updated 07:35 am EDT, Mon June 13, 2011
Panasonic GF3 becomes smallest swappable lens cam
Just months after unveiling the GF2, Panasonic has unveiled a third iteration in the Lumix GF3. The new model is just over 16 percent smaller and lighter than the GF2 and designed even more for those graduating from point-and-shoot cameras than pros. Its control set is simpler still, though this includes an improved touchscreen interface, and brings in a "miniature effect" (tilt-shift) art filter.
Although it lacks a hot shoe, full stereo audio, and a viewfinder, the camera is partly an improvement on the GF2. Its 12-megapixel sensor borrows the better low-light sensitivity and fast, full-view autofocus from the GH2. The GF3 still has a discrete pop-up flash and can record up to 1080i video in AVCHD (H.264) with live refocusing. A new iA Plus mode gives full auto with manual overrides using simplified settings, such as tuning the aperture through a touchscreen slider.
Panasonic is offering the camera in four colors, including an uncommon brown hue, and will start it off at $600 for a version with a 14-42mm kit lens. That bundle won't arrive until August but will be preceded by a $700 kit in July with a 14mm pancake lens.
Along with the new cameras, Panasonic also has a new Leica-designed Summilux 25mm f1.4 lens. The optics work as the equivalent of a 50mm lens after the crop factor and is potentially ideal for shooting in dark scenes as well as composing shallow depth of field for portraits and certain macros. Buyers will get access in August, though Panasonic hasn't given prices and is likely to charge a premium given the bright lens and metal construction.