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Panasonic Lumix GH3 Digital Camera Review$1,299.00
The Panasonic GH2 was a big hit in the video community for its ability to be hacked, which opened up options like extremely high bitrate recording. While the GH3 will likely go through the same process, Panasonic has offered higher bitrates right out of the box, with both ALL-I and IPB compression to match the Canon 5D Mark III.
The GH3 offers a maximum resolution of 1080/60p, but only in the IPB compression type, which maxes out at 50Mbps. The alternative is ALL-I encoding, which is easier to edit and arguably a higher quality, maxing out 1080/30p at 72Mbps. You can also opt for slower frame rates like 30 and 24p, offering a more filmic look. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content
The GH3 offers full manual control for video, including control over shutter speed, ISO, and aperture while filming. You can begin recording video at any time, but the camera also has a dedicated video mode on the mode dial. This mode is designed to maximize manual control, though you can just control shutter speed or aperture in video mode if you wish, letting the camera adjust the other exposure parameters for you.
Pressing the red REC button on the back of the camera begins a recording at just about any time. Doing so in any of the automatic or scene modes will cause the camera to automatically adjust exposure for you, but it will also retain some of those effects and filters while you're recording video.
With the 12-35mm f/2.8 lens we used in testing, zoom is controlled manually by turning a zoom ring on the lens itself. There's no control on the camera or lens for changing field of view, except for a digital zoom that degrades image quality rather severely. Powered zoom lenses are available for the Micro Four Thirds system, however, which have a motor built into the lens for zooming in and out smoothly.
The GH3 offers full focus compatibility when recording video, including continuous AF, single AF, and manual AF. The touchscreen also plays a role when recording, as you can silently touch a portion of the screen to drive focus to that point. When using autofocus, the four different modes are also available, including face detection, AF tracking, 23-area, and single zone AF. When using manual focus you can also take advantage of a digital zoom for MF assist, though focus peaking is not available in the pre-production firmware (0.5) that our review sample had loaded.
The Panasonic GH3 provides full exposure control when shooting video, with nearly as much latitude available for video as there is for stills. The main exception would be shutter speeds slower than 1/30th of a second, or 1/60th of a second when shooting at any of the 50/60p frame rates.
However, this is counter-pointed by the GH3's inclusion of shutter speeds as high as 1/16000th of a second in video mode. At least, that's what's listed on the spec sheet. We weren't able to get the camera to go higher than 1/4000th of a second, despite attempting it in practically every mode we could think of. We have a query into Panasonic on the matter and we'll report back when we hear anything new.
The GH3 includes both a 3.5mm mic jack and a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. The camera's built-in stereo mic is located on the top of the camera, just behind the pop-up flash. When monitoring audio from the camera you can opt to listen to the recorded, compressed audio or the audio directly from the microphone. You can also adjust audio levels if you need, with the levels displayed on the screen while recording.