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Panasonic Lumix G3 review

Audley Jarvis




Our Score:


User Score:


  • Super fast AF
  • High ISO performance
  • Image quality


  • Long-winded menus
  • Poor battery performance
  • No external microphone socket

Key Features

  • 16MP LiveMOS Micro Four Thirds sensor
  • 1080p Full HD movie recording
  • Super-fast AF performance
  • Excellent high ISO performance
  • Fantastic image quality
  • Manufacturer: Panasonic
  • Review Price: £489.00

The Lumix G3 is the latest model in Panasonic's compact, DSLR-like Micro Four Thirds range. It's considerably smaller and lighter than its predecessor the G2 and sports an all-new 16MP sensor, the same super-fast autofocus system as used by the GH2, a 3-inch articulated monitor that offers responsive touch-screen control over the camera, and Full HD movie recording capabilities.

The G3 sits above the G2 in the G-series range but doesn’t actually replace it. Instead the G2 remains in the range, replacing the now discontinued G10 as the budget Micro Four Thirds option. Alongside the G2, the G3 is further book-ended by the high-end GH2 and slimline GF2.

With an official launch price of £630, pre-orders from reputable online retailers are already popping up offering the G3 body with a 14-42mm kit lens for around £600. And as is often the case we expect some further discounting may occur after the G3 has been out for a month or two.

From being a relatively new and therefore niche market that was created and dominated by Panasonic and Olympus with their joint Micro Four Thirds platform, the compact system camera market has since evolved into a much more mass market affair, with new manufacturers keen to join the party and launch their own models. It’s therefore a much tougher market to dominate than it was 18 months ago. Panasonic clearly understands this and hopes the G3 will keep the company at the top of the micro system pile.

Panasonic Lumix G3 5

To do so it’ll have to compete directly against rival micro system models such as the new 14.6MP Samsung NX11 that uses a larger APS-C sized sensor and can be picked up for around £500, and the 14.2MP Sony NEX-5 that also uses an APS-C sensor and can be bought for about £550.

It’s also possible to source a very well specified entry-level DSLR for around £600, although you will of course incur a size and weight penalty over the purposely compact and easy-to-carry micro system genre - such is the penalty of a proper optical viewfinder and the optics that go with it.

Does the G3 have what it takes to take its competitors on and win? Let’s take a closer look and find out.


May 24, 2011, 5:21 pm

"14.6MP Samsung NX11 that uses a larger APS-C sized sensor and can be picked up for around £500, and the 14.2MP Sony NEX-5 that also uses an APS-C sensor and can be bought for about £550."

Think you might what to add that the sony nex-5 comes with the twin lens kit at that price its £480 with the 18-55mm kit zoom (from jessops) and typing samsung nx11 into google show it can be picked up for a little less (Park cameras a good company has it at £460 with the 18-55). Thats without mentioning the fact that you can still pick up the nex 3 from comet with the twin lens kit for £400 (thats where i got mine).

Thats not to take away from the G3 which im sure is an excellent camera but if you use alot of legacy glass (i use minolta md lenses on my nex 3) then the crop on micro 4/3s makes it hard to get fast glass cheaply at usable focus lengths. Having said that if you have the money to really invest in one of these systems then 4/3rds is the most mature and has the best lenses (the panny 20mm is superb by all accounts) which is an important thing to bear in mind. However for a student like me just wanting something smaller than the slr they never seem to be able to carry about who doesn't have £300 to pick up another lens then you want an aps-c sensor not because of depth of field but because it gives you more options when it comes to legacy glass.

Just to give people an idea though of what these cameras can do in the hands of a complete amateur these are a few picks ive taken over the last few days with my nex 3.


May 24, 2011, 11:44 pm

Thanks for the review, Audley. It looks that Panasonic has got things right when it comes to high ISO jpg performance.

It would also be nice to read about the RAW image quality. Any plans of including it to reviews?


May 25, 2011, 6:04 am

Helpful review, thanks. But can you comment on the video quality? Rolling shutter effect, AF performance, etc. And post some sample movies? Cheers,


May 25, 2011, 12:49 pm

I am very impressed with everything I have read about the G3 and the sample photos I have seen. I am looking to buy it. I have a concern that I am reluctant to bring up but I feel it has to be addressed. Given the tragedy in Fukushima, the release of radioactive materials in the air and water, the location of the Panasonic plant, the use of water in manufacturing processes, and the exposure to air - how can one know that products coming from that area are not contaminated. I hate asking this, I am a fan of this camera, but I feel that an answer is required. I have no idea where this question might be directed.


May 25, 2011, 6:34 pm

The line:

"Overall, we remain mightily impressed by the specifications, handling, performance and overall image quality of the G3. "

is repeated in your summary "Trusted reviews says...."


May 26, 2011, 1:55 pm

@gbrocks errr your joking right? You do realise that you would have to start eating your cameras for this to be a serious danger even if there was a serious contamination problem? As it is the area which has been evacuated is only really 30km where there is a risk (and a small one at that) to human health over a prolonged period (maybe a couple of months mainly from ingestion of materials with a relatively short halflife such as iodine most of which will have cleared up by now. In short the risks are minuscule a radiologist (and we have lots of those) will take a higher dosage than from his work than you would if you went and lived in the voluntary evacuation zone in fukashima for a year. Just because is the panasonic factory is in fukashima prefecture (an area bigger than yorkshire) does not mean it is affected by a disaster that has a danger to health in an area which constitutes less than 5% of its area (fukashima prefecture is 13700km2 the evacuation zone is 592km2) If it was it would be closed.


May 27, 2011, 4:41 pm

In general, the smaller the sensor, the more compatible the resulting camera is with different lenses as the sensor is more likely to fit inside of the image circle. So you will have much better chance using older as well as non third party lenses to a m43 camera. Of course Some of the image formed by larger format lenses will essentially be wasted where the sensor is too small, but at least the sensor will be fully utilized.

This is why you have m43 adapters for practically any other lens on the market. You can't say that for APS-C sensors.

Regarding getting fast glass cheaply at useable focus lengths, again, a smaller sensor makes it easier, not more difficult to design and make fast glass, and it is much easier to convert and existing fast glass design for m43 purposes. Although, the small sensor advantage is indeed diminished (NOT reversed) as you move towards smaller focus (aka macro) distances.

The only real issue with a smaller sensor is less depth of field cpampred with bigger sensors (and of course the ISO noise/DR issue).


June 30, 2011, 8:09 am

Panasonic knew you would say it. So they moved the production to China. You will get a Made in China G3 & Lens if you buy it.

Have Fun!

Mike B

April 24, 2012, 4:32 pm

The Sony NEX can't be directly compared as they lack any sort of view finder (well at lead in the price) and have less easy to access controls. Although the low light performance is better on the NEX overall the G3 is more useful due to the compact lenses available. The X 14-42 and 20mm f1.8 pancake are good examples.

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