Design and features
More than any other Panasonic interchangeable lens camera (ILC) that has come before, the GH3 truly feels like a powerful SLR shrunken down. This camera demands attention — not from its outward appearance, but from its presence. Plonk it down on a desk or atop a tripod, and no one would be in any doubt about its professional nature. Micro Four Thirds has come a long way since 2009, that's for sure.
This camera's predecessor, the GH2, already had a chunky grip. The GH3 makes this protrude even further. The redesigned body also features a new heat-dispersing design, which means it should be able to withstand even the heaviest video use. Made of magnesium alloy, the chassis means business.
Two dials for adjusting exposure parameters sit at the front and the back, while dotted across the body are more customisable function buttons than you can poke a stick at. Straight out of the box, these buttons are assigned to set functions, but can easily be altered from within the menu system.
The mode dial carries on this customisation theme, with three user-selectable notches alongside the standard PASM control, intelligent auto, scene, movie and filter modes. On the other side, a switch to change between single, continuous, bracketing or self-timer sits neatly atop the camera. As well as a hotshoe, the GH3 comes with a built-in stereo mic and pop-up flash. To befit the GH3's calling as a video workhorse, it also comes with a 3.5mm mic jack and headphone jack to monitor audio during recording.
Around the AF/AE Lock button at the rear is a switch that cleverly changes between focus modes. AF-S and AF-F share the same slot, while AF-C (continuous) and MF (manual) are to the side. Like earlier GH models, this camera also has a flip-out screen. On this model, it gets upgraded to OLED with touch capabilities. The electronic viewfinder is also an OLED model, boasting a resolution of 1.77 million dots.
Other cameras of its ilk often don't come with as many connectivity options as the GH3. Built-in Wi-Fi is the big drawcard here, offering the ability to send photos and videos from the camera to a mobile device without an intermediate step.
Setting up the wireless connection is not as easy as other Panasonic cameras that come with near-field communication (NFC) for a one-tap solution. The GH3 requires you to enter a cumbersome password — though it can be changed to something more manageable — in order to use any of the wireless functions. These include remote shooting, TV playback, image transfer during recording and image transfer from the camera's memory card.
Using a smartphone as a remote viewfinder with the GH3.
To get started, the Lumix Link app (Android or iOS) is required. The connection between camera and smartphone takes some time to establish initially, and it told us that the connection failed on our first attempt. However, switching between playback and camera mode in the app started the remote viewfinder without the error message. Once you are using your mobile device as a remote viewfinder, there is minimal lag. The app shows you battery life, and gives you touch shutter features and the ability to start and stop video recording. What would normally be used as a zoom rocker in the app instead serves as a manual focus override.
All the time while the Wi-Fi connection is active, a blue light at the top of the camera shines brightly — and doesn't seem to turn off, even after you stop using the Wi-Fi functionality. The Fn1 button is set as a Wi-Fi-on button by default, though it can be assigned to any of the other function buttons you desire.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 0.90.20.20.1Panasonic Lumix GH3
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)
- 6.1Panasonic Lumix GH3
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The GH3 has three shooting speeds, selectable from the menu: high, medium or low.
The GH3 uses a contrast AF system, which ensures smooth and very quick autofocus. During our review period, we didn't experience any situation where the GH3 didn't lock on to focus accurately. The ability to select AF zones on the screen itself also helps you lock on to the exact point you want. AF modes include face detection, AF tracking, 23-area, 1-area or pinpoint AF.