Panasonic Lumix GF3 Review

 
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Panasonic GF3 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Acceptable color and hue accuracy over most of the spectrum, with moderate oversaturation of some colors. Typical Panasonic shifts in orange through yellow.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.
Saturation. The Panasonic GF3's default Standard Photo Style pushes blues, purples, reds, and dark greens a fair amount, while slightly undersaturating aqua and cyan. Bright yellows are undersaturated a little more. Default saturation was 114.4% (14.4% oversaturated) in our test. That's a bit higher than the GF2's 110.2%, but still a fairly typical result for mean saturation these days. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, the Panasonic GF3 did fairly well, producing natural-looking Caucasian skin tones with a noticeable push towards pink, giving a healthy appearance. Darker skin tones had a small nudge toward orange. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Panasonic GF3 pushed cyan toward blue, red toward orange, orange toward yellow and yellow toward green. The yellow through orange shifts were especially apparent in the yarn of our Still Life test image. Manual white balance was off a bit as well, pushed toward purple and magenta. The camera's average "delta-C" color error of 7.32 for JPEGs is one of the highest for an SLR-class camera in recent memory (lower scores are better). The good news is the orange-yellow shifts are significantly mitigated by shooting in RAW format and using a good-quality RAW converter. The bundled SilkyPix software as well as Adobe Camera RAW do much better with hue accuracy than JPEGs produced in-camera. Hue is "what color" the color is.

Color Modes
The Panasonic GF3 offers six preset color modes or "Photo Styles" as the company calls them. You can adjust contrast, saturation (color tone for Monochrome), sharpness, and noise reduction for any of the modes, and then save the settings as a single custom option. There are also six Creative Control filter effects available (Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, High Dynamic, and Miniature Effect), however we didn't test those in the lab.

Preset "Photo Styles"

Mouse over the links above to see the effect of the Photo Style presets on our Still Life target. You can click on a link to load the full resolution image.

Saturation Adjustment
The Panasonic GF3 lets you adjust the image saturation, contrast, and sharpness in five steps each. As can be seen below, the saturation adjustment was very subtle, and worked mainly on reds. We usually argue in favor of more subtle adjustments for saturation on the cameras we test, but the Panasonic GF3 goes a bit too far in that direction; we'd like to see a wider range here (more steps), but still with the fine steps the GF3 currently offers.

Saturation Adjustment Examples
-2 0 +2

The table above shows results with the default as well as the two "extreme" saturation settings. Click on any thumbnail above, then click again to see the full-sized image.

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Slightly warm with Auto and very warm with the Incandescent white balance setting. Good color balance with the Manual setting, but a little too cool with 2,600 Kelvin. Average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV
2,600 Kelvin
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was just slightly warm with the Auto white balance setting, though the Panasonic GF3 did much better than most cameras in this regard. (While slightly warm results with the Auto setting were quite acceptable, many users in fact may prefer a slightly warm look in situations like this, to better represent the mood of the original lighting.) Results with the Incandescent setting where much too warm for our tastes, with a strong orange-yellow cast. The Manual setting produced the most accurate results, while the 2,600 Kelvin setting which should match our lights was slightly cool. The Panasonic GF3 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation here, which is about average for this shot. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

Outdoors, daylight
Slightly cool colors overall, with a tendency toward high contrast under harsh lighting. About average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Panasonic GF3 performed pretty well, with good though slightly cool color in the Far-field shot. Skin-tones were fairly realistic in our Outdoor Portrait shot, with a healthy-looking pink tint. Exposure accuracy was about average, as the camera required +0.7 EV compensation for our Outdoor Portrait shot to keep facial tones reasonably bright. That's average for this shot, but it led to some blown highlights. The default exposure was a little dim for the Far-field shot, but there were very few blown highlights, though some shadows are very dark. Default contrast is on the high side, but that's how most consumers prefer their photos.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
Very high resolution, 1,900 ~ 2,000 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
~2,000 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~1,900 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,000 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW
Strong detail to
~1,900 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW

In camera JPEGs, our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,000 lines per picture height horizontally, and about 1,900 lines in the vertical direction. (Some might argue for higher numbers, but aliasing artifacts begin to appear around there.) Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur until about 2,800 to 2,900 lines horizontally and vertically. We weren't able to extract significantly more high-contrast resolution by processing the Panasonic GF3's RW2 files using Adobe Camera RAW 6.4. ACR also showed a lot more color moiré than the camera JPEG.

Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very good sharpness overall, though some visible edge-enhancement artifacts on high-contrast subjects. Some noise suppression visible in the shadows even at base ISO.

Good definition of high-contrast
elements, though some visible
sharpening artifacts.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The Panasonic GF3 captures sharp, fairly detailed images overall, though edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the "halos" along the thicker branches in the crop above left. The sharpening isn't nearly as evident on lower-contrast elements, such as the pine needles and smaller branches. Given its target market, the default sharpening applied is appropriate, as we think most consumers would be pleased. And of course, you can always tweak the sharpness setting to your liking. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows the effect of noise suppression in the form of smudging of individual strands together in the darker areas of the model's hair, as well as in areas with low local contrast. This is quite common, though, and we've certainly seen stronger noise reduction from other models. There are also some bluish color blotches (particularly visible near the left edge of the JPEG crop right), that we believe may be the result of insufficient anti-aliasing filtering, and the demosaicing problems that produces. (We also saw these with previous G series cameras, but only in the very fine, reddish detail of the mannequin's hair. This is something that we've also seen with a number of other cameras in the past, including several SLRs, so it's not unusual. Processing RAW files in a good RAW converter usually minimizes or eliminates the issue, as can be seen in the ACR converted RAW crop at right.) Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

Intelligent Resolution
The Panasonic GF3 offers four levels of "Intelligent Resolution", which essentially sharpens fine detail and outlines, while reducing noise in areas with little or no detail (such as a cloudless sky). To see how well it works, compare the crops below at each setting.

In the table above, mousing over a link at the bottom will load the corresponding crop in the area above, and clicking on the link will load the full resolution image.

As you can see, fine detail contained in and around the lettering on the bottle has progressively stronger local sharpening applied as the setting is increased, while noise in flatter areas that would normally be emphasized with standard, global sharpening is actually reduced. Sharpening halos are however more visible at higher settings. According to Panasonic, the Extended setting is designed to produce more natural results when making large prints.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Panasonic GF3 produces sharp in-camera JPEGs. As is almost always the case, though, quite a bit more detail can be obtained from carefully processing RAW files than can be seen in the in-camera JPEGs, with fewer artifacts to boot. The Panasonic GF3's JPEGs are pretty good in terms of detail straight from the camera, but it's often surprising how much more detail is visible after processing in a good RAW converter. Take a look below, to see what we mean:

In the table above, mousing over a link at the bottom will load the corresponding crop in the area above, and clicking on the link will load the full resolution image.

The first crop on the left is from an in-camera Fine JPEG at default settings, with Intelligent Resolution set to Off. The second is also an in-camera JPEG, but with Intelligent Resolution set to "Standard". The third crop is a RAW conversion done with SilkyPix 3.1 SE (the RAW converter Panasonic bundles with their RAW-capable cameras). We found its default settings produced images softer than the camera JPEGs, so we turned noise reduction and sharpening as low as they go within the editor, and used its output unsharp masking feature set to 250%, a radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0 to sharpen the image. Adobe Camera Raw 6.4 was used for the ACR conversion at right. Default settings were used for conversion, though no sharpening was applied in ACR. The image was then sharpened in Photoshop using USM of 250% with a radius of 0.3 pixel.

As you can see, Intelligent Resolution gives some more pop to fine detail in JPEGs, but doesn't really show any more detail. It also generates additional sharpening artifacts. SilkyPix seems to have trouble with the pine needles, flattening them out, even with noise reduction turned all the way down. It's likely doing some NR under the hood which can't be disabled. The results we got using SilkyPix were a bit disappointing, but we must confess we didn't experiment with different settings for very long, so you may be able to do better. The ACR conversion extracted the most detail, but also shows more noise, especially in areas with little detail such as the sky. You can always turn up the luminance noise reduction (default of zero was used here), or process the files in your favorite noise reduction program or plugin, though. Bottom line: as is usually the case, the Panasonic DMC-GF3 rewards RAW shooters with better detail (and better color) when used with a good RAW converter.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good detail vs noise trade-off up to ISO 400, stronger noise and noise reduction at higher ISOs.

Default Noise Reduction
ISO 160 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3's images are pretty clean at ISOs 160 and 200, with only minor luminance and chrominance noise visible in the shadows, but as mentioned previously, there is already some smudging visible from slightly over-zealous default noise reduction. The effects of noise reduction become stronger as ISO increases, and a moderate amount of detail is already lost at ISO 400, where there is more visible chroma noise as well. The effects of noise reduction are more evident at ISO 800 where there's additional blurring, though stronger chroma noise reduction has kicked-in, removing most color noise including the blue botches we mentioned above. At ISO 1,600 we see additional detail loss, stronger luminance noise, as well as some purple and yellow blotches that span larger areas. At ISO 3,200, fine detail takes a bigger hit, and the purple/yellow blotches are more noticeable as are sharpening artifacts around noisier pixels. Noise gets very ugly at ISO 6,400: there's very little fine detail left, strong color blotches, and the camera's noise reduction coupled with sharpening artifacts produce a prominent peppering effect. The Panasonic GF3's JPEG high ISO performance appears to be marginally better than its predecessor, the GF2, but doesn't rise to the level of the G3.

We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

A note about focus for this shot: We shoot this image at f/4, usually using one of three very sharp reference lenses (70mm Sigma f/2.8 macro for most cameras, 60mm f/2.8 Nikkor macro for Nikon bodies without a drive motor, and Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 for Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds bodies). To insure that the hair detail we use for making critical judgements about camera noise processing and detail rendering is in sharp focus at the relatively wide aperture we're shooting at, the focus target at the center of the scene is on a movable stand. This lets us compensate for front- or back-focus by different camera bodies, even those that lack micro-focus adjustments. This does mean, though, that the focus target itself may appear soft or slightly out of focus for bodies that front- or back-focused with the reference lens. We know this; if you click to view the full-size image for one of these shots and notice that the focus target is fuzzy, you don't need to email and tell us. :-) The focus target position will have been adjusted to insure that the rest of the scene is focused properly.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
Somewhat high default contrast and limited dynamic range. Very good low-light performance.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 struggled a bit with the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. Contrast was a little high at its default setting, and dynamic range limited, with quite a few blown-out highlights in the mannequin's shirt and flowers and deep, somewhat noisy shadows. Although skin tones around the eyes are a bit dark at +0.7 EV exposure, we preferred it to the +1.0 EV exposure overall, because there were fewer clipped highlights. It's really the photographer's choice here as to which direction to go in. For those Panasonic GF3 owners that are going to want to just print an image with little or no tweaking, the +1.0 image would probably produce a better-looking face uncorrected. The bottom line though, is that the Panasonic GF3 had difficulty with the wide dynamic range of this shot, at least with its default settings.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Contrast Adjustment
The camera's contrast adjustment was at least some help in handling the harsh lighting.

Minimum Contrast
Contrast set to lowest,
+0.7 EV
Contrast set to lowest,
Auto Exposure

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3's lowest contrast setting did a good job bringing out detail in the shadows and darker midtones, but it did little did little to preserve clipped highlight detail in the Outdoor Portrait shot. (The Far-field shot had few highlights clipped to begin with.) Overall, the camera's limited dynamic range makes it perform a bit below average in this situation.

Contrast Adjustment Examples
-2 0 +2

The table above shows results with the default as well as the two "extreme" contrast settings. Click on any thumbnail above, then click again to see the full-sized image. The control for contrast was not quite as subtle as saturation was in its effect, though it appeared to leave the strongest highlights at about the same values, then applied a proportional boost to tones as it moved down the tone curve. To make the most of it in a shot like this, you'll want to expose for the highlights and apply a good amount of contrast reduction (probably the maximum).

The Panasonic GF3's contrast adjustment doesn't help with strong highlights here, and we'd really like to see more steps, covering a slightly greater range. Even with the lowest contrast setting, the dynamic range isn't terribly impressive.


Outdoor Portrait Intelligent Dynamic Range
iD-Range
Setting:


Off
(Default)



Low


Standard


High

Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range
The above shots are examples of Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range (or iD-Range) at work, with no exposure compensation. iD-Range appears to be a more advanced version of iExposure found on older models, capable of boosting shadows and preserving highlights, whereas iExposure worked mostly on shadows.

There are three levels of iD-Range available on the Panasonic GF3: Low, Standard and High, plus Off. It's automatically invoked in iAuto modes and manually selectable in PASM mods. For our Outdoor Portrait shot, all three settings were an improvement over the Off setting, lightening shadows and delivering a better exposure overall, while doing a very good job at holding on to highlight detail. (The histogram does a good job at showing how shadows are boosted while highlights are attenuated.) However, noise is more visible in the shadows. This is no surprise when boosting shadows, but the GF3's Micro Four Thirds sensor shows more noise in its shadows than recent APS-C sensors. Bottom line, though, iD-Range seems to provide a useful extension to the practical dynamic range of the Panasonic GF3. (It's not likely increasing the technically defined dynamic range of the sensor any, but it can make for much more usable/printable images when working under tough lighting conditions.)

Far-field Intelligent Dynamic Range
iD-Range Setting:

As you can see, iD-Range brightened the shadows in our Far-field shot, though highlights remained about the same as they weren't clipped to begin with. The Standard and High settings produced results very similar to each other.


Face Detection
Aperture Priority, 0 EV, f/8 Face Detection AF, 0 EV, f/8
iAuto, 0 EV, f/2.2 iAuto Plus, 0 EV, f/2.2

Face Detection
Like most Point & Shoot cameras these days (and most DSLRs in Live View mode), the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 has the ability to detect faces, and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. The GF3 does it automatically in Intelligent Auto (iAuto) and iAuto Plus modes, when a Portrait scene mode is selected, or when Face Detection AF mode is enabled. As you can see from the examples above, it worked fairly well in iAuto modes where Portrait mode was automatically selected, as those images are exposed much better for the face. The camera's Portrait also selected a much larger aperture (f/2.2), which helps isolate the subject from the background for a more pleasing effect, and skin-tones are rendered smoother and pinker as well. Just enabling face detection in Aperture Priority mode (top right) helped a bit, but the camera didn't have much to work with as it had to use the mode and aperture selected (f/8).

Dynamic Range
A key parameter in a digital camera is its Dynamic Range, the range of brightness that can be faithfully recorded. At the upper end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is dictated by the point at which the RGB data "saturates" at values of 255, 255, 255. At the lower end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is determined by the point at which there ceases to be any useful difference between adjacent tonal steps. Note the use of the qualifier "useful" in there: While it's tempting to evaluate dynamic range as the maximum number of tonal steps that can be discerned at all, that measure of dynamic range has very little relevance to real-world photography. What we care about as photographers is how much detail we can pull out of the shadows before image noise becomes too objectionable. This, of course, is a very subjective matter, and will vary with the application and even the subject matter in question. (Noise will be much more visible in subjects with large areas of flat tints and subtle shading than it would in subjects with strong, highly contrasting surface texture.)

What makes most sense then, is to specify useful dynamic range in terms of the point at which image noise reaches some agreed-upon threshold. To this end, Imatest computes a number of different dynamic range measurements, based on a variety of image noise thresholds. The noise thresholds are specified in terms of f-stops of equivalent luminance variation in the final image file, and dynamic range is computed for noise thresholds of 1.0 (low image quality), 0.5 (medium image quality), 0.25 (medium-high image quality) and 0.1 (high image quality). For most photographers and most applications, the noise thresholds of 0.5 and 0.25 f-stops are probably the most relevant to the production of acceptable-quality finished images, but many noise-sensitive shooters will insist on the 0.1 f-stop limit for their most critical work. A full discussion of all the data Imatest produces is really beyond the scope of this review: Visit the Imatest website for details of what the program measures, how it performs its computations, and how to interpret its output.

JPEG. The graph at right (click for a larger version) was generated using Imatest's dynamic range analysis for an in-camera Panasonic GF3 JPEG file with a nominally-exposed density step target (Stouffer 4110). At default settings and base ISO of 160, the results show 9.41 f-stops of total dynamic range, with 7.09 f-stops at the "High" quality level. From the graph at top left, we can see gradation tapers-off fairly smoothly in the highlights, but ends rather abruptly at the shadow end. Still, these are pretty good numbers for a Micro Four Thirds sensor, but they fall short compared to more recent APS-C sensors. Note, though, that this measurement has a margin of error of about 1/3 f-stop, so differences of less than 0.33 can be ignored when comparing results to other models.

RAW. The graph at right is from the same Stouffer 4110 stepchart image captured as a RAW (.RW2) file, processed with Adobe Camera Raw using the Auto setting. (Slightly better results are likely possible with manually tweaking, but we weren't able to do much better.) As can be seen, the score at the highest quality level was only slightly better than the in-camera JPEG, at 7.14 vs 7.09 f-stops, while total dynamic range increased about one f-stop, at 10.4 versus 9.41 f-stops. Again, these results aren't bad for a Micro Four Thirds sensor, but they lag current APS-C sensors, especially at the High Quality threshold. It's worth noting here is that ACR's default noise reduction settings reduced overall noise somewhat (see the plot in the lower left-hand corner) relative to the levels in the in-camera JPEG, which would tend to boost the dynamic range numbers for the higher quality thresholds.

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16fc
No NR
ISO
160
Click to see DMCGF3LL01603.JPG
1.3 s
f2.8
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2.5 s
f2.8
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5 s
f2.8
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10 s
f2.8
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20 s
f2.8
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20 s
f2.8
ISO
200
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1 s
f2.8
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2 s
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4 s
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8 s
f2.8
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15 s
f2.8
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15 s
f2.8
ISO
400
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0.5 s
f2.8
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1 s
f2.8
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2 s
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4 s
f2.8
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8 s
f2.8
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8 s
f2.8
ISO
800
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1/4 s
f2.8
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f2.8
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4 s
f2.8
ISO
1600
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f2.8
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f2.8
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2 s
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2 s
f2.8
ISO
3200
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1/15 s
f2.8
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1/8 s
f2.8
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f2.8
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f2.8
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1 s
f2.8
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1 s
f2.8
ISO
6400
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1/30 s
f2.8
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f2.8
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f2.8
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0.5 s
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0.5 s
f2.8

Low Light. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 performed fairly well in our low light test, capturing bright images down to the lowest light level we test at, at all ISO settings. This darkest level equates to about 1/16 the brightness of average city street lighting at night, so the Panasonic GF3 should be able to take well-exposed photos in almost any environment in which you can see well enough to walk around in. The GF3's metering system struggled a bit at lower levels, as do many cameras, so these shots were taken in manual exposure mode. Automatic color balance was pretty good (just slightly cool), something that's not a given at such low light levels. Using default noise reduction setting, noise was low to moderate up to ISO 800. At ISOs 1,600 and above, noise was a little high at lower light levels compared to cameras with APS-C sensors, but not bad for a MFT model. We did not detect any issues with banding or hot pixels.

The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to between 1/16 and 1/8 foot-candle light level unassisted with an f/2.8 lens, which is pretty good for a camera with contrast-detect autofocus. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 does have a focus-assist light option which allows it to autofocus in total darkness, as long as the subject is within range and has sufficient contrast.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to their phase-detect AF systems, digital SLRs tend to do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects. The GF3 uses contrast-detect autofocus, as is found in most point & shoot cameras, so its low-light focusing ability is less than that of some SLRs with phase-detect systems. That said, though, the larger, more sensitive pixels of the GF3's sensor do better under dim lighting than do the tiny pixels of most point & shoots, (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

Output Quality

Print Quality

Great 16x20-inch prints at ISO 160; ISO 1,600 looks better at 11x14; ISO 6,400 makes a good 5x7.

ISO 160 shots are usable, if a little soft at 20x30; sharpening with unsharp mask fixes that a little, making a crisper 20x30. Printing at 16x20 eliminates the softness, making a great print.

ISO 200 shots are quite good at 16x20, very crisp.

ISO 400 images also print well at 16x20, with good detail.

ISO 800 images soften up, but still make a usable 16x20-inch print. Reds seem to soften more quickly (as is the case on most cameras)

ISO 1,600 images take a turn downward in quality, making only a marginally acceptable 13x19-inch print, but a decent 11x14. Colors also darken at ISO 1,600.

ISO 3,200 shots are way too fuzzy for 11x14, but are better at 8x10; all but reds, which are quite blurry.

ISO 6,400 images are darker still, but make a decent 5x7-inch print.

Overall, the Panasonic GF3 does well for a small MFT camera, with good performance from ISO 100 to 800. And even its highest ISO setting puts out a good 5x7.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and on the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II review for details on that model.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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