Mulling replacement for GH1 for stills and video

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by ajm80031, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. ajm80031

    ajm80031 Mu-43 Regular

    I've been using a Panasonic GH1 for the past three years and am thinking of upgrading for reasons stated below. My use is a mix of photo and video, usually while traveling. At the moment I only have two lenses, both Panasonic -- the 14-140mm zoom and the 20mm prime -- but will probably add a wide-angle prime in the near future. I'd appreciate opinions on what might fit the bill based on the criteria below.

    Unfortunately there's not a dealer who stocks Micro 4/3rds gear near me, so experimenting with one in a store will require a bit of a drive and would have to be limited in duration. Renting gear over the Internet (e.g. from is probably my best option to really get to know a camera before purchasing; I may do that, but will want to limit the field as the rentals obviously cost money.

    Why I'm thinking of replacing the GH1:

    - I prefer to shoot in available light rather than use flash and the GH1's performance above ISO 400 drops off quickly, even when using the noise reduction in Lightroom 4 or Topaz Denoise. Something that can produce good results several steps higher on the sensitivity scale would be preferred.

    - Fast moving objects tend to "smear" in video with the GH1 (mine hasn't been hacked), and the results when panning or zooming are downright terrible. And this is at 720p. 1080 is basically a no-go except for static shots.

    - I'm hoping for more dynamic range.

    - Getting away from the byzantine AVCHD directory structure for video would be a plus.

    Aspects of the GH1 I'd like to retain:

    - Relatively small size and weight

    - Full manual control over video recording

    - Ability to choose different aspect ratios for stills while shooting (so you see the aspect ratio you've chosen in the viewfinder)

    - Having a viewfinder so I don't have to shoot using the rear screen to frame the shot.

    Significantly more stills resolution would be fine, but not if it comes at the expense of video quality.

    I'd been waiting for the GH3 to come out, hoping it was going to check all my boxes, but it's got a few drawbacks:

    - Increased size, about the same as the smaller APS-C cameras. Yes, the total system size will still be smaller when lenses are taken into account, but as space is at a premium while on trips I'd prefer to avoid much increase in camera size.

    - Not everyone seems convinced that the GH3's video is a real improvement over the GH2 in many real-world uses (I'm unlikely to be using the highest bit-rate options due to space concerns).

    Opinions on the Interwebs is the OMD EM5 is killer for stills (plus the in-body stabilization should allow for handheld shots at slower shutter speeds) but that you're better off with Panasonic if video is important to you -- is this the case? The G5 would likely be an overall improvement vs. the GH1 for both stills and video quality, but I believe it doesn't let you take full manual control. Then of course there's the venerable GH2, but do I really want to be buying a camera at the end of it's product cycle (especially as the prices on the GH2 have bounced back up significantly following the Christmas sales).

    I think that's all of the likely contenders in the Micro 4/3rds camp -- everything else seems to have less control over video, poorer bitrates, and often deleting the viewfinder.