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Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3

Panasonic's new Micro Four Thirds flagship is its most professional-spec. camera yet

It has been expected by Micro Four Thirds fans, especially those interested in videography, for some time and now it's here, the DMVC-GH3, Panasonic's G-Micro flagship Compact System Camera (CSC). The GH3 now has magnesium alloy body, an optional battery/portrait grip, improved video capabilities, a brand new 16MP LiveMOS sensor, and a long list of other improvements, including the implementation of wireless remote control flash support that is compatible with the Olympus FL RC system.

Guide prices:

  • GH3+12-35 kit -2000
  • GH3+14-140 kit -1700
  • GH3 body only - 1099
  • DMW-BGG3HE battery grip - 250

I was very fortunate to have brief hands-on with an early engineering sample of the GH3 recently. The first impression is that the GH3 is significantly larger than the GH2. It's not a massive increase in size, it's still smaller than most DSLRs, but it is significant. The camera also looks like it has been beefed up, partially because of the new high sloping shoulders design, but because the camera is made from magnesium alloy, the material that any professional-spec. camera really needs to be constructed from. It has that solid feel that only a magnesium alloy body gives. The body is also sealed for dust and splash-proofing. Another welcome surprise is the addition of an optional extended battery and portrait mode grip - Panasonic's first. The continuous high-speed shooting rate has been increased to 6fps, and wireless LAN connectivity is standard.

New sensor

A new 16MP sensor is featured in the GH3. Panasonic says it produces less noise and more dynamic range than the GH2's sensor. It's mated to a new Venus Engine 7 image processor that uses multi-stage noise reduction. Interestingly, Panasonic has resisted the temptation to provide an ISO 25600 setting, limiting the choice to ISO 12800. The GH3 also offers electronic shutter shooting for situations where camera sounds are an issue. Multiple exposure and HDR modes are also provided. I was also told that in line with Olympus, Panasonic has reduced the power of the sensor's low pass (anti-aliasing) filter. This will enable more resolution to be extracted from the same number of pixels.

Wireless

Wireless LAN is built in and this will also support wireless tethering from your smartphone, including live view.

Built in flash

The built in pop-up flash is now more powerful and covers a wider (24mm equivalent) field.

Displays

OLED is the name of the game with the GH3, the display technology of choice that is used in both the rear articulating screen (610K dot) and the electronic viewfinder which sports 1.7 million dots compared to the old 1.4 million dot LCD screen of the GH2. Technically, the new OLED EVF should be considerably more responsive than the previous unit, meaning a higher refresh rate and less lag. It was not possible to fully evaluate the improvement in the screen because the camera I had was such an early sample and it wasn't fully working, but at least I am confident in saying that if you were conscious of the issues the old display had with colour break up when panning, for example, that should now be a thing of the past.

Audio/video

There are lots of changes to the audio and video spec. of the GH3 compared to the GH2. For professionals, Time Coding is now supported for AVCHD clips, a feature previously implemented on the pro Panasonic AF-100/101 Micro Four Thirds camcorder. 50p/25p/24p (instead of 50i etc.) shooting is now supported and there is an improved data rate between 28/50/72 Mbps depending on format. HDMI info can now be switched off for recording. A slow motion mode reducing playback speed by 40-50% is now provided, as is interval shooting,

Responding to feedback the GH2's 2.5mm microphone jack has been change to a more standard 3.5mm size. Panasonic has looked at the XLR microphone standard but due to size limitations support is not yet provided. A few other things that Panasonic looked at included focus-peaking (the ability to show which areas of the scene are in focus on the screen or EVF), but these are not supported.

It's still very early days for us to give you a firm view on how the GH3 performs and handles, but everything so far looks very promising.

 

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Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3

Four Thirds User editorial team Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
[ Panasonic has unveiled the their GH3 flagship at last - it's a much more professional system camer... (more)

Ian Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
I forgot to mention in the article that Panasonic has at last implemented Olympus' wireless remote c... (more)

Kurt Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Any news on the date when it will be available in UK?... (more)

Ian Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
I believe availability is reasonably soon - October-ish but I will get a firm answer tomorrow as I h... (more)

Kurt Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Thank you Ian. I think the camera looks good. Still a lightweight but resistant to weather and dust ... (more)

John Perriment Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
If you can afford the GH3 I'd be inclined to wait what might only be a matter of weeks. If you do... (more)

dancogan Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
I think this is a big plus, especially for portrait and close-up work that involves multiple flas... (more)

Dan in NC Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Ian, thank you for updating us during your busy schedule at Photokina. I have to admit that this ca... (more)

Dan in NC Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
So if I understand correctly, the FL36R and FL50R could be triggered by the pop up flash and work j... (more)

Ian Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Indeed :) Oh and did I mention that you might notice similar image quality to an E-M5? Ahem! ... (more)

hschnee Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
No, I don't think you mentioned that. ;) Are you trying to tell us something about the sensor? Di... (more)

Dan in NC Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Very interesting, this could be the camera that brings me over to micro4/3rds.... (more)

Ian Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Ahem... well, put it this way, I expect the better test results to be very revealing and another ... (more)

Ian Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
It will ship in mid-November. Ian... (more)

Kurt Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Thanks Ian, I am trying to stop myself searching for bargain GH2s! - K.... (more)

Patrick Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Hi Ian I am planning on buying a GH3, but waiting until the new year or even Focus, it should ... (more)

Ian Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Hi Patrick - sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Panasonic use a slightly over-sized sensor ... (more)

Paul Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Maybe you are not Ian but the rumour mill is, and one is that Panny could not develop their new sen... (more)

s4ean Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
I agree... with Olympus's failure to deliver a valid option for 4/3rds, the GH3 does appear to be an... (more)

s4ean Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
I agree... with Olympus's failure to deliver a valid option for 4/3rds, the GH3 does appear to be... (more)

Patrick Re: Hands-on preview of the Panasonic Lumix DMVC-GH3
Thank you Ian, I am get used to 4x3, as I have stared using that aspect. The process made easy by... (more)

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