Over the past several years, the market for large sensor compact cameras has grown, and camera makers have responded accordingly. Sony and Panasonic are two of the biggest names in the game (aside from Olympus, which made a big splash with it’s original digital PEN model). We’ve seen what Sony can do (with the largest sensor of all) and also Panasonic (revolutionizing movie-making in compact cameras). But now we have a new crop of these cameras, the 3rd generation. They appeal to a segment of the market that seeks top notch image quality in a compact body with minimal fuss. This downsizing means a loss of controls, but not necessarily image quality or features. Both of these cameras present a compelling choice for new photographers. Let’s take a look at how these two new cameras stack up against one another.
Reasons to choose the Lumix GF-3:
- higher resolution for HD video (1080p vs 720p)
- built in flash included (but no hot shoe)
- more external controls (the Sony is uber-minimal)
- longer shutter speed available (60s vs 30s) – good for long exposures
- good line of lenses including the popular 20mm f/1.7 and the new 25mm f/1.4
The Panasonic continues the tradition of the GF line by stripping the camera down even further, making it smaller and more simple than its predecessor. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any guts. It can still handle all the heavy duty movie duties as before, only with a slightly more minimal interface.
Reasons to choose the Sony NEX-C3
- larger sensor (APS-C vs 4/3rds) – which means better high ISO performance
- higher resolution (16 vs 12 megapixels) – if you need it…
- larger ISO range (12800 vs 6400) – although will it be clean?
- higher resolution LCD screen (920K vs 460K)
- slightly longer battery life (400 vs 300 shots per charge)
- slightly smaller and lighter (225g vs 264g)
The Sony takes an already small body and makes it even smaller, which requires doing away with the pop-up flash. It’s also styled in the true Sony minimal way, even moreso than many of their compact cameras. Nonetheless, it still has the same internals and capabilities which made it a strong contendor in the first place.
In the end, both cameras will probably be a good choice. Despite the larger sensor and likely cleaner high ISO images of the Sony, we’d probably go with the Panasonic due to it’s wider range of external controls, movie-making prowess, built-in flash, and killer selection of lenses. Either way, good luck on your selection!
To see a full, head on comparison between these two cameras, click here to see the chart at dpreview.