The Panasonic GH3's pricing is not yet finalized but it's expected to be available this December. Pre-orders have already begun on some sites, with the GH3 body going for around $1300. It will also be available in kit form with either Panasonic's high-end 12-35mm f/2.8 lens or their 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 superzoom. Prices for these kits have not yet been announced.

Editor's Note: This review was conducted with a pre-production model of the GH3 featuring firmware 0.5, with finalized image quality and external design. Panasonic's only caveats with this model were that the weather seals were not production-level and that there are some minor bugs in the firmware that may cause the camera to lock up in playback.

Front Tour Image
Back Tour Image
Sides Tour Image
Top Tour Image
Bottom Tour Image
Box Photo

The Panasonic GH3 comes with two kit options, one with a 14-135mm zoom lens and a smaller Vario G X 12-35mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. We were able to test utilizing the 12-35mm variant and found it to be an exceptionally sharp, well-designed lens. The 12-35mm covers a useful wide to standard focal length with a 3x zoom ratio. It's fast enough—especially given that JPEGs look clean through ISO 3200—and it provides solid coverage and better than usual performance for a kit lens.

The 12-35mm lens also features a powered image stabilization system triggered by a switch on the lens, as well as both zoom and focus rings. The zoom ring has a rubberized texture that differentiates it from the smaller, metal focus ring. The focus ring lacks hard stops, but it's quite responsive and accurate when trying to manually focus.

The DMC-GH3 uses Micro Four Thirds lenses from both Panasonic and Olympus, with the lens mount sitting flush against the body. The Micro Four Thirds system is quite advanced at this point, offering lenses for nearly every type of photography, as well as many adapters to other popular lens systems.

Lens Mount Photo

Classic Pentax lenses can be mounted with readily available adapters.

The GH3 uses a newly designed 16-megapixel Live MOS Micro Four Thirds image sensor. The sensor provides a crop factor of around 2 compared to full frame image sensors. This is most relevant if you're thinking of pairing the GH3 up with lenses from other companies that were designed for full frame, 35mm cameras. A 50mm full frame lens will thus behave more like a 100mm lens on the GH3, which may be a benefit or a hindrance depending on what type of shots you're looking to get.

Electronic viewfinders have come quite a ways in the last year or so, and the GH3 is a prime example of that. The GH3's viewfinder is responsive, bright, and detailed. There's very little quality falloff between viewing your image on the rear OLED screen and the viewfinder, which is quite an accomplishment.

We're still not ready to say that it's better than the optical viewfinder you'll find on a traditional DSLR, as fine details—especially in the shadows—are harder to judge. The EVF provides quite a few advantages, as well, including the ability to navigate the menu, adjust exposure with live preview, use an on-screen horizon level, and benefit from on-screen shooting information. It also allows you to use the finder while recording video, which is impossible with an optical viewfinder on a DSLR.

Panasonic has also included an articulated 3-inch OLED display on the back of the camera, for times when you can't or don't wish to use the electronic viewfinder. The screen has a resolution of 617k pixels, but text and fine image detail are much sharper than with traditional LCDs due to the OLED construction. The screen is also touch-sensitive, allowing you to make adjustments quickly and easily without sound—crucial when shooting video. This gives the GH3 a great deal of flexibility when controlling the camera and framing shots. It's really the best of both worlds, especially for video shooters, who get the benefit of full weather sealing and the articulating LCD.

The GH3's flash provides a normal output power for a camera of this type, popping up from its built-in location above the electronic viewfinder. The flash has a guide number of 12 meters at ISO 100 (an equivalent measurement since the GH3's native ISO speed only goes down to 200), though it tends to be very bright over the first few meters, washing out color. The flash has an electronic latch, activated by a dedicated flash button on the left side of the EVF. The latch won't release if the camera is powered down, preventing accidental damage were it to be hit while in a bag. The flash recycles fairly quickly, though you can only shoot single exposures, as the camera deactivates continuous shooting with the flash up.

Flash Photo

The flash emitter pops up from the top of the body via a mechanical release.

On the left side of the camera you'll find the GH3's various input/output ports. It's all the usual suspects here, with a proprietary AV/digital connection to USB, a mini-HDMI port, and a 3.5mm mic jack. Keeping up with the competition, the GH3 also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring audio, as well as a flash sync port on the front of the camera. On the bottom you'll find another set of pins behind a rubber flap, allowing for a vertical battery grip to be attached to the body.

The GH3 also includes wireless connectivity built-in, though our late pre-production model wasn't able to properly demonstrate it. The GH3 will ship with the ability to transfer files from the camera directly, or link up with an Android or iOS smartphone to provide remote viewfinder capability.

The GH3 packs quite a lot of battery life for a fairly compact camera, with a removable, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The battery is model number DMW-BLF19E and has a listed capacity of 1860mAh, good for around 550 shots by CIPA standards. It's a battery roughly the size of the ones you see in a typical DSLR, taking up a good chunk of the space provided by the large handgrip on the camera.

Battery Photo

On the right side of the camera you'll find a small plastic door that slides out to reveal the memory card slot. The slot is compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards and should be able to accept all current SD-format cards on the market.

Memory Photo

The K2000 accepts inexpensive, easy to find SD cards.

Media Photo

Weather-sealing has become an increasingly common practice among higher-end cameras as of late. What was once the province of more "professional" bodies has made it's way through many manufacturers' camera lineups. The GH3 continues this trend, offering both weather sealing and an articulating OLED LCD for framing shots at tough angles—a rare combination that is sure to make some videographers very happy.

In our image quality tests the GH3 performed admirably across the board, with JPEGs from the camera showing good color reproduction and excellent sharpness. As you'd expect from a camera with a smaller sensor, there's quite a bit of software post-production at work to get the images to that level, but it's not obtrusive or overwrought, as we've seen in many of the GH3's competitors. Our one hangup with the GH3 compared to some higher-end cameras is the noise levels at higher ISO speeds. The camera's noise reduction keeps the levels in check, but there's little headroom for editing images much beyond that.

There's a lot to like about the Panasonic GH3's 12-35mm kit lens, and we found ourselves impressed by how sharp its images could be. Both in the field and in the lab we found the GH3's images brought fine detail to life, with only a slight dose of software edge enhancement. Nearly every camera adds something to its images when processing JPEGs to enhance edges, but the GH3 walks the fine line between showing more detail and not producing the ugly "halo" effect that plagues oversharpened images. More on how we test sharpness.

The Panasonic DMC-GH3 offers several color modes, which we tested for their ability to accurately reproduce a set of colors. The standard default color mode proved to be the most accurate, with the other modes all pushing a specific look that tended to result in images that weren't objectively accurate, but still looked fine. We found the standard mode had a color error of 2.85 with a saturation level of 108.3% of the ideal. Those are fairly good numbers, and its certainly an acceptable level of performance, similar to what we've seen out of competing cameras. More on how we test color.

In our real-world samples, we found the color to be quite accurate, replicating what we saw with our own eyes well enough. The more saturated modes worked well to let the colors pop, as well, giving you a number of creative options depending on how you want the final image to look.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

Compared to its chief competition, the GH3 fared acceptably well. It doesn't beat out high-end cameras from Canon, but its default settings produced results that certainly shouldn't exclude it for anyone, especially given the ability to shoot in RAW and tune color to your liking.

The GH3 offered exceptional custom white balance accuracy, though we found its automatic white balance struggled a bit in lab conditions. Specifically, we found issues under compact white fluorescent light that did creep into some of our real world shots.

Automatic White Balance ()

We found the automatic white balance on the GH3 to be a bit of a mixed bag. Performance was quite typical for tungsten lighting, as it produced a warm cast over the image and a color temperature error of around 2200 kelvins—quite normal levels for any camera and certainly expected. We saw some issues under artificial fluorescent lighting, though, with a harmful green cast under compact white fluorescent. It's not a constant problem, but when it pops up it's very distracting.

In strict daylight lab conditions we saw a color temperature error of around 130 kelvins, which is perfectly acceptable. We do have to reserve special praise for the GH3's handling of daylight and mixed lighting. When shooting outdoors or inside with a mix of indoor incandescent and sunlight, the GH3 handled colors very well. It tended to preserve the warmth of the indoor light but still produce fairly accurate colors.

Custom White Balance ()

The custom white balance performance on the GH3 was spectacular across the board, with color temperature errors of less than 72 kelvins in tungsten, fluorescent, and daylight lab conditions. We would typically call anything under 200 kelvins a great result and the GH3 simply blows away those expectations.

While we saw typically warm images from the camera under tungsten lighting, the GH3's problems under artificial lighting do drag its automatic white balance performance down a bit. The camera redeems itself very well with its custom white balance performance though, putting up some of the best numbers we've seen to date.

Adding to the GH3's impressive custom white balance showing is the ease with which you can capture custom readings. The GH3 offers a dedicated white balance button that allows instant access to the camera's WB settings, letting you easily capture and save up to four different custom white balances. You can also select from one of five white balance presets, set color temperature (Kelvin) manually, or use the camera's automatic white balance.

The Panasonic GH3, like most cameras featuring smaller Micro Four Thirds sensors, produces a fair amount of noise at higher ISO levels. While the technology for these cameras is improving, it's not at the same level as cameras that feature full frame or APS-C image sensors, both of which allow for larger pixels that are more immune to the effects of image noise. As a result, the GH3 has to rely on software noise reduction in order to preserve detail without letting noise overpower the image, something the GH3 does quite successfully. More on how we test noise.

It's tough to compare the GH3's dynamic range results to other cameras yet, because there simply isn't the capability of developing the RAW photos the way that we'd like (release candidates are out, but we're still withholding judgement there). Looking at just the JPEGs is one answer, but it doesn't tell the whole story, as there's a significant amount of noise reduction being applied to keep the noise floor to a minimum.

Still, it's plain to see in our test shots using a transmissive 21-stop Xyla chart, we found the GH3 was able to replicate around 10 stops of dynamic range at its lowest ISO settings in JPEG. There's obviously a fair amount of correction going on, however, as well as gamma correction dropping some of the darker levels down a bit. Still, our testing program picks up around 10 discernible stops at ISO 125, a number that falls to around 7 stops at the maximum ISO of 25600. You get significantly lower quality out of those stops at 25600, though, as even by ISO 1600 you are beginning to see noise pollute lighter areas of the image. More on how we test dynamic range.

We found chromatic aberration to be a rare issue with the GH3 in our lab tests; the slanted squares of our sharpness chart show a little diffraction, but any chromatic issues are wiped clean by the camera. In field shooting, however, it was apparent that there are more issues with the lens than lab scored would suggest.

We caught a pretty nasty purple flare in several of our shots, similar to the purple flare iPhone 5 problem that has been dissected across the web. We're not chalking this up to anything other than good old lens flare, but it's something worth noting, and utilizing the provided lens hood for the 12-35mm lens is recommended as a result.

Otherwise we found the GH3 performed very well in most situations, even where extreme contrast was present. There's more CA visible in our test shots—even without the flare problem—but no more than we'd expect from any other camera's kit lens.

The 12-35mm lens goes a little bit wider than the 14-42mm kit lens that most Micro Four Thirds cameras come with, though barrel distortion is kept in check by software processing. Micro Four Thirds cameras (specifically Panasonic ones) are generally pretty aggressive about correcting linear distortions, and the GH3 is no exception. The GH3 shows just a .6% barrel distortion in our lab tests, with that turning into a .32% pincushion distortion by the time you zoom into 26mm. There's less correction on the telephoto end, though, with a 1.19% pincushion distortion still visible as you zoom all the way in on your subject.

The GH3's video looked very sharp, with details that don't degrade even while moving around the frame. 1080/60p recording was similar to what we've seen from other AVCHD 2.0-compliant cameras, though the real strength of the GH3 is its higher bitrate recording. For that you can get 1080/60p only with the IPB compression format, which offers improved motion performance but is more difficult to edit. If you drop down to 1080/30p you can record in ALL-I at 72Mbps, though we actually found the 50Mbps IPB looked better in some of our sample shots. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

Besides dedicated camcorders, the GH3's only real comparison in terms of video quality is the Canon 5D Mark III. The GH3 outperforms the Mark III only slightly, with its superior sharpness showing through. In most real-world sample videos you'd hardly notice the difference, though the 5D Mark III's full frame sensor will provide shallower depth of field.

The GH3 rendered details at a frequency of roughly 850 lw/ph horizontally and 800 lw/ph vertically in our test footage. This is very good for an interchangeable lens camera and it puts it just above the Canon 5D Mark III as one of the sharpest cameras we've seen to date. It still falls behind what a dedicated camcorder can do, but its exceptional for a camera that costs much less than the Mark III and other competing cameras. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

In low light we did see a slight sharpness falloff with the GH3, likely due to the need for increased compression and a higher ISO speed. At 60 lux (typical of a normal indoor setting) we saw sharpness fall to 750 lw/ph both horizontally and vertically. It's a small falloff from the bright light testing, but it's still sharper footage than we've seen from most cameras in the GH3's price range.

The GH3 required just 4 lux of light to produce an image that crossed 50 IRE on a waveform monitor. We use 50 IRE as it's a standard norm for broadcast brightness, and that result puts the GH3 in some solid company. While larger full-frame cameras perform well here as a matter of course, the GH3 holds its own, even if the final image is a bit of a noisy mess.

The Panasonic GH3 doesn't skimp on the controls. There are five customizable function buttons, direct controls for white balance, ISO, exposure compensation, focus, and a drive mode dial. Three controls dials for controlling shooting parameters and navigating menus. Oh, and don't forget that there's also a full menu, a customizable quick menu, and touchscreen control all offered here. We don't expect everything to be for everyone, or even your average user to get the most out of what's available, but there's a little bit of something for everyone with the GH3.

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.

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.

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.

The GH3 has a number of things going for it in the handling department. The first thing that you'll notice when you pick it up is just how well-formed the grip on the body is. It's a nice, plush rubber that fits right into your hand, with a recess for your fingers to easily hold onto. The camera is only barely smaller than your average entry-level DSLR, but the weight is well distributed through the body, making the camera very easy to hold onto and shoot with for extended periods of time.

Handling Photo 1

The camera's shutter button is expertly placed right where your index finger falls, and the placement of the other control buttons—white balance, ISO, exposure compensation, autofocus mode, AF/AE lock, and video recording—don't require stretching your thumb to any great degree. You do have to change your grip position to work the rear dial for menu navigation, but the two main control dials are both right within easy reach. That you get all this, weather sealing, and a durable magnesium alloy body at a weight that doesn't feel cumbersome is a testament to how well the camera handles.

Handling Photo 2

Also contributing to the entire experience is the articulating rear OLED screen and the OLED viewfinder. The Viewfinder is large and accommodating, with a bright screen and comfortable rubber eyecup. The articulating 3-inch OLED monitor is also very bright, with sharp enough details to make focus checking very easy. It flips out from the body sideways—keeping it out of the way of most tripod plates—so that it can face toward your subject, flip into the body to protect it, or face directly up or down to help frame tricky shots from any angle.

Handling Photo 3

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.

Buttons Photo 1

The buttons themselves are engineered very well, and it's clear that a lot of thought went into the placement of each, their shape relative to their surroundings, and their feel. Most of the buttons have a nice audible click to them, with the shutter button offering just the right amount of resistance.

We do have a few complaints, namely with the placement of the DISP button and the rear control dial relative to the large grip on the back. The rubber grip extends to the back, with a protruding hump near where your thumb rests providing even more grip. The DISP key and the rear dial are both recessed slightly into this rubber, which can make them difficult to press and turn, respectively. It's ultimately a minor complaint, but it's fairly glaring on a body that's otherwise engineered so well.

Buttons Photo 2

Panasonic has also included an articulated 3-inch OLED display on the back of the camera, for times when you can't or don't wish to use the electronic viewfinder. The screen has a resolution of 617k pixels, but text and fine image detail are much sharper than with traditional LCDs due to the OLED construction. The screen is also touch-sensitive, allowing you to make adjustments quickly and easily without sound—crucial when shooting video. This gives the GH3 a great deal of flexibility when controlling the camera and framing shots. It's really the best of both worlds, especially for video shooters, who get the benefit of full weather sealing and the articulating LCD.

Electronic viewfinders have come quite a ways in the last year or so, and the GH3 is a prime example of that. The GH3's viewfinder is responsive, bright, and detailed. There's very little quality falloff between viewing your image on the rear OLED screen and the viewfinder, which is quite an accomplishment.

We're still not ready to say that it's better than the optical viewfinder you'll find on a traditional DSLR, as fine details—especially in the shadows—are harder to judge. The EVF provides quite a few advantages, as well, including the ability to navigate the menu, adjust exposure with live preview, use an on-screen horizon level, and benefit from on-screen shooting information. It also allows you to use the finder while recording video, which is impossible with an optical viewfinder on a DSLR.

The GH3 includes a physical mode dial for flipping between shooting modes quickly, with all the typical PASM setting, automatic modes, creative modes, manual video control, and three custom shooting modes. Whether you want to set everything yourself or let the camera do the heavy lifting, the GH3 has your back.

The GH3 is capable of firing off a shot at up to 1/4000th of a second with its physical shutter, or 1/16000th of a second when capturing video. If you need a longer shutter speed you can have shots as long as 30 seconds, or use the camera's bulb mode to capture exposures as long as 60 minutes. Aperture is lens dependent, but can be fully controlled from the camera body, as you'd expect. Manual control is available in the manual mode for still shooting, but you can control exposure while recording in video using the dedicated manual video function, including aperture.

RAW and JPEG shooters alike will get quite a bit out of the GH3, with a maximum resolution of 16 megapixels. The camera allows you to shoot at the default 4:3 aspect ratio, with options for 1:1, 16:9, and 3:2 shooting. It's not a multi-aspect sensor, though, so you're getting a cropped version of the 16-megapixel 4:3 image in other aspect ratios.

The Panasonic GH3 offers a pretty standard array of speed and timing options, with high and low speed continuous shooting, a low-res/high-speed shooting mode, and an array of self-timers when you need them. The GH3 isn't the fastest camera at its price point, but it has enough options to get the job done most of the time.

The GH3 features a dedicated drive mode dial on the top plate of the camera with four settings: single shooting, continuous, bracket, and self-timer. The single shooting and bracket modes are rather self-explanatory, but the other two offer a variety of options.

The continuous shooting modes offer you the option to fire off shots as long as you're holding the shutter button. You can select high or low-speed continuous shooting, as well as whether you want to shoot at the maximum speed or at a slower rate with live view activated. You can also choose a reduced resolution burst, but this limits you to shooting at the smallest JPEG setting only.

We found that the GH3 lived up to its claims of 6 frames per second shooting, occasionally getting as fast as 6.3fps. It did this in both JPEG and RAW with rather snappy focus and response time as well. Panasonic claims that JPEG shooting is unlimited, but we found RAW, RAW+JPEG, and JPEG alone all ran out of buffer space after about 20 shots, causing the shooting speed to drop to just over one shot per second.

If you need the camera to delay a bit before firing you can use the self-timer options, with just basic options for a two- or ten-second delay. You can also specify a ten-second delay with a three-picture burst, but there's no option to customize the self-timer in any way. The closest thing is the camera's built-in intervalometer, which lets you capture a timelapse by shooting at set intervals for up to 9999 shots. The intervals can be as long as 99 minutes and 99 seconds, allowing for some very long captures.

In our initial briefing with Panasonic regarding the GH3, they told us that they went to multiple professional photographers and DSLR video shooters and asked them what they'd like to see in a do-everything mirrorless camera. While XLR inputs and zebra patterning didn't make the cut, it seems like nearly everything else did. From high bitrate video recording to mic/headphone jacks and a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body for durability, the GH3 definitely ticks a lot of the right boxes.

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.

Auto Controls

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.

Zoom

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.

Focus

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.

Exposure Controls

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.

Mic Photo

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.

Meet the testers

TJ Donegan

TJ Donegan

Executive Editor

@TJDonegan

TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.

See all of TJ Donegan's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

Shoot us an email

Up next