A friend of mine was asking about a lightweight backpacking camera with decent image quality, and he did not have a big budget.
I came across this bargain while looking for 4/3 lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M5— the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Digital Camera with 14mm f/2.5 lens.
As far as I can tell, you get the Panasonic DMC-GF3 *with* the $304 14mm f/2.5 lens for only $75 more than the cost of the 14mm lens by itself! Looked at another way, the DMC-GF3 body is $299 without a lens, so the lens is $79 instead of $304.
Seems like a heck of a deal to me for a micro 4/3 camera with a 14mm lens (28mm equivalent FOV in 35mm terms). The lens can also be used on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and various other Olympus and Panasonic camera bodies.
See my Olympus OM-D E-M5 review. While I think the OM-D E-M5 is a better camera, the Olympus E-M5 is also about $999 for the body alone, and this Panasonic pancake lens (and/or GF3) fits the bill for keeping things small and light (e.g., backpacking, cycling, etc).
Chris P writes:
I bought a refurb of this kit on Amazon for $266(!) the other day. I already had some m4/3 lenses, as I bought a Olympus OM-D that had to be returned because of a bad shutter release. (I will now have to wait forever to get a replacement body.)
This is a shockingly nice pocket camera. It is the exact same size as my Panasonic LX-3, but with infinitely better image quality. The IQ isn't as good as what I could observe from my short time with the Olympus; even at the base ISO, there's a bit of grain. But, as a closeout special for a carry-anywhere camera, highly recommended. Because it's great for snapshots.
Benjamin S writes:
Regarding the "deal" on the GF3, I bought one (with the 14mm) for
about $320 a month or so ago from Amazon thinking the same thing:
it'd be a way to get started on a m43 kit just as I also got my D800.
But: I went through two cameras and both had a TON of stuck pixels.
I ultimately returned the whole kaboodle. I'm far happier with my
Canon S100, which, while it costs more money, is smaller and works
great. Of course, since I just returned them to Amazon — I did
mention this in my return statement — but now those two cameras are
back in circulation.
Frankly, I've had four Panasonic cameras now crossing most of their
range, and I haven't liked ANY of them. (Two of the point and shoots
circa 2006-2008, the DMC-LX3, and now this GF3 experiment.)
As for the camera, I mostly liked it, but the pixels were a huge deal
breaker. And it's slightly bigger than I wanted it to be (I was
looking for an S100 replacement, so I was comparing this to the "small
end" of my scale, not the large end — I've used a D300, D90, and now a
D800 — so I'm not quite the right target audience for the camera. But
I figured I'd give it a try, and while I was mostly happy with it, I
really do like the S100 better on almost every point. (I also had an
S90 before the S100.)
DIGLLOYD: Bad pixels can be caused by radiation (cosmic rays), but can be mapped out in software (virtually all cameras have them, my Nikon D3x, Leica M9P had them, brand new). But usually it’s 1/2/3 pixels, not hundreds.
I’ll certainly report on what I find when the GF3 arrives; I bought one for the 14mm f/2.5 lens and I consider it like getting the GF3 for $75.