Nikon D3 vs Panasonic G1
The Nikon D3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2008. The D3 is a DSLR, while the G1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (D3) and a Four Thirds (G1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.1 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 Nikon D3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1? 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 Nikon D3 and the Panasonic G1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic G1 is considerably smaller (59 percent) than the Nikon D3. Moreover, the G1 is substantially lighter (72 percent) than the D3. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D3 is splash and dust resistant, while the G1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D3) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (G1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the G1, 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.
Concerning battery life, the D3 gets 4300 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the G1 can take 410 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLB13 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|2.||Panasonic G1||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||n||Sep 2008||599|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|7.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|8.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|9.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|10.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|11.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|12.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|13.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|14.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GH1||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||300||n||Mar 2009||899|
|17.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: 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 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 G1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 88 percent) than the D3, 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. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 Nikon D3 features a full frame sensor and the Panasonic G1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the G1 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the D3 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the G1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 12.1MP, the D3 offers a slightly higher resolution than the G1 (12MP), but the D3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.43μm versus 4.33μm for the G1) due to its larger sensor. However, the G1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the D3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Nikon D3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 D3 provides substantially higher image quality than the G1, with an overall score that is 28 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.4 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|2.||Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|4.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|5.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|6.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|7.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|8.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|9.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|13.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|14.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|15.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|16.||Panasonic GH1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
|17.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the G1 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the D3 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.70x). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3 and Panasonic G1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the D3, but is missing on the G1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The G1 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D3 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D3 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the G1 uses SDHC cards. The D3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the G1 only has one slot.
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 Nikon D3 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D3 (unlike the G1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D3 and the G1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3 was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the G1 was followed by the Panasonic G2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3 and the Panasonic G1? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon D3:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (28 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 460k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (4300 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1:
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (124x84mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 940g or 72 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (88 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 9 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 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 Nikon D3 and the Panasonic G1 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3 or the G1. 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|2.||Panasonic G1||..||+ +||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|7.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|8.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|9.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|10.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|11.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|12.||Nikon D2X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|13.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|14.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GH1||..||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||899|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Nikon D3 vs Panasonic G1
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||Nikon D3||Panasonic G1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 4,999||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3||Panasonic G1|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.1 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4256 x 2832 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.43 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.40 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||Venus HD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||53|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||21.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2290||463|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3||Panasonic G1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3||Panasonic G1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3||Panasonic G1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3||Panasonic G1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||4300 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
124 x 84 x 45 mm
(4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||1300 g (45.9 oz)||360 g (12.7 oz)|
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