Updated : We've finished our evaluation of the retail version of Panasonic's G3, and have upgraded our former preview article (on 20th May) to a full fledged review. We've added an Image Performance review page, as well as Sample Photographs, and a reworked Conclusion.
In October 2008, the Panasonic Lumix G1 kicked off the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera revolution by being the first Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera to market. Three years later, we're up to eleven MFT camera bodies, nineteen lenses and two other mirrorless systems besides Micro Four Thirds with more rumored to come. One of those eleven MFT camera bodies is the brand-new Lumix DMC-G3, the 'grandchild' of the G1.
The G3 brings many of the innovations first seen in the GH2 and GF2, camera models which sit higher and below the G3 in the food chain respectively. The new 16.6-megapixel (15.8 megapixels effective) Live MOS sensor promises higher resolution and less image noise. The already fast AF has been sped up even further with what Panasonic calls 'Light Speed AF' (what's next, 'Warp Speed AF'?).
It retains the swivel screen from the G2, and full 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution HD video recording, up from the G2's maximum resolution of 720p. It's the smallest interchangeable lens camera with an optical viewfinder (at the time of this writing); the resolution hasn't changed at 1,440,000 dots, but Panasonic says performance has been improved with less color break-up.
It resembles the GF2 more than the GH2; like a chunkier GF2 rather than a slimmed down GH2. It's not as light as the GF2 (265g, body only) however, at 336g (body only) it's closer in weight to the GH2 (392g). It's slightly faster than the GF2, able to squeeze off 4 frames of full resolution images a second, while the GF2 manages 3.2. It also shoots a higher 16MP image over the GF2's 12MP.