Panasonic today announced its latest compact system camera (CSC), the mirror-free Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF3 is the company's smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens camera with a built-in flash.
The camera's body size comparable to that of a smartphone and its weight is just 7.83oz (body only), less than a standard 8oz cup of coffee. This reduction in size and weight is thanks to advancements in new mirror-free camera technology, and large DSLR format sensors that are more compatible with a new class of compact Micro Four Thirds (MFT) System lenses. The DMC-GF3's image quality comes from a DSLR-sized 12.1-megapixel sensor and newly advanced image processing technologies.
The LUMIX GF3 digital camera is based on the Micro Four Thirds standard of lenses, which includes Panasonic's 3D lens, thus the LUMIX GF3 not only provides still photos, full-High Definition 1080/60i video, but is also capable of shooting 3D still photos.
The Panasonic LUMIX GF3 promises to produce high-quality photos thanks to high resolution, image rendering and color reproduction; high-grade lens options; and precise Auto Focus (AF). Plus, the LUMIX GF3 creates the right balance between resolution and noise reduction. The LUMIX GF3 boasts full sized DSLR like Image quality thanks the same Venus Engine FHD image processor. The Venus Engine FHD image processor makes low noise images from its 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor. Notably, images shot in low-lit situations at high ISO sensitivity setting, are also clear with sharp resolution, Panasonic claims.
Thanks to a new mount, the LUMIX GF3 is approximately 16.7% smaller and 16.2% lighter than its predecessor, the LUMIX GF2. Despite its small size , the LUMIX GF3 still maintains a built-in flash and features a new pop-up mechanism that helps prevent the vignetting effect due to short distances between the flash unit and the interchangeable lens.
All models in Panasonic's LUMIX G Series of digital cameras feature Contrast AF for their focus system, as opposed to phase-difference AF systems, used in traditional DSLRs. With a Contrast AF system, focusing is controlled by the image sensor so that mechanical margin of error is reduced to achieve precise focusing, thus boosting higher number of in focus shots, especially when shooting in low light with wide open lens aperture. As a result, when the LUMIX GF3 is used with Panasonic's new wide aperture interchangeable lens, the LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm / F1.4 ASPH, also announced by Panasonic today, the performance of the Contrast AF system is optimally maximized.
The Panasonic LUMIX GF3 features a Contrast AF system that locks in approximately 0.18 seconds. Taking further advantage of Contrast AF, the LUMIX GF3 incorporates full-area focusing which makes it possible to set focus on any point in the field- of-view. The LUMIX GF3 also features Light Speed AF, an fast AF which measures at approximately 0.1 seconds, which is achieved by reducing the detection time for focusing by doubling the sensors drive speed from 60 fps to 120 fps.
Manual control over focus is available in the DMC-GF3 and now features a 4x magnification feature. By touching the subject, that subject is then enlarged in a small window, allowing photographers to keep the rest of the image in view as a framing reference. Beyond 4x, that small window fills the monitor so even more control over focus fine-tuning can be achieved. This feature is available from both the MF (Manual Focus) Assist and AF + MF focus modes.
At the heart of the LUMIX GF3's simplified functionality is a 3.0-inch touch enabled LCD (460k- dot) that allows for touch control of menus and most shooting, focusing, playback and effects controls. Menus can be customized using simple drag-and-drop actions similar to those on some touch-enabled smartphones. Users can also release the shutter using the touch-screen. Once locked onto a subject, the LUMIX GF3 tracks the subject with the AF Tracking feature and another touch allows the user to select the size of the AF area. In addition, Pinpoint AF function allows even more precise focus setting by further enlarging the focusing area. With increased customization, users can set the touch shutter and touch AF ON/OFF based on their preference. Touch-control also makes playback of photos and videos easy to flip through like pages in a book.
For those who miss the tactile feel of a traditional DSLR mode dial, the DMC-GF3 offers a mode thumb wheel that quickly cycles though all available modes with visual feedback provided on the 3" touch-enabled LCD.
The LUMIX GF3 records 1920 x 1080 full-HD video in the AVCHD format. A dedicated video record button on the top lets users instantly start recording video, without having to hassle with any menu settings. The LUMIX GF3 allows for Touch AF in video recording.
Contributing to its ease-of-use, the LUMIX GF3 features Panasonic's acclaimed iA (Intelligent Auto) mode - and the new advanced iA Plus mode - are automatically engaged once the iA button is pressed, helping to make shooting video and photos with the LUMIX GF3 simple - even to users new to compact system cameras. Panasonic's iA features include MEGA O.I.S. (included in several lenses), Intelligent ISO Control, and Intelligent Scene Selector, Face Detection, AF Tracking, Intelligent D-range Control and Intelligent Resolution. With the new iA Plus mode, the LUMIX GF3 easily enables commonly desired manual enhancements not available from standard camera auto modes such as peripheries defocusing around faces, exposure compensation, and color balance adjustments which are visually adjusted by moving an on screen slider with the user's finger or the thumb wheel.
The LUMIX GF3 is equipped with a Dust Reduction System with a supersonic wave filter in front of the Live MOS sensor that vibrates vertically approximately 50,000 times per second in order to repel dust and other particles from the LUMIX GF3's sensor.
Two shooting modes are available - Photo Style and Creative Control. With Creative Control, the user can choose the most-frequently-used color modes (Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, High Dynamic and newly added Miniature Effect mode) with easy access. In Miniature Effect mode, the peripherals are defocused while saturation and contrast is emphasized so the photos look like a diorama. The Photo Style mode revitalizes the conventional film mode with settings in Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery, Portrait presets while enabling finer adjustment of contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction.
The LUMIX GF3, like all the CSC in the LUMIX G Series of digital cameras, is compatible with other Micro Four Thirds lenses and the full sized Four Thirds System standard via an optional mount adaptor. The Panasonic LUMIX GF3 will be available in black, white, red and brown bodies for a suggested retail prices of $699.99 with the 14mm lens kit system starting in July 2011, and $599.99 with the 14-42mm lens kit system starting in late August 2011.
New LEICA SUMMILUX DG / 25mm F1.4 Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens
Panasonic also today announced a new interchangeable Micro Four Thirds lens, the LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm/F1.4 ASPH. (H-X025), compatible with the company's LUMIX G Series of compact system cameras (CSC). The LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm / F1.4 ASPH. lens features a brightness of F1.4, and remains compact and lightweight.
The LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm / F1.4 ASPH. lens adopts Panasonic's Nano Surface Coating technology on the surface of the lens, which helps minimize reflection at the entire visual light range (380nm-780nm).
The new lens system comprises of nine elements in seven groups using two aspherical lenses and one UHR (Ultra High Refractive) index lens. The newly developed UHR index lens and glass mold aspherical lenses achieve uniformed description from the center to the edges.
The lens' 25mm focal distance (Equivalent to 50mm on a 35mm camera) is suitable for wide variety of occasions, giving users the flexibility in composition, perspective and aperture control. The lens is capable to take daily snapshots including scenic sunsets to dimly-lit indoor shots to the deliberately-creative shots using soft focus.
When mounted on the Panasonic LUMIX G Series digital cameras, the LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm/F1.4 ASPH. lens can take maximum advantage of Contrast AF system, which boasts both high accuracy and high speed for optimal photos. Furthermore, seven blades give the aperture a rounded shape that produces a smooth effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings. The lens also features a metal mount, making it extremely durable - even when repeatedly changed.
The LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm / F1.4 ASPH. lens will be available in August 2011. Panasonic did not provide pricing details.