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Panasonic Lumix GF3

Panasonic has formally unveiled its new Lumix GF3 Micro Four Thirds camera, supporting interchangeable lenses and image quality like a high-end DSLR but with a body that doesn’t make users feel like they’re hiking up the Himalayas. The Lumix GF3 sports a 12.1 megapixel resolution and supports interchangeable lenses so savvy photographers can get exactly the shot they want—and the camera body weighs under 8 ounces.

“The Panasonic GF3 compact system camera is extremely small and its newly-designed rounded body is quite attractive, which we expect to be popular among those users wanting to step-up from a point-and-shoot, yet who view traditional DSLRs as bulky and overly complex,” said Panasonic Consumer Electronics senior product manager Darin Pepple, in a statement.

Panasonic Lumix GF3

The Lumix GF3 is compatible with Micro Four Thirds lenses and an optional mount adapter lets it use full-sized Four Thirds lenses. The GF3 offers a 12.1 megapixel resolution, a 3-inch touch-enabled preview display, can handle shots from ISO 160 all the way to 6400, and can shoot 1080p AVCHD video. Panasonic is aiming the GF3 at amateur photographers, including a fast contrast autofocus system that settles in on its targets in less than a fifth of a second—the autofocus can also track a subject, and a mode thumb wheel that enables users to cycle fast through all available shooting modes with near-instant feedback on the LCD display. The camera’s intelligent audio mode (iA) includes intelligent ISO control, optical image stabilization, and an intelligent scene selectors to make point-and-shoot users feel right at home while providing easy access to manual controls. The GF3 also features a dust reduction system, and filters let users get creative (or garish) with their images.

In catering to the point-and-shoot set, however, the Lumix GF3 lacks some features that would appeal to serious photographers, including a hot shoe for accessories and an optical viewfinder. Fortunately, it appears Panasonic plans to keep the Lumix GF2 around, which should appease camera fans looking for those features.

Panasonic says the Lumix GF3 will be available in July with a 14mm lens at a suggested price of $699.99, with a $599.99 version coming along in August with a 14–42mm lens. The camera will be available in red, brown, white, and black body styles.