Review Panasonic G3


The Panasonic G3 has entered the market in March 2011. The Panasonic G3 is, strictly speaking, the successor to the Panasonic G2, but the camera will also appeal to the Panasonic GF1 users, who prefer to use an integrated viewfinder or a tilting and rotating LCD screen.

The target group of the Panasonic G3 is large; the camera will appeal to both novice and advanced photographers and also has extensive video capabilities. How does the camera perform in practice?



The camera body of the Panasonic G3 has a modern design and the ergonomics are well thought out. The camera is so small that you will no longer hold it the way you hold a traditional SLR. Instead, you hold the camera instinctively with the fingertips pointing down, in the manner shown here. The tiny hand grip ensures adequate grip.

All buttons are in the right place. The red Movie-record button is the only button that I feel is illogical placed. It is placed on the back of the body, while on top next to the shutter release button would have been a more logical place.

The multi-aspect sensor in the Panasonic G3 is, like the sensor of the Panasonic GH2, round instead of rectangular, so you can vary the aspect ratio of 4:3, 2:3, 1:1 and 16:9 without (significant) loss of pixels occuring.

There’s plenty of competition for the Panasonic G3: Sony NEX 5N, Olympus EP 3 and the Samsung NX 200 to name a few. The Nikon V1 and Sony NEX7 could be competitors, but the Nikon V1 is aiming more at former compact camera users who want to use less settings. The Sony NEX7 is a more professional camera than the Panasonic G3.

Examples of competitors at home are the Panasonic GH2, which has a better video, the Panasonic GX1 that seems more like a Leica, but without built-in viewfinder, and Panasonic GF3, which is smaller and also lacks a built-in viewfinder.


Measurements for this test have been carried out with the help of Imatest. The measurement results are shown in the Panasonic G3 test report. The test results for the resolution of the camera are obtained by putting the sensor ratio of the Panasonic G3 on 2:3, making the measurement results directly comparable with the results of APS-C or full-frame cameras. When the camera is used in the standard 4:3 ratio, the resolution (expressed in LW/PH) is higher. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ.

Panasonic G3 versus Panasonic G2

  • The Panasonic G3 has 16 megapixels and the Panasonic G2 only 12 megapixels
  • The burst speed of the G3 is at 4 images per second (high speed @ 16mp). This is 33% higher than with the Panasonic G2. In addition, the Panasonic G3 offers 20 images per second, “super high speed,” at a resolution of 4 megapixels
  • The 23 points AF of the Panasonic G3 also offers “all area” AF point selection and Pinpoint AF mode.
  • The Panasonic G3 has better video specifications: 1920 x 1080 60i AVCHD (from 30p sensor output, @ 17 Mbps), Tracking AF in video mode and Extra Tele Conversion (ETC) and a stereo microphone

Panasonic G3 versus the competition: Sony NEX 5N, NEX 7, Olympus EP 3 and Samsung NX 200

  • You can vary the aspect ratio of the Panasonic G3 without losing megapixels. This is impossible with the other cameras.
  • The LCD screen of the Panasonic G3 is rotating and tilting. The Olympus and Sony screens are only tilting.
  • In terms of resolution, the Panasonic G3 with its 16 megapixels is in between the competitors: more than Olympus (12 mp), but less than, for example, the Samsung NX200 (20 mp) and the Sony NEX 7 (24 mp)
  • With the “Extra Tele Conversion (ETC),” the Panasonic G3 delivers and integrated teleconverter for Full-HD video recordings without losing resolution.

Viewfinder, screen and menu

The electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic G3 (left) has such a high resolution with its 1.440.00 pixels, that you no longer see dots and is – in comparison to most viewfinders of SLR cameras – is strikingly high. The screen behind the camera is rotatable and tilting. Because you can rotate the screen to the camera, you protect the screen from dirt and scratches.

The camera menu is as we expect from Panasonic: clear and easy to use. But, as is true for all cameras in this price range, due to the large number of user possibilities, it takes some time before the camera menu is familiar.



The Panasonic G3 delivers sharp images with a high resolution. With a resolution of 2000 LW/PH, the jpg files are as sharp as jpg files from a camera with a full-frame sensor like the Canon 5D MK2 or the Nikon D700. The RAW files are, with a resolution of 2400 LW/PH, slightly less than the resolution of the cameras with a full-format sensor. In the test report Panasonic G3: test results, you find our Imatest measurement results. On the right, you see a picture of a temple in the jungle made in My Son, Vietnam, to illustrate the sharpness of an ISO 200 jpg file.

Click on the image to get an impression of the sharpness of a jpg file from the Panasonic G3.


Dynamic range

The total dynamic range of the RAW files is almost constantly 12 stops throughout the entire ISO range. That is the maximum to be gained out of this sensor, because Panasonic applies a 12-bit sensor in the Panasonic G3. The test results are in the Panasonic G3 test report. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ.

Click on the photo of the egret to view the in RAW processed bleached highlights, which are marked red in the small image.


The Panasonic G3 delivers a usable dynamic range of 6 stops up to 1600 ISO, after which the usable dynamic range is reduced to 4 stops at ISO 6400. That is a good performance. Yet the sensor of the Panasonic G3 offers less exposure latitude than the sensors of Canon and Nikon cameras with an APS-C sensor, such as the Canon 60D or the Nikon D5100. In the picture above, you see a picture of a large egret shot from the hand, taken with the Panasonic 100-300 zoom lens. With such a moving subject, you do not always have time to take a second, deliberately underexposed picture. Lightroom marks the overexposed image areas red. With a Canon CR2 or a Nikon NEF file, these highlights would have been salvable with simple editing in Photoshop or Lightroom. But the RAW file of the Panasonic G3 provides no additional information in this situation: all three channels are completely overexposed.



The test results are in the Panasonic G3 test report. Comparison of the noise in jpg files with the measured noise in RAW files without noise reduction shows that noise occurs at the jpg files at all ISO settings. From the pictures and the graphs, the difference between the Panasonic G3 and the Canon 5D MK2 appears to be about 1 stop. On the right is a detail from an ISO 100 RAW image without any noise reduction.

Click on the image with your mouse for a larger version.


In a 3200 ISO RAW file without noise reduction, the noise becomes dominant. By applying noise reduction, such a much better result can be realized for this file that even this file can still be printed on A3. Experience shows that if the noise is less than 2.5%, a photo can be printed on A3 + size without the noise being seen as disturbing.

Color reproduction


The Panasonic G3 delivers RAW files with a good color reproduction (Delta E 94 = 4.2 on average) at daylight. The accuracy of the color reproduction of jpg files also depends strongly on the profile that you set on the camera (neutral, faithful, standard, etc.), but is always less accurate than a RAW file. Depending on the ISO setting, the jpg files (standard) too have an average color error (Delta E94) between 6 and 11.

Integrated flash

The Panasonic G3 is one of the few MIL cameras with a built-in viewfinder, a tilting and rotating LCD screen and a built-in flash. We have directed this on the test wall with the Panasonic 14-42 lens. At 14 mm, there is some vignetting at the edges visible, but that is really not too bad.


Autofocus speed and accuracy

The autofocus of the Panasonic G3 is not only fast when it comes to static subjects, but also accurate. The autofocus happens by means of the sensor, so that is not weird.

Autofocus tracking


Our test rig with a 1 km/hour bandwagon shows that the continuous AF of the Panasonic G3 cannot properly follow an object that comes towards the camera. A series of photographs mainly produces blurry images. In itself this is not surprising, because the manner of AF of the Panasonic G-series is based on the contrast on the sensor. In contrast to the phase detection, which is used for the AF in SLRs, no information is given about the direction in which a subject is moving.

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See our list of tested cameras to compare the performance of this camera with other cameras.



  • Very fast autofocus; AF point free to choose over entire sensor
  • High resolution and good color reproduction
  • Compact, but still provided with electronic viewfinder AND movable LCD screen
  • LCD screen with touch control
  • You can vary the aspect ratio without losing megapixels.
  • Extra Tele Conversion at video
  • No 14 bit sensor: limited dynamic range, so chance on bleached highlights
  • AF tracking of fast moving subjects impossible

The Panasonic Lumix G3 is an attractive camera for a wide target audience: compact, fast and good optical quality. The camera fits comfortably in the hand and is easy to operate, despite the small dimensions of the camera. Although we have not tested the video separately, the Extra Tele Conversion is a very attractive addition, which you will not find with other brands. The camera is versatile, but those who do night or sports photography are probably better off with another camera.

See our Panasonic G3 test report for Imatest maesurements.




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