Canon 500D vs Panasonic GF3
The Canon EOS 500D (called Canon T1i in some regions) and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2009 and June 2011. The 500D is a DSLR, while the GF3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (500D) and a Four Thirds (GF3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 500D and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 500D and the Panasonic GF3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF3 can be obtained in five different colors (black, brown, pink, red, white), while the 500D is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF3 is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Canon 500D. Moreover, the GF3 is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the 500D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 500D nor the GF3 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (500D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GF3, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|3.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|7.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|9.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|10.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|11.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|12.||Canon 450D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|14.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|15.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|16.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GF3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 percent) than the 500D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 500D features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GF3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF3 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 500D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 15.1MP, the 500D offers a higher resolution than the GF3 (12MP), but the 500D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 4.33μm for the GF3) due to its larger sensor. However, the GF3 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 2 months) than the 500D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 500D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 500D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GF3 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 500D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the 500D provides substantially higher image quality than the GF3, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|2.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|9.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|14.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the GF3 provides a faster frame rate than the 500D. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/20p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 500D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 500D, the Panasonic GF3, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4/s||Y||n|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 750D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 760D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 650D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon 600D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon 450D||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||none||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF3 has a touchscreen, while the 500D has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The 500D writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the GF3 uses SDXC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 500D and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 500D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 750D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 760D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 700D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 650D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 600D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 450D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 500D has a hotshoe, while the GF3 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the 500D and the GF3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 500D was replaced by the Canon 550D, while the GF3 was followed by the Panasonic GF5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 500D and the Panasonic GF3? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 500D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 12MP) with a 14% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2009).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/20p).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 256g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the 500D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 500D emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 500D and the Panasonic GF3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 500D and the GF3 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|3.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|7.||Canon 700D||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|9.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|10.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|11.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|12.||Canon 450D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|14.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|15.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|16.||Panasonic G2||..||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||..||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
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Specifications: Canon 500D vs Panasonic GF3
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 500D||Panasonic GF3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2009||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 500D||Panasonic GF3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.1 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4752 x 3168 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.69 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.53 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/20p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||160 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.7||20.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||10.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||458|
|Screen Specs||Canon 500D||Panasonic GF3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 500D||Panasonic GF3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.4 shutter flaps/s||3.2 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 500D||Panasonic GF3|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 500D||Panasonic GF3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
108 x 67 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||520 g (18.3 oz)||264 g (9.3 oz)|
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