Got my GH3 - 1st thoughts & comparison pics

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by jloden, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I received a surprise shipping notification from Amazon on Thursday that my GH3 was shipping, and it arrived Friday! I've had a little bit of time to play with it today and take some test shots, so I thought I'd put up some of my initial thoughts & impressions for those interested. I've also put together a few comparison photos of my GH3, G5, and GX1 side by side while I had the opportunity before I sell off the G5 and ship out the GX1 on loan to a friend.

    I'll put my notes and some sample images below. Feel free to ask any questions you may have too and I'll update this thread/post as I get more time with the camera.

    Overall
    This camera feels much more "serious" than the GF2, G3, G5, and GX1 I've owned. It's bigger, beefier, bristling with physical controls, and just overall gives an instant impression of being a solid tool more than I've felt with any other Panasonic m4/3 camera I've used (never used an OM-D EM-5 so I can't speak to any comparison there). It feels much closer to a pro camera, and I'm really hopeful this will translate to a better photography experience in terms of ergonomics, performance, and personal enjoyment of my shooting time.

    Handling & Design
    I really like the feel of this camera. It's definitely bigger and bulkier than the G5, but I knew that going into the purchase and I actually appreciate the bigger grip, surface area and especially room for physical controls. I barely even need the Fn buttons because just about everything I've assigned to a Fn button on previous cameras has a dedicated control on the GH3. Even some Panasonic mainstays like the click-wheel and 4-way controller hotkeys for WB/Drive/Focus/ISO aren't present, because they're not necessary.

    I will likely pick up the battery grip as well, for the times when size isn't important and I just want a comfortable camera and/or the extra run time is appreciated. The grip on the GH3 is much larger in the hand, but still a little short so adding the grip would make it fill my palm top to bottom more comfortably and add more room to grip with the supporting hand. First impressions are that I think it'll be worth having the grip even if I don't use it all the time. Not to mention 1000 shot battery life is a bonus. The new battery itself seems huge compared to the G5 or GF2/G3/GX1 models, and looks almost like a camcorder battery in shape. Again, no big surprise though as a nearly doubled battery life means a bigger battery.

    Speaking of battery - my one and only gripe so far: the new battery charger. It's a cable type instead of a wall-charger like the previous Panasonic models I've owned. This adds nothing useful for my purposes and now I have to worry about packing a cable and finding a place to prop up the charger. Not a fan of the new design, if you couldn't tell :wink:

    The new control pad/wheel I like a lot better than the G5's mushy pad. It's a solid feeling, clicky plastic wheel (button tactile feel is similar to the GX1's) that also spins when you select or adjust a menu item. I saw at least on review complained about the new control wheel, but so far I like it. Definitely preferred over mushy rubber buttons, at any rate.

    Performance
    The burst speed was an unexpected advancement for me - I didn't think it'd be anywhere near as fast as it is. The GH3 is the first camera I've owned where it is literally impossible to take just one picture in burst mode; just clicking the shutter down and letting go fires off at least 2 shots. I can only imagine how fast the OM-D must be if it's another 3 FPS faster than the GH3's 6fps number :eek: This may not be news to users of other fast cameras but it certainly surprised me when I tried it the first time.

    Autofocus is also very fast on the GH3. The 35-100 I had also pre-ordered shipped last week and using it with my G5 I wasn't very impressed with AF speed. On the GH3 it seems quite a lot faster. Haven't used all my lenses with it yet but so far the 25mm f/1.4 and 35-100mm lenses have been lightning fast to lock AF. I use mostly center point but did try the default settings for a bit as well, didn't seem to make much difference as either was very quick.

    Image Quality
    This one I can't speak to very much yet because I've not done enough shooting with the GH3 yet to form opinions compared to my other cameras. So far the only things I can say for sure is the shadow recovery ability seems to be improved quite a bit even over the G5 so far, and WB looks to be pretty dramatically differen than my other Panasonic cameras. Normally with Auto WB I adjust the settings to be 1-2 stops more Amber and one more Magenta than default, but on the GH3 that doesn't seem to produce good WB results. I will need to play with this more and try the defaults instead. Possibly due to the new sensor but the Auto WB looks to be very different than the other 4 Panasonics I've owned. Not sure yet if thatt's for better or worse but I'm optimistic :smile:

    Another point I can say with confidence, the high ISO performance is clearly improved. These shots are at mostly ISO 4000 or 6400 and noise is very low. I have no concern at all pushing to 6400 on auto-ISO on the GH3 based on what I've seen so far, so that's at least a full stop better than my G5 where I don't like going above ISO 3200 max.

    I've posted a few images - you're going to have to make do with shots of my dog and water bottles for now because I just haven't had enough time with the camera yet. Note: these are all post-processed in Lightroom 4.3 RC with various adjustments (clarity, contrast, exposure) just as I would or any other images. As such they do not represent straight out of camera shots since I never shoot that way.

    First, some comparison shots. Forgive the motion blur, I was shooting this over my head one-handed so they aren't my best work :tongue: Left to right: GH3, G5, GX1

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8236813596/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8236813596_fc75bf5014_c. "800" height="265" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8236814202/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8236814202_5ed1e93848_c. "800" height="262" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8235748429/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="534" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8236815872/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8236815872_0bd1c3d9f5_c. "800" height="534" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>


    And some initial test images from my GH3

    GH3 + PL 25mm f/1.4
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8236817326/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8236817326_80ff04ef4b_c. "600" height="800" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>
    1/60s . f/1.4 . ISO 200 . 25 mm

    GH3 + PL 25mm f/1.4
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8236816634/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8236816634_b40d6e32f8_c. "800" height="600" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>
    1/60s . f/1.4 . ISO 1600 . 25 mm

    GH3 + 35-100mm f/2.8
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8235751543/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8235751543_81d01bc6f3_c. "800" height="600" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>
    1/50s . f/2.8 . ISO 6400 . 75 mm

    GH3 + 35-100mm f/2.8
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8235752159/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8235752159_bbc3ff36c4_c. "800" height="600" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>
    1/50s . f/2.8 . ISO 6400 . 46 mm

    GH3 + CV 25mm f/0.95
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8236876724/" title="GH3 Test Photos by jloden, on Flickr"> 8236876724_f0872495d4_c. "800" height="600" alt="GH3 Test Photos"></a>
    1/125s . f/1.4 . ISO 4000 . 25mm
     
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  2. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Nice shots. Sharp and well rendered. The dog looks very patient. The body looks big for mu43 but still a small DSLR. It also looks like it fits well in the hand.
     
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  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    Thanks for the thoughts, and I hope you enjoy the new toy!

    I can't wait till my local store gets some in so I can try it in the hand. Very interested to see how it handles compared to my GH2...
     
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  4. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Thanks and yes, she's pretty relaxed :smile: I added one more shot, this one from the Voigtlander 25mm just to add another rendering style to the mix.

    And I concur; the body is big for m4/3 but still small for a DSLR, not to mention the lens size differential. To me this body is much, much closer to the "pro tool" sensation I've had when holding a Nikon D4 or D800 in hand. It's comfortable, functional and appropriately sized IMO. If it were smaller, it would have to come at the expense of ergonomics, space for manual control buttons, or both. I like it just the way it is! Best of all I've still got my GX1 available with the same great selection of lenses any time the GH3's size wouldn't be appropriate to the task.
     
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  5. It looks good. Not pretty of course, but highly functional. To a certain extent I miss the DSLR experience of using the eye-level viewfinder, but none of the m4/3 cameras that I have used have felt natural to use in that manner. Not the GH1, not the E-M5, and not any Pen with the VF-2. I think that part of that is because the live view rear screens offer so many other options to operate a camera, but also because the cameras feel so small and dainty. The GH1 comes closest to feeling like a DSLR, but the GH3 would be even more so.
     
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  6. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    There is a lot of unoccupied real estate just to the right of the PASM dial. More manual controls an be placed there methinks.:cool:
     
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  7. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Possible, but I actually like it with a small space there for my thumb, especially when holding the camera in between shots. Less likely for me to accidentally fat-finger a button haha.
     
  8. How about we remove Fn1 and put a nice, compact LCD status panel there instead?
     
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  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Interesting thought... it'd make it look that much more like a DSLR but it'd be functional too.
     
  10. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Vin
    Here's a question: Since you own both the G5 and GH3 at the moment, can you tell us about the noticeable differences between the two?

    I've been looking at the G5 as a replacement for my G2. I do like the size, but will miss all the physical controls of my G2 that are now exclusive to the GH cameras.

    The GH3 looks to have excellent build quality, although I'm still not too keen on it's size. Also, it is about twice the price of a G5. That is a substantial price increase. Is it twice as good?
     
  11. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Sure... right off the bat, the GH3 has a much more substantial grip and obviously is a little larger in all dimensions. In terms of actual handling the much bigger grip is by far the most noticeable. Second obvious difference is number of and variety of physical controls. I can already see that I won't be spending much time in menus on this camera, which is exactly what I wanted.

    I do not currently shoot videos, so video specs were of no concern for me at the time of purchase. The key factors that led me to order one even after I had the G5 were:

    * ergonomics and design - I really wanted a bigger camera with physical controls instead of menus and touch screen
    * weather sealing
    * new sensor - improved D.R. and high ISO noise, though not dramatic perhaps. At first guess I'd say maybe a stop more usable high ISO range than the G5 gave me, 2-3 stops above what I was comfortable with on the GF2, G3 and GX1.
    * Wi-Fi - have not used this yet but I'm really looking forward to syncing direct to the computer and hopefully remote shutter control with my phone
    * longer battery life (500+ shots, though I forget the exact number)
    * available battery grip - wasn't sure if I'd want one at first but I probably will order one, and it's nice to have the option.
    * AF performance - wasn't really counting on this, but there is indeed a noticeable improvement in AF speed and less hunting behavior compared to the G5 at least with the 35-100 and PL 25mm so far.
    * improved FPS - this was sort of a "bonus" to the upgrade for me, but I'll take it :smile:

    Excellent build quality, weather sealing, and a few incremental improvements in pretty much every other area. The sensor is definitely improved... it's leaps and bounds better than the GF2's 12MP sensor but perhaps not such a big jump from the G5's performance. On balance I would probably not advise making a purchase solely based on the IQ/sensor performance, but if the aggregate of features are worth it to you then that's a different story.

    It's up to each person whether it's "twice as good" as a G5 I guess. I can already tell I will enjoy shooting with the GH3 immensely, so it was worth it to me personally. By far, the main reason I'm excited about this camera is the handling. The G5 is comfortable, functional and certainly an improvement over the G3, but the GH3 is a different beast altogether. It won't be for everybody obviously, but for me it's exactly what I wanted out of a DSLR-styled m4/3 body. I wanted something bigger, more manual controls, solidly built, and with good performance - which is exactly what Panasonic delivered.

    One last note... if the size of the GH3 is too big for your tastes, then the G5 is probably what I'd recommend to replace your G2. Honestly, I liked everything about the G5 just fine except the mushy 4-way control pad buttons, plastic build (it was "ok" but not quite as solid as the GX1 or GH3 feel), and limited manual controls.
     
  12. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    With an EVF, it's hardly needed. All the info a DSLR displays on a top LCD can be displayed right in the EVF.
     
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  13. I always found the basic LCD status panel on my various Canon X0D cameras great for checking/adjusting camera settings without powering up the rear screen or bringing the camera up to my eye and peering into the viewfinder. Very useful when the camera is inside a top-loader style camera bag, on your lap, or hanging around your neck.
     
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  14. Omega

    Omega Mu-43 Regular

    62
    Oct 3, 2012
    Others on here seem to have really exaggerated about the new size of it. I don't see the hooplah about it--It's still a much more serious and featured camera than say, my old T3.

    Can't wait to one day pick one up--I like how it has two control dials now.
     
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  15. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Good looking camera especially with the grip (lol). So how well does the CAF work?

    Gary
     
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  16. sgoldswo

    sgoldswo Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Oct 27, 2012
    Hertfordshire, UK
    Thanks for the comparison. I should have guessed the last shot of the dog would be with the voigtlander. I haven't tried mine yet and I'm not sure I'll get the chance for a day or two - any thoughts on the combination?
     
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  17. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    There's likely room for three more function buttons there. I would like color temperature up and down buttons for two of them.
     
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  18. Robstar1963

    Robstar1963 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    901
    Jun 10, 2011
    Isle of Wight England UK
    Robert (Rob)
    The excellent twin control dials in the style of high end DSLRs is one of the 'biggies' for me that make the GH3 much more comfortable and enjoyable to use
     
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  19. Robstar1963

    Robstar1963 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    901
    Jun 10, 2011
    Isle of Wight England UK
    Robert (Rob)
    Thinking about it Id say that the overall solid and general feel and weight of the GH3 is very similar to that of the Pentax K5 - the GH3 has that solid quaiity feel that only very few cameras like the K5 have (in a similar way to the E-P3) - I much prefer a substantial nicely weighted feel that suggests high quality materials and construction to light weight. Is is superior to the feel of lower end Nikon DSLRs for example. I really like to feel a bit of weight in a product such as this
     
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  20. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Vin
    Thanks Jay. It seems like you are loving the GH3 (it is their flagship cam after all). Now that the camera is trickling into people's hands, I've been reading a lot of positive feedback. I am really liking the quality build and external controls... but the price is a huge hurdle for me. I could get the G5 and the Oly 75mm for about the same. Decisions decisions...
     
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