The Panasonic Lumix DMC-F3 is a stylish ultra-compact digital camera with an effective resolution of 12.1 megapixels from a 1/2.33″ RGB CCD image sensor, which Panasonic has coupled to a Lumix DC Vario branded 4x optical zoom lens with a useful 28mm-equivalent wide angle. Unfortunately, the F3 departs from Panasonic’s normal practice of including true optical image stabilization, instead relying on software to control blur caused by camera shake. The Panasonic F3’s lens has a two-step aperture that offers a choice of either F2.8 or F6.2. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-F3 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to 20 centimeters at wide angle when switched to Macro mode.
There’s sadly no optical viewfinder, with the Panasonic F3 instead opting solely for a 2.7″ LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. The Panasonic DMC-F3 has a nine-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point “high speed” focusing mode. As with many digital cameras these days, there’s also a face detection function, with Panasonic’s implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects’ faces.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 80 to 1600, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. Shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to 60 seconds are possible. The Panasonic DMC-F3 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, and offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty three scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that the Panasonic F3 doesn’t offer aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes. There’s also an Intelligent Scene Selection function, which can automatically select from a subset of five commonly used scene modes. A four mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 7.1 meters. The Panasonic DMC-F3 also includes the company’s Intelligent ISO mode as seen on past models.
As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic F3 can capture 30 frames-per-second movies with monaural sound at resolutions of 1280 x 720 pixels or below, although the compression used is the older QuickTime Motion JPEG type so file sizes are likely to be hefty. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-F3 stores its images and movies on either SD or SDHC cards, as well as the latest SDXC types. There’s also a generous 40MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output (or NTSC only for North America). Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable with ID-Security feature that prevents use of counterfeit or third-party batteries, and is rated as good for 220 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO v5.0, Quicktime, and Adobe Reader.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-F3 ships from mid-February 2010, priced at about $130.