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First Impressions: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3

by Thursten Kent on 10/27/2012

 

This next couple of days the east coast staff and I are over at Photo Plus 2012 to take a look at some of the new goodies that comes to the photo world. A camera right now that is on everyone’s movie making list is Panasonic’s GH3. We all know it’s predecessor the GH2 turned out to be an amazing camera for the price–not to mention after hacking it, it coughed out some impressive numbers. Proving  it’s worth with cameras twice the price.

With just a few moments with this camera how was it?

 

Tech Specs

Specs from B&H

Imaging
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds
Camera Format Micro Four Thirds (2x Crop Factor)
Pixels Actual: 17.2 Megapixel
Effective: 16.05 Megapixel
Max Resolution 4608 x 3456 @ 4:3
Other Resolutions 3264 x 2448 @ 4:3
2336 x 1752 @ 4:3
1824 x 1368 @ 4:3
4608 x 3072 @ 3:2
3264 x 2176 @ 3:2
2336 x 1560 @ 3:2
1824 x 1216 @ 3:2
4608 x 2592 @ 16:9
3264 x 1840 @ 16:9
1920 x 1080 @ 16:9
1824 x 1024 @ 16:9
3456 x 3456 @ 1:1
2448 x 2448 @ 1:1
1744 x 1744 @ 1:1
1712 x 1712 @ 1:1
Sensor Type / Size MOS, 17.3 x 13 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, MPEG-4 AVCHD, MOV
Dust Reduction System Y
Noise Reduction Yes
Memory Card Type SD
SDHC
SDXC
AV Recording
Video Recording Yes, NTSC/PAL
Resolution 1920 x 1080: 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps
1280 x 720: 60 fps, 30 fps
640 x 480: 30 fps, 25 fps
Aspect Ratio 4:3, 16:9
Video Clip Length Up to 240 Minutes
Audio Recording With Video, Stereo
Focus Control
Focus Type Auto & Manual
Focus Mode Single-servo AF (S), Continuous-servo AF (C)
Viewfinder/Display
Viewfinder Type Electronic
Viewfinder Pixel Count 1744000
Viewfinder Eye Point 21 mm
Viewfinder Coverage 100%
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 1.34x
Diopter Adjustment - 4 to +4 m
Display Screen 3″ Touchscreen Swivel  LED (610000)
Screen Coverage 100%
Live View Yes
Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity 200-12800 (Extended Mode: 125-25600)
Shutter Type: Electronic
Speed: 60 – 1/4000 second
Remote Control DMW-RSL1 (Optional)
Metering Method Multi-zone metering
Exposure Modes Modes: Aperture Priority, Manual, Programmed Auto, Shutter Priority
Compensation: -5 EV to +5 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
White Balance Modes Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Flash, Incandescent, Manual, Shade
Burst Rate Up to 20 fps
Flash
Flash Modes Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction
Built-in Flash Yes
Max Sync Speed 1 / 160 sec
Flash Compensation -3 EV to +3 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe
Performance
Self Timer 10 sec, 2 sec
Connectivity 1/8″ Headphone, 1/8″ Microphone, AV Output, HDMI C (Mini), USB 2.0
Power
Battery 1x Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 7.2VDC, 1860mAh
Operating/Storage Temperature Operating
32 to 104 °F (0 to 40 °C)
Humidity: 10 – 80%
Physical
Dimensions (WxHxD) 5.2 x 3.7 x 3.2″ / 132.1 x 94.0 x 81.3 mm excluding protrusions
Weight 19.4 oz / 550  g with SD card and Battery

Ergonomics

I can safely say this camera is a step up on the GH2 in fit and finish. The metal body feels solid. The weather sealing adds a more quality feel.I like how the grip feels in my hand. I have somewhere of a medium small sized grip. Someone with a bigger grip might want to get the battery grip to make it easier to handle.

Starting with the front of the camera You will find it’s all very plain and simple. This camera looks like a taller more mature version of the GH2. On the top left you will find a PC-sync port (not shown) for those who might be doing studio flash work. Not that I would really see this camera’s main target audience being a photo enthusiast. The shutter button lies on the right along with a dial that controls the shutter speed.

Because of my limited time with the camera I have not gotten a chance to see what all the buttons do. Although I was able to navigate the menus a bit. Out in the back you find what looks like a few buttons that hold custom functions. The dial on the right controls the aperture. Although, I felt it was a little tougher to move at times than the front one. Hopefully this is just a hiccup as this is not the final ready-to-use camera. I really like how I  have two to use. With camera like the T2i, you always had to hold the AV +/- button and than turn the top dial to change the aperture. I’ve got to praise the time saver this is. No matter how small.  You also have an easy to find record button, and a play button located on the left. Towards the bottom right a menu click wheel allows you to navigate the menus. (More on that in a bit.)

Now comes my one concern so far on this camera. As I was told, one of the biggest gripes people had when using this camera is they tend to press this display on/off button by accident. And since it’s in the pathway where one would place their thumb to rest towards the top. You might see where this could be a problem. Now, hopefully Panasonic can figure something out.

The screen is really bright and nice. I was able to swivel it out. As well as back in like any normal digital camera.

Heading to the top, You will find what looks like a standard hot shoe. Nice, solid dials found on each side–the one on the left seems to control whether you shoot single or multiple frames while the one on the right has your standard assortment of photo modes. On the top right you will see Another function button with white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. A light to indicate if WiFi is on as well.

The menu system was very bright and easy to read. Although this camera was still running a very early firmware. Funny enough, these were the same cameras they used at this years Photokina.

As far as ports, you had 1/8 Headphones jack, AV port, and HDMI. The sad news according to the rep I spoke with, is the HDMI is not a clean signal. So, there goes the chance to run some nice uncompressed footage to a an Atomos Ninja or some other recorder. Maybe, just maybe Panasonic will fix that in a firmware update like Canon did–I’m sorry, will…But won’t make you wait a few months to get it after announcing it. I’d like to think if Panasonic can’t do it., the hacking community will.

Autofocus

I snapped a few photos with the camera, and kind of found the focus to be okay. Not blazing fast. Again, this camera is not final spec so I can’t be sure how quick it will be.

Ease of Use

This camera was easy to hold, the dials were direct feeling and the buttons were pretty well placed to get to. (Minus the display button) I liked how I could easily read the menus. It’s nice you can use it as a touch screen as well. I hope there is an option to turn that off. Someone like me would just press it by accident. And you don’t need anymore frustration when you are in a shoot.

As for someone who picked up this camera for the first time, I was able to start using it right away. Looking through the EVF was a bit difficult for me. It was a tiny bit muddled for my tastes.

First Impressions

I feel that Panasonic here has a chance to put a real clamp on Canon’s waning grasp on the video community. This camera has some promising features. When we talk about video, I was quite excited to try it out. I shot some very short sample footage on the camera. It was 24fps @ 71 mb/s. It looked pretty nice. Video sample footage is coming in a future post.

But for now, let’s leave the rest for when we get the chance to play with the production version.

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