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My hands on G3 impressions

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Pelao, May 13, 2011.

  1. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    I have also posted this at MU-43.

    This morning I visited the annual Photo and Imaging show here in Toronto, and Panasonic had a G3 on display, next to the GF2, G2 and GH2.

    I played with it for about 20 minutes (I was early, and soon there was a line of potential G3 victims).

    Some impressions:

    1. Size.
    If you imagine it without the the rear of the VF protruding, I would say the body feels similar in size to my GF1, and therefore a little larger than the GF2.

    2. Build
    Very solid. I think it feels more solid than the GH2, but part of that is because it is much cleaner due to fewer controls, and simply has a solid uninterrupted flow to the body design. Clearly it's very strong, and though it is light feels every bit as robust as my GF1.

    3. Interface and usability
    For me this is the important part, assuming of course that it can take good images.
    it was good to be able to compare it to the G2 and GH2, both of which feel good, with plenty of good controls set out in a logical fashion. I held the G3 for a while, took some shots, changed settings etc, then did the same with the GH2.

    On the one hand I noticed some more roominess with the GH2 right away - it's simply larger. But then, the plethora of controls encroaches upon this room. This is not a negative comment, simply an observation that on a relatively small body there are a lot of controls all around your hands on the GH2.

    I then picked up the G3, and for an instant was dismayed. It is, simply, diminutive in comparison. This is a really small camera, yet it has a VF. My dismay came from the thought that I already found the GH2 borderline overcrowded (but very effective in actual use) and this little thing would be cramped - I really use camera controls a lot.

    The reality is that the G3 is very well designed. When you look at pictures of the rear it seems the two Fn buttons are kind of oddly placed and might be hard to reach, especially when using the VF. In fact, your right thumb fits perfectly into place (my hands are what I would call medium) and the camera feels really natural, if different.

    I changed some setting to my preferences, and took some more shots, changing settings as I did so. I had the upper Fn button as AE lock, for example. So with the VF to my eye I changed ISO, used AE lock, used the wheel for Exp Comp, and clicked it back for Aperture etc.

    The wheel is smaller than on my GF1, which is a pity, but it still works very well and for me is much preferred to having two separate wheel / dial things to deal with. The ISO button was easy to feel, and then of course you use the 4-way controller or the wheel to spin up the ISO you need.

    I will admit to being pleasantly surprised - though very small, the G3 really can be used efficiently and quickly, without any 'thumb or finger searching' while held to your eye. The design is well thought out.

    You really have to pick it up and use it properly in order to judge for yourself, but my experience has helped me understand the positive comments of the current online previews.

    4. Focus
    Super fast and super accurate in really challenging light, using the kit lens. Very, very impressive. I remain delighted with my GF1 in terms of auto-focus, but this is in a different league. In numbers terms it's most certainly a small difference, in actual use, it's wow.

    5. VF
    Its a classic Panasonic state-of-the-art VF. If you like using a good EVF you will be happy.

    6. Rear screen
    No issues. Very bright. Touch works well if you like that sort of thing.

    7. Menus
    They have been tidied up, and the icons are larger, and a much more effective font for clarity, speeding up use considerably.

    8 Shutter sound
    hard to tell in a show hall, but I think softer than the GF1: I had hoped for something a lot quieter, but it's OK.

    Overall

    The big thing is, as always, to start with your needs and photographic outputs. If they would benefit from a small, but very competent interchangeable lens camera with a VF and swivel screen, you need to give this camera a good visit.

    It's true that there are major concessions to P&S users moving up, but advanced users can be happy with the interface. It has moved on from some conventions, and part of me still would prefer some of the removed direct controls to be returned - but then it would be a larger camera. If the RAW output is solid, you would be able to use this for hiking / landscape work, wildlife with a long lens, and all your family stuff. With a pancake on board it is almost invisible, and will focus in an instant. great street camera.

    As I drove home, I kept thinking that the G3 is a thoroughly modern camera, and that's where I will leave it for now.

    Afterthought: I should add that while my comments are basically very positive, I would not describe myself as 'blown-away' (really irritating phrase...) by the G3 - not yet, anyway. I would need to see RAW results, and would need to see it again. But I am impressed with it, much more than I thought I would be.

    I played with the camera for quite a while, and I would be happy to try and answer any questions you may have.

    I hope this is vaguely useful. Please bear in mind these are my personal views, based on how I might use the G3.

    P.S. I added this note to the end of the thread, but thought it might be useful here too:

    One concern that I forgot to mention: it seemed to me the iA button was perfectly placed for an accidental press, and in fact this happened to me. I don't want to overstate it, but on all these small, crowded bodies, accidently button activation is something we need to look for. However, I have since read that you can alter the iA button so that it requires a double-press to activate. Perfect (at least for me).
     
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  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Thanks for the sneak preview.
    Do you have images you could post?
    Don
     
  3. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Stephen, thanks so much for this. I think I'd better make sure that Andy AKA Ghosthunter doesn't read this thread...or maybe he should? The G3 sounds as though it's a very nice camera.
     
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  4. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Hi Don

    No, I don't. Quite simply I did not feel there was any point, at least for me. There are already quite a few test images available, and since I cannot process the RAW files to my satisfaction (ACR does not yet support the G3) I decided that a bunch of jpegs would not add much value.
     
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Stephen, your photos would no doubt, be better than anything else available.

    I had the G1 & G2. How does the G3 feel compared to them?
    I'd like a slightly better idea if you would please.
     
  6. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    Thanks for the impressions. I can't wait to put one in my hands to try out.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Don,

    the overall finish is different for a start. Smooth, yet not slippery.

    It feels really well made. It truly is significantly smaller in all dimensions, yet handles really well and comes to the eye, or hip, very nicely.

    It might help me to answer you fully if you mentioned a particular aspect of handling that interests you. A particular like or dislike, or an element is essential to you when using a camera???

    By the way, spent equal time at the X100 stand (they claim it to be a Fuji stand, but their other stuff might as well have been door stops today...). Cool camera. Goofy menu / interface. I don't think a real-world photographer touched it before final approval of the menu / button interface. But, all fixable. A charming camera. A photographic partner.

    Um, I was in fact tempted to make a few shots with the G3, because there was a young lady posing nearby, part of a workshop, and the light was just right, the way it played across her.... Um, never mind. Sorry. :redface:
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I'm excited to hear your reaction to the AF speed. That was the primary reason I got a GH2 and I'm really happy to hear its migrating down through the line and, hopefully, becoming a new standard that all mirrorless cameras will have to match soon. Given the diminished role m43 is playing in my life, I could see ditching the gf1 and gh2 at some point for something smaller with similar performance characteristics. Not compelled to move anytime soon, however - I expect more stuff should be on its way in the coming months. I hope they do a better job of getting this out into the supply chain than they did the GH2...

    -Ray
     
  9. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Ray
    My one regret was not trying it out with one of the primes. In the end though, the speed with the kit lens was so fast (in poor light) that I have no doubts it would be very impressive. It was faster than many higher-end DSLRs I have used.

    I am at a place where I want to commit to a system for a few years and work on my output, so I am exploring options. There are some very nice cameras out there, but many of them are, in my view, let down by having weaker lenses. With M4/3, and for me Panasonic in particular, the cameras are very good, and the lenses I like are excellent - a total package I really value.

    The supposed NEX7 will interest me if it has a built-in VF, but Sony need to up the lens game a bit.

    As for the X100, it's a really nice camera. It, or a successor, has a lot of appeal for me, but I want to see where Fuji go with it and how they respond to some of the weaknesses. My hands on with it today shocked me a bit. usually there are things to love, and things that are ho-hum. Here there were things to adore, but the weaknesses were off-putting. One odd thing for me: I have read criticisms of the scroll wheel and 4-way buttons, and OK button on the X100. Worked really nicely for me. But those menus for frequently used stuff, and a few other things - fix'em Fuji. Oh, and drop the price by $200: not going to happen, but it's overpriced right now.
     
  10. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    [​IMG]

    This 'could' be what the GF2 should have been. Looks really nice actually! Hmmmmm

    More images here>
     
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  11. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    Pelao,

    I have a specific question. One of the things I like with the larger grip on the G1/G2 is that the shutter release button is farther out on the grip. When the button is on top of the camera, as it is with this camera, usually this works fine for using the EVF or close to body grip, but isn't as comfortable when sticking the camera out from the body and using the LCD. What did you think of the placement of the shutter release in relation to the handgrip?
     
  12. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Really good question. I see what you mean. I did not specifically check for this (and now wish I had). My sense is that it will work fine, but differently. if you go to dpreview and see the photos of the G3 in the body and design section you can see that the grip (i.e. how you hold the camera) on this small body is necessarily a bit different. I think you will cup the camera differently in your hands, and that your finger will fall naturally to the release.

    I did take shots like this, and did not note any discomfort. But then I was doing a lot in 20 minutes. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    The more i look at this camera the more i think it could really fit the bill. It looks like what the GF2 should have been, it has everything!!! The mode dial is there, it has a tilt swivel screen, EVF and looks very cool. I am now even thinking of selling my 500D and just having the G3. Hmmmmmm :wink:
     
  14. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    Thank you. I was just trying to figure out how the grip would work in my largish hands.
     
  15. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Andy, I worry about you sometimes. :daz:
     
  16. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    This camera seems to be great. It is small and light, it has a swivel display and an EVF. And it has a new and very promising sensor. I would like to know what Olympus is going to release, but I am sure I would love the G3.
     
  17. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    I worry about me ALL the time!! :th_salute:
     
  18. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    The more and more I keep looking at the jpegs, the more and more GAS is creaping in. I honestly, with all the cameras that have come out, not been real interested in updating my E-P1. I played with the E-Pl2 in one of our stores here, and that new kit lens is as fast as I remember the G1 with the original Panny kit lens. I know I'd lose IS, but I wonder for normal day to day shooting, if that new Oly kit lens would focus just as fast as it does on the E-PL2. Everything looks solid on this new camera, and with Palao's hands on impressions along with the improved IQ are making me think more and more about upgrading.

    Dj
     
  19. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    I was really very, very happy with my G2 until this morning...:frown:

    I really need to stop visiting photography fora.

    Cheers,

    Antonio
     
    • Like Like x 2
  20. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Apologies. Um, the G3 sucks? Feel better? :friends: