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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Ken McMahon, October 2011
 
 

Panasonic Lumix GF3 vs Sony Alpha NEX-C3 vs Olympus Pen E-PL3 image quality

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the the Panasonic Lumix GF3, Sony NEX-C3 and Olympus Pen E-PL3 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on each camera were set to approximately the same field of view and all three cameras were set to f5.6 in Aperture Priority mode.

The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting: 160 ISO on the Lumix GF3 and 200 ISO on both the NEX-C3 and Pen E-PL3.

  Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 results
1 Lumix GF3 Resolution
2 Lumix GF3 Noise
3 Lumix GF3 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix GF3 with the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens lens at its 14mm (28mm equivalent) wide angle setting. In Aperture priority mode with f5.6 selected the camera metered a shutter speed of 1/1600 at 160 ISO. The original image size measured 6.69MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.

Overall, the Lumix GF3 has produced a very nice looking shot. It's well exposed with good tonal range and plenty of detail in the shadows and highlights. Viewed at less than 100 percent the detail looks nice and crisp, the white balance looks good and the colours are vibrant and well saturated.

Now to the crops. At 100 pecent the crops back up the overall view. These crops show good image detail with minimal noise and little evidence of in-camera processing. In the first crop you can make out the fine detail in the chapel as well as the grass and rocky outcrops in the foreground, but it's not quite as clear as it might be. The two figures to the left of the chapel are a little indistinct and, though the sky is free from noise and is a flat blue, the detail below the horizon has a slight textured look to it.

The detail in the lighthouse crop looks a little softer with the lighthouse a slightly soft but still distinct white column. The rooftops and window frames in the foreground are clear and distinct though, which suggests that some of the softness in more distant detail is due to the slightly hazy conditions. In the third crop, though, there's noticeable blue fringing around the window frame and drainpipe. Chromatic aberration wasn't evident in our GF2 test crops using the same 14-42mm kit lens, but the brighter conditions on this day and the closer proximity of the crop to the frame edge have winkled out the flaw. Having said that, it's fairly innocuous and something you could deal with by shooting RAW and post-processing if it became a real issue. Of all the crops, the final one, from the centre of the frame, is the most impressive. The fine detail here is clearer, crisper and sharper than in the others.

So, an overall excellent performance from the GF3 with the 14-42mm kit lens only slightly let down by inconsistency across the frame and slight loss of detail in some areas.

Compared with the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 the Panasonic Lumix GF3 crops hold their own very well. The NEX-C3's much bigger sensor allows it to capture more light and offer better noise performance. Sony has 'spent' some of this advantage on packing in more pixels, 16.2 compared with the GF3's 12.1 Megapixels, but you'd still expect a better result from the NEX-C3 and it delivers it, just about. It doesn't help that the NEX-C3's metering has slighly overexposed the shot, but this aside, the image detail from the NEX-C3 crops is not only larger, but a little clearer than those of the Lumix GF3. Like the GF3, the NEX-C3's kit lens suffers a little from softness at the frame adge as well as Chromatic aberration.

In terms of resolution of fine detail though, it's the Olympus E-PL3 that really shines in this comparison. Right from the off the Pen E-PL3 crops are punchier with sharper edge detail and none of the softness evident to a degree in both the Lumix GF3 and NEX-C3 crops. If you look closely you can see a small amount of purple fringing in the third Pen E-PL3 crop. It could also be argued that the high contrast and sharpness has come at the cost of a slight brittleness to the look of the E-PL3 crops, but you'd have to be really looking for something to criticise. Whichever way you look at it the Pen E-PL3 crops are very impressive indeed.

Now let's see how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

 


Panasonic Lumix GF3
 
Sony NEX-C3
 
Olympus Pen E-PL3
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO


Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise




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