Thursday, May 12, 2011
Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:55 PM
"Panasonic today announced the Lumix DMC-G3, a Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens camera. As you might have guessed, this is the follow-up to the DMC-G2. The most significant changes here are a new sensor and an even smaller body."
That was fast. The G2 was announced in March 2010, so it has been just 14 months between the two cameras. That is an incredibly short time for a new product, and I think Panasonic is likely to be re-aligning their Micro Four Thirds line. The G3's most noteworthy new features are an all-new 16 megapixel sensor, along with a more compact, aluminium front (the previous G cameras were entirely plastic with a rubberised coating). Other improvements include a fast AF system from the GH2, 1080p videos at 30 FPS in a 60i container, the touchscreen interface from GF2. Continuous shooting speed is increased to 4 FPS. Not everything is improved though; to make the body smaller and reduce cost, the G3 has less buttons, dials and knobs than the G2. Also missing is the infrared sensor which allows for automatic switching between the EVF and reard LCD display. Other minor things changing for the worse include the loss of microphone input, simpler strap lugs, and the smaller battery used by the GF2.
I suspect Panasonic is trying to aim the Lumix G lineup at a broader market, like how Sony captured so many users with their NEX line. Both the GF2 and G3 are smaller and simpler than their predecessors; I only hope that the GH series remains intact as the flagship of the line.
The G3 will be available in black, white, red and brown in June, with the 14-42/3.5-5.6 lens for about US$700. More coverage at the below links, and more photos of the camera with the press release after the break.
PANASONIC INTRODUCES COMPANY’S SMALLEST AND LIGHTEST DIGITAL INTERCHANGEABLE LENS CAMERA WITH A VIEWFINDER,*1 COMPLETE WITH EASY-TO-USE FEATURES AND HD VIDEO
The New Panasonic LUMIX G3 Features Large Touch Screen LCD for Intuitive Touch Control and Technologies Enhancing Imaging Quality
SECAUCUS, NJ (May 12, 2011) – Panasonic today announces a new addition to the LUMIX G Series of Compact Systems Cameras (CSC), the LUMIX DMC-G3, the company’s smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens camera with a viewfinder to date*1. This new class of CSC offers a lighter weight and smaller size not seen in traditional DSLRs, thus providing greater portability and creative control. The LUMIX G3 features a new 16.0-megapixel sensor that produces rich, true-to-life, high quality images, plus 1920 x 1080 full-High Definition (HD) video recording capability with stereo sound in AVCHD. The Panasonic LUMIX G3 is the ideal hybrid, offering superb still and video capabilities with easy-to-use features so users at any level can create professional-quality images.
“With the LUMIX G3, Panasonic offers an extremely light compact system camera that is easy to use, thanks to a touch-control LCD, yet still maintains powerful and creative features to appease the more advanced photographer,” said Darin Pepple, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “With new features that enhance photo and video quality, the LUMIX G3 offers exceptional image quality that a photographer at any level would be excited about using to capture their experiences.”
For the camera traditionalist, the LUMIX G3 provides a traditional DSLR-like experience with an external Mode dial for quick access to common modes like Program, Shutter and Aperture Priority, Manual. Additional dial settings include two Custom Modes, Scene Modes and a Creative Control Mode. The LUMIX G3 provides a dedicated video button that can be used to switch to video capture quickly without changing modes. Like most traditional DSLRs, the LUMIX G3 provides a built-in flash and hotshoe for connecting optional LUMIX flashes. For many, a traditional eyelevel viewfinder is still a must have, so the LUMIX G3 meets this demand with an eye-level electronic viewfinder that projects a high resolution 1.44m-dot image with 100% field of view (800x600, 0.7x magnification). In addition, color breakup has been improved when compared to the LUMIX G2.
To enhance operability and ensure it’s user-friendly, the LUMIX G3 features touch-control shooting, which lets photographers focus on the subject by simply touching it on the large, 3-inch high-resolution LCD touch screen. Once locked on the subject by a touch, the LUMIX G3 tracks the subject, even if it moves, with Auto Focus (AF) tracking. In addition to its 23 Area Auto Focusing Points, the LUMIX G3 features new Pinpoint AF. Pinpoint AF allows extremely precise near–pixel-level focus point setting at the touch of a finger. For example, unlike DSLRs that limit the number of fixed hardware focus points, Panasonic’s Pinpoint AF can be set by touch control to very fine points anywhere on the LCD. With a new Precision Contrast LightSpeed AF system, the LUMIX G3 is extremely fast, measuring approximately 0.1 second (14-140mm ~0.1 sec. 14-42mm ~0.18 sec., 45-200mm ~0.15 sec.). The LightSpeed AF feature is achieved by reducing the detection time for focusing by doubling the Live MOS Sensor drives speed from 60 fps to 120 fps. Manual control over focus is available in the LUMIX G3 and has been greatly improved when compared to its predecessor, the LUMIX DMC-G2. When magnification is first enabled at 4x by simply touching the subject on the LCD, that subject is enlarged in a small window allowing you 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 handy feature is available from both the MF Assist (Manual Focus) and AF + MF focus modes.
The Intelligent LCD has a bright 1,440,000-dot equivalent resolution and rotates 180° to the side and tilts 270° up and down offering approximately 100% of field of view, making it easy to operate and shoot at different angles. In addition, the touch-enabled-screen operation excels not only for shooting but also for playing back images with outstanding visibility. Users can scroll through hundreds of images on the screen, simply by thumbing through the thumbnails. Or, to play back images one-by-one, the user drags the image across the screen as though flipping a page in a book.
The LUMIX G3’s newly developed 16.0-megapixel Live MOS sensor, combined with the powerful Venus Engine FHD image processor, contribute to the high-quality photo and video images. The processor also provides selective noise reduction to create a more naturally-balanced curve without deterioration of the image. In the LUMIX G3, noise is significantly suppressed by more than 66%. Notably in shooting at high ISO settings, S/N value is improved by approximately 200% compared with the conventional 12.1-megapixel sensor. The sensor performance improves by 6db at ISO 3200 and max. 9db at ISO 6400.
For added ease of use, the LUMIX G3 features Panasonic’s iA2 and new iA Plus modes, which are enabled automatically once the iA button is pressed. Panasonic’s iA features, such as Intelligent Resolution, MEGA O.I.S. (included in several lenses), Intelligent ISO Control, and Intelligent Scene Selector are available when shooting still images. However, Panasonic’s new iA Plus mode adds greater flexibility with real-time visual feedback between automatic and manual shooting features:
- Touch-screen-slider-enabled background defocusing.
- Touch-enabled exposure control compensation.
- Touch-screen-slider-enabled white balance. A desired color balance result under difficult lighting can now be achieved visually from the LCD with a touch-enabled slider icon.
The LUMIX G3 offers rapid burst shooting control at various rates and resolutions. Image capture at full-resolution (16-megapixel) is possible at up to 4 frames per second with its mechanical shutter enabled, or an even faster 20 frames per second using the electronic shutter feature at a reduced resolution of 4 megapixels.
With an array of creative features, the LUMIX G3 offers users the opportunity to express their creativity with settings like Creative Control mode, which allows for images to be taken with popular visual effects that previously required software post processing. Effects include: Retro, High Key, Sepia and High Dynamic. The conventional film mode has evolved with a new effect control, Photo Style, which has Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery, Portrait presets that allow finer adjustment of contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction by each.
As with many interchangeable lens cameras, dust on the sensor reduces image clarity. To eliminate this potential, the LUMIX G3 uses a Dust Reduction System that uses a supersonic wave filter in front of the Live MOS sensor. Vibrating vertically around 50,000 times per second, the filter repels dust and other particles effectively.
The LUMIX G3 utilizes the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) System mount, offering greater size and weight reduction in the lens without compromising performance and clarity. The LUMIX MFT System offers a selection of 11 high-performance fixed focal length and variable aperture G Vario zooms, including a highly-versatile 3D lens capable of capturing both 2D and 3D images at the same time. There are lens adaptors available for mounting older Leica M and Leica R lenses, including prior LUMIX full Four Thirds lenses. An innovative 14-140mm HD G Vario lens provides the best of video and still-image shooting with a long 10x range and near silent high-speed focusing. When connected to the LUMIX G3, ultra-fast focusing and auto subject track AF can be achieved. Many LUMIX MFT lenses come with MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) built-in. This feature helps prevent blurring from shaky hands. Working together with this is the camera’s intelligent ISO Control, which reduces motions blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity if the subject moves, helping to ensure sharp images.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3, made of aluminum, will be available in a variety of attractive colors, including black, red, white and brown, starting in June 2011. Suggested retail price of the LUMIX G3 with the 14-42mm Zoom Lens Kit will be $699.99. For more information about the Panasonic LUMIX G Series of compact system cameras, please visit www.panasonic.com/lumix.
*1 For an interchangeable lens system camera with a view finder, as of May 12, 2011.
*2 Some functions in iA mode may not be available depending on the lens that is mounted.
* Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
* Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds Logo marks are trademarks or registered trademarks of Olympus Imaging Corporation, in Japan, the United States, the European Union and other countries.
*The "AVCHD" is a high definition (HD) digital video recording / playback format jointly established by Panasonic Corporation and Sony Corporation.