Canon G12 vs Panasonic GF3
The Canon PowerShot G12 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2010 and June 2011. The G12 is a fixed lens compact, while the GF3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G12) and a Four Thirds (GF3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10 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.
|Canon G12||Panasonic GF3|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|28-140mm f/2.8-4.5||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|10 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor||12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|720/24p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 80-3200 (80-12800)||ISO 160-6400|
|Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|2.8" LCD, 461k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed touchscreen|
|1.1 shutter flaps per second||3.2 shutter flaps per second|
|370 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|112 x 76 x 48 mm, 401 g||108 x 67 x 32 mm, 264 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G12 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon G12 and the Panasonic GF3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF3 can be obtained in five different colors (black, brown, pink, red, white), while the G12 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 notably smaller (15 percent) than the Canon G12. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G12 nor the GF3 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G12 has a lens built in, whereas the GF3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the GF3 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Canon G12»||4.4 in||3.0 in||1.9 in||14.1 oz||370||n||Sep 2010||499||-||Canon G12|
|Panasonic GF3«||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Canon G16« »||4.3 in||3.0 in||1.6 in||12.6 oz||360||n||Aug 2013||549||Canon G16|
|Canon G15« »||4.2 in||3.0 in||1.6 in||12.4 oz||350||n||Sep 2012||499||-||Canon G15|
|Canon SX50« »||4.8 in||3.4 in||4.2 in||21.0 oz||315||n||Sep 2012||429||-||Canon SX50|
|Fujifilm X10« »||4.6 in||2.8 in||2.2 in||12.3 oz||270||n||Sep 2011||599||-||Fujifilm X10|
|Nikon P7800« »||4.7 in||3.1 in||2.0 in||14.1 oz||350||n||Sep 2013||549||-||Nikon P7800|
|Olympus E-450« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2009||499||-||Olympus E-450|
|Panasonic GF5« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic FZ150« »||4.9 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||18.6 oz||410||n||Aug 2011||499||-||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3« »||4.5 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||11.9 oz||270||n||May 2011||599||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic LX5« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||9.6 oz||400||n||Jul 2010||499||-||Panasonic LX5|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The G12 was launched at a lower price than the GF3, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G12 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Panasonic GF3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF3 is 423 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
With 12MP, the GF3 offers a higher resolution than the G12 (10MP), but the GF3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.33μm versus 2.07μm for the G12) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the GF3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the G12, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GF3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inch or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inch or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inch or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon G12 are 18.2 x 13.7 inch or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inch or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inch or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot G12 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 80-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Canon G12»||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/24p||20.4||11.2||161||47||Canon G12|
|Panasonic GF3«||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49||Panasonic GF3|
|Canon G16« »||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||21.0||11.7||230||54||Canon G16|
|Canon G15« »||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||19.9||11.5||165||46||Canon G15|
|Canon SX50« »||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||20.3||11.2||179||47||Canon SX50|
|Fujifilm X10« »||2/3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/30p||20.5||11.3||245||50||Fujifilm X10|
|Nikon P7800« »||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/30p||21.2||11.7||200||54||Nikon P7800|
|Olympus E-450« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.5||10.5||512||56||Olympus E-450|
|Panasonic GF5« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic FZ150« »||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||19.4||10.9||132||40||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic LX5« »||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||19.6||10.8||132||41||Panasonic LX5|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the GF3 provides a better video resolution than the G12. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the G12 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon G12 and Panasonic GF3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon G12»||optical||n||2.8||461||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.1||Y||Y||Canon G12|
|Panasonic GF3«||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2||Y||n||Panasonic GF3|
|Canon G16« »||optical||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y||Canon G16|
|Canon G15« »||optical||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1||Y||Y||Canon G15|
|Canon SX50« »||202||n||3.0||461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2||Y||Y||Canon SX50|
|Fujifilm X10« »||optical||n||2.8||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||Y||Fujifilm X10|
|Nikon P7800« »||921||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y||Nikon P7800|
|Olympus E-450« »||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-450|
|Panasonic GF5« »||-||n||3.0||920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic FZ150« »||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3« »||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10« »||202||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic LX5« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||Y||Panasonic LX5|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF3 has a touchscreen, while the G12 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G12 and the GF3 write their files to 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 PowerShot G12 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon G12»||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon G12|
|Panasonic GF3«||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Canon G16« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Canon G16|
|Canon G15« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon G15|
|Canon SX50« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX50|
|Fujifilm X10« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Fujifilm X10|
|Nikon P7800« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon P7800|
|Olympus E-450« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-450|
|Panasonic GF5« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic FZ150« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10« »||Y||mono||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic LX5« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic LX5|
It is notable that the G12 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 G12 and the GF3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G12 was replaced by the Canon G15, 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon G12 or the Panasonic GF3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot G12:
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the GF3 requires a separate lens.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (370 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/24p).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.8") for image review and settings control.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.2 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 112x76mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (9 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 G12 and the Panasonic GF3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the G12 and the GF3 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon G12»||+||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||499||-||Canon G12|
|Panasonic GF3«||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Canon G16« »||+||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549||Canon G16|
|Canon G15« »||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||-||Canon G15|
|Canon SX50« »||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429||-||Canon SX50|
|Fujifilm X10« »||-||76/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599||-||Fujifilm X10|
|Nikon P7800« »||-||-||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549||-||Nikon P7800|
|Olympus E-450« »||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||Mar 2009||499||-||Olympus E-450|
|Panasonic GF5« »||-||-||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic FZ150« »||+ +||76/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499||-||Panasonic FZ150|
|Panasonic G3« »||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic G10« »||-||70/100||4/5||-||4/5||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||-||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic LX5« »||+||73/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499||-||Panasonic LX5|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1300D vs Canon G12
- Canon G12 vs Canon M10
- Canon G12 vs Canon T6i
- Canon G12 vs Nikon D3100
- Canon G12 vs Olympus E-600
- Canon G12 vs Panasonic GX7
- Canon G12 vs Pentax KP
- Canon SX720 vs Panasonic GF3
- Fujifilm X-M1 vs Panasonic GF3
- Fujifilm X-Pro2 vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic G5 vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic GF3 vs Sony NEX-3N
Specifications: Canon G12 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 G12||Panasonic GF3|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||28-140mm f/2.8-4.5||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Canon G12||Panasonic GF3|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.07 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||23.04 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/24p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||80-3200 ISO||160-6400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80-12800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||47||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.4||20.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||10.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||161||458|
|Screen Specs||Canon G12||Panasonic GF3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.8 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon G12||Panasonic GF3|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.1 shutter flaps/s||3.2 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon G12||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 G12||Panasonic GF3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
112 x 76 x 48 mm
(4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in)
108 x 67 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||401 g (14.1 oz)||264 g (9.3 oz)|
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