include Retro, High Key, Sepia and High Dynamic. The conventional film mode has also evolved with a new effect control, Photo Style, which has Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery and Portrait presets to allow finer adjustment of contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction.

As with previous models, the G3 utilizes the Micro Four Thirds System mount.

Many Lumix Micro Four Thirds lenses come with MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) built-in. This feature helps prevent blurring from shaky hands. Working together with this is the camera’s intelligent ISO Control, which reduces motion blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity if the subject moves, helping to ensure sharp images.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 is made of aluminum and will be available in black, starting in July. Suggested retail price of the camera with the 14-42 mm zoom lens will be $799.99. The G3 will also be available in a body only option with a suggested retail price of $699.

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