Panasonic Lumix GH3
Panasonic chose London Zoo as the venue for the first hands-on trial of the new Lumix GH3, but they didn’t choose the weather. KEITH WILSON reports
It was tipping with rain and light levels were not far off a fortnight at f/8, but if you really want to put the claims of a new camera to the test, then the conditions were perfect. The GH3 is the first G-series Lumix to feature splash and dustproof construction and it certainly wasn’t bothered by the damp conditions. As days go it wasn’t just good weather for ducks, it proved to be a good one too for the GH3.
Panasonic says this is “the most professional camera we have ever done” and it has certainly made a very serious attempt to ramp up the specification to the necessary level. The key imaging components have all been reconfigured: a new Venus HD processing engine and 16.05 MP Four Thirds imaging sensor are obviously pivotal to its performance. There are other additions that reveal the strength of Pansonic’s pro-end ambitions: the GH3 is the first Lumix with WiFi, it is the first Lumix to have a magnesium alloy diecast frame, it has both a mechanical and electronic shutter (the latter for silent release), and with the addition of the new G Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom, there is now a 17-strong lens range – the largest selection of lenses by any Four Thirds brand.
The GH2 carved a particular niche among videographers, thanks to its ease of use and broadcast quality HD Movie. The GH3 should continue to find favour because broadcast standard 50 Mbit/s recording has been added to the HD video mode, with a choice of 24, 25 and 50fps recording rates. A new ALL-intra mode allows every frame to be stored and accessed separately.
While other brands seem obsessed about making new models ever smaller and lighter, the GH3 is significantly bigger than its predecessor. There is a more substantial grip and the controls are well arranged and easy to manipulate. In the murky condition of my test shoot, handling was made even easier by the impressively bright 1.744 million-dot display of the EVF and the 614k dot articulated touch screen monitor; both use OLED screens.
In use, the autofocus didn’t once struggle with the low light conditions, even with the comparatively slow G Vario 14-140mm f/4-5.8 superzoom attached. I used this lens for all the shots included here, a large amount at the long end, and even in the dim conditions of the butterfly house the camera locked onto the twitchy little flutterers without hesitation. Panasonic says the combination of a new processing engine and new image sensor has enabled it to extend the ISO range to 125-25,600 and improve performance at the higher settings. It was certainly a day for using higher ISO speeds – I never dropped below ISO 1600 and many images were recorded at ISO 3200. I have no complaints: noise was very well controlled and muted and the vivid plumage of the roller bird didn’t lose any of its vibrancy. More impressively, the black and white penguins did not fade to 50 shades of grey...
It may have been a wet day but it didn’t rain on Panasonic’s parade.
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