Thursday, August 4, 2011

GF3 Panasonic, Olympus, EP3, Sony NEX C3: Huge photo sensors, tiny cameras

Smaller, faster, more beautiful: New System cameras compress large image sensors in small enclosures. The manufacturers promise more image quality with less weight. For whom is that dwarf camera? A comparison. Is there anything smaller? Three major camera manufacturers have struggled with new models at a record: If the camera is built with the smallest package, where you can change the lens and exposure of a very large image sensor? The new system cameras from Sony (NEX C3) and Panasonic (GF3) have in fact even smaller enclosure than its predecessor, they are now almost as small as the compact cameras.

The matter is somewhat more complicated: you can not just decide for the smallest camera. The case size alone has little effect on how comfortable you can take pictures. For the laws of physics can not change the camera manufacturer. In general, the larger the sensor in the camera, the better the picture quality of recordings at dusk and darkness, the better you can freely motifs present blurred background.

However, also applies: the larger the image sensor fails, the larger the lenses fall out. And the smaller the enclosure, the more complicated it is, a simple operation to implement all the functions of a camera. We tried three new cameras system that do very different: The Sony Cyber C3 has a large image sensor (3.75 square centimeters) - such a format is normally found primarily in SLRs.

The housing is tiny in comparison, the lenses are quite large, a built-in flash is not this case. The Panasonic GF3 is also quite small, looks like a chubby compact - this is a built-in flash. The image sensor is smaller than that of Sony's compact cameras system, but the lenses are also smaller.

Olympus opposes the EP3 model the shrinking trend: the housing is substantially larger than the competition, although the image sensor has the same format as the GF3. Therefore, the EP3 has a lot of special buttons and switches for operating specific functions of the camera - so the camera can be a bit of practice to manually adjust faster than the dwarf cameras from Sony and Panasonic, where you have to drive almost all the settings using the OSD menu.

Operation: Menu or keys? How well you cope with the operation screen of the Sony and Panasonic C3 NEX GF3 depends on how you shoot. Who usually switched in automatic mode and the camera leaves the software settings will not interfere with the navigation menu size. With the Sony NEX has to C3 while the menu on the screen, if you want to select the macro mode.

But if you shoot in fully automatic mode, the camera software itself around in the macro mode when the lens is a subject very close. With the Panasonic GF3 one has to rely as strongly on the menu screen - but the testers found themselves quickly introduced in this variant. This should try it before you opt for one of the cameras.

The Olympus EP3 is the counterpart to the screen use: The camera with the very large mode dial and case has a lot of buttons for specific functions and user-assignable switches. This has a bit confusing at the beginning, however, can allow the camera to operate faster than the settling via menu control.

The autofocus speed in daylight is good for all three cameras. As the technology of Sony, Panasonic and Olympus camera a few competitors in the system segment is far ahead. At twilight, it sometimes took a little longer, until the auto focus on the subject had made - but a general nuisance these occasional delays were not.

In image quality stands out the Sony Cyber C3 out thanks to the large sensor: When shooting in dim light less image noise is noticeable as in the models of competition, to approach the noise reduction in software does not have quite as much on the recordings, which preserves more detail is lost.

The results of the software provider DXOlabs (raw data represents a developer ago) confirm this visual impression: The image sensor of the Sony Cyber C3 cuts off much better than the smaller sensors, as they are installed for example at Olympus EP3. Prime lenses? Zoom Lenses? For whom is so dwarfs what the photo? The Sony and Panasonic C3 NEX GF3 are always good this camera for people who want better image quality than they can offer a compact camera.

Whoever takes his camera often manually adjust the automatic trust, will, however, must be received by two photo dwarfs compromising the operation. As an alternative, the Olympus EP3. However, their price is very high - for the amount you can buy a good entry-level SLR, which is then but a little bigger.

The advantage of the GF3 is the wider range of relatively small and light lenses. The picture quality is not enough though to Sony NEXC3 approach, but it exceeds by far the popular compact cameras. GF3 photographed with the night shots, you can also prints in A4 format

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