Review Price £1,199.00
Panasonic Lumix GH3 – Design, Build and Controls
The Panasonic Lumix GH3 is a pretty special camera for the Japanese Compact System Camera (CSC) giant. The sequel to the Lumix GH2 is not only the biggest and best micro four thirds camera Panasonic has ever made, but the 16megapixel GH3 is also the first one to offer weatherproofing, a die-cast magnesium alloy body, up to 72Mbps HD video recording, headphone audio monitoring, dual OLED screens, a 125-25600 ISO range, and more. In other words, it’s a professional-level camera with the features (and price tag) to match. Can it take on the Canon and Nikon bad boys?
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Starting off with its design, the Lumix GH3 is a more stealthy camera than its predecessor, though whether it’s more attractive will be a matter of personal taste. Personally, we prefer the GH2’s silver lens release and shutter buttons, but it’s horses for courses. The same goes for the GH3’s biggest micro four thirds rival, the Olympus OM-D E-M5.
As the Lumix GH3 is noticeably larger than Panasonic’s previous CSC cameras, there’s more area to grip and, despite its extra weight, it can therefore be more comfortable to hold. Most of the part you’ll be gripping is finished in a soft rubberised texture similar to that found on most SLRs. The plastics used to cover the metal chassis look good, lacking the slightly mottled/camo effect of the GH3’s predecessors.
If this smallish camera feels too diminutive or light for you, there’s an optional battery grip that adds significantly to the bulk and weight while duplicating essential manual controls.
Not everything is an improvement over predecessors however. The new Flash implementation, for example, is a little more awkward to operate. It’s now a button that only works when the camera is turned on compared to the GH2’s mechanical switch, and the flash itself is more difficult to push back in. To compensate, it has wider angle range, with less chance of shadows/vignetting.
Panasonic Lumix GH3 - Build QualityBuild quality is superb: the Panasonic Lumix GH3 is by far the best-built CSC camera the company has ever built. Its body frame is die-cast magnesium alloy all-round, except for the top which is enforced resin. Its sealed body is also dust and splash proof, meaning it’ll hold up well under the rigours of rain or (minor) sand storms.
This does make it weightier than ever at 550g, which still compares favourably to a ‘proper’ SLR like the 770g Canon 6D – and that difference only gets more noticeable when you attach some long-range glass, which will be far heavier than CSC equivalents.
Panasonic Lumix GH3 - Controls
Together with all its other talents, the Lumix GH3 has more buttons and dials than ever before, giving you superior manual control. When combined with its customisable, responsive touch screen, we’d even go so far as to say that there isn’t a camera out there that can match the control setup of the GH3.
Starting off with the top, to the left you’ll find a drive mode dial, and the flash release button which replaces the switch of earlier GH models. The right houses the main mode dial with on/off switch, a front dial, white balance button, ISO button, exposure compensation button, and customisable Fn1/Wi-Fi button.
At the rear, to the left of the EVF we have the LVF/Fn5 button, an AF/AE/manual focus switch, rear dial, dedicated video record button, Q Menu/Fn2 button, AF Mode/Fn 3 button, and cancel/delete button. The ‘ring’ around the main menu button is now an actual dial ring rather than the four buttons of the GH2. Phew.
Now throw in the hundreds of dynamic buttons the capacitive screen gives you access to, and you’ll see we’re not exaggerating by calling the GH3 properly comprehensive. What settings are available in which order on the responsive 3-inch screen is completely customisable to boot, with easy drag-and-drop alterations.
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