Way back in my twenties I got fed up of hauling a big bag of kit around and sold my SLR and lenses and from then on made do with quality compacts. I have though always anchored for the flexibility and quality that the SLR offered but found DSLR's to be even bulkier than the old SLR's. Therefore I continued with compacts, switching from film to digital. I bought this camera hoping to get something approaching the benefits of a DSLR in a compact (well compact enough) form. After a month of use I am happy that I have achieved that.
The G3 offers all the controllability that I (and most enthusiasts) will ever need, there's everything that I used to be able to do on my SLR and loads more besides. I am also impressed with the IA+ mode which basically turns the camera into a excellent point-and-shoot, that anyone will get great results with.
NB. I have paired my G3 with the G X Vario PZ 14-42mm pancake zoom lens. This keeps the system as small and light as possible but offers good shooting flexibility.
Picture quality: although I have had some pretty good results with compacts, this camera leaves them standing. I don't have access to the latest model DSLR's to compare picture quality to, but my results comfortably stand comparison with pictures from friends 2-3 year old DSLR models, using zoom lenses. Wider apertures and higher ISO's will soften things but if you keep the the ISO down and the F's up, blow-ups are suburb. Its worth mentioning that the G3 is also a pretty good HD camcorder too.
I had read mixed views of the electronic viewfinder and it is true to say that it isn't as good as an optical one. It is though a hundred times better than trying to view a screen in sunlight. Also, if like me you are long sighted, it is an absolute boon. Where it wins over an optical vf though is that when you half press the shutter, the picture you see changes to how the photograph will actualy look, with the settings and adjustments you have selected. On balance I'd say it suits the camera very well. A plus for the screen is that it flips out and rotates, which comes in handy when trying to see over things or shoot from odd angles.
A freshly charged battery gives me full day's shooting using the viewfinder but you may struggle if you use the screen to shoot or review a lot. I have bought a back up battery (Blumax BLD10E) and its well worth the £18, giving the same sort of life as the Panasonic battery and the comfort of being able to shoot, without worrying about battery life.
Something I really enjoy about the the camera, is how easy it is to hold and how naturally the needed controls, fall to hand. It isn't at all fiddly (with the slight exception of the thumb-wheel) and everything that you want to see and do, can be done in the viewfinder as well as via the screen. The camera is ready to use almost instantly after switch on and I as yet, I have never taken a picture quicker than the autofocus has been able to do its job.
Also, as I have learned more about the features of the camera, I have got into the habit of taking more control of the shots. Adjusting things like the i-dynmic feature (really helps on landscapes) and setting my own white balance rather than relying on the auto, have allowed me to get exactly the contrast and colour balance I have wanted.
Although the camera isn't as small as a compact and probably isn't (in absolute terms) as good as a full size DSLR - In the real world, this is a camera that is small and light enough to always have with you, which will take pictures that few people will ever find fault with. For anyone who wants the flexibility and quality of a DSLR but in a package that is closer in size and weight to a compact: this camera gets very close to offering the best of both worlds. I am delighted with it.
(Written by: Ivanm)