A prosumer’s dream camera.
The Panasonic Lumix GH series is known for its great video recording capabilities, the GH2 in particular being a fan favorite, especially when you start doing things with it more than what Panasonic intended. And with the mirrorless Lumix GH3 Panasonic have gone for a no holds barred approach in order to appeal to the film enthusiast community.
The Lumix GH3 advances the GH lineup in a very meaningful way thanks to the high-end specs, along with some additional features, so let’s have a looks at them.
Starting with the build, we see that the magnesium alloy body doesn’t have any gaps, keeping it safe from dust and water splashes. . Even the external flash port is screwed tightly with a plastic cap. There are rubber flaps for the HDMI, A/V & Data, and 3.5mm headphones and mic ports on the left, while the right houses the SD card slot and the remote plug
You’ll notice the two dials on the top; the one on the left is for frame selection (single, multiple, timer, etc.) while the one on the right is for mode selection. Here we get the regular P/A/S/M, intelligent auto, scene selection, creative effects, movie and three custom settings mode. Speaking of custom, there are 5 customizable buttons on the body of the GH3, each one conveniently located with pre-defined settings already.
I like that the white balance, exposure compensation and ISO buttons are next to the shutter release button, while the two control dials are placed for easy accessibility via the right thumb. And you don’t have to go to the Movie mode in the wheel select menu, you can just hit the big record button near the viewfinder.
The electronic viewfinder itself has 1.7 million dots and is presented in a 16:9 ratio, hinting at the video focused nature of the Lumix GH3. It’s sad that despite looking so good the edges of the EVF is blurred out that no amount of tweaking can fix. The 3-inch fully rotatable screen comprises of 614k dots, although the lower than average resolution is compensated by the brilliant OLED touchscreen which presents excellent black levels and high contrast colors.
Getting into the nitty gritty, Panasonic presents us with an updated 16MP Live MOS sensor for the Lumix GH3 with their latest multi-core Venus processor. This thing is now capable of recording videos at an incredible 72Mbps bitrate at 1080p at 24fps! Of course, there are other formats and variations between resolutions (720p & 480p), frame rates (25fps, 30fps, 50fps & 60fps) and bitrates (50Mbps, 10Mbps & 4Mbps) as well as recording formats (MOV, MP4, AVCHD). Timecoding is also available in MOV and AVCHD formats in free-run and recording modes, with drop frame available for NTSC versions.
Lastly there’s a built-in WiFi adapter that allows you to connect to PCs over a wireless connection to transfer pictures, furthermore an Android and iOS app allows you to use your smartphone with Live View, capable of taking pictures remotely.
Picture & Video Quality
When it comes to picture quality, there’s very little to complaint about the Lumix GH3, with high-speed continuous shooting available at 4fps using Live View, or 6fps through the EVF. The 23-point autofocus system is very quick, as you’d expect from mirrorless cameras, while ISO capabilities at 25,600 aren’t bad either. The smaller micro 3/4th sensor size does mean that images come out grainy in very low light though, even in videos.
Note: The above pictures were resized to 1920×1080 and nothing else was touched.
The videos themselves, as must be obvious by now, are exceptional in quality. The little bit of noise that creeps into low light videos is offset simply by the amount of detail captured in the videos. In daylight you can literally take any frame in a video and it will be perfectly viable as a still image. And the amount of extra features included means that the GH3 is as serious a camera for professional videos as is the Canon 5D Mark III, which is priced almost twice as much.
Of course, the Panasonic Lumix GH3 has a large body, but nothing compared to other high-end DSLRs, and the simple fact that it’s Micro Four Thirds also means that not only are the compact lens selection great, but not matter where you shoot, the package will always remain small.
And that really is the beauty of the Panasonic Lumix GH3, as it has taken proper advantage of its Micro Four Thirds body, you get a brilliantly fast camera capable of recording great JPEG images with rich contrast, and more impressive yet are the features available for videos and the detail with which it captures data. With the Lumix GH3 Panasonic have firmly placed themselves in the professional video DSLR market, where this mirrorless camera easily takes on industry behemoths.