Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Easy is good. Whether it’s opening a jar or opening up your pants after having that 7th stuffed cabbage, “with ease” is your preferred way of doing things. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 ($600) keeps that philosophy intact with its intelligent auto mode which gives pop-up scene suggestions and tips on how to make certain kinds of photos look better. The GF5 has a new 12.1MP Live MOS sensor and processor combination, and it shoots 1080p at 30fps in MP4 and 1080i at 60fps in AVCHD. It’s all very easy, though we admit, not quite as easy as your ex.

Panasonic Lumix GF3

With an eye towards the point and shoot crowd, Panasonic releases the Lumix GF3 to the masses in July. Now both 16% lighter and smaller than the GF2, the GF3 positions itself in between those needing a little more than a basic point and shoot, but less than a DSLR. The GF3 relies on the micro four thirds system, allowing many of the DSLR benefits with the compact body of a point and shoot.

Image quality remains high with the 12.1 megapixel resolution. With Panasonic’s 3D lens, not only can you take high quality stills and 1080/60i hi def video, but 3D photos can now be part of your repertoire. 3D slide shows at the family dinners, imagine the excitement. For the nighttime shots, its Venus Engine FHD image processor captures in great quality low-lit, high ISO  settings.

For those seeking intuitive controls, its 3” touch LCD screen allows a variety of functions. Among them, tap your subject in the viewfinder, and the auto tracking locks on. Tap again and the shutter releases. Can it get easier?

Sony just released the Alpha NEX-C3, which will be the chief competitor to the GF3. Both have their pros and cons. The biggest probably is NEX-C3’s 50% greater sensor area compared to the GF3. On the downside, you only get 720p. You also get 16 megapixels with the NEX-C3 versus 12.1 on the GF3. Each have very specific functions tailored to the user, so as always, consider when you will be using either camera. Retails for $700 at Amazon.