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Panasonic Lumix GH3: Image Quality - ISO tests

By Mike Topham


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Review Price £1,199.00

Below are our standardised ISO test shots, starting with the Panasonic Lumix GH3's lowest setting of ISO 125, going all the way up to 12800.

Full frame ISO 125

ISO 125

ISO 200

ISO 400

As we'd expect of a modern high-end camera, image quality is almost flawless up to ISO 400, with only the slightest softening of the finest details due to noise reduction.

ISO 800

ISO 1600

By ISO 1600 the Panasonic Lumix GH3 is beginning to show green and red coloured flecks of image noise and a drop in detail but overall image quality is still excellent, demonstrating the advantage of the larger micro four thirds sensor over the much smaller sensors in compact cameras.

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

Panasonic Lumix GH3 ISO 12800 test

Full frame at ISO 12800

By ISO 12800, image quality is essentially unusable for all but the most casual of shots but this is of course an extreme setting that should seldom need to be used. However, compare it to a full-frame sensor equipped SLR such as the Canon 5D Mark III and you can see the downside of the smaller micro four thirds sensor in this camera - that's what you get for trading off image quality for size and weight.

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Jerome Nolas

October 10, 2012, 12:28 am

Looks like a great camera, better than Olympus?


October 10, 2012, 6:44 pm

I agree! The key question is how does it compare to the Olympus OM-D EM-5?

Hybrid Camera Revolution

October 12, 2012, 9:26 am

Thank you for the review - and for the video. It is the first GH3 video I have seen in which the shooter appears to know what he or she is doing.
That said, why are you still calling it a "compact" system camera? Panasonic UK's press release does not mention CSC, calling it a Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) instead: Personally, I like the change - but hope that Panasonic has finally settled on a single name for these cameras.


October 12, 2012, 11:05 pm

as someone (a pro) who's owned a GH1, GH2 and a G3, as well as full frame and APC cameras from other manufacturers, I have to say I loved the M4/3rds format for a while'but when I got to my photo files and look at the images, even with using some of the worlds greatest glass, they leave me wanting a camera with a larger sensor.

The reviews, images and price of these cameras are giving me pause on going any further with M 4/3rds.

Sorry to say, "i'm not jacked about the GH3"


October 13, 2012, 11:32 am

I partly agree with the M43rds user discouraged about the image quality of the smaller sensor. I presently have the G3 and love the size and features but agree that the images don't quite compare to my wife's D5100. However, the G5 has a considerably better sensor than any Lumix sensor to date, and the Olympus M5 sensor surpasses most of the older APS-C sensors. In fact the M5 almost equals the D5100/D7000 sensors. If the GH3 delivers the promised sensor quality better than the M5, image quality will no longer be a compromise.

As we know, the gap between the APS sensors and full frame sensors has almost closed. If the gap between APS-C and M43rds closes, then honestly why carry those big cameras and lenses around when you don't have to. I can't wait for the final production sensor and the corresponding comparative images and tests to see just how good this camera really is.


October 17, 2012, 2:47 pm

You're welcome, and thanks for your comment. Credit to Ryan our video guy for the, well, videos.

As to the name, I am aware of the DSLM convention but the general term (which Panasonic originally promoted, after all) for these cameras is still CSC - it's established, used across brands, and people know what it means. We'll start using DSLM when/if it gains traction.


October 17, 2012, 2:48 pm

Good points, well made. We can't wait to bring you the final verdict ;)


October 17, 2012, 2:55 pm

To those wondering whether this is better than the Olympus OM, both cameras are beautifully built, weatherproof, with more manual controls than you can can shake a stick at - but it's too early to tell which will win out for image quality.

However, it's already obvious that the GH3 offers more shooting flexibility thanks to its fully articulated screen, and it also offers more video modes with higher bit rates.


October 23, 2012, 2:38 am

This looks like a great camera. I was wondering if you could comment on any noticeable aliasing or moire problems with the video? Is the Extra Tele convert feature cleaner than the GH2 when underexposing?

Wish it was indeed broadcast quality - despite shooting 50+ mb/s the GH3 shoots AVCHD which is only 4.2.0 not 4.2.2 colour space.


October 23, 2012, 4:27 pm

Broadcast or not, that's a matter of validation. Some broadcasters do allow these specs. But on another matter, the GH3 also records in a Quicktime wrapper and MP4. I think you refer not so much to the AVCHD (which is a wrapper) but to the used codec here, H.264 (which also comes in a lot of flavours but is indeed in this camera 4:2:0. However in my opinion , the Gh3 gives at the current time the best codec options found in a DSLR (or DSLM).

In case anybody is interested, I've had the opportunity to play around with a pre-production model this weekend. Wrote a little report and thrown some shots together. Please be kind, this is not meant as a extensive scientific test, just a personal impression of the GH3

(and please note it's a v0.5 firmware pre-production model)




October 24, 2012, 3:27 pm

You are quite right John, I did mean H.264.
Luckily I haven't found 4.2.0 a limitation yet especially for online consumption and broadcast news and short documentary work.
As a GH2 owner, I have a lot of hope that the GH3 will tick all my boxes especially in regard to controlling aliasing and moire. I'm also hoping that the Extra Tele Convert mode is cleaner when underexposing as well.
Haven't seen any tests yet in this regard.


October 28, 2012, 8:12 am

As a newbie to movie capabilities on a "still" camera,What does 4.2.0 color space Mean? And what version or type of movie works best, generally?

Martin Daler

November 26, 2012, 2:16 pm

If you transported this camera back in time to 1970, any camera buff would be able to look at it and tell you where the film canister was located, the film take up spool, the mirror box and pentaprism. Except, of course, none of those constraints exist any more - so why are cameras still being designed to accommodate them? Will no one break the mould?


November 26, 2012, 3:12 pm

I see where you're coming from but two things:

1. Why change just for the sake of it?
2. What is actually wrong with the current design?

So far as I can see everything's there for a reason and it works ergonomically so leave well alone.

Martin Daler

November 26, 2012, 8:58 pm

Not change for the sake of it. But to say that the constraints necessary to celluloid film and SLR design just so happened to shake down into the ideal ergonomic form is far fetched.

Surely if you started from the minimum constraints necessary to the technology (therefore ditching all those clingons from film and single-lens-reflex construction) and asked the question - what is the optimum form for this new image recording device, would a retro-SLR box be the answer?

I would like to see thought given:
a better answer to portrait/landscape handling compromise
possibility to hold and use one-handed (like a video-cam?)
a more pocketable shape - fewer sticky-outy bits and angles
shutter button design/location which is less prone to causing the camera body to jerk
I'm sure there is more. But it won't come by endlessly apeing what was done 30+ years ago.

A few brave designers did have a go. I recall swivel lens designs and other new-thinking, but it seemed to peter out. Maybe the market/reviews punishes any divergence from the norm?

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