Panasonic GH3 Has Arrived! Review And Video

March 2, 20137 Comments


The FedEx gal brought me an early Christmas present today. I got lucky to get the Panasonic GH3 when it was released. The camera is hard to get just like the GH2 was. I opened up the box and popped the battery in to fire her up! The battery only had one bar so I need to charge it before I go out. My plan is to go out and shoot Sunday morning. I decided Balboa Park would be a great place to go. You can count on the Lumix 12-35 and the Lumix 35-100 to be involved. What a nice kit this will be with those two lenses!


The GH3 And Accessories

The kit comes with one battery, charger, USB cable and strap.

GH3 Has Better Button Layout.

The camera feels really nice in my hand.  I was worried about it when I heard it was larger but it really isn’t that much bigger, and the new size just fits better in the palm of my hand. The increase in size spreads out the buttons in a better way. I haven’t shot much yet but my first reaction is I wont be hitting the ISO button as often on accident. I was always activating one of the four select buttons around the menu on the GH2. The GH3 has a wheel instead. More like what the Canon’s have. I like it. Some people might find the larger size disappointing since some of the lure of the GH2 is the small size and portability.

GH3 and GH2 Batteries Side By Side.

Here is the difference in the two batteries. The GH3 is bigger and fatter. Again looks a 5D battery.

No Wall Charger This Time.

No more wall charger. This one comes with a cord. Not sure if I care or not. Nice to not have to carry a cord. Just one more thing to pack in the bag. The battery lasts a long time but you always need an extra or two.

The viewfinder and the LCD are a big improvement. Bright saturated and sharp. The touch screen is overall more sturdy and  feels like an iPhone screen instead of the plastic feel the GH2 has. Gestures have been added to zoom in and out just like the iPhone/iPad. You can even zoom into video images to check focus!

I messed around with the WiFi a little and wasn’t able to trigger the camera with the iPhone app. I’m sure it’s something I missed and will come back to it later. The Lumix Link app is interesting and seems like the real deal but again I need to figure it out.

I’m Really excited to get out and do some shooting with the updated ALL-I codec. So many improvements have been made all around. Panasonic put a lot into this new release. Now if they could just come out with a new AF-200!

GH3 Tricked Out With A Zeiss 85mm CP.2 PL Mount

GH3 Tricked Out With A Zeiss 85mm CP.2 PL Mount

UPDATE 12-03-2012

I got a late start getting out today. Seems I lost my 75mm bowl adapter for my Gitzo so I had to come up with a different tripod and that took some time. Here is the footage I shot today. I didn’t have a set plan on what I was going to shoot. I decided to go to Balboa Park and see what I can find. It’s always a great place to shoot and even hang out for the day without a camera. I started out with the saxophone guy first thing then it seemed everywhere I went someone was playing a song. Thats it!

No post production or grading was done on the footage. Edited in Premiere Pro CS6 from the native recorded format. No transcoding.

First I have to tell you I kind of screwed up. I was testing the AVCHD settings at home before I went out to shoot at Balboa Park and forgot to change the settings back to ALL-Intra. I’m so pissed at myself!!!!!! I really wanted to see what the ALL-Intra footage would look like. So this is my AVCHD 24p 24Mbps sample. Grrrrrr! Well at least you can see how the AVCHD footage is holding up. Glass half full Naso. Haha!

Right of the bat the camera feels great in the hand. I didn’t accidentally press any of the function buttons while I was shooting. That’s a big deal! I did this all the time with the GH2. Made me crazy. The LCD and EVF are much improved over the GH2. Crisp and bright. The New OLED LCD screen is big and solid. Even the way it swivels out has a much more solid feel to it. I’m happy with the redesigned GH3 body.

The menu for the most part is pretty much the same. That’s a good thing if you’re used to the GH2. Makes getting up to speed fast.

I attached my Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone to the hotshoe to record the musicians. The Rode is a good product. I was impressed with the sound quality from the Rode and the internal recording. I think I could record direct to camera now instead of having to use a external audio recorder with the GH3. Need to test this for longer recordings since the GH2 tended to drift out of sync. Oh and of course having a headphone jack doesn’t hurt. Finally!!

I tried out the internal camera level function on the LCD and it works well. I don’t like the large brackets in the center. They’re way to big. I need to see if I can change that. The level is a cool feature.

I set the camera up with the STANDARD profile and all settings at 0. I wanted to see what the camera looked like in a stock setup. I was looking for the type of shots that had contrast in them. Around the end of the day the sun was nice and low making for some interesting back lighting. My favorite! I think the camera handled it well. I used a Heliopan variable ND filter on the Lumix 35-100 all day long. This is a expensive ND filter but it doesn’t soften the image or degrade it so it’s the best you can get and worth it. No sense in having nice gear to only put a crappy filter on it. A downside to using the Heliopan Variable ND filter is you can’t use your lens shades. The filter is big and I couldn’t get the shade to go over it. I shot mainly wide open at f2.8 and f5.0. The 35-100 is becoming my new favorite. So light and fast it’s a must have for the GH3.

I white balanced the camera with a gray card and saved them in two of the four available for preset. The shade balance I found to be a little warm. The full sun balance looks more accurate.

For this shoot I stayed mostly at 400 ISO. I think the image looks clean. With the GH2 ISO 800 was way too noisy for my taste so I stayed away this time. I’ve seen some samples shot at 800 and 1600 ISO that look much better than what the GH2 was capable of.

The over-cranked feature works surprisingly well. I found it to be smooth and didn’t see any strobing. I love shooting slowmo shots. It’s so dramatic! It’s a great feature to have and Panasonic really implemented it well. It would be nice if the Mbps could be higher but 24Mbps looks pretty darn good in 24p. In the settings it’s called 40% (Records 0.4 times slower). Go figure.

I hardly put a dent in the battery. I was out with the camera powered up for several hours and only lost one bar. Good thing since it’s going to be a few before they appear in stores. I might not have to have more than three. 🙂

I’m not going to pixel peep this one. Many others have and many more will. I wanted to focus more on shooting. I think it’s a gimmie we will see moire in certain situations but that seems to be an issue with all DSLR cameras. You just have to be careful and know what makes it happen and avoid it. One thing that others have found is very sharp lenses tend to create the moire issue.

I did try close to the end of the day shooting with the built in time lapse function. I set it up and noticed the camera went into a full auto mode changing the ISO, F-stop and even the shutter. That’s crazy so I aborted. I need to read up on this. I like to shoot time lapses so I need to figure out how this new function works.

All in all I like the GH3 a lot. The size of the camera is perfect and the weight difference isn’t much more to worried about. The images are very nice and I can see getting lots of use out of this new camera.

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Filed in: Camera NewsEquipment ReviewsGH3Micro Four ThirdsNew ReleasePanasonic
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About the Author ()

I'm a broadcast DP In San Diego. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on and testing new equipment. This blog is also part of giving back. I've learned so much from so many people.

Comments (7)

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  1. Looking forward to hearing about your review! Loving the 12-35!

  2. Ron Coker says:

    Erik, Nick Driftwood on Vimeo has a series of first rate GH3 tests. Attached is one, Basic Scene Guides.


  3. rrr_hhh says:

    I bet that the timelapse uses the lectronic shutter and that shutter comes with some restrictions. Look for these restrictions ( they concern shutter speeds and perhaps ISO, no flash is allowed) stay inside of them and you should be able to keep things under your comtrol.

  4. Mário Matos says:

    This camera really looks a few steps ahead of the GH2 and a big rival to the “traditional” DSLR’s… I hope that’s a sign of what the AF100 successor will be (if Panasonic is really preparing itself to announce it next year).

    Can you shoot some clips to see the GH3 performance under low light and highlight conditions, fast and slow movements (to test rolling shutter and aliasing) and harsh patterns (to test moiré existence)? And, even though you did it on the last video, a bit more of slow motion?

    Best regards.

  5. Tom Daigon says:

    More beautiful pictures from you. The camera looks great. The sound was very clean as well. What a great thing to have Balboa Park to shoot in. I liked the story like feeling of how you integrated the images and sounds. And whats up the jerk turtle smacking his friend in the face 😀

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