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Panasonic G3 vs GF1

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2011 and September 2009. Both the G3 and the GF1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The G3 has a resolution of 15.8 megapixels, whereas the GF1 provides 12 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Panasonic G3   Panasonic GF1
Panasonic G3 Panasonic GF1
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
15.8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
ISO 160-6400 ISO 100-3200
Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots) Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD, 460k dots 3.0" LCD, 460k dots
Swivel touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
270 shots per battery charge380 shots per battery charge
115 x 84 x 47 mm, 336 g 119 x 71 x 36 mm, 385 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Panasonic G3 and the Panasonic GF1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The G3 can be obtained in four different colors (black, brown, red, white), while the GF1 is only available in black.

Size Panasonic G3 vs Panasonic GF1
Compare G3 versus GF1 top
Comparison G3 or GF1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF1 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Panasonic G3. However, the GF1 is markedly heavier (15 percent) than the G3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G3 nor the GF1 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the G3 gets 270 shots out of its DMW-BLD10 battery, while the GF1 can take 380 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLB13 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Panasonic G3» 4.5 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 11.9 oz 270 n May 2011 599- i Panasonic G3
 
Panasonic GF1« 4.7 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 13.6 oz 380 n Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
 
Panasonic GF6« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 11.4 oz 340 n Apr 2013 499- i Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G5« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jul 2012 599- i Panasonic G5
 
Panasonic GF3« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 300 n Jun 2011 549- i Panasonic GF3
 
Panasonic GX1« » 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 11.2 oz 320 n Nov 2011 699- i Panasonic GX1
 
Panasonic G10« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic G2« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 15.1 oz 360 n Mar 2010 599- i Panasonic G2
 
Panasonic GF2« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 10.9 oz 300 n Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2
 
Panasonic GH2« » 4.9 in 3.5 in 3.0 in 15.6 oz 330 n Sep 2010 899- i Panasonic GH2
 
Panasonic GH1« » 4.9 in 3.5 in 1.8 in 13.6 oz 300 n Mar 2009 899- i Panasonic GH1
 
Panasonic G1« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 12.7 oz 410 n Sep 2008 599- i Panasonic G1
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 G3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the GF1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

Sensor comparison

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.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Panasonic G3 and Panasonic GF1 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the G3 offers a higher resolution of 15.8 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the GF1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 15 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the G3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.77μm versus 4.33μm for the GF1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the G3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the GF1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The resolution advantage of the Panasonic G3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.2 inch or 58.3 x 43.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inch or 46.7 x 35 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 11.5 inch or 38.9 x 29.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GF1 are 20 x 15 inch or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inch or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inch or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

G3 versus GF1 MP

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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Panasonic G3» Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756Panasonic G3
 
Panasonic GF1« Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
 
Panasonic GF6« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p----Panasonic G5
 
Panasonic GF3« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849Panasonic GF3
 
Panasonic GX1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355Panasonic GX1
 
Panasonic G10« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic G2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353Panasonic G2
 
Panasonic GF2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654Panasonic GF2
 
Panasonic GH2« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i21.211.365560Panasonic GH2
 
Panasonic GH1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264Panasonic GH1
 
Panasonic G1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000-21.110.346353Panasonic G1

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the G3 provides a higher video resolution than the GF1. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the GF1 is limited to 720/30p.

 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the G3 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic G3, the Panasonic GF1, and comparable cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Panasonic G3»1440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Panasonic G3
 
Panasonic GF1«- n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6
 
Panasonic GF6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G5« »1440 n 3.0 920 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Panasonic G5
 
Panasonic GF3« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2 Y n Panasonic GF3
 
Panasonic GX1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n Panasonic GX1
 
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 GH2« »1534 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Panasonic GH2
 
Panasonic GH1« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Panasonic GH1
 
Panasonic G1« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Panasonic G1

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The G3 has a touchscreen, while the GF1 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The G3 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the GF1 does not have a selfie-screen.

The G3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the GF1 uses SDHC cards.

 

Connectivity comparison

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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Panasonic G3»Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G3
 
Panasonic GF1«Ymonomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic G6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Panasonic G6
 
Panasonic GF6« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G5« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G5
 
Panasonic GF3« »-stereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF3
 
Panasonic GX1« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GX1
 
Panasonic G10« »Ymono---mini2.0---Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic G2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G2
 
Panasonic GF2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF2
 
Panasonic GH2« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Panasonic GH2
 
Panasonic GH1« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Panasonic GH1
 
Panasonic G1« »Y----mini2.0---Panasonic G1

Both the G3 and the GF1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF1 was replaced by the Panasonic DMC-GF2, while the G3 was followed by the Panasonic G5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic website.


Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic G3 or the Panasonic GF1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.8 vs 12MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 49g or 13 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the GF1).


Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1:

  • More compact: Is smaller (119x71mm vs 115x84mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (380 versus 270) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2009).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the G3 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 3 points). 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 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.

G3 11:03 GF1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Panasonic G3 and the Panasonic GF1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the G3 or the GF1. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Panasonic G3»+ +75/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2011 599- i Panasonic G3
 
Panasonic GF1«85/10069/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic G6« »+ +-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
 
Panasonic GF6« »+ +-4.5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 499- i Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G5« »+ +-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jul 2012 599- i Panasonic G5
 
Panasonic GF3« »82/10071/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549- i Panasonic GF3
 
Panasonic GX1« »+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 699- i Panasonic GX1
 
Panasonic G10« »-70/1004/5-4/5 Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic G2« »-72/1004/54/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599- i Panasonic G2
 
Panasonic GF2« »82/10070/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2
 
Panasonic GH2« »+ +79/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Sep 2010 899- i Panasonic GH2
 
Panasonic GH1« »+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899- i Panasonic GH1
 
Panasonic G1« »+ +70/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599- i Panasonic G1
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Panasonic G3:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GF1:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Panasonic G3 vs Panasonic GF1

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Panasonic G3 Panasonic GF1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date May 2011 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Panasonic G3 Panasonic GF1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 15.8 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4592 x 3448 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.77 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 7.04 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 160-6400 ISO 100-3200 ISO
    Image Processor Venus FHD Venus HD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 54
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.0 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.6 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 667 513
    Screen Specs Panasonic G3 Panasonic GF1
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Panasonic G3 Panasonic GF1
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Panasonic G3 Panasonic GF1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Panasonic G3 Panasonic GF1
    Battery Type DMW-BLD10 DMW-BLB13
    Battery Life (CIPA)270 shots per charge380 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 115 x 84 x 47 mm
    (4.5 x 3.3 x 1.9 in)
    119 x 71 x 36 mm
    (4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 336 g (11.9 oz) 385 g (13.6 oz)

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