Panasonic Lumix GF3 Review

 
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Panasonic GF3 Performance


Timing and Performance

Slow to better-than-average speed for a Compact System Camera these days.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.9 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~2.6 seconds

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

Buffer clearing time
2 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.
9 seconds after
5 RAW files*
11 seconds after
4 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 on the slow side, even for a Compact System Camera. Compared to the GF2, startup was slower (1.9 vs 1.0s) , but shutdown was slightly faster (2.6 vs 3.0s). Buffer clearing times were good with JPEGs, but slow with RAW files considering the small buffers.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.7 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~1.8 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. Play to Record was the same as the GF2's 0.7 second, but Record to Play was a touch faster at 1.8 seconds than the GF2 which measured about 1.9 seconds. Displaying a recorded image took about the same, 0.2 second.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.312 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 14mm f/2.5 kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.310 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode,
Flash enabled
0.511 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, auto flash enabled.
Continuous AF
0.312 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.094 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.081 second

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

The Panasonic GF3's autofocus was pretty fast for a camera that uses contrast detection. The GF3 produced full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) of 0.312 second using 1-area (center) AF with the 14mm kit lens. 23-area AF was very slightly faster at 0.310 second. These times are still a bit slower than most consumer SLRs, but a bit faster than the GF2, which took about 0.34 - 0.35 second to focus. Enabling the flash increased lag quite a bit to 0.511 second, but that's still faster than the GF2 which took 0.685 second. Shutter lag was 0.312 second compared 0.384 second for the GF2 in continuous mode AF. When manually focused, the GF3's lag time dropped to 0.094 second, which is a touch slower compared to the GF2's 0.089 second lag. The GF3's prefocused shutter lag time of 0.081 second was also a bit slower than the GF2's 0.074 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

0.65 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 2 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.65 second

Time per shot, averaged over 7 shots, 11 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG
0.63 second

Time per shot, averaged over 4 shots, 13 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 H
Large Fine JPEG
(no Live View)

0.29 second (3.46 frames per second);
20 frames total;
2 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, then slows to an average of 1.78s or 0.56 fps.

Continuous M
Large Fine JPEG
(with Live View)

0.38 second (2.61 frames per second);
20+ frames total;
2 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, with no signs of slowing.

Continuous M
RAW
(with Live View)

0.39 second (2.60 frames per second);
5 frames total;
9 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 5 frames, then slows to an average of 1.61s or 0.62 fps.

Continuous M
RAW + L/F JPEG
(with Live View)

0.38 second (2.61 frames per second);
4 frames total;
11 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 4 frames, then slows to an average of about 2.48s or 0.40 fps.

Flash Recycling

5.0 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 a bit faster than the GF2. We measured 0.65 for large/fine JPEGs or RAW files, and 0.63s for RAW+L/F JPEGs. The GF2's ranged from 0.71 to 0.73 second.

Continuous High Speed "H" mode was faster than the GF2's, at about 3.5 frames per second for large/fine JPEGs, compared to the GF2's 2.6 frames per second. Please note that Live View is not available during a burst in H mode. Results were a bit slower than the GF3's 3.8 frames per second specification, but not unusual for a Panasonic camera which we've found to be very sensitive to 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 GF3 also offers Middle Speed ("M") and Low Speed ("L") modes which Panasonic rates at 2.8 and 2.0 frames per second respectively. Those modes also tested slightly slower than specified.

Full resolution buffer depths were generous for JPEGs, at 20 frames or more, but when shooting RAW files the buffer size dropped to 5 frames, and only 4 for RAW+L/F JPEGs. Our test target is difficult to compress though, so your results should be better with typical scenes, especially for JPEGs. Buffer clearing is a little slow when RAW files are present, given the shallow buffers.

The flash recycled after a full discharge in 5.0 seconds, which is a bit slower than average for its class, but a bit faster than the GF2's 5.6 seconds.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

7,804 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 GF3's performance is pretty good overall for a CSC, though it's not a great choice for fast action, especially when shooting RAW with its shallow buffers. Autofocus and burst speeds are however quite good, competitive with most consumer SLRs.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Average battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode
with 14mm kit lens
Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard - Using LCD)
340 shots
Playback Time
Using LCD
170 minutes

The Panasonic GF3 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The CIPA rated 340 shots per charge is about average for a Compact System Camera, but much lower than a typical digital SLR when using the SLR's optical viewfinder. We strongly recommend getting a second battery for your GF3 if you plan any extended outings.

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 GF3 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 RAW
+
Fine JPEG
4,000 x 3,000
Images
(Avg Size)
140
7.3 MB
280
3.7 MB
67
15.2 MB
45
22.8 MB
Approx.
Comp.
5:1
10:1
1.2:1
-
2,816 x 2,112
Images
(Avg Size)
250
4.1 MB
510
2.0 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
9:1
-
-
2,048 x 1,536
Images
(Avg Size)
400
2.6 MB
800
1.3 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
7:1
-
-

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.)

 

Panasonic GF3

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