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Panasonic DMC-G3 Operation

Like those of the company's prior Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Panasonic G3's user interface can at first seem a little befuddling, because some common functions don't have external buttons visibly labeled. Exposure compensation is a prime example; there's no button labeled with a +/- symbol on the camera's body. To adjust the exposure, you can either push on the control dial and then turn it, or enter the Quick menu by pressing either the physical Q.Menu button or the on-screen Q.Menu soft-button, if enabled. There, you can scroll among the available options, find the exposure compensation option, then adjust the exposure compensation level by rolling the control dial, using the physical left/right arrow keys, pressing the on-screen left/right arrow keys, or tapping the desired position on the on-screen slider bar. By default, though, the exposure compensation option doesn't appear in the Quick menu, so unless you've already done so, you'll need to first press the Quick Menu Setup soft-key, scroll to the third page of available options, and then drag the appropriate icon down to one of the three pages of the Quick Menu bar. (The first two pages are already populated by default, so using these will replace an existing item; the third page is blank initially, and in total there are 15 slots in the Quick menu available for your chosen selection, from 24 available menu items.).

Once we became accustomed to the Panasonic G3's controls, we found that the user interface worked well, although it took a little while to configure to our tastes. By and large, the Quick menu is quite intuitive, although for some items where there were multiple rows of option icons, we found it a little confusing that the left and right arrow keys moved between columns of options, but the up and down arrows immediately switched between selecting menu items or menu options, rather than moving between the various rows of options. (For example, in the Picture Setting screen, if you want to access the 3:2 M icon in the middle of the second row without using the touch-screen, you have to hit the left or right arrow repeatedly to skip past all the options in the first or last row, at which point your selection will wrap around to the middle row.) Since it's entirely icon-based, if you don't recognize a particular icon, you may find yourself unsure what it means, although generally there's a brief 2-3 word description shown if you select the icon with the physical controls, or touch-and-hold on it briefly.) Those slight criticisms aside, though, we generally found the Panasonic G3 quite pleasant to shoot with once we'd become familiar with the Quick menu design.

The four navigation buttons access oft-used commands, including ISO sensitivity, white balance, autofocus mode, and drive mode. Both the Display and Quick Menu buttons can also be configured as special Function buttons, which can be assigned to quite a variety of options.

 

Panasonic DMC-G3 Record Mode Display

The Panasonic G3's rear-panel tilt-swivel three-inch TFT color LCD monitor can be used for image review, status display, menu display, and as a viewfinder for image framing. Its electronic viewfinder offers much the same display functions, but with significantly higher resolution - 480,000 pixels for the EVF versus 153,000 pixels for the LCD panel..

The illustrations below (courtesy of Panasonic) show what information is displayed on the G3's LCD monitor or electronic viewfinder in Record Mode. In most cases, the displays are identical, with the exception of items specific to the LCD touch panel as noted below.

.


Initial Display


Recording Display

 

The following table documents the information for all display illustrations above:

1
Recording mode
25
Custom settings
2
Flash mode
26
Flash output adjustment
3
REC MODE (when recording motion pictures)
27
2nd curtain synchro
Recording quality
28
Extended tele conversion (when recording motion pictures)
4
Picture size
29
Extended tele conversion (when taking still pictures)
5
Quality
30
Histogram
6
Optical image stabilizer
31
Digital zoom
Jitter alert
32
Wind cut
7
Burst
33
Defocus control function
Auto bracket
34
Spot metering target
Self-timer
35
Self-timer *6
8
Picture mode
36
White balance bracket
9
Battery indication
37
Available recording time *2, 3
10
Touch quick menu *1
38
White balance fine adjustment
● Recording state (flashes red)
39
White balance
● Focus (lights green)
Color
11
Touch shutter *1
40
Current date and time
12
Display *1
Travel destination setting *4
13
Number of recordable pictures *2
41
Program shift
14
Dial operation guide
42
AE lock
15
ISO sensitivity
43
Face recognition
16
Exposure compensation value
44
AF lock
Brightness
45
Mic level display
Manual exposure assistance
Age *5
17
Shutter speed
Location *4
18
Aperture value
46
Simultaneous recording indicator
19
Metering mode
Name *5
20
AF mode
Number of days that have passed since the departure date *4
21
Focus mode
47
Intelligent resolution
22
Exposure meter
48
Intelligent dynamic range control
23
AF area
49
Photo style
24
Card (displayed only during recording)
Elapsed recording time *3
   

Notes:

  1. Only displayed in the LCD monitor.
  2. It is possible to switch the display between the number of recordable pictures and available recording time with the [REMAINING DISP.] setting in the [CUSTOM] menu.
  3. "h" is an abbreviation for hour, "m" for minute and "s" for second.
  4. This is displayed for about 5 seconds when the camera is turned on, after setting the clock and after switching from Playback Mode to Recording Mode.
  5. This is displayed for about 5 seconds when this unit is turned on in [BABY1]/[BABY2] or [PET] in Scene Mode.
  6. This is displayed during countdown.

 

Panasonic G3 Playback Mode Displays

The Playback button on the rear panel accesses Playback mode, where you can review captured images. Pressing the Display button cycles through displays showing basic information about the captured image (flash use, program mode, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, size, JPEG quality, sequence number, tagged information such as a baby's age and name, and info about print orders); a screen showing a small thumbnail and more detailed exposure information (adding metering mode, focus mode, image stabilization setting, intelligent dynamic-range control, intelligent resolution color space, photo style, shading compensation, travel date information, color space, and file number to the above); a screen with a small thumbnail and RGB + luminance histogram displays; and finally an image with no information overlay at all. (Touch-screen icons are shown briefly, then hidden until the screen is touched). There is an optional Highlight display that can be enabled in the Setup menu. It blinks clipped areas in black and white. Similar displays are available for movie files.

In Playback mode, touching the screen or rotating the command dial located on the back of the camera to the right zooms in on the image being viewed. You can zoom in up to 16x (in steps of 2x), and pan around the full image via the arrow keys. If using the touch panel to control the zoom, the enlarged area centers on the portion of the image which was touched, and an on-screen icon is used to zoom back out, or reset to an unzoomed view, and tapping again on the zoomed image will increase the zoom level. The enlarged image can be panned either by dragging on the touch screen, or by using the arrow pad.

When you zoom out beyond the full-image display by rotating the Rear dial left, or pressing the thumbnail icon, you can see displays of 12 or 30 thumbnails, or a calendar-based display that organizes images in groups by the date captured. The scroll bar at the right of the touch screen can be dragged to scroll through the available images.