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Panasonic G3 Performance


Timing and Performance

The Panasonic G3 is as fast or faster than most CSCs, but a bit slower than average compared to most SLRs.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.4 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~2.2 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
3 seconds after 20 Large/Fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
17 seconds after 9 RAW files*
26 seconds after 7 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup and shutdown times were slower than those for most SLRs, but fairly typical for a compact system camera. Compared to the G2, startup was a bit slower (1.4 vs 1s) but shutdown was faster (2.2 vs 2.5s). Buffer clearing times were pretty good with JPEGs, but slow with RAW files.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.8 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

~2.2 seconds

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.2 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching was reasonably fast and comparable to the G2, except for Record to Play which was much slower than average, and quite a bit slower than the G2's 1.0 second.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode,
Wide Angle
0.293 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing done with Panasonic 14-42mm kit lens. This measurement done at 14mm.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode,
Wide Angle
0.294 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (This measurement done at 14mm.)
Full Autofocus,
Quick AF mode,
Wide Angle
0.297 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (This measurement done at 14mm.)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode,
Telephoto
0.302 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (This measurement done at 42mm.)

Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode,
Wide Angle,
Flash enabled
0.567 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, auto flash enabled. (This measurement done at 14mm.)

Prefocused

0.080 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Continuous AF
0.318 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.091 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

The Panasonic G3's autofocus was quite fast for a camera that uses contrast detection. The G3 produced full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) that ranged from 0.293 second at maximum wide-angle to 0.302 second at full telephoto with the 14-42mm kit lens. Multi-area AF was only slightly slower at 0.294 second at wide-angle, and Quick AF was a touch slower still, at 0.297 second, but since the camera is always focusing in that mode, it should help with moving subjects. These times are still a bit slower than most consumer SLRs, but significantly faster than the G2, which took about 0.42 second to focus. Enabling the flash increased lag quite a bit to 0.567 second, but that's still faster than the G2 which took 0.68 second. Shutter lag was 0.318 second compared 0.403 second for the G2 in continuous mode AF. When manually focused, the G3's lag time dropped to 0.091 second, which is quite fast and compares well to the G2's 0.135 second lag. The G3's prefocused shutter lag time of 0.080 second was also quite a bit faster than the G2's 0.120 second lag.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.66 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 3 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.67 second

Time per shot, averaged over 9 shots, 17 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG
0.64 second

Time per shot, averaged over 7 shots, 26 seconds to clear*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous High
Large Fine JPEG

0.30 second (3.39 frames per second);
7 frames total;
2 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 7 shots, then slows to an average of about 1.96s or 0.51 fps.

Continuous High
RAW

0.30 second (3.39 frames per second);
7 frames total;
16 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 7 frames, then slows to an average of 2.03s or 0.49 fps.

Continuous High
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.29 second (3.41 frames per second);
7 frames total;
24 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 7 frames, then slows to an average of about 3.07s or 0.33 fps.

Super High Speed
Small JPEG
0.05 second (20 frames per second);
40 frames total;
18 seconds to clear*
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 40 frames. Super High Speed mode captures Small (4 megapixel) JPEGs.

Flash Recycling

5.5 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were a bit sluggish compared to most SLRs, but faster than the G2. We measured 0.66 for large/fine JPEGs. Cycle times were similar when RAW files were present, at 0.67s for RAW frames and 0.64s for RAW+L/F JPEGs. G3 cycle times were a bit faster than the G2's 0.70 to 0.78 second results.

Continuous High speeds were similar to the G2's, at 3.39 frames per second for L/F JPEGs and RAW+L/F JPEG frames, compared to the G2's 3.33 and 3.31 frames per second respectively. The G3 was faster than the G2 in RAW + L/F JPEG mode, at 3.41 frames per second versus 2.56. Results are slower than the G3's 4 frames/second specification, but not unusual for a Panasonic camera which we've found to be very sensitive to camera settings such as ISO sensitivity when it comes to maximum burst speed. (We shoot continuous mode at ISO 200 for fast enough shutter speeds to read our electronic timer values.)

The G3 also offers Middle Speed and Low Speed modes which Panasonic rates at 3 and 2 frames per second respectively, but we did not test those modes. In addition, there is a Super High Speed mode which captured 4-megapixel JPEGs at 20 frames/second for 40 frames.

Full resolution buffer depths were not very generous, at only 7 frames no mater the quality. Our test target is difficult to compress though, so your results should be better with typical scenes, especially for JPEGs. Buffer clearing is quite slow with RAW files, given the shallow buffers.

The flash recycled after a full discharge in 5.5 seconds, which is a bit slower than average for its class, and slower than the G2's 4 seconds.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

7,756 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were fast, quick enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec SD card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Panasonic G3 is a fairly responsive camera overall, well-suited to handling typical family shots, though not a particularly good choice for really fast action. It's quicker than the G2 in most respects, but still slower than most SLRs in almost every category. Autofocus and burst speeds are however competitive with lower-end SLRs which can't be said for a lot of CSCs, but buffer depths are a little shallow.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Below average battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode
with 14-42mm kit lens
Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard - Using EVF)
270 shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard - Using LCD)
270 shots
Playback Time
Using LCD
210 minutes

The Panasonic G3 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The CIPA rated 270 shots per charge is below the capacity of most Compact System Cameras (the current average is about 340 shots), and much lower than a typical digital SLR when using the SLR's optical viewfinder. We strongly recommend getting a second battery for your G3 if you plan any extended outings. Interestingly, using the electronic viewfinder does not save any power over the larger LCD.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Panasonic G3 accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, and does not ship with a card. Panasonic recommends Class 4 or faster cards for capturing AVCHD movies, and Class 6 or faster cards for Motion JPEG movies.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
Fine Normal RAW
(12-bits)
RAW + L/F JPEG
4,592 x 3,448
Images
(Avg Size)
115
8.8 MB
230
4.4 MB
51
19.7 MB
35
28.6 MB
Approx.
Comp.
5:1
11:1
1.2:1
-
3,232 x 2,424
Images
(Avg Size)
213
4.8 MB
420
2.4 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
5:1
10:1
-
-
2,272 x 1,704
Images
(Avg Size)
366
2.8 MB
707
1.4 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
8:1
-
-

We strongly recommend buying a fast, large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card; at least a 4GB card, preferably an 8 or 16GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings or when shooting RAW or video files. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)