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Panasonic is announcing the Lumix DMC-G3, its new Micro Four-Thirds SLD. This model is built around a new 16 megapixels LiveMOS sensor capable of full 1080p HD output and 4 FPS continuous shooting at full-resolution. Like previous Micro Four-Thirds Lumix cameras this one features full-manual controls, including custom white-balance, manual focus, bracketing and a hot-shoe.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3The G3 incorporates a large and bright ultra-high resolution EVF similar to the GH2 but in a much smaller body, about halfway between the compact viewfinder-less GF2 and the GH2.  Only Panasonic knows if this represents a third line of SLDs or a merging of both. Regardless, photographers going towards Micro Four-Thirds for size-reasons should be enthusiastic about not giving up the built-in EVF to get a smaller camera.

Panasonic has managed to keep the photographic performance up to its latest standards like the excellent Lumix DMC-GH2. The ISO range is from 160 to 6400, just one stop short of the GH2 which was mostly for show, as can be seen from review samples. The continuous drive at 4 FPS can shoot an unlimited number of JPEG images or up to 7 RAW files.

Where real compromises were necessary to produce such a compact SLD is in terms of external controls. The G3 looses several buttons, levers and dials compared to the GH2, notably the truly useful drive-mode lever. Another significant omission from the G3 is the Eye-Start sensor which automatically switches between EVF and LCD.

The G3 is scheduled to be available from June 2011 for a suggested retail price of $699 CND or $699 USD with a kit 14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 lens.

Simultaneously with the G3 announcement, Panasonic is unveiling the DMC-FH7 ultra-compact. A 16 megapixels model equipped with a 4X wide-angle optical zoom Leica lens. This one replaces nearly all controls with a 3″ touchscreen. More details to follow on Neocamera as we have not yet received the full specifications.

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