My wife and I just spent 4 nights in Orlando, Florida so she could attend a conference. I tagged along, as I usually do, since her company picks up her airfare and the room. This time we stayed at the Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel next to Universal Studios. It was a beautiful place modeled after an Italian town.
Leaving my big kit at home, I packed light and brought the micro 4/3 setup. That consisted of a Panasonic G3, 14-42mm kit zoom, a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 with adapter and a Nissin Di466 flash unit. This little camera really impressed me with the images and what I was able to do with it. It was great being able to carry a full kit in a small Domke bag (F-803).
Dayna had to attend roughly 5 hours or so of conference stuff a day. So basically, for 3 days I was free to walk around for multiple hours at a time and take pictures. No worrying about work, schedules or anything else. The hotel complex itself is awesome and there is enough to keep a photo enthusiast like me busy for a few days. Thankfully, the weather was about perfect. The G3 performed wonderfully in many lighting conditions. My hesitations with using this small system are almost totally gone now. I would highly recommend someone buying into it if they want something a bit more serious than a point and shoot.
This is the second micro 4/3 camera I’ve owned. The first was the Panasonic GF1, and while I liked it, there were just too many compromises for me to be able to rely on it instead of my Nikon D700. The lack of a quality viewfinder and the sensor performance were the two things I could not get past.
Now that Panasonic has released the G3 that has a great built in EVF and a new sensor, I picked one up and found it to be the small camera that I was after. While not as a stylish as the Olympus E-P3 Pen, it has more of the features I needed.
Overall, the camera is fairly quick to respond. It takes only a second to turn it on and be ready for a shot and the autofocus is very quick and accurate. It has enough manual controls to be able to tweak most settings easily enough, although some of the buttons are small and hard to find when using the EVF.
My biggest complaint with the GF1 was the lack of a usable electronic viewfinder. The LVF1 that Panasonic marketed for the GF1 was only a 220k dot model. You could see what was going on, but it was difficult to focus and truly see the image. So, in looking for a small camera, I put a quality EVF at the top of my list. My insistence on having one paid off. The sun was very bright and the LCD on the back was barely viewable. The viewfinder gave me all the information I needed to compose shots.
The most noticeable downsides to the camera is the write speed to the SD card. After a shot is taken, there is a 2 second lag where it writes to the card and the image is unavailable for review until it is done. Not a huge issue, but slightly annoying at times.
I really enjoyed the small camera though. It was nice being able to carry a small bag and not be weighed down by my big Nikon. This system will get much more use on travel and hikes.