Panasonic GF3 vs Sony NEX-F3
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2011 and May 2012. Both the GF3 and the NEX-F3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GF3) and an APS-C (NEX-F3) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-F3? 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 Panasonic GF3 and the Sony NEX-F3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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 NEX-F3 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-F3 is notably larger (8 percent) than the Panasonic GF3. Moreover, the NEX-F3 is markedly heavier (19 percent) than the GF3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GF3 nor the NEX-F3 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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF3) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-F3). 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.
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|Panasonic GF3||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|Sony NEX-F3||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Panasonic GF5||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic LX7||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.8 in||10.5 oz||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|Panasonic G3||4.5 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||11.9 oz||270||n||May 2011||599|
|Panasonic G10||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|Panasonic G2||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|Panasonic LX5||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||9.6 oz||400||n||Jul 2010||499|
|Panasonic G1||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||12.7 oz||410||n||Sep 2008||599|
|Sony A5100||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Sony NEX-5||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||10.1 oz||330||n||May 2010||699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GF3 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the NEX-F3 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 Panasonic GF3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-F3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-F3 is 62 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the GF3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-F3 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16MP, the NEX-F3 offers a higher resolution than the GF3 (12MP), but the NEX-F3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 4.33μm for the GF3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the NEX-F3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the GF3, 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 Sony NEX-F3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-F3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-F3 offers substantially better image quality than the GF3 (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.1 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The GF3 and the NEX-F3 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the NEX-F3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GF3, the Sony NEX-F3, and comparable cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF3 has a touchscreen, while the NEX-F3 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The NEX-F3 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 GF3 does not have a selfie-screen.
The GF3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-F3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and Sony Alpha NEX-F3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the NEX-F3 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The GF3 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
Both the GF3 and the NEX-F3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF3 was replaced by the Panasonic GF5, while the NEX-F3 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GF3 and the Sony NEX-F3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 50g or 16 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-F3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 18%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (470 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-F3 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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 Panasonic GF3 and the Sony NEX-F3 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the GF3 or the NEX-F3 perform in practice. 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|Panasonic GF3||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|Sony NEX-F3||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Panasonic GF5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic LX7||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|Panasonic G3||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|Panasonic G10||..||70/100||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|Panasonic G2||..||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|Panasonic LX5||+||73/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|Panasonic G1||+ +||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|Sony A5100||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Sony NEX-5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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 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: Panasonic GF3 vs Sony NEX-F3
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||Panasonic GF3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||May 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.33 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.34 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus FHD||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||49||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.6||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.0||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||458||1114|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.2 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GF3||Sony NEX-F3|
|External Flash||no 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 GF3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
108 x 67 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
117 x 67 x 42 mm
(4.6 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||264 g (9.3 oz)||314 g (11.1 oz)|
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