E-M1 or GH3?

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by thercman, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. thercman

    thercman Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 21, 2013
    So I am planning to purchase one of these two cameras in the next week or so. Unfortunately there are no dealers within 300 miles of me which means I need to buy sight unseen. With that said I have seen just about every video and read every review I could find for the new E-M1 and many for the GH3.

    Here is my list of uses:
    1. Documentary work, images and interviews. (professionalism required here)
    2. Personal images, videos. (most of my use will be in this category)

    Here is a list of my dilemmas.
    1. For documentary work quality video seems to trump image quality. This points to the GH3. The downside is that from my understanding the Oly lenses (generally speaking) provide better image quality but when used with the GH3 I loose image stabilization. I am not sure if this is a concern or not as a steadicam would cure that once off the tripod.

    2. The E-M1 has amazing image quality from what I can tell. Although I have not seen images side by side it seems to be much better in this category over the GH3. (this appeals to my personal tastes for macro) I also really like the internal image stabilization which allows the use of a plethora of lenses and when use with primes make a smaller and lighter package. The downside with this is going to be the video. Not that the quality will be all that bad but I loose all the options the GH3 provides. Does this really matter? If I can produce HD videos that look really good to the average person, do I really need the options of the GH3? Maybe somebody will hack the E-M1 providing higher bit rates etc. Or Olympus could push firmware updates to open them up.

    3. Lastly is going to be price. The GH3 is $300 less expensive which means I can purchase a couple primes instead of just one or buy a nice zoom.

    I would really appreciate some advice that might help me to make a better informed decision.

  2. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    Real Name:
    rob collins
    1) I dont think that Oly lenses (generally speaking) provide better image quality than Panasonic lenses (or the other way round). Actually you gain CA correction using Panny lenses on a Panny body. Obviously Oly has the image stabilization advantage.

    2) From what I have seen and read, I am not really convinced that E-M1s 'image quality' is much better than the GH3s although Oly's jpeg engine is usually preferred. The E-M5, GH3 and E-M1 have 'roughly' the same sensor (I have an E-M5)

    The E-M1 can probably justify its US$300 premium due to more up to date bells and whistles - better LCD, better EVF, 1/8000 shutter speed.

    Other than that it is mostly a trade off of IBIS v video specs.
  3. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    How much video editing and post-processing do you do? It is my understanding that the Pany files and file options are much more friendly to extensive post-processing. If you are stabilizing your rig when shooting video, and you are shooting raw when shooting stills, then I would give heavy consideration to the GH3 unless you had some serious objections to it.

    Good luck,

  4. darrellc

    darrellc Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 21, 2012
    Tough decision. Buy both?

    I'm a long time photographer trying my hand out with video. Have primarily shot with 2 OM-D EM5 bodies for last year and a half, but recently picked up a GH3 and have been shooting video.

    Try reading the reviews of the OM-D and GH3 on eoshd.com. Andrew Reid, the guy who runs the site, seems to be both photographer and videographer, and obviously quite accomplished esp. on the video side based on the clips he posts, so I find the reviews useful since I also am interested in both aspects of the hobby.

    I don't see much difference in IQ between the GH3 and EM5 from RAW - maybe some minor differences with ever so slight edge to EM5 (but I've only shot maybe 1K pics with the GH3, so not confident in that judgement) and most reviews say IQ gain with the EM1 is subtle. Most people prefer the OM-D JPEG engine, but I actually like the more muted palate of the GH3. I've had other Panasonic cams (GF1, GH2, GX1) and couldn't stand the JPEG engine, esp. on GH2 - they've really improved it on the GH3.

    Video quality, even to this complete novice, is much better on the GH3. I can see how the EM5 really loses it with motion relative to the GH3, so the codec seems much better and of course has much higher bit rate. It is also nice to have 1080p60 and to be able to do slow motion.

    But the EM5 IBIS is truly spectacular, and works wonders on video. I really feel the loss when I shoot with the GH3, on both stills and video. It is almost as if you're using a steadicam (or so I'd imagine, never having used one). I've got the 12-35 and 35-100 with lens based IS and there's no comparison to the OM-D (in fact, seems like the Panasonic lens based IS isn't that great, feel like I get frequent irregular "jumps" when shooting handheld). I bought a shoulder/chest rig from photography and cinema, and the OM-D is almost as steady handheld as the GH3 with one of those stabilized lenses on the rig.

    So agree with the other feedback from robbie36 - it largely comes down to video spec and features vs. IBIS.

    I prefer the ergonomics of the GH3 over the EM5, but looks like the EM1 addresses most of those issues (and why I pre-ordered it and plan to sell one or both EM5 bodies).

    GH3 also has much better battery life. Not quite dSLR level, but much better than the EM5.

    Good luck with your decision!
  5. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Not really true. It really depends on what lenses you want to shoot, as the glass tends not to overlap much in the prime lens areas, and I personally think the panasonic zooms beat the olympus zooms most of the time. The 12-35 vs. 12-40 is the only remaining question mark, but that lens is brand new, and the 12-35 is an remains a fantastic little lens.

    From what little video I do, I prefer manual focus anyway.

    I haven't seen anything that's convinced me there are major improvements at normal ISO for the E-M1 over the E-M5 or the GH3. i.e., real-world, I very much doubt you will see any difference in your images. The major seller for oly (and the reason I have olympus bodies, but more panasonic lenses at the moment) is the 5 axis IBIS, and now the ability to use old 43 glass (downside: BIG) with working AF.

    Bottom line: if video is important, get a panasonic body. All the firmware hacking, etc. is done for panasonic bodies, because they actually care about video, and have a strong user base. Olympus is not a videography company, and I haven't seen any indications that will change any time soon. So it boils down to how important IBIS is to you, I think. The glass is a wash, and I can recommend the 12-35 without hesitation based on my own experience (stills, not so much video).
  6. ntblowz

    ntblowz Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 13, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Get GH3 and 2nd hand E-M5 lol, they both have their advantage and disadvantage, E-M5 for stabilised prime lens and GH3 for more persistence video quality.
  7. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    I don't see anything in any online site that shows the EM-1 has appreciably better image quality than the GH3. Both, and the EM5, share the same basic Sony sensor, and all three are going to be very comparable in IQ. By default, Oly's output is more contrasty and more saturated, but that's easily adjustable with the camera settings in either body. Most people have come to the conclusion the EM1 IQ is essentially the same as the EM5, and the EM5 and GH3 are essentially the same overall unless you insist on viewing test charts at 100% magnification.

    As for lenses, Oly and Panasonic both have very, very good lenses, and some pretty weak lenses, and a bunch in between. Unless there's a specific lens that you feel you need that you can only get from Oly (e.g., the 75mm), I don't think there's much to choose between them. The 12-35 and 35-100 Panasonic lenses are very good indeed, as is the stabilized 45mm macro.

    The one real advantage of the OM-D is the IBIS. But the video capabilities of the GH3 are dramatically superior. If producing professional caliber video is really the most important consideration, I think the GH3, and an decent stabilization rig, is a superior solution. If you're shooting videos of your family visiting the circus, either will do just fine.
  8. thercman

    thercman Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 21, 2013
    After reading everyones comments probably 6 or 8 times I have decided that the video is most important aspect for my needs and therefore I am planing to order the GH3. Thanks for the great info everyone!
  9. weee

    weee Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 2, 2013
    sorry for a little hijack, but what if compare GH3 to GX7?
  10. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    I shoot video almost exclusively with my E-M5 even though I own/have owned several Panasonics which were supposed to excel at video. I found out the hard way that Panasonics have the SPECS. that suggest they should deliver great video, but in actual practice I get more detail and much more appealing video colors from my E-M5. I will be getting the E-M1 because it is said to eliminate the moire and artifact problems that sometimes creep into E-M5 video. Plus, unlike the GH3, the E-M5/E-M1 have that awesome 5 axis image stabilization. And rich audio quality.

    A really good site for comparing real world video samples of the various cameras and brands is this one: http://vimeo.com/user803551/videos Check out the E-M1, E-M5 and E-P5 samples vs the GH3, GX7
  11. MrPhotoBob

    MrPhotoBob Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 16, 2012
    I have read that it depends on what you wish to use the camera for. If you are purchasing the camera in order to photograph mainly images and you are not worried too much about the video aspects of the camera, the EM1 beats out the GH3 hands down. Now, if you are more interested in using the camera for video and that is of great importance to you over just the images the camera can take, the GH3 would beat out on the EM1.
  12. thercman

    thercman Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 21, 2013

    What you said is about where I am at with this venture. EM1 for images and the GH3 for video. I want to do both well but can only afford one or the other. *sigh* lol My podcast is entitled the Planet Matters Podcast. So lets say I want to make a profound statement about hazardous waste runoff for example. I think I would be better served by creating a short video with some impacting audio as opposed to a few images. Although images can be very telling video seams to be able to pull emotion from people easier. With that said the video I have seen shot with the GH3 are amazing... The EM1 does really appeal to me though...
  13. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    Really? It's that slam/dunk better than the GH3... It is, at best, an incremental upgrade on the GH3 (and therefore OM-D E-M5) sensor.

    People use absolutes too often ;)

    Also with Oly video, you are limited to 30fps, which is fine if you live in a country that has 30Hz refresh rates, but a nightmare elsewhere (unless your TV will autosync to 30Hz video).
  14. deejayvee

    deejayvee Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 3, 2013
    Sydney, Australia
    Real Name:
    I'm also curious why the EM1 is "hands down" better than the GH3. General opinion that I've seen is that GH3 and OMD were basically on par (besides IBIS, but that's only relevant in some situations), and the EM1's improvement over the OMD were minimal. I'd like to hear where the "hands down" comes from, unless it's just a reference to IBIS.
  15. MrPhotoBob

    MrPhotoBob Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 16, 2012
    I have read so many articles on the EM-1 that I would have a hard time trying to remember which article stated just what words, that is why I made it clear that it was not my statement but something that I had read in the past few months. ;) I did find one of the videos that I viewed on both the EM-1 and GH3 that was comparing both cameras as well as supposedly blowing another camera out of the water. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/10/06/reviewed-olympus-em-1/2922955/
  16. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    The GH3 offers all the video capabilities of the GX7 and more.
  17. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    The few sites that have posted actual raw images from the cameras for comparison show virtually no differences between the EM-5, the GH3 and the EM-1. One camera may show a tiny advantage at high ISO, another a tiny advantage in sharpness that can only be seen at 100% enlargement (which no one will ever use when viewing actual photographs), but the differences require effort and pixel peeping to see.

    If you took three photographs processed from raw images, taken in the same conditions, with the same lens, and viewed on a monitor or printed as a complete image, and asked 100 photographers which was taken with which camera, you'd get nothing but a random distribution. Ask those same 100 which was "best" and you'd still get a random distribution.

    The EM-1 has some desirable features (e.g., IBIS), but so does the GH3 (articulated screen, built-in flash, better battery life). The user interfaces are quite different, and some people may prefer one over the other (I certainly do). Both are very good cameras, and which is "better" will depend on each individual purchasers likes and dislikes, and needs. A statement that either camera beat the other "hands-down" is ludicrous.
  18. atmo

    atmo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 11, 2013
    Why not buy an EM5 and a GH2?
  19. masberg24

    masberg24 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 20, 2013
    The Em-1 just because it has the IBIS
    Ultimately GH3 and em-1 are pretty much the same except for a few little things; art. screen, flash, etc. The IBIS is what is gold.
    Good luck! Both amazing cameras! GH3 is on sale

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
  20. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Some things to think about:

    1. If you are doing paid work than you should really have two bodies, one as a backup.
    2. If your final delivery platform is Web then an older camera GH2 should serve your needs, freeing up budget for better lenses.
    3. If possible, budget for lighting and audio as well. They go a long way towards making a professional product.
    4. Professional is an attitude, not the latest camera.