|1. Intelligent Auto (iA) mode instantly puts the camera into a fully automatic mode, with the ability to make manual overrides to effects like depth of field using intuitive touch-screen sliders. 2. Despite being the tiniest G-series camera, the GF3 has a built-in pop-up flash. 3. There are few buttons and dials—but the touch-screen LCD monitor makes setting the camera easy.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $499 (body only)
The smallest member of Panasonic's mirrorless G family, the GF3 features a flat design similar to a point-and-shoot camera (rather than the "mini-DSLR" shape of the G and GH models), and actually will fit into a pocket with one of the smaller lenses attached. Despite its tiny size, it provides a big, 3-inch, 460,000-dot touch-screen LCD monitor—although it doesn't tilt or swivel like those of the G and GH cameras. There's no built-in EVF, nor will it accept an accessory one. A built-in pop-up flash unit is included, with no provision for a more powerful accessory unit.
Aimed at the compact digital camera user who wants better image quality, much faster performance, interchangeable lenses, but ultrasimplicity, the GF3 fills those specs nicely. There are few buttons, as the touch-screen provides simple access to most settings. There's a large control dial on the camera back to help with more complicated settings.
The GF3 has the same video capabilities as the G3, except it has a built-in mono microphone and no jack for an external stereo one. You can focus movies manually, use continuous AF or "rack focus" by touching the appropriate spots on the touch-screen LCD monitor.
While the new GH2 and G3 offer 16-megapixel sensors, the GF3 has a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS unit. ISOs range from 160 to 6400. Like all Panasonic G-series mirrorless models, the GF3 features a Supersonic Wave Filter to keep the sensor free of dust. There's no sensor-shift image stabilization, but a number of Micro Four Thirds System lenses feature Mega O.I.S. (optical image stabilization). The GF3 can use all of them and is compatible with Panasonic's Lumix G 12.5mm ƒ/12 3D lens.