Panasonic's new Micro Four Thirds flagship is its most professional-spec. camera yet
Read the Press Release: Panasonic announces the Panasonic LUMIX GH3
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.
- 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.
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 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.
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.
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.