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Panasonic GH3 real-world test (pre-production firmware)

Andrew Reid

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This report is based on a pre-production model.

The GH3 is Panasonic's most far-reaching attempt yet to take on Canon's DSLR-market domination. So popular were Canon's DSLRs for video that they were able to found the entire Cinema EOS business on the back off it (and in doing so, arguably they turned their back on the enthusiast DSLR video market).

But there was always a dark horse and that camera was the Panasonic GH2, with a better image and feature-set than any APS-C Canon DSLR for video. Now the dark horse has come of age but question marks remain. Is the mass market educated enough to choose more discerningly when it comes to DSLRs and DSLMs?

And is the GH3 good enough?
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QUOTE: I feel that Panasonic need a full frame sensor flagship model because there is a cultural issue with customers who think bigger is always better. No matter how good the GH3, the Lumix brand wil

One of the better quality GH3 videos so far. Review coming soon.

You say- "I can't have a shot curtailed during a shoot because of an unreliable codec hack." I say- I can't have a shot of a curtain during a shoot because of an unreliable sensor."

Moiré seems to be less evident here, but it's there, and I think there could be situations where it becomes more evident and distracting.
If a stronger antialiasing filter could reduce or eliminate it, it'd be great. I hope this issue can actually be overcome, because it's certainly a no go for me and for many others, even if it's less present than what's in a 7D, 60D, etc.
I wonder, are you really not bothered by it, Andrew? It's great that we get all of these other features, but I will prefer image quality over improved functionality in this case, and that's probably in staying in GH2 grounds...

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It's very unfortunate that they were not able to have a full optimzed sensor for their needs, we can clearly see that they probably optimized as much as they could with the sensor they had in hands - yeah, probably Sony's one. They had to compromise a bit of the downscaling, moiré, multi-aspect, etc. in order to have a better colour, DR, IQ, etc.

I think that it would be nice to see Panasonic asking for someone else to make it if they can't, the Aptina sensors for the Nikon1 cameras have very interesting feats. They have very fast sensor read out which let the camera shoot a very high frame rate at full size, I don't exactly know what prevents them from doing it, if it's the processor or the heat dissipation process or whatever, but those sensors seems to be able to produce 4K@60fps.

So I think that if Panasonic is able to have a full optimized sensor for their needs, it will be a heck of a camera. Sony is making a new step with the global shutter sensor in the F55, maybe Panasonic could buy or develop a m43 global shutter sensor with Sony since the GH-something wouldn't hurt Sony directly and Sony is more interesting in selling sensors than worried about Panasonic.

A GHX-something optimzed for video would be very nice but I just wonder if people wouldn't get mad. Well, if they can really make it in the $3000 price point with 4K, I think that no GH3 owner will complain.

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Uematsu-san replied that the only surefire way to reduce moire was to read-out all pixels and oversample. He said it was preferable to reduce the pixel count to 4K (8MP). 10MP was also a good number. He cited the Aptina sensor in the Nikon 1 as capable of reading out all pixels at a frame rate fast enough for video and the Canon C300′s sensor design where each RGB photosite is output and moire is reduced.

Me wants oversampling, 2.5k at least, there are several important reasons for this. I am getting it with my new 400$ GoPro, i want it to be in my new interchangeable-lens cam too.

With the 16MP sensor in the GH3, this would be a tall order especially given the price point which is 1/12th of Canon’s C300, and they are not willing to compromise resolution in stills mode down to just 10MP either.

OK, the sensor is the point of distinction.
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I hate that this camera takes stills... F'ckin hate it, lol...

All selfishness aside, i expected ridiculous Moire if it was confirmed... This isn't too bad though;). It's mirrorless... So maybe we'll get a Mosaic filter later, lol... Shooting Log style is great for post work, i especially appreciate it when it comes to highlights.. It'd pay off pretty decent i'd assume if the banding issues are far better now. I don't like the idea of baking in anything my grading program can't do a thousand times more efficiently, so printing a log style Picture Profile is something i hope they eventually implement. It's really good to hear the color and dynamic range are much better!! This was huge for me. 8 bit has its limitations, but Canon always seemed to draw color i preferred over the Gh2 in video, so i knew it could be done within the barriers.. For all of its quirks, the 5d2 still has a sexy pallete. ...at the price of everything else though, lol.

Now when, (or "if") - they hack this thing, it will be interesting to see what they can manipulate.

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Are you sure that the HDMI-out is 4:2:2? I remember reading in a few locations that it was 4:2:0. Because 4:2:2 would be great.

And while I don't care about 10-bit color, it's annoying that Panasonic would have restricted it to a higher-level camera to further a strategy of artificial segmentation. 10-bit color is the feature du jour to restrict to higher-leve, expensive gear for no other reason than to force people who want it to pay more. I have a 10-bit monitor but I'll be bollocksed if I'm going to buy a $2,000 video card.

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Why does Panasonic advertise with it's new dynamic range, yet provide no numbers for it?

Did they re-introduce the PAL/NTSC switch firmware 0.4 had that got removed in 0.5?
(=will I be able to import a JP/AU/CA/US model to not have the 30min limit in Europe instead of donating+waiting for a hack)

I guess there's no news about how the remote TTL works (flashes/IR/radio/wifi-radio) and if it's compatible with the Olympus remote TTL protocol? (=existing Metz flashes work)

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QUOTE: I feel that Panasonic need a full frame sensor flagship model because there is a cultural issue with customers who think bigger is always better. No matter how good the GH3, the Lumix brand will always be seen as being lesser than Canon and Nikon without that fabled full frame camera. Even if the margins are very slim and the resources required to develop a whole new lens range significant, a full frame mirrorless camera from Panasonic would have a halo affect on the whole range from top to bottom.

I couldn't disagree more. Panny lost nearly $5b this past financial year, $25b accumulated loss over the past 5 years. The enormous investment to develop a FF camera and lenses from scratch would be financial folly. A far, far better uses of scares resources is to put it into making even better GHx cameras and lenses. Panny is in niche of two and can help take it mainstream. To cut back on investment here in order to compete with Canon, Nikon, Sony etc on their FF turf from scratch for the sake of a debatable halo affect would result in us all losing.

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