updated 07:40 am EDT, Thu May 12, 2011
Panasonic makes Lumix G3 MFT official
Panasonic confirmed rumors Thursday by launching its first third-generation Lumix, the G3. The camera is considered the smallest swappable-lens model to still pack a viewfinder and does so by moving some of its button and dial controls to its three-inch, swiveling touchscreen. Autofocusing is also much more powerful: it now can not only get finer-grained tap-to-focus control but has a new precise contrast AF routine that can lock in as quickly as a tenth of a second (on a 14-140mm lens) by doubling the CMOS sensor's live sample rate to 120FPS.
The camera normally shoots at 16 megapixels, making it only the second Panasonic Micro Four Thirds camera to do so after the GH2. It has improved, subtler noise reduction that more selectively cleans the image and keeps it looking sharper, especially at very low and very high (up to ISO 6,400) settings. It captures video at 1080p with stereo audio and, in normal autofocusing, uses a 23-point area system.
Staring through the viewfinder gives an 800x600 view with 100 percent coverage and an 0.7X magnification factor, though the touchscreen gives extra advantages for beginners. A new iA Plus mode gives some level of manual control through the touchscreen that might be difficult to understand otherwise, such as "background defocusing" (aperture), exposure, and white balance.
The G3 will come in Panasonic's favorite black, red, and white colors but will also have a rare brown option. Only a kit version with a 14-42mm lens has been unveiled so far and will cost $700 when it arrives in June.