Panasonic GF3 vs GF2 vs Sony NEX-C3 Comparison How the latest M43 camera compares?
Posted 13 June 2011 - 10:30 AM
The first things that you notice when you look at the official press release images is that the GF3 looks different than the GF2, and actually different than any Micro43 camera I've seen to date. So how small the camera really is? - well, the dimensions of the camera are 108x67x32mm. The DMC-GF2 is 113x68x33mm and the Sony alpha NEX-C3 for comparison are 110x60x33mm. So we can see that the GF3 is even smaller than the NEX-C3, although it's a bit taller due to the circular shape that includes the pop-up flash. Considering the above camera dimensions, I am overwhelmed by how smaller the C3 is with its APS-C size sensor. Anyway, the Panasonic Lumix GF3 is really a tiny interchangeable lens camera and as we know, small size is a good thing in the mirrorless market.
At the back of the camera their are the pop-up flash button, image preview button, control navigation rotating dial and OK button and menu/delete button. At the top we have the shutter button, on/off switch, dedicated movie recording button and iA button. The layout of the buttons is good and well separated. The internal monaural mic is positioned at the top-left size of the camera. The memory card and battery compartment is located in the bottom-right side of the camera.
My personal opinion about the exterior design. I don't like it that much, seems kind of awkward at first. But hey, I will get used to that new look in no time. I am personally a fan of the Sony NEX-C3 design.
Camera Dimensions and weight (inc. batteries):
Panasonic GF3 - 108 x 67 x 32 mm | 264g
Panasonic GF2 - 113 x 68 x 33 mm | 310g
Sony NEX-C3 - 110 x 60 x 33 mm | 225g
Sensor and ISO
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 features a 12.1-megapixels (effective) Live MOS Multi aspect ratio sensor. The size of the sensor (17.3 x 13 mm) and the resolution is identical to the GF2 camera. Both cameras can output an image at a maximum resolution of 4000 x 3000 pixels. I am personally glad to see that the resolution hasn't been increased compared to the GF2. That lead me to think that the image quality might been improved over the GF2.
When we compare the GF3 vs Sony NEX-C3, we can see that the NEX-3 has a 16.2-megapixels (effective). However, we need to remember that the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 features a APS-C size sensor, larger (23.4 x 15.6 mm) than the Micro Four Thirds sensor found on the GF3. That of course gives the NEX-C3 a theoretical advantage which might suggest that the image quality of the C3 will be better than on the GF3. Still, we need to look into a lab test comparison before coming to a clear conclusion.
Both the GF2 and GF3 can reach ISO 6400. The difference is actually located at the bottom ISO range. The GF2 starts at ISO 100 while the GF3 starts at ISO 160. Bits me why Panasonic have decided to make the basic ISO 160. I hope that I will get to find a good explanation for that later on.
Sensor megapixels (inc. focal length multiplier) | sensor size in mm | ISO range:
Panasonic GF3 - 12.1MP (2x) | 17.3 x 13 mm (M43) | ISO 160 - 6400
Panasonic GF2 - 12.1MP (2x)| 17.3 x 13 mm (M43) | ISO 100 - 6400
Sony NEX-C3 - 16.2MP (1.5x)| 23.4 x 15.6 mm (APS-C) | ISO 100 - 12800
The Lumix DMC-GF3 feature the same 3-inch 460,000 dot LCD that we've seen on the GF2. I am disappointed to see that Panasonic didn't opt to a 920K-dot LCD. It seems that from now on, at least all the advanced digital cameras should have a 920K-dot screen. In comparison, the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 comes with a 3-inch 920K-dot high resolution screen. Their is an explanation why camera manufacturers decide to use a lower resolution LCD. First, a low-res LCD consumers less power and that leads to better battery life figures. Second, 920K LCD are more expensive and that elevated the camera's price. Thirds, I think that most of the people who but those cameras care less of the LCD resolution but for other features - price is one of them of course.
You should also know that both the GF2 and GF3 has a touch-enabled screen, while the LCD on the C3 is not touch sensitive. I've read some negative opinions about the GF2 touch screen. Some people say that it doesn't react fast. We can just hope that Panasonic has made the touch screen more sensitive and more responsive than the GF2.
The third difference between the GFx cameras and the Sony NEX-C3 is that the C3 has a tilting screen, while the GF cameras have a fixed screen. That a big plus for the Sony. It's very important if you shoot a lot of videos, but it's also useful with stills. I have the Nikon D3100 and before that I have the Canon EOS 60D (don't ask why, a long story). I must admit that I miss my tilt/swivel screen on the 60D. I wish I had it on the D3100, but I don't. I can just say that for some type of photography and videography, the tilting screen can really help.
LCD size and number of dots, tilting and touch enabled:
Panasonic GF3 - 3-inch | 460,000 dots | Fixed | Touch-Enabled
Panasonic GF2 - 3-inch 460,000 dots| Fixed | Touch-Enabled
Sony NEX-C3 - 3-inch | 920,000 dots | Tilting | Not Touch-Enabled
Both the GF2 and the GF3 has a pop-up built-in flash. What missing on the GF3 is a hot-shoe connector. Where the hot-shoe on the GF2 was, not their is a rounded bulge where the flash is. That means that you cannot use an external flash on the new model. The new flash is a bit stronger (6.3m) than on the GF2 (6m). On the Sony C3 is another story. You don't have a pop-up flash at all, but you can attach an external flash using the accessory port. So it seems that the DMC-GF2 has better flexibility here. Maybe Sony believes that people who want to shoot pictures with a flash will buy the external flash, which is twice as powerful than the built-in flash that the GF2 and the GF3 has.
Flash popup, hot-shoe and range:
Panasonic GF3 - Pop-up: Yes | Hot-Shoe: No | 6.3m
Panasonic GF2 - Pop-up: Yes | Hot-Shoe: Yes | 6m
Sony NEX-C3 - Pop-up: No | Accessory Port: Yes | 12m (external)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 can record movies at Full HD 1080i60 resolution. It can also capture both 720p@60/30fps and 480p@30fps and 240p@30fps - all in AVCHD video file format. For those of you who don't know the difference between AVCHD and Motion JPEG, you should know that AVCHD is a more compressed format that doubles the recording time compared to Motion JPEG. Some photographers prefer the Motion JPEG because the the image quality is better. The AVCHD is a good compromise between image quality and file size.
The GF3 now features a stereo mic for recording video. This is a step down from the GF2 which has a stereo built-in mic. In comparison, the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 records 720p video in MPEG4 (H.264) with stereo sound. So the GF3 had the advantage of Full HD videos over the C3, but lacks stereo recording as in the Lumix GF2. So we get to lose the hot-shoe and not the stereo mic too. Maybe I'm not reading the map correctly, but I hope their is a good reason for that (people just don't seems to use it or appreciate it, so costs can be reduced by removing those features).
OK, specs aside, let's look at a test video shot with the Panasonic GF3 (official from PanasonicUK) - view on YouTube.
More sample videos will be added as they become available.
Maximum video resolution + fps, sound and video file format
Panasonic GF3 - 1920x1080 / 60fps | Mono | AVCHD
Panasonic GF2 - 1920x1080 / 60fps | Stereo | AVCHD
Sony NEX-C3 - 1280x720 / 30fps | Stereo | MPEG4
According to the GF3 specs, nothing has changed here. The GF3 offers the same battery life as the GF2. The Sony C3 on the other hand has more (400 shots) battery life compared to the GF3 and GF2 (300 shots). Nothing to excited to write about here, just to let you know that the CIPA figures on the Sony are better. Let's continue..
Battery Life (CIPA)
Panasonic GF3 - 300 shots
Panasonic GF2 - 300 shots
Sony NEX-C3 - 400 shots
Anything Else to be Excited About?
The GF3 features a newly designed graphic user interface (GUI) that allow photographers to take control over their camera in no time. The new GUI should faster access to important functions and settings as well as viewing and managing photos and videos.
You also get the ultra fast AF focus system that can be found on the GF2 and GH cameras. You have the Advanced iA (intelligent auto) mode for greater creative freedom.
Now let's see some Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 sample images. You can visit this Flickr page and see some of the sample images taken with the GF3. Of course, like you, I want to see some lab-test sample images and see how the camera compares to the GF2 and Sony NEX-3.
According to this GF3 Press release page, the camera will be release in five different colors: Black, Grey, Red, Purple and Brown.
I will add more information about this new camera as it become available. For now, the GF3 looks a bit of a mixed bag, we need to wait and see some lab-test reviews and see how good the image quality is.
You can pre-order the Panasonic GF3 via Amazon here.
Post your opinion about the new GF3 - Do you think it's worth an upgrade from the GF2? - would you buy the Sony NEX-C3 or the GF3?
Posted 22 June 2011 - 07:14 AM
Posted 02 July 2011 - 04:21 PM
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