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Add or upgrade to G3?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Replytoken, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    It's now been about 6 months that I have been shooting with micro 4/3rd's equipment instead of my Nikon D300. What started out as a temporary camera with two kit lenses has grown to two bodies, an Olympus E-PL2 w/VF-2 and a Panasonic GF3, and six lenses. While I will not be selling my D300 or Nikon lenses, I have really come to enjoy the size/weight advantage of 4/3rd's bodies and lenses when I do not need the features of my Nikon gear.

    However, all is not perfect in the world of 4/3rd's bodies for me. The most frustrating thing for me is that the dials and buttons on the back of the E-PL2 keep getting bumped by my thumb when I am shooting. And, I am pretty much hooked on using an EVF. So, while the GF3 makes a good compact back up body and ride-along camera in my briefcase, I really do not enjoy composing off of its LCD screen. If I had not picked it up with a 14mm lens for a good price, I probably would not have purchased it. In short, the bodies are good, but flawed in terms of comfort and control.

    Regarding my lenses, with the exception of Panasonic's two new f/2.8 zoom lenses that are a bit beyond what's left of my budget, I am not really needing or wanting any, and this is the place where I usually spend most of my money when building a versatile photo system. I have three primes and three zooms that are serving me reasonably well. In short, I have a reasonably nice travel kit. But, as I said above, the bodies are a bit of a compromise in terms of comfort and operation.

    I would be interested in picking up an OMD E-5, but that seems a bit beyond what I want to spend on a body right now. So, I thought I would wait for prices to come down, or new bodies to be introduced, next year. It seems like Panasonic and Olympus are always discounting their bodies when new models are launched. And that is exactly what caught my attention at a local Panasonic dealer this past week. They had a new G3 body for $399.

    Normally, I am not impulsive with purchases, but that price seemed too good to not give it some consideration. So, I re-read a number of comprehensive reviews, and decided the G3 was worth considering. It had an EVF and a tilt screen, and it was not really much larger than my E-PL2. And, I would be moving up to a slightly larger and newer sensor, although I have been reasonably happy with IQ from the two bodies that I already own.

    So, I payed the dealer a visit yesterday, and had a few moments to play with the G3, as well as a G5 and a GX1 for comparison. I wish I could say that the G3 solved all of my problems, but that did not seem to be the case. I like its size, but it seems that my thumb still felt like it was bumping the buttons and controls on the back of the camera. In comparison, the G5 had a bigger and better feeling grip, but it was larger and more expensive. And while the G3 at $399 did not fully meet my needs, the G5 was even less appealing because while it was a bit more comfortable, I was not going to spend an additional $400 and still have issues.

    Perhaps I am spoiled by my D300, where pretty much every control falls exactly where it is most comfortable for my hands (which I do not think are that large)? I realize that the price we pay for small bodies is less room on the camera back, but I am still finding that my thumb is lacking a "clear path" to rest when I hold 4/3rd's bodies. I am trying to adjust, but I wish Panasonic or Olympus could design an affordable body that allows a thumb to rest on the camera back without bumping controls.

    As I was not able to further evaluate the G3 in the store because I was late for another appointment, I bought it since it was the last body in stock, and the store has a 14-day return policy. I will probably try a few test shots, but before I start taking the packaging apart, I wanted to solicit some feedback from others who have shot with a G3, and perhaps the E-PL2. While the body was priced right, I am not sure that it is the best choice from me, and my budget is not unlimited. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.


  2. zapatista

    zapatista Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Albuquerque, NM
    Mike Barber
    The G3 is a really great deal. The sensor (for low light performance) is much better, maybe 2 stops better than the old Panny 12mp one in the GF3/E-PL2. The E-PL2 for me has a much nicer grip (better than any stock m43 Olympus body).

    I think the VF-2 and the EVF built-in on the G3 are about the same quality. The tilting EVF feature can be useful (VF-2) but I don't really miss it.

    I will admit to having shot 6400 ISO several times in broad daylight on the G3 due to moving around the thumb when shooting/composing with the EVF (top button is ISO). However, after several thousand shots taken on the G3, it's been a minimal problem. I currently using an OM-D, more for the IBIS with manual lenses and a little better handling, compared to the G3.

    Bottom line: It depends on what you're shooting and your overall image quality requirements. G3is a better camera from a technology/hardware standpoint. E-PL2 feels better to me.

    Hope this helps,
    • Like Like x 1
  3. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    If you can try the G3 and return it, I think you should do that. But at the end of the day, a camera which does not feel right in your hands is not the right camera for you.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. greyelm

    greyelm Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 28, 2010
    My most used camera is my X100 but I also have a G3 & GF1. I have large hands and when I first got the G3 my thumb did touch the buttons on the back but I seem to have got used to holding the camera and it is not a major problem for me. The G3 is a great camera and coupled with the 20mm is small and light with excellent performance. I did consider the OM-D but went for the G3 as it gives more bangs per buck. I do wish I could lock the rear button in the same fashion as the X100.
  5. evilnim

    evilnim Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 27, 2012
    I'd agree with Pictor - although the G3 is touted as a fine camera and a steal at a cut down price, I found that I didn't click with it at all (no pun intended). I switched to the OM-D and have found myself enjoying it a great deal more.

    It is a personal preference - I know many forum members are more than happy with the G3, so try it, see how it feels, and return/sell/keep it!

    Caveat - I'm in no way a pro nor an expert - just someone who likes to take photos (often badly)
  6. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I never warmed to the ergonomics of the G3; the grip just didn't feel as certain as the G2 which it replaced. However, the image quality - especially when using the PL 25 - was excellent. For the price, it's hard to beat.
  7. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    I think you might be happier with the G5.
  8. CUB

    CUB Guest

    Several times over the years I have been issued a camera to use that I would have not chosen myself, and that I did not particularly like. My job was to make images with the allocated equipment. Some of my best images were produced with cameras that I actively disliked using.

    As consumers we can choose our equipment. I do wonder whether we have too much choice. I agree that the G3's handling is not perfect. But it has never prevented me from getting the shots I want.

    Likewise, all my Leica M bodies over the years have had questionable aspects to their ergonomics. But for me, there is no better camera than a Leica M when it comes to getting the images you want.

    Sometimes, the right camera for you does not feel right in your hand.
  9. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    The G3 worked for me. The built-in viewfinder in a compact body with an excellent sensor. Though if you have the extra $, a G5 will be better.
  10. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Ken... Briefly, you did the right thing in scooping up the last G3 body at that price. It's a great camera and a great deal. But you have to find out for sure if it's right for you. And if it doesn't work out, you return it. If you do take it back, you can consider the G5, which is probably a bit better than the G3. But I'll bet a leftover GH2 would be the best bet for you right now.
  11. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I have frequent issues with hitting the buttons with my thumb and bring up whichever menu. A quick half press of the shutter gets me back to taking pictures, as I rarely hit other buttons to make a different selection. If this is going to seriously bother you, I would recommend you look at a GH2.
  12. Photodan1

    Photodan1 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 26, 2012
    Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    I have th G3 and like it very much. The grip is a little on the small side but unless you have pretty big hands I think you will get used to it. I have never had an issue with accidentally switching the buttons but have occasionally moved the focus point on the touch screen by mistake.

    Check it out, it is a great camera and image quality is first rate. I use it on paid gigs (portraits and sports memory mates, etc.) and have been very satisfied.
  13. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Wow! Too many responses for me to reply individually. First, let me say thank you for sharing your experiences with the G3. I have owned many a camera over the years, and while some have been more comfortable to hold than others, even the uncomfortable ones did not have issues around controls getting accidentally changed. This is really a problem of space, or lack thereof, on the back of the camera. I suppose that the larger bodies like the GH2 and OMD are probably a better fit for my hand/thumb, but then the size advantage starts to diminish while the price goes up. The G3 seemed like a reasonable amount of ergonomic improvements at a reasonable price,and it still still may be. So, I guess that I will need to try it out unless I want to return it and wait and see, or up my budget. I am inclined to do the former, and will report back my experiences.


  14. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    I think that you simply have unrealistic expectations. You can have a big body with lots of room for controls, or you can have a small body with much less space for controls.

    You cannot have a small body with as much space for controls as your D300. It's simple physics, unless you come up with a way to fold space-time.

    EVERY system is a compromise. You need to decide what compromises you're willing to accept, and what is most important to you. If having room for lots of physical controls is your highest priority, don't waste any more money on m43, or any other CSC. But understand the compromise of a larger body is increased weight and bulk, not just for the body, but for the lenses.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    I would agree that every design is a compromise, and I am well aware that there is limited space on a smaller body, as I cited above. However, I am starting think that Panasonic may have tried to "fold space-time" by moving many controls to their touch screens in order to clear up space on the camera backs, in addition to making their interfaces "simpler". Ironically, the GF3 causes me less problems than the E-PL2 because its back has less controls, but it lacks an EVF. I also wonder if changes in the resistance and tactile feel of the buttons and controllers might make for a better experience for people who find the accidental setting changes frustrating? I know that I have always preferred buttons and controllers that have a firm feel, and possibly a tactile feedback because it is usually clear to me that the settings have been changed when I hear that "click". Nonetheless, I will spend some time with the G3 over the next few days to see if it's a keeper.

  16. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    It's a bit more expensive, but you might want to check out a GH2. I find it to have the best ergo's in m43 by a lot. And once the GH3 is announced (probably in a couple of weeks), it's likely to drop still further.
  17. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    That had been my plan before I had seen the G3 for such a good price. I may have to reconsider. You are the second person who has recommended the GH2. The question is how much it will drop in price when it goes on closeout. Right now, it is still $699 at B&H.

  18. Kevin

    Kevin Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 25, 2011
    Vancouver, Canada
    Personally I've never had a problem accidentally hitting buttons on my G3. The GH2 might be an option but it's a noticeably bigger camera so you would have to decide if that's a priority or not.
  19. Chuck Pike

    Chuck Pike Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 3, 2010
    Charlotte, NC.
    May be the best camera I have ever owned.

    My last DSLR was the D200. I purchased the GF1 to see if I liked m 4/3 and ended up not using my Nikon gear any longer. I moved to the G3 because of the EVF and the flip out screen. I had my ISO change for the first time, after shooting nearly 800 shots during two days, and it may have been the first time I hit a button by mistake. I have had problems in the past where I made a mistake with my old Nikon gear as well. That said, I make prints from my work, never bigger than letter size, and they are best I have ever made. For me the size is right, because I do have small hands. My old D100 with a grip made my hands hurt at the end of the day. You got a great price but if the camera doesn't feel right, you will always feel that you might have wanted something different.
    Images for books, magazines and calendars | photosbypike
  20. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    I wanted to clarify one item. While a larger grip, like that on the G5 is certainly more comfortable, that is not my challenge. My problem is that I like to carry my cameras in my hand, and when I do so, my thumb rests across the back where the control buttons and wheels are located. On a camera like the E-PL2, this is a big issue as the selection wheel turns very easy (but it is also a nice feature when you quickly need to adjust exposure while shooting).

    I spent some time last night looking at detailed photos of back panels of some other M4/3rd's camera bodies like the OMD E-5 and GH2. When I compared them with the G3, they all had more, not less buttons on their back panel. So, I think that if I am going to keep shooting with m4/3rd's bodies, and going to keep the G3, which is an improvement for me, albeit not as much as I had hoped for, then I am going to have to take the advice that was offered to me by Thom Hogan - learn to live with it, and check my settings before shooting.

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