Panasonic Lumix GH3 Digital Camera Review$1,299.00
The Panasonic GH3 is the Micro Four Thirds system all grown up, and it's hard to argue that it's not the best mirrorless system camera to date. While we've seen impressive performance from other bodies like the Sony NEX-7, and incredible styling and control in the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the Panasonic GH3 brings all of that together with some exceptional video quality to boot.
Mirrorless system cameras are typically quite compact, but the GH3 is definitely on the hefty side. It's smaller than a traditional entry-level DSLR, but only by a few millimeters here and there. In our opinion, though, it's a smart trade-off in a camera with such grand aspirations; the GH3 is bigger than its mirrorless rivals, but it's also got a large, comfortable grip, an articulating OLED LCD, and tons of physical control built right onto the body.
In fact, compared to a professional camera like the Canon 5D Mark III it's shocking how few compromises the GH3 makes to achieve its size advantage. With a durable magnesium alloy body, weather sealing, an articulating OLED display, five customizable function buttons, three control dials, and direct controls for just about every major shooting parameter, there's very little you miss out on with the GH3's design.
We still prefer the huge, bright viewfinder on the Mark III, but the GH3's electronic viewfinder provides significant advantages such as in-finder exposure correction, menu navigation, focus assistance, and a horizon level. The 3-inch rear OLED display is also fantastic, and its articulating hinge is a massive advantage for video shooters. That you also get a mic jack, headphone jack, full weather sealing, and full manual video control will certainly have some Canon 5D Mark III owners examining their return policies.
In our performance testing we were quite impressed by the GH3's abilities, as it turned out great results for most of the major image quality tests. We were most impressed by how sharp the GH3's images were with the optional 12-35mm f/2.8 kit lens. The JPEGs out of the camera have the benefit of a little post-processing, but it only enhances details, not going overboard as many other cameras do. Of course the RAW files tell a different story, but Panasonic has gotten quite a bit from the GH3's sensor, and it's certainly on par with other cameras in this price range.
The GH3 also managed to keep noise to a minimum, employing smart noise reduction algorithms that got the most out of its smaller Micro Four Thirds image sensor. The GH3 also provides 6 frames per second continuous shooting for both RAW and JPEG, acceptably responsive autofocus in most lighting conditions, and a bevy of in-camera options for everything from multi-exposure to time-lapse shooting.
But the most attention-grabbing aspect of the GH3's performance is its exceptional video quality. While the momentum of the DSLR video movement has slowed a bit as professionals move on to cameras like the Canon C300, the GH3 proves that there are still plenty of options for those who want exceptional video quality and great still image quality in one package. While the Canon 5D Mark III has been the go-to option for these shooters in recent months, our video tests show that the GH3 shoots superior video across the board. The smaller sensor may not provide the extreme shallow depth of field effects you can get from the 5D Mark III, but the GH3's video looks sharper and stands up better to aggressive editing. And despite the fact that the camera costs almost $2000 less, you get far more compression and codec options.
Compact system cameras have always been the product of compromise; smaller sensors allow for a smaller package, but a smaller package means less physical control. The GH3 compromises very little, with image quality and video capability matching cameras that cost quite a bit more. It's a fine camera in every right with enough features and control to satisfy photographers of any level.