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GF3 to be a "Mini" Camera? How Small is Too Small?

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Amin Sabet, May 23, 2011.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)

    This morning 43 Rumors has assigned an FT5 rating (their highest reliability rating) to a rumor that the Panasonic GF3 will be "ultra small" and released in mid-June.

    According to their sources, Panasonic has removed the hot shoe and some of the external controls in order to make the GF3 significantly smaller than the GF2 while incorporating the same 16MP sensor from the G3.

    Although many enthusiasts would decry the omission of hot shoe and controls from such a camera, 43 Rumors is suggesting that another GF series model for enthusiasts could follow later in the year.

    When the Lumix 14/2.5 was released, many felt that Panasonic made it smaller than it needed to be and instead should have prioritized speed or corner performance, but with the availability of even smaller bodies, the design choice makes a lot of sense. I would love to have a tiny GF3, pocketable with the Lumix 14mm f/2.5, to complement the GH2, and I suspect that many current G/GH users would feel the same way.

    It has been just six months since the GF2 was announced, but with the newly developed 16MP sensor and price cuts on the GF2, it does seem likely that a replacement is imminent.

    Source: 43 Rumors

    5/23/11 Update: We previously reported a rumor from Digicame-info about an upcoming June 3 Olympus PEN announcement. After further review of that story, with some human (rather than Google) translation, Digicame-info is also reporting that Olympus will introduce a "mini" PEN line to compliment their E-P and E-PL lines.
    • Like Like x 5
  2. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010
    My initial reaction to the GF2 was pretty negative, but when I actually used one I quite liked it though ultimately I sold it and kept my GF1 which I preferred for handling.

    I've got no particular objections to a GF3, other than its pretty limited because of the problems of using any other lenses other than the two pancakes. The idea of using a 100-300mm on it and using the screen only strikes me as somewhat tricky! So its only really pocketable if you use one of two lenses on it.

    I'd also be a bit more enthusiastic if didn't seem that Panasonic felt that they had to react to everything that Sony does. When they started m4/3 they were unique and innovative, it doesn't strike me that way now.

    It seems they are going for two distinct product lines and now it seems they are convinced that their main market is point and shoot upgraders.

    Certainly the G3 seems a more realistic upgrade for my GF1 and I shall certainly be trying one of those.

    Does this also strike anybody else as looking like an act of desperation or a knee jerk reaction? If a small lens war followed this small camera war then fair enough, as both Sony and Panasonic seem not to think that the small camera, large lens situation is faintly ridiculous. I personally do and thats why I'll be passing on this, if it appears.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    It would definitely be too small to be my main camera, but if they get everything else right with it and it's priced in the LX5 zone, I would consider it as a second camera for sure.....the wife might also upgrade from her TZ.....and that's probably the market they're after.

    The next one coming down the pipeline sounds like "The One" I have been waiting a couple years for.
  4. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    This would take the camera closer to the Canon 'S' series in size, but with a better sensor and interchangeable lenses - though arguable weaker controls.

    Could be a handy little camera, stuck in a briefcase with a couple of pancakes. I wonder about the market for it though: P&S will surely want a zoom, and if you stick any Panasonic zoom on it it's way bigger than many handy compacts. Sure IQ is better, but how much for that market?

    Just because something can be designed a certain way, does not mean it should be designed that way.

    If it's true the GF2 is not selling well, how will reducing the size change that?

    Maybe good for some, but not for me.
  5. JohnMetsn

    JohnMetsn Mu-43 Veteran


    If I would want a slim touch screen based unit without a hot shoe, I would buy a NEX. If I would want to enter the world of :43:, it surely wouldn't be with camera, which is not comfortable to use with anything bigger than pancake. So I feel that the market is pretty limited to those, who want a backup camera for their DSLR or something like GH2. And if I would have such money, I would go for X100 anyway. So the market seems to be quite limited. But it could be popular in Japan I guess, and that's what Panny is interested in.
  6. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    This would be sad news if true. I have no problem with them making this camera, but it means the GF line has a different meaning for each successive generation. It feels like they can't make up their minds.

    They should have renamed this as a different line (maybe they still are and the "GF3" naming was jumped on because it was a small camera...).

    Though, if they keep the G3 shrinking a bit more... that might be fine. Ultra mini GF for p&s replacement but super high quality, compact G line, semi-pro GH line.
  7. linkedit

    linkedit Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 6, 2010
    New Jersey, USA
    Clearly their aim is make the GF series a fancy point and shoot. The G series sort of a compact DSLR style and the GH series for those who want to do more video.
  8. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    Paired with the 14 or 20 and this could be the advanced P&S style "gateway drug" for dSLR users. After one cards-worth of shots, another dSLR with plastic kit lens will be posted on Craigslist.

    I'm looking for a GH2 backup. I'm considering the G3, but at it's current pricepoint I may as well just get another GH2.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 App
  9. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Since NEX are selling better than Panasonic in Japan, nothing surprising about this rumour.
  10. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I agree with all the above ... :smile:
  11. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010
    To be fair, if the rumour is true, then all Panasonic are doing is trying to come out with a product line that covers all bases. They have some way to go yet, obviously.

    Nikon are perfectly well aware that people don't decide between a D3X and a D3100 and that these are virtually two different products for two different markets.

    At the moment the difference between Panasonic m4/3 choices is not that great, and they seem to trying to get some sort of identity for each of what now seems be consolidating into three distinct choices.

    GF3(?), G3 and GH2 being the three options. A rough Nikon equivalent would be D3100, D7000 and D3X, though Nikon have more "in-between" models.

    So, there is a choice. Previously the same people who bought the GH1 would probably also consider the GF1. Indeed I bought both. Thats fine if you want to concentrate on one part of the market, which could be described as the enthusiast / hobbyist / serious sector, but it completely ignores the very lucrative snapshooter / point and shoot market.

    They obviously didn't consider that the GF2 "hit the spot" with the latter and seeing Sony probably served that market better, decided to try again.

    As far as I and probably others here are concerned, we would like them to concentrate on the former market because 1) We're more interested in camera performance and handling 2) We allocate more money to buying them in the first place and 3) We are more sure (and vocal) about what we want and what suits us.

    Maybe the fact that I ended up liking the GF2 was the reason it didn't sell that well!! I doubt it was intended for me and much more aimed at those who would buy a Coolpix, so in many ways it probably failed to attract its target market. If the GF3 is true then they seem to be having another go to see if this one works better, for their perceived market.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    While "we" (the enthusiast market) may spend considerably more per unit, our market value is TINY compared with the rest. But, we are the easy ones - it is easier to determine what we want, and in general, are willing to pay for it ... on the other hand:

    DOPO (Development On Production Order) is a dangerous thing. Many more companies have been hurt by bringing product to market they thought the customer "needed" than have hit it big, and most of those have "fanboy" customers who abide all the flops until their "hero" hits it big (aka Apple)
  13. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Sound marketing sense : if the sony NEX are outselling Lumix in the East, copy the NEX. Good on 'em, I hope they include some snazzy colours too.
  14. MP Burke

    MP Burke Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 3, 2010
    How big is too big?

    I would turn the question round and ask how big is too big? Specifically, how big does a camera have to be to deter a potential purchaser, who wants to upgrade from fixed lens compacts, but is not used to carrying around an slr?
    Many people looking at cameras like the NEX or GF2 will have been taking photos on smartphones: they are not used to turning knobs and dials and compact size will be a key selling feature. I believe camera manufacturers should now be offering options for internet connectivity (e.g. wi-fi or having a slot for a SIMM card in the camera) so people do not lose the connectivity they used to have with their 'phones.
    The small size of any future GF models should not have to cause a handling problem. In the past you could get compact cameras and add on accessories such as meters, viewfinders or rangefinders to increase their capability.
    The modern equivalent is the use of an accessory port which enables the attachment of an EVF or flash. Another thing they could consider would be a control grip, a handgrip with a control wheel on, which enables improved control and better handling with larger lenses.
    Personally I am happy that Panasonic is persisting with the slower selling G and GH models with the built in EVF. This is my preferred shape and I don't care less if it looks like an slr or not.
  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    If Sony NEX is outselling the GF2 in certain major markets, it makes all kinds of sense to make the GF3 even smaller, simpler, and continue to work on the design.

    However, once the bodies are tiny, lens size becomes the differentiating factor, and there MFT seems to have the upper hand in light of the three pancakes (14, 17, and 20) to Sony's one and the fact that there are no pancakes on the Sony roadmap. Even comparing the Pana 14 to the Sony 16, the Pana lens is significantly smaller as shown in this comparison by DPR. There will also be intense competition to make standard zooms smaller.

    I think "mini" GF and PEN lines can only be good for MFT. Hopefully the other rumor is also correct, that they will continue a separate GF line meant as a primary camera for enthusiasts.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    All true.

    I would add another point: the brand and brand character.

    In my view, Olympus made some efforts with their M4/3 offerings in targeting them so users are almost 'real' photographers. Panasonic has not carved out an aspirational niche for their M4/3. They are not marketed as hip and cool, and they are not marketed s aspirational for photographers. Some recent magazine ads have been a bit more pointed, but still indecisive.

    Sony have massive brand power and consumer presence. They have some retail stores. They advertised heavily when the Nex cameras won awards, and their Japanese advertising has been hip, focusing (like iPad and iPhone campaigns) on how you can use it to get great results, not on specs etc.

    So even if you match in terms of performance and specs, and even exceed the competition, you still have to make the product relevant to people, and make them want it.

    Panasonic's M4/3 was working well with enthusiasts. If they had pushed that, and had some of the pros who use the cameras involved in the marketing, that would have been a great launch pad for their smaller M4/3.

    Instead, they have enthusiasts wondering if Panasonic cares and should they continue to invest in lenses etc, and their smaller stuff is not selling well.

    Photographically speaking, who are you Panasonic?
  17. Personally anything smaller than the GF-1 size with interchangeable lens feature has minimal appeal. For a camera that would fit inside most pockets the LX3 or 5 would be my choice. Maybe the size would be a benefit for those needing a "pocket" unit using only pancake lens?

    Must be off on the fringes of what Panasonic considers potential growth market. GF1 size, improved sensor, built in high resolution evf, wireless remote flash control, hot shoe, "traditional" control dials & levers would be my preference for the next gen GF camera. Basically a m4/3 pany version of the X-100, but with interchangeable lens option. Heading the opposite direction regarding size. G2 ordered.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I would not mind a smaller camera than my GF1 - I tried to order a deep discounted GF2 when the Panasonic web site was reporting low prices but failed (alas).

    And even smaller GF3 with the improved sensor of the G3 would be very attractive as a knock about camera.

    But I now do 90% of my shooting with my G1 so the G3 would probably be a better buy for me. Just talked myself out of it.
  19. Kingsfan

    Kingsfan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 22, 2010
    highland park, CA
    until this camera is made, i'm sticking with my GF1
  20. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    You could clearly use it with any of the pancakes (including the Oly 17), but you could also use it with something like the 9-18 UWA and/or a kit zoom. You could conceivably even put a zoom like the Olympus 14-150 on it for travel - the lens is small and light enough not to feel too unbalanced.

    I could easily see pairing something like this with a GH2 for travel. Keep the big guns on the GH2, keep a 9-18 on this, and swap in a pancake for street shooting or for just travelling really light. I wouldn't want it as an only camera, but I can't think of a camera I would want as an only camera! I could certainly see a place for a camera like this if I wasn't already so well covered.

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