Panasonic Lumix GF3: sample photos and video

We already gave you some hands-on impressions of Panasonic's new Lumix GF3, but we just had a chance to shoot video and stills with the Micro Four Thirds cam at an event in NYC, leaving with a couple hundred photos and a small handful of video clips. There's no question that this GF2 successor was designed with interchangeable lens camera (ILC) newbies in mind, with no dedicated mode dial, a touchscreen display, and a boatload of auto settings, along with the usual spattering of effects modes. Panasonic chose a mock wedding scene as the centerpiece of its demo today, complete with bride, groom, and celebrity cake designer (a rather enthusiastic Ron Ben-Israel). Weddings mean colorful flowers, well-dressed subjects, and food -- but also dim lighting and chaos -- a perfect environment for showing off a camera's strengths shooting in low-light, assuming it can actually deliver. The GF3 probably won't be the camera of choice for our next celebration, however.%Gallery-127453%
First up was a balcony shot with bride and groom. As expected, the backlit scene presented an incredible challenge for the GF3, which had trouble focusing and compensating exposure to properly light our subjects -- even the professional wedding photographer on hand had difficulty focusing his GF3 at times. The position-adjustable flash allowed us to light our subjects at an angle, or to bounce light off the ceiling, which didn't seem to work well in the cavernous room. As we progressed through the morning, additional scenes highlighted new shortcomings. Jump past the break for a sample video and more impressions, or check out the gallery above for sample images -- the first four shots highlight different positions with the adjustable flash.

As we walked towards the dance floor (luckily no dancing ensued), the lights came up for a cake decorating demo. We tried out a variety of lenses, including the new 25mm f/1.4, which carries a price tag just shy of $1,100 with pricing yet to be announced. Compared to the camera's kit lens, this new addition was a pleasure to shoot with. With a brighter environment, the GF3 didn't have any trouble focusing, so we began to notice its inconsistent white balance, instead. In intelligent Auto mode, an easy-to-use white balance compensation tool allowed us to cool down the scene. Later, selecting tungsten in aperture priority mode yielded images with yellow and magenta hues, as you can see in the gallery above.

Shooting 1080i video is as simple as hitting record, just to the right of the shutter button. Remembering not to accidentally cover the microphone, however, was more of a challenge. Internal mechanical noises dominated the first few minutes of our first video -- our subject picked up volume significantly after we adjusted our grip, creating a free path to the mic. You'll find a video sample below, beginning just after we exposed the microphone. Still, both sound and image quality pale in comparison to what we've been able to capture with the Sony NEX-C3.

As Panasonic reps kept reminding us, we were shooting with a pre-production model, so hopefully some of these kinks can be worked out within the next few weeks. It's also entirely possible that the camera would have yielded far superior samples in an outdoor or better-lit environment. We'll revisit the Lumix GF3 just as soon as a production-ready sample hits our front door, but we'll let the completely untouched photos and video speak for themselves until then.