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Panasonic Lumix GH3 Digital Camera Review$1,299.00
With the GH3, Panasonic seems to be positioning their flagship Micro Four Thirds body as a step-up option for both advanced amateurs and enthusiasts who want a high level of control. While there's plenty of manual control for higher-end users, there's also a dedicated intelligent auto mode, a dedicated scene selection mode, and a creative picture effects setting as well.
These features aren't something you'd see on a professional DSLR, but they're going to be quite familiar to anyone who has used the other cameras in Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds lineup recently. They add a little more to the shooting experience for anyone who doesn't want to just shoot in manual, aperture/shutter-priority, and program auto.
Buttons & Dials
An expression of modernist simplicity, the GH3 is not: there's a cubic ton of buttons on this thing. To a complete beginner, the back of the GH3 is going to look like an airplane cockpit. There's five (!) customizable function buttons, not to mention dedicated buttons for various other shooting functions, autofocus, a dedicated record button, and three control dials. Oh, and there's also dedicated dials for drive mode and shooting mode.
On a lower-end camera, this would probably be overkill, but it works on the GH3. It'll take some time to set up the GH3 properly, and even more time to remember what you set all the various keys to do, but it's a refreshing degree of customization compared to a camera like the Sony NEX-7, which offers very few physical buttons on the camera.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
There's a great deal of scene modes and picture effects available on the GH3, with 23 scene modes, 14 picture effects, and seven customizable color modes. As you might not expect, most of these effects are also available when recording video, as well as stills.
The menu on the GH3 isn't as thoughtfully laid out as it should be, but it is pretty easy to get around once you know what all the various dials do. The menu is quite similar to Nikon cameras (as well as previous Panasonic bodies) with a list of broad categories aligned into tabs vertically on the left side of the screen, each organized into a long lists that extend for multiple pages.
While you can navigate between the tabs easily with one control dial and individual options with another, the overall organization is still a nightmare. By electing to organize each tab into long lists, many of the options within that tab are hidden off-screen. This can make finding a single particular option a frustrating hunt through multiple pages, sometimes only to realize that it's actually in another tab entirely. If the dial for switching between tabs just flipped between pages it would take a few more clicks to get from one tab to another, but you could easily navigate the entire menu in just a few seconds.