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Thread: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

  1. #1

    Default Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    This review is focused more on user impression in actual usage rather than specs. I think the former is often lacking on the internet and the user can easily find the latter on all major photographic review/equipment sites.
    So for those interested in a tech review, there are the usual suspects, here :
    Panasonic DMC G3 Review: 1. Introduction: Digital Photography Review
    Panasonic Lumix G3 review | from TechRadar UK's expert reviews of Digital SLRs/Hybrids
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 Compact System Camera - Review
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 review | Cameralabs




    Physical layout and comparisons


    Below is a comparison to the Panasonic GF1.
    The G3 is about the same and in fact smaller in some dimensions to the GF1.
    However, it has a different feel to it in terms of the grip and look.
    It feels more like a mini DSLR than an old school film or RF camera. I think the reason for this is the grip and the small EVF bump on the camera.
    All this is just my own user impressions rather than actual empirical stats.
    I can see the attraction of 'feel' and style in a RF styled m4/3 camera like the Oly EP series and Panasonic's GF1.
    So buyer take note.
    If you want a 'mini DSLR' or don't care about style and feel, the above observations don't matter.
    If you do, then the more you should try out the G3 at a store to see if the look and handling is for you.

    Side by side G3 and GF1
    The G3 is actually shorter in length. Styling is different too (DSLR VS RF style).




    Top view
    Generally the same top single mode dial. The G3 does not have a frame mode switch but that is allocated to one of the direction pads. Not a great deal difference imo.




    Side view
    Almost the same thickness. G3 is a bit thicker, but then it packs a full articulating LCD, so its pretty impressive.
    Notice that the EVF of the G3 juts out quite a bit, which may bother some folks who want a more slim profile for easier placing in a small bag.




    Rear view
    The G3 actually has one less function button compared to the GF1. The D-pad is the same. The two function buttons on the G3 can be customized, so it can easily be assigned as AE lock; focus type; picture style; etc. In other words, though it has 1 less button, there is really no loss since the Fn buttons can easily replicate whatever was on the GF1 or otherwise.




    The new grip on the G3 is really well thought out and in some ways, makes it stand out from the previous GF and G series.
    It sleeker and less "in your face" jutted out compared to previous Gx series and feels more substantial as a grip compared to GF series.
    It wells secure and really nice.
    Last edited by pinholecam; 18th October 2011 at 05:21 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Points and thoughts about the user interface
    A bit of a long rant here.....
    Please bear with me, as I think its the very point that makes G3 nice as well as potentially irritating when starting off with it.

    The G3 user is spoilt for choice on how he/she uses the camera interface. This though, is a double edged sword. Its what I initially struggled with in terms of camera handling and thought of selling it off.
    Panasonic has left out the proximity sensor to the EVF for automatic switching between EVF and LCD which was available in previous G1 and G2.
    The user now has to switch between the two using the LCD/EVF button located on the top left corner of the camera.





    The user has the following option of controls and visualizations :
    1. EVF for review of settings, photo-taking
    2. LCD for review of settings, photo-taking
    3. Dials/buttons for various settings (but not all settings)
    4. Touch screen LCD for various settings (but not all settings)



    This can become confusing to the user, and different users have come up with various ways of using it :
    1. Use EVF as primary source of viewing settings and photo-taking, peering into the EVF for setting changes.
    2. Use mainly EVF, keep LCD panel closed, flip open panel to the side to immediately turn on the LCD.
    3. Use mainly EVF and have the LCD panel ready, switching between the two via the EVF/LCD button.
    4. Use the LCD as the primary viewing source - use EVF only when situations require it.


    The G3 interface needs getting used to.
    I started off not liking it that much. Finding the usage 'clunky' as there was a need to juggle EVF and LCD usage.
    However, with further use, the camera grew on me. I got used to using the LCD as the primary souce of viewing, leaving the EVF use for MF, shooting stability or more focus in framing.
    So its really down to finding peace in the 'work flow' when using the interface.

    I still find its easiest to start off with using the LCD like a pns or other mirrorless cameras and later venture into using the EVF and other combination arrangements.


    Now for some personal likes on the interface :


    1. Window in window zoom in for manual focus.

    a small window at x3 magnification over the full frame of the viewfinder makes manual focus easy while retaining composition


    This is a really nice addition to the existing options of 3x,8x,10x zoom.
    It makes manual focus easy while retaining composition within the frame.

    2. Fully articulating screen
    The swivel LCD comes in handy for odd angles. Its rather amazing that the one on the G3 is a fully articulating LCD that adds little bulk compare to a non articulating one like on a GF1.


    Shoot lower angles than usual


    Shoot from top view (TLR style)



    3. Touch focus point selection

    This is a nice and useful feature.
    Very often for street photography, I see the intended subject some distance before shooting distance.
    With touch focus selection, all I need to do is touch on the intended focus point for the composition I want, move to appropriate distance to subject and snap the shot.

    Eg. in this case, I saw this gentleman leaned against the railing a distance away, decided I would photograph him at the right 'thirds' position, touched the LCD panel, walked closer to him, took the camera up, waited for him to turn his head to me and snapped the picture. No need for center point focus and re-compose.
    Last edited by pinholecam; 18th October 2011 at 02:45 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    AF system
    Focus is rather fast, but not as fast as phase AF on a DSLR. Its a bit better than my GF1.
    Panasonic m4/3 AF was never slow in the first place compared to the earlier Olympus EP series.
    I never really felt that AF was the cause of missed candid shots.
    I did miss shots but they were in situations where I would have missed them with a DSLR as well.
    So thumbs up to the AF.


    Two moments that the AF certainly reacted in time.








    In poor light, AF will always be less decisive on any camera system. The G3 is no different, but no complaints here either.

    Two shots here in low light one inside the dimly lit temple the other just spill light from the shops







    Battery Life
    Battery life is rather short on a G3 compared to many DSLR and m4/3 systems. However, it easily lasts a day of shooting on a full charged battery, so coupled with a spare, there is no cause for concern nor should this be a reason not to consider the camera. As with any digital cameras system, a spare battery or two is a must anyway, so the spare will carry the user through a day of usage with peace of mind.
    There are plenty of 3rd party batteries for the G3, so there is no need to worry over the cost of original Panasonic batteries either.
    Last edited by pinholecam; 18th October 2011 at 05:27 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Picture Quality

    For m4/3 systems, the G3 brings a lot to the table in terms of picture quality with the new 16mp m4/3 sensor.
    Not only did I find high ISO performance improved over the GF1, the sensor also has higher resolution to enable a careless photographer like me to crop for better composition without suffering too much loss in file size (for printing) or details.








    A night out doing candid/street photography posed an ideal opportunity to show how the G3 performs for actual situations of photo taking at high ISO.


    Last edited by pinholecam; 18th October 2011 at 02:20 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    More low light samples

    Just spill light from the shop and displays




    Dim conditions on a night bus



    Another one on the street



    Poorly lit interior of a wet market



    Under poor indoor pasar malan lighting

  6. #6

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Overall Impressions and Conclusion

    I just hope an actual user review like this one with actual photos and not test charts, brick walls and lifeless mannequin will show out exactly what the camera can/cannot do for the photographer in the 'field'.
    Each reader can hopefully form his/her own conclusions as well as judge if the interface, camera aesthetics, out of camera colors and picture taking ability suits him/her.


    Personally, the G3 has grown on me.
    I found its myriad of user interface confusing and a struggle at first, but as I used it more, the more I found that it was the user (ie. me) that needed to learn new tricks and new ways to use what the G3 offers.
    Frankly, I think its hard for a user to pick up a demo G3 at Harvey Normal/ Best/ etc and immediately get chummy with it. Most ppl lament the loss of the auto EVF/LCD detection switching.
    But I guess the way to look at this and the G3 is like that first mug of beer or glass of wine. Its not soft drink at first gulp, but it gets better with every mug/glass.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Couple of other photo samples here, just to provide a broader look than the mostly night shots posted in the review.

    In camera monochrome setting





    "Scenic" setting with saturation set to -2.





  8. #8

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Thanks for this review - it's very useful for me. Just one question - I've gone through your review a few times - what lens?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by m43er View Post
    Thanks for this review - it's very useful for me. Just one question - I've gone through your review a few times - what lens?
    Thanks, glad that its been useful to you.
    The photos in the review were done with Panasonic 20/1.7 and Olympus 45/1.8
    Nice, small, light, fast and good performing lenses.
    I also have the 14/2.5, but did not use it for photos in the review.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by pinholecam View Post
    The photos in the review were done with Panasonic 20/1.7 and Olympus 45/1.8
    Nice, small, light, fast and good performing lenses.
    Hi,
    I'm on the verge of buying this camera too, so thank you very much for the review.

    Since you metioned that you used the 2 primes, do you find it very much slower to achieve focus lock when compared to the Kit lens ?
    I read about it in some other reviews and wanted to confirm with someone who actually uses the camera. (i'm hoping you have the kit lens)
    They claimed that with the kit lens, its almost instantaneous AF, whereas with the older primes , it can take up to 1+ secs to achieve focus lock.
    Similar lighting conditions of course.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by BestShot; 19th October 2011 at 11:11 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by BestShot View Post
    Hi,
    I'm on the verge of buying this camera too, so thank you very much for the review.

    Since you metioned that you used the 2 primes, do you find it very much slower to achieve focus lock when compared to the Kit lens ?
    I read about it in some other reviews and wanted to confirm with someone who actually uses the camera. (i'm hoping you have the kit lens)
    They claimed that with the kit lens, its almost instantaneous AF, whereas with the older primes , it can take up to 1+ secs to achieve focus lock.
    Similar lighting conditions of course.

    Thank you.
    Sorry, I've never had the kit lens
    For me, AF is pretty good with the 2 primes.
    I don't find that its "fastest" as they claim for both Panny and Oly new generation of m4/3, though they are certainly decent and much better than earlier generation of 'G's and 'PEN's, but I'm not using the same lenses Panny/Oly used for their AF tests.
    Never found myself cursing or tearing out my hair over the AF.


    I suggest going to the shop yourself and trying out the camera as well as asking for the 45/1.8 and/or 20/1.7 to try out with it.
    Last edited by pinholecam; 19th October 2011 at 11:23 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by pinholecam View Post
    Sorry, I've never had the kit lens
    I suggest going to the shop yourself and trying out the camera as well as asking for the 45/1.8 and/or 20/1.7 to try out with it.
    Thank you for the quick response ! It is much appreciated.

    I've been reading CS for a long time, and everytime I see this I always cringe, cos I don't know how you guys can do this can go into a shop,
    and ask for 3 or more items to test there with only "maybe the intention" of buying it (cos you are not sure of the performance till you test it)

    If it were just to test one item - say the camera which they had on display, I would say ya, ok. I could do that, after all, I might buy it.
    But asking them to take out 2 more expensive prime lenses as well ? Maybe my skin is just not thick enough...

    Lastly, perhaps you can tell me which shop to go to where they will allow me to try all 3 items / perhaps the shop you purchased from ?
    Please don't direct me to another thread - I have read all the buying guides and posts (done my homework),
    and know the names and addresses of all the reputable shops.

    but I don't know which one wouldn't give me the evil eye if I walk out with nothing. Thanks in advance !!!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by BestShot View Post
    Thank you for the quick response ! It is much appreciated.

    I've been reading CS for a long time, and everytime I see this I always cringe, cos I don't know how you guys can do this can go into a shop,
    and ask for 3 or more items to test there with only "maybe the intention" of buying it (cos you are not sure of the performance till you test it)

    If it were just to test one item - say the camera which they had on display, I would say ya, ok. I could do that, after all, I might buy it.
    But asking them to take out 2 more expensive prime lenses as well ? Maybe my skin is just not thick enough...

    Lastly, perhaps you can tell me which shop to go to where they will allow me to try all 3 items / perhaps the shop you purchased from ?
    Please don't direct me to another thread - I have read all the buying guides and posts (done my homework),
    and know the names and addresses of all the reputable shops.

    but I don't know which one wouldn't give me the evil eye if I walk out with nothing. Thanks in advance !!!

    Just don't go to the 'beng' shops

    MSColor; OP; Cathay Photo are the ones I go to.
    Never tried the other often recommended ones like SLRRev.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Hi Pinholecam,

    based on your opinion, what is the max ISO you think this cam can go and still looks clean?
    In the eyes of the beholder!

  15. #15

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    played with it again for 15-20min at Courts, the battery went down to 1 bar from 3 bars....how is the real world experience usage shooting and review pics with no flash use?
    Have to disable the "picture view after taking" when using viewfinder or else if want to take a few shots in succession, the next shot you cannot see what you aim at while the previous shot is displayed...right?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Thanks for the review JK Very Tempting

  17. #17

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by undergrd View Post
    Hi Pinholecam,

    based on your opinion, what is the max ISO you think this cam can go and still looks clean?
    Hard to give you a straight answer. It will differ person to person.
    IMHO, the camera sensors as of late 2010 are all able to give reasonable non-pixel peeping results at ISO3200.
    The really crumbly, grainy o/p from sensors 2yrs back is very much a thing of the past.
    Personally I'd go ISO1600 without much thought.
    From ISO3200, very usable, but I wouldn't immediately use it preferring to see if I can do something about exposure before using it. (Eg. turn on more lights; use flash if possible; use slower shutter speed, larger aperture, etc)
    ISO6400 is still very usable.

    Here are 2 larger samples taken at ISO6400. I can't post above 1024x768 for my Flickr account. But I think what I want to say here is that at such high ISO, there should not be pixel peeping to keep one's sanity
    As far as being able to take non-junk pictures at high ISO w/o much noisy artifacts for normal viewing, I think the G3 does pretty well for a smaller sensor camera.











    Quote Originally Posted by senser View Post
    played with it again for 15-20min at Courts, the battery went down to 1 bar from 3 bars....how is the real world experience usage shooting and review pics with no flash use?
    Have to disable the "picture view after taking" when using viewfinder or else if want to take a few shots in succession, the next shot you cannot see what you aim at while the previous shot is displayed...right?
    That is a bit too weird and too short. The battery certainly lasts a day of shooting varying between LCD and EVF with picture reviews in between them.
    Yes, for me, I set the instant review to be disabled when using viewfinder. I've read on other forums that some folks have the preview 'ON' as it goes away once the shutter button is half pressed. But that usage scheme did not well work for me.



    Quote Originally Posted by gummy73 View Post
    Thanks for the review JK Very Tempting
    Its a nice camera.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by BestShot View Post

    Since you metioned that you used the 2 primes, do you find it very much slower to achieve focus lock when compared to the Kit lens ?
    I read about it in some other reviews and wanted to confirm with someone who actually uses the camera. (i'm hoping you have the kit lens)
    They claimed that with the kit lens, its almost instantaneous AF, whereas with the older primes , it can take up to 1+ secs to achieve focus lock.
    Similar lighting conditions of course.

    Thank you.
    One thing to note about CDAF. If you focus on something that has low contrast, the AF will struggle. This is especially so if the AF point is set to a smaller box than the default one.
    So for example, if I was to focus on someone's face and I pointed the AF box to his/her cheek and nothing else which is just skin color, CDAF will struggle. If I pointed the box to include a contrast point like cheeks + lips + nose, the contrast present at the lips and nostrils will let CDAF focus in rather quickly.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Are you more positive about articulating LCDs now?
    Panasonic TZ-110

  20. #20

    Default Re: Panasonic G3 - a real world user review

    Quote Originally Posted by tsammyc View Post
    Are you more positive about articulating LCDs now?
    I still think the photographer and the array of skills at his/her disposal still makes the most difference. Articulating screen or not does not matter.

    Nothing that I've shot here can't be done on a camera w/o one. Just needs another approach.
    Never been negative about an articulating screen anyway.
    Last edited by pinholecam; 20th October 2011 at 03:53 PM.

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