Could Panasonic's new "small" camera be the best ILC yet?
If you’re looking for the best video quality you can get out of it, the GH3 does offer uncom-pressed 8-bit 4:2:0 color-space video through the camera’s HDMI jack. There are built-in stereo mics, and you can also add an external stereo mic through a mini-jack input. For more advanced shooters, the GH3 includes support for time- code recording. So, if you plan to use multiple cameras, syncing them up after the fact can be simplfied somewhat.
Serious burst shooters will like that the GH3 can shoot at 6 fps with continuous metering and autofocusing. If you can manage with metering and focus on the first frame only, you can capture up to 20 fps. RAW shooters will have to accept a mere 18 frames when shooting in bursts, but the number of JPEGs is limited only by the capacity of the memory card.
Speaking of memory cards, the camera has only one slot. On the plus side, this has a dedicated hatch, which is something you can’t always take for granted in the ILC world. If Panasonic really wants to entice pro photographers to its cameras, it should add a second slot on the next GH camera, especially given the level of video capture this series has achieved.
The Wi-Fi functions in the GH3 worked well when transfering images to a smartphone. We installed the Lumix Link app on a Samsung Galaxy S3, and had the devices paired and an image on the phone all within 10 minutes. You can also use the app as a remote to shoot stills or video.
Strangely, though, you can start, but not stop, video. To stop video recording after it has been started with the app, you must press the video-recording button on the camera. Hopefully this will be fixed soon with a firmware update, app update, or both.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for the Micro Four Thirds body with the best possible video and wonderful still capture, the GH3 is the camera for you. Its obvious competition, Olympus’s OM-D, doesn’t offer the same level of video capture. Even without this advantage, we’d still be inclined to opt for the GH3 simply because you’d have to add the OM-D’s $250 optional grip to get the solid handholdability that you get with the GH3’s built-in grip. But the OM-D’s retro style has won the hearts of many, many shooters. And while we like to champion practicality over style, in this case it may be too close to call.
IMAGING:16MP effective, Four Thirds-sized LiveMOS sensor captures images at 4912x3264 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW mode
STORAGE: SD, SDHC, SDXC slot stores JPEG, RW2 RAW, RAW + JPEG, and MPO (with optional 3D lens) files
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs (Fine mode), up to memory card capacity at 6 fps; RAW (12-bit), up to 18 shots at 6 fps
AF SYSTEM: TTL contrast detection with 23 focus areas; single-shot and continuous AF with face detection and subject tracking
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/4000 to 60 sec, plus B (1/3-EV increments); shutter life not rated.
METERING: TTL metering with 144-zone Multi-pattern (evaluative), centerweighted, spot (size of spot not specified). EV 0–18 (ISO 100)
ISO RANGE: Standard, ISO 200–12,800 (in 1/3-EV increments); Expanded, ISO 125–25,600
VIDEO: Records at 1920x1080p at up to 60 fps in AVCHD v. 2.0 (28Mbps); at 1920x1080p at 30 fps in ALL-I (72Mbps) or IPB (50Mbps) MOV format; built-in stereo microphone; stereo minijack mic input. Maximum clip length 120 min, or 29 min. 59 sec. for units purchased in Europe
FLASH: Built-in pop-up; GN 40 (feet); covers 14mm (28mm equiv.) field of view; flash sync to 1/160 sec
VIEWFINDER: Fixed eye-level OLED with 1,744,000-dot resolution
MONITOR: 3-inch articulated OLED touchscreen with 614,000-dot resolution; 7-step brightness adjustment
OUTPUT: USB 2.0, mini HDMI video, composite video, minijack stereo headphone, and Wi-Fi
BATTERY: Rechargeable DMW-BLF19PP Li-ion, CIPA rating 540 shots with Panasonic 12–35mm f/2.8 lens
SIZE/WEIGHT: 5.2x3.7x3.2 in., 1.2 lb with a card and battery
STREET PRICE: $1,298, body only