As I said in my Elusive Wildflowers Part 9 post, I have a new camera. It’s a Lumix (Panasonic) GH3. Yeah, I know they’re hemorrhaging money these days, but the Lumix was the only one that would do what I want the way I want it. It’s my first mirrorless camera and also my first non-Olympus. Here are some shots of it from reviews and articles –
That’s exactly my kit. The lens & body I had to pay for, but the grip was a bonus and I also got (but haven’t received yet) a $125 rebate on the body. Pricey, yeah. But as I said it was the only one that would do what I need how I need it. A lot of folks who had its predecessor the GH2 are mad because it’s bigger. Considerably so, but since my E-30 was bigger still, I don’t mind. It fits my hand nicely and has all the controls I’m used to working with in very convenient places. It has function buttons that are customizable and that’s new for me and something I have yet to really work with, but as time goes on, I think that I will. It also has customizable modes for different styles of shooting and that I have played with. Check out the top and how nicely arranged it is. Granted, I’d like that forward control dial in front of the shutter since that’s what I’m used to, but I can adapt.
I’ve had a camera with a tilt and swivel screen for 3 years now and can’t live without it. I don’t know what the stubborn insistence is with pretty much all camera manufacturers to relegate that feature to their most entry-level cameras, but it’s frustrating. Since I’d be upgrading, I wanted in addition to improved image quality, a weather-proof body and lens, but without the screen it would be unusable. Panasonic gave me that and tons more. The OLED viewfinder is taking the most getting used to, but since I work mostly from the live view screen, it’s not that much of a problem.
So that’s my new rig. Enough pictures of it. Time for some shots from it. Of course I put the Olympus 90mm macro on it right away. It’s a dream. Not only is the IQ improved, but because the OLED screen(s) brighten automatically I can focus with the lens stopped down, something I couldn’t do with the E-30. It makes for a smoother flow in the field. Check it out!
I didn’t touch the color sliders on either of those, btw. The richness is amazing just by setting white and black points. I don’t have to do much to the contrast either, but I still do. I think it’s the lens itself – the age and the type of coatings they used. Even the color purple, which I’ve talked about before, is accurate. For something different, I decided to use the on-board flash to kick up the dazzle in the raindrops a bit and it worked a treat. All I did was turn it on and leave the camera in Aperture-priority. It did amazingly well.
To test the camera a bit and see about its limits and strengths, I’m doing things differently than I did with the E-30. I still shoot in RAW, but I am putting it on auto white balance a lot and it’s pretty accurate. Not always, but mostly. I am also experimenting with the improved low-light performance and so I tried hand-holding this shot at 800 ISO. No WAY this would look this good with my old camera.
Sure, I reduced the noise in Lightroom a bit, but not more than I would have for 200 ISO in the Olympus. And the colors are accurate and I didn’t tweak them at all. If anything, I sometimes have to turn the vibrance down a bit so they don’t look so saturated. The trillium shot is with the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 lens with the IS turned on. Yeah, the one black mark against the GH3 is the lack of in-body image stabilization which means I don’t get it when I use my OM 90mm or any of my other legacy glass. That was a nice thing to have on the E-30 and I do miss it. I can live without it though since most of the time I’ve got the macro on a support of some kind, but my perfect camera would have IBIS. The 12-35mm is a bit shorter in reach than my recent standard lens, and I don’t think it focuses quite as close, but it is a constant f2.8 aperture and so far I like working with it.
I haven’t done a lot of landscape work with this rig yet, but I did get out to do a sunset on Saturday and here’s one shot I have processed so far.
It’s from the top of the diminutive Mt. Foss in Eaton, NH. I used one of my Cokin ND grads (the holder is for my old lens, so I handheld the filter for these) to control the light better and I did tweak the red, orange, purple and magenta channels a bit in LR, but none over 25 on the slider scale. I also hit the luminance on the yellow and green channels to hightlight the strip of trees there. Just setting my white and black points and leaving the contrast low, and the thing still pops. I’m pretty amazed. In the field this camera is really nice to work with and it’s WAY quieter than my Olympus, which even comparing with other cameras with mirrors, was louder than anyone else’s I’d heard. It always embarrassed me and now I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I could even turn on the electronic shutter and have the GH3 run totally silent. Very cool.
So apart from a couple of fiddly bits (remote cable, ND filter, batteries) I’ve got a pretty good package. Oh and before I forget, the thing also has an intervalometer built-in and HD, broadcast-quality video. Two VERY new things for me, but both of which I’ll be playing with soon.