Panasonic Lumix G3 Review

 
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Panasonic G3 Design


(Illustration courtesy Panasonic USA)

1
Image sensor
4
Lens fitting mark
2
Popup flash
5
Lens mount
3
Self-timer indicator
6
Lens lock pin
AF assist lamp
7
Lens release button

The Panasonic G3's body has been completely redesigned since the G2, shaving an impressive one quarter off its volume in the process, and that's necessitated some significant changes. Looking at the front panel, the hand grip is much less prominent, and now tapers away towards the top. It's inset with a smooth, hard rubber pad that provides a little more grip than the plastic panels used elsewhere. Beyond the new handgrip, though, the front panel is actually quite similar to that of the G2 in terms of layout, placing the lens release button and self-timer / AF assist lamp in much the same locations as previously.



(Illustration courtesy Panasonic USA)

8
Live viewfinder / LCD monitor button
17
Touch panel / LCD monitor
9
Diopter adjustment dial
18
Quick menu / Function 2 button
10
Viewfinder
Delete / return button
11
Playback button
19
Menu / set button
12
Motion picture button
20
Cursor buttons:
13
Camera on / off switch
Up arrow / ISO
14
Rear dial
Right arrow / white balance
15
Display / function 1 button
Left arrow / AF mode
16
Eye cup
Down arrow / drive mode

Seen from the rear, the G3 has changed a bit more significantly. Although there's only one less physical control here than in the G2, several controls have moved around or their functionality has been changed. The dedicated AF / AE lock button from the G2 is the most significant casualty, and the Depth-of-field Preview button has also been removed, with its secondary delete function reassigned to the Quick Menu button. Both the Display and Quick Menu buttons can be configured through the Custom menu to serve instead as function buttons, if preferred, and available functions for either button include both AF / AE lock and depth-of-field preview. If either control is configured to operate as a function button, its primary function is disabled, although if the LCD panel is active, display switching and quick menu access can instead be controlled through "soft" buttons on the panel itself.

The secondary functions of two buttons in the Four-way Controller cluster have also been changed since the G2. The Left arrow button, previously given over to film mode selection in record mode, now calls up the AF mode menu. The Down arrow button, meanwhile, now serves as a drive mode button, rather than a function button. In both cases, the features now controlled by these buttons were previously accessed via dedicated controls on the G2's top panel. In place of the dedicated AF/AE lock button, the G3 now includes a Motion Picture button on its rear panel, relocated from the top panel in the G2.

Two further notable changes are a significant reduction in size of the LCD articulation mechanism, and the removal of the infra-red sensors adjacent to the electronic viewfinder, which allowed the G2 to switch between LCD and viewfinder display automatically. In the G3, the photographer must switch between display types manually. The dominant feature of the G3's rear--its articulated LCD panel-- is unchanged in terms of size, resolution, and aspect ratio, and still includes a touch screen overlay which allows it to serve double-duty as a control device.



(Illustration courtesy Panasonic USA)

21
Shoulder strap eyelet
23
HDMI socket
22
Remote socket
24
AV out / digital socket

The G3's right-hand panel--previously featureless in the earlier G2 model--now includes a small rubber compartment door imprinted with an HDMI logo. Behind this can be found not only the high-definition video output connector, but also a terminal for the cabled remote control, and a shared port for standard-definition video output and USB 2.0 High Speed data connectivity. The small cutout at the bottom of the G2's right panel which provided access to the battery compartment for the optional AC adapter's dummy battery cable has been moved to the bottom of the camera, instead. The left-hand end of the G3, which isn't pictured here, is essentially featureless; in the G2 it was home to two separate compartment covers for all the same connections now hosted on the G3's right-hand side. Unlike the G2, though, the G3's remote connector doesn't serve double-duty as an external mic connector; there's no support for external microphones in this camera.



(Illustration courtesy Panasonic USA)

25
Focus distance reference mark
30
Hot shoe
26
Stereo microphone
31
Mode dial
27
Shutter button
32
Status indicator
28
Speaker
33
Intelligent auto button
29
Flash open lever

Without question, the G3's top panel is home to the most significant changes since the earlier camera. The Panasonic G3 no longer features an auto focus mode dial or drive mode lever, and as noted previously, these options are now accessed as secondary functions on the Four-way controller. The Motion Picture button from the G2's top panel is also absent, having moved to the G3's rear panel. The Mode dial has been totally redesigned, and is now significantly smaller, with fewer modes. The dedicated Mode dial positions for Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Macro, and Night Portrait shooting have all been removed, and so has the Motion Picture P position. In there place, there are now two Custom positions on the Mode dial, up from just one in the G2.

Another upgrade is the G3's new stereo microphone, found at the center of the popup flash, in front of the hot shoe. It's perhaps not an ideal location for providing good stereo separation, but should still be better than the single-port monaural microphone on the G2. The upgrade was a must, though, as the G2 provided support for an external microphone, whereas the G3 no longer includes external mic connectivity, as previously noted. One final change is the addition of a small seven-hole grille adjacent to the flash popup switch, which is home to the G3's monaural speaker. Although the G2 also included a speaker, its location wasn't obvious, as it was concealed beneath the body panels, with no visible grille.



(Illustration courtesy Panasonic USA)

34
Tripod socket
36
Release lever
35
DC coupler cover
37
Card / battery compartment door

Seen from below, the only change between the Panasonic G3 and its predecessor is the relocation of the small rubber flap that provides access for the optional AC adapter kit's dummy battery cable, now located in the card compartment door itself. The door is still lockable and spring-loaded to open when unlocked, and the tripod mount is still metallic.


Panasonic G3

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