Panasonic Lumix G3 (with Leica Lenses!)

Panasonic Lumix G3 (with Leica Lenses!)

4 Part article with 4 separate blog posts pasted into one big write-up

  • PART 1: New Camera! Panasonic Lumix G3 (Camera Guide)
  • PART 2: Lumix G3 + Leica Lenses
  • PART 3: Lumix G3 Portraits (Leica + M42 lenses)
  • PART 4: Lumix G3 Street Photography (Voigtlander 15mm lens)

Let’s begin!

PART 1: Panasonic Lumix G3 M4/3 Camera – My Latest Creative Tool!

 

Panasonic Lumix G3 - Coming Soon!

 

Lumix G1 vs Lumix G3

My first serious camera was a Panasonic Lumix G1 M43 camera back in 2010. It was on that camera that I taught myself photography from scratch. The best ‘accessory’ that I ever bought for the G1 was a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens. There started my love for ‘proper’ metal and glass manual focus lenses. My favourite style of photography back in 2010 was colourful macro photography using the Lumix G1. Seeing A3 prints now from photos taken in 2010 still blow me away in terms of sharpness and colour considering the sensor size.  That’s why I looked at the Lumix G3.

Here are a few of my favourite Lumix G1 + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4 photos:

Summer Meadow
Nokton 40mm / Raynox 250 combo #3
Drop refraction
Chalkhill Blue (2)

 

Why even consider buying a Lumix G3 now when I own a Nikon D800 and some amazing Nikon mount prime lenses and a Leica M9 with again some of the best Leica M mount and arguably best any camera lenses ever made?

Good question! I was toying with the idea of a second Leica camera body (Leica M9 or Leica M240) as a backup camera for my Leica wedding photography. The problem is I cannot use two cameras at once and Leica digital camera bodies depreciate fastest than my 1 litre little car. I don’t mind buying lenses as many hold their value but I would hate to literally thrown money down the drain on expensive digital camera bodies that do not hold their value and are not being used.

 

Lumix G3 Fashion

10 Reasons why to get a Panasonic Lumix G3? (for me)

1) Lumix G3 and Leica lenses – A Leica M – M4/3 adapter would let me use all my Leica M mount lenses on a second digital body. The EVF (viewfinder) of the G3 will in effect let me see through the lens like a DSLR. This is a big advantage vs. The Leica rangefinder system as any lens that did not quite calibrate with my Leica M9 rangefinder system will now be sharp and useable on the G3. A good example is my Russian Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5 Zeiss Sonnar clone lens. A second advantage is focusing telephoto lenses such as my new Leica Summicron 90mm f2 lens and Leica Elmar 135mm f4 as I will be able to use the EVF to focus rather than the tiny RF patch where with a telephoto lens a magnifier is sometimes recommended to aid focusing.

2) Leica M – M42 adapter – Similar advantage to #1 but it means I can use some of my favourite M42 mount lenses that I cannot use on the Leica M9, the Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 and the Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8. Both are amazing for portrait photography.

3) Leica backup camera – As I can use my Leica M mount lenses on the Lumix G3 the G3 would become my backup camera for emergencies (in addition to my Nikon D800).

4) Lumix G3 Size – The G3 is pretty much perfect for my needs. I want a reasonably priced small lightweight ‘lightbox’ with a usable sensor quality and an EVF to mount my Leica M mount lenses to. Many of the small M4/3 cameras lack an EVF so to me are not a real camera. The G3 is smaller than my old G1 yet still has the EVF so perfect for my needs. The small size also means it will fit nicely into my compact Leica camera bag. This is a must for future overseas weddings where I need to be able to travel light yet have all my ‘essential’ equipment with me. I recently got booked for a wedding photography gig in Barbados. 12 months ago I would have had my Nikon D800 + Nikon D700 plus lenses such as the massive Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s. Flying that lot across would have resulted in additional baggage fees. For Leica weddings I can now get everything in my hand luggage with ease.

5) G3 as Creative tool – I still enjoy macro photography although I no longer currently ‘practise’ it. I had macro lenses, extension tubes and magnifying lenses for the Nikon D800 but I still think some of my best photos were with the G1. The Leica M9 is not designed for serious macro photography and the RF system only focuses as close as 0.7M. For wedding photography it is nice to include some detail shots. With the Lumix G3 I can now include some amazing close up photos into the wedding album such as ring shots and photos of the wedding bouquet.

6) “Good photographers can use any camera and get good results” – The most important aspect of any photo is light. I enjoy my lighting in my photography. At the moment I currently have cameras and lenses that some people may see as exotic or in basic terms just expensive. My challenge to myself is to get the same quality portrait photos using a Lumix G3 and my existing lenses as I get from the Nikon D800, Leica M9 or any of my 35mm or medium format film cameras.

7) Testing the Leica, Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses on a M4/3 body – There are many forum discussions debating whether the Leica ‘look’ I get from my Leica M9 is due to the lenses or the Leica Kodak CCD sensor. By using my lenses on a non-Leica body it will be interesting to see the results from some of the best lenses ever made such as the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 on a non-Leica camera body.

8) Times have changed – When I had my Lumix G1 back in 2010 my most expensive and treasured lens was the CV Nokton 40mm f1.4. Photography was new for me then and I was not sure if it would just be another fad hobby. I also did not have much money to spend on expensive lenses that I knew nothing about. Four years on I now teach photography and have my own studio. I earn money from my cameras so I never mind reinvesting the cash into more cameras and camera equipment. As a result I now have a range of nice Leica M mount lenses at my disposal. I also have a pretty good understanding of camera formats, lens types and limitations of each so may be in a better position to pair lenses and camera bodies for different uses.

9) Micro four third system crop factor – Some of you may or may not know that different cameras have different ‘crop’ factors. Traditional 35mm film cameras are the basis for what focal length is written on your cameras lens. If you have a 50mm lens on a 35mm film camera 50mm = 50mm. If you use a ‘full frame’ (“FX”) professional digital camera body such as the Nikon D800 or Leica M9 again a 50mm lens = 50mm. If you use a cropped sensor (“DX”) entry level or mid range camera such as a Nikon D90, it has a crop of 1.5x so a 50mm lens gives an equivalent 75mm view on that camera body. Micro four third cameras (“M4/3”) have a 2x crop factor so a 50mm lens such as my Leica Lux’ 50/1.4 gives a 100mm lens view on the M4/3 Lumix G3. As a result depending what camera I use a lens on I can now get two different equivalent lens lengths and potential lens uses from each lens. Because of the 2x crop factor many common focal lengths become too long or in better terms you do not have a wide lens option when using legacy non-m4/3 lenses.

10) Lenses I don’t currently use a great deal will now get a new lease of life – The Lumix G3 arrival really does excite me. I am already planning in my head which of my existing Leica M mount lenses I will use on the G3. The G3 is a compact lightweight camera so I want to select lenses to complement this. My current Lumix G3 lens trio is – Voigtlander Colour Skopar 21mm f4 lens (=42mm)(my smallest lens), Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 (=80mm)(small and lightweight with a proven track record) and the Leica Elmar 135mm f4 (=270mm yet a 39mm filter thread)(a thin light lens with great range). Another option that makes great sense is pairing my Lumix G3 and the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 (=30mm). This super sharp pancake style lens would give me a 30mm wide documentary style street photographer dream lens as everything at roughly a distance of 2m to infinity would be in focus so you can literally run and gun and get in amongst the action without really being seen. Perfect for weddings. I would not need to focus the lens if set it to infinity so could shoot with the camera a arms length above my head, between my legs or on the floor. The creative options are limitless. It is quite possible that the G3 may steal this lens for a super slimline lightweight setup giving super sharp images. Excited!

 

Lumix Fashion Photography

Shots of the Lumix G3 that was originally released in 2011:

 

g3top

lumix g3

See if you can spot the first G3 photos entering my Flickr stream. Will a photo from the low cost Lumix G3 be noticeably different from those taken with an expensive Leica M9!? We shall see!

 

PART 2: Lumix G3 + Leica Lenses!

Lumix G3 + Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

 

Here is the first test shot with the new-to-me Panasonic Lumix G3.

To recap on my expectations, I currently use a Leica M9 35mm digital rangefinder and a full frame Nikon D800 DSLR (plus many film cameras of various formats). I started out my photography with a Lumix G1 and I enjoyed it especially for macro photography. Four years later and I now enjoy portrait photography, specialising in model / fashion photography and wedding photography. I wanted a small backup camera for my Leica lenses. I saw the price of a used Lumix G3 so thought would have a gamble and picked one up on eBay. Worst case I can just sell it again. The cost of the camera was less than some of the accessories for the Leica M9 so it put things in perspective.

My challenge to myself and for a bit of fun is to try my various Leica m mount lenses and some M42 lenses on the Lumix G3 and see how close I can get the results to the more expensive cameras. I only plan to use the G3 with manual lenses.

Above is the first test shot using the Lumix G3 + Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4. Said to be one of the best lenses ever made for any camera format.

The Lumix G3 is known to not be great in low light (like the Leica M9) but here is a test shot at ISO 640 handheld 1/20 at f1.4.

The Lumix G3 in camera JPEG ‘Monochrome’ setting is sepia rather than true B&W so I desaturated the photo in PS Elements 6. My copy of LR3 cannot read the Lumix RAW files so JPEGs only for now until I get an updated version.

Interestingly the wider angle lenses (Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 and 28mm f2 Ultron so far) do not focus up close on the M4/3 – Leica M adapter. I believe this is true for lenses <50mm but will check in due course. b

Here I focused as close as I could focus with the Lux 50/1.4 with the lenses reading 0.7M. I nice shallow DOF for a M4/3 camera!

Not a bad result for the little Lumix G3 at ISO 640. The true test will be at ISO 160 (the lowest ISO on the Lumix G3).

 

PART 3: Lumix G3 Portraits (using Leica & M42 lenses)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

 

To recap from my last Lumix G3 post, I bought the small inexpensive micro 4/3s camera as a challenge to myself to see if I could take photos that I would be happy to share on my Flickr page. I would be using the G3 only with legacy lenses that I already owned from various manufacturers including Carl Zeiss, Voigtlander and Leica. I normally use a Leica M9 or a Nikon D800 so the little Lumix had quite a challenge ahead.

My last Lumix G3 post showed me using the G3 for street photography.

Here are some examples using the G3 for portraiture. Yesterday I did a shudio shoot with Kira using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 + Carl Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 + M42 – M4/3 adapter. I shot them with lighting to make them look like that had already been edited but in fact there was very little processing (contrast, sharpening, watermark).

Panasonic Lumix G3

When I was shooting on location in London I used the Lumix G3 + Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 C + M4/3 – LM adapter (Leica M).

Lumix G3 + Zeiss ZM 50/1.5
Panasonic Lumix G3

All of these photos are Lumix G3 JPEG files. The photos tend to be much softer than what I am used to with the D800/ M9 but I can work quite well for female portraiture.

Would I use the Panasonic Lumix G3 for paying wedding photography clients?
No. The detail and resolution in the images is just not sufficient for my needs and taste.

 

PART 4: Lumix G3 Street Photography

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 + Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens via M4/3 – Leica M mount adapter

I took the G3 to London with various Leica M mount lenses to see what it was capable of vs. my Leica M9 and Nikon D800. Initially I was disappointed by the lower resolution and less apparent sharpness of the monochrome JPEGs however it gives the images quite a nice vintage almost filmic look (because of the softness I think).

Some sample images using the G3 on the street

Lumix G3 Street Photography

Panasonic DMC-G3

Central London

Vintage Street Photography

M4/3 + Leica M

London Street Photography

The Lumix G3 camera body + the compact CV 15/4.5 made for a lightweight setup. Using the m4/3 – LM adapter having the lens set at 0.5M meant everything from roughly 2m – infinity was in focus. That meant as long as I did not get too close to my subjects I could just point and shoot without any focus requirements. Similar to street photography using hyperfocal distance but easier. Being accustom to a Leica M9 camera I found it very easy to ‘see’ my shots even though I was using a new-to-me camera.

Update – New Mirrorless camera!

Sorry for any overlap among the 4 articles.  I collated them for an easier read.

The next mirrorless camera I bought after have the Lumix G3 was a few years later.  It was a Leica CL!

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Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

10 thoughts on “Panasonic Lumix G3 (with Leica Lenses!)”

    1. Thanks. I tried a Sony NEX-6 and the build quality put me off for life. I’ve owned Panasonic Lumix cameras before so am happy with the build quality and performance. That together with the fact that The Lumix G3 camera can be picked up on eBay now for peanuts made it an easy choice.

  1. Thanks. I have an M9, too, and can’t decide which backup I should buy. I also take photos of weddings. I bought an M-E as backup but don’t know if I should replace it with a cheaper camera. The depreciation also annoys me. I might consider the A7 although I agree with you on build quality.

    Your photos are just fantastic! Best of the best.

    1. Cheers Hilmar,

      Yes you do hear the Sony A7 getting plenty of mentions on Leica forums for topics such as a non-Leica backup camera.

      I do love my M9 but it will be great if the G3 fills some of the gaps where the M9 is not as strong (such as macro).

      Thanks for the kind words. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks Frank. I just hope I can still do the same with the Lumix G3! Now I am used to the quality of the Leica M9 and Nikon D800 so I just hope I am not too disappointed!

      And no the G3 has a 16.7MP CMOS sensor (standard Micro Four Thirds size)

      1. Thanks Matt. What I meant is does or did your Panasonic Lumix G1 have a CCD sensor … because the color rendering in those images you shared looks like it could ?? Sorry for the confusion in my question !

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