The Panasonic Lumix GH3 really impressed me with its new feature and I find to be the best video-oriented digital camera on the market, and a well worthy competitor to the Olympus OM-D E0M5. I’ve been ask by quite a few readers to compare the GH3 vs G5. Both the GH3 and G5 are Micro Four Thirds cameras, with the GH3 costs $500 more than the G3. It might not be the most fair comparison, but I know that some of you will be comparing the GH3 versus all the latest Micro43 cameras so we need to cover this one as well – so let’s begin.
I will start with a short introduction to each camera and I then I will talk about the differences between the two cameras. If you want to know the differences between the GH2, GH3 and Oly E-M5, I recommend reading my Panasonic GH3 vs GH2 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 in-depth comparison that will give you all the details you need to know about the differences between those three mirrorless cameras.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3
If you ask me to choose three favorite M43 cameras I would probably pick the Olympus E-M5, Fujifilm X-E1 and Panasonic GH3. As enthusiast photographers I enjoy using cameras that have the wow factor, cameras that brings new technologies and advanced function that we haven’t seen before. The GH3 certainly does that for video, but still it’s a good all-around champ.
The GH3 utilizes a newly developed 16.05MP Live MOS Sensor and a new Venus Engine VII FHD processor. Panasonic improved those two hardware components in order to maximize the camera’s performance in low light for both stills and videos. Panasonic is well known for its micro optimization, giving much attention to every detail in the image. One example is the ability of the camera to differentiate between various parts of the image (e.g. between smooth areas and edgy area) and apply different Noise reduction algorithms and in different strength to those specific areas. So NR is not applied to the whole area of the photo equally. That leads to much better looking images when shooting in higher ISO sensitivity. Of course all of this is being done automatically.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 features ultra high speed AF System. This AF system is based on contrast-detection and it’s very fast and accurate. However. Pana has decided not to utilize Hybrid AF and use phase-detect AF points on the sensor as Sony did with its NEX-6 and NEX-5R compact system cameras. What we do get is full-time AF with face-detection and tracking function.
The GH3 biggest strength is in shooting videos. Both amateurs and professional videographers trust the Panasonic GHx cameras brand to deliver the tools they need for the job. Panasonic GH cameras gain reputation since the GH1 and gain more attention with the ability to hack the GH2, which people set it to shoot video at much higher bitrate. The GH3 is one of the most movie-oriented cameras on the market, you got so many options for video that is just mind blowing. One of the most exciting options is the ability to choose between ALL-I or IPB when shooting at Full HD or HD. You can shoot ALL-I at 1080p24/30 or 720p60.
ALL-I means less aggressive compression, because with ALL-I each frame is treated as individual separated frame and has a key frame, each of those frame is and image and compressed individually. With IPB, there are group of frames and a compression is made for those group frames. The IPB algorithm does its compression by detecting areas when the image is changing and areas where it’s static when moving from one frame to another. ALL-I is the choice of professional or anyone who want to achieve the best possible quality. ALL-I on the GH3 are shot at 72MBps compare the 50Mbps IPB. If you intend to do frame-by-frame editing, you certainly be looking to shoot with ALL-I. ALL-I also consumes less CPU resources because the video editing software doesn’t need to rebuilt/extract the image from the group of photos.
Besides that, you also get a 1,744K-dot OLED EVF, 614K-dot Free-angle touchscreen rear display, Built-in Wi-Fi, 3.5mm mic socket (yes!) and headphone jack, level gauge, weather-sealed (dust / splashproof) magnesium alloy body and much much more.
This is just a taste of what you get with the GH3, there are plenty of software based options that all are meant to help you get that perfect shot and impress those who watch your photos and videos.
Panasonic Lumix G5
The Panasonic Lumix G5 sits above the GF5 and below the GH3 and GX1. The G5 was designed to attract buyers that are debating between an entry-level DSLR and a Compact System Camera. The G5 was designed to look more like a DSLR than a compact camera with its relatively big grip, EVF and overall design. The G5 was designed to combine the best of both CSS and DSLR worlds but emphasize on features that enthusiasts want most.
The G5 features a newly designed 15MP Live MOS sensor, 3-inch 920K-dot touch-sensitive LCD which has a higher resolution than the 650K-dot of the GH3. There is also a 1.44M-dots high-quality viewfinder to attract customers who won’t be using a CSC without an eye-level viewfinder (like me). You also get to enjoy 1080p60 AVCHD video (G3 had only 1080/60i), 6 fps (vs 4 fps of the Panasonic G3), maximum ISO of 12,800, Eye-sensor below the EVF, Touchpad-AF control and redesigned rubber hand grip and aluminum front plate instead of plastic that you have on the G3.
It looks like Panasonic made those design changed to make this camera appeal more to enthusiasts, and look more sophisticated and less ‘newbie’. This should make a much better distinction between the the G5 and the chicky Panasonic GF5. The G5 is priced about $50 more than the Nikon D3200 (as for the time of writing this article) which means that even in terms of price, the G5 was designed to compete against cameras like the Nikon D3100, D3200, Canon EOS 550D, 600D, 650D and other entry-level DSLRs. Of course there is also the competition from Sony with its mid-range CSC like the NEX-5R which costs the same as the D3200, and about $50 less than the G5.
So it’s pretty crowded out there, and we can see that many companies strive to dominate that mid-range market segment, because this is where most of the important decisions are made to choose a MILC or a DSLR, rather than moving from point-and-shoot to MILC, that’s where the GF5 comes into play.
So it’s all about answering the demands of the market and we can see that by just looking at the design, price and features of the G5, that this camera was designed to impress both beginners and enthusiasts. If you compare the G5 vs other entry-level DSLRs (although I won’t do it in this specific article), you can see that the G5 looks like a very good and viable alternative to most of the current entry-level DSLRs on the market. A combination of useful / advanced features and of course an Electronic Viewfinder which is a must for this type of camera, at least if Panasonic wants it to compete well against other entry-level digital SLR cameras.
Before we continue, let’s take a look at a specs comparison table which compares the G5 vs G3. For a more in-depth comparison visit my Panasonic G5 vs G2 vs Olympus OM-D- E-M5 review.
|Panasonic G5||Panasonic G3|
|Announced||Jul 18, 2012||May 12, 2011|
|Effective Resolution||16.05 megapixels||16 megapixels|
|Processor||Venus Engine VII FHD||Venus Engine FHD|
|ISO||160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800||160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400|
|Burst||6 fps |
20 fps (4M)
20 fps (4M)
|Video||1080p60 / 60i (AVCHD)|
|Level Gauge||Yes (Built-in 3 shaft accelerometer sensor)||No|
|Dimensions||119.9 x 83.2 x 70.8 mm / 4.72 x 3.28 x 2.79 inch||115.2 x 83.6 x 46.7 mm / 4.54 x 3.29 x 1.84 inch|
|Weight||Approx. 396 g / 0.87 lb (SD card, Battery, Body)||Approx. 382 g / 13.47 oz (SD card, Battery, Body)|
|Function Lever||Yes (Auto / Zoom / Exp.)||No|
|Hand Grip||Yes, bigger then the G3||Yes|
|Scene modes||Stills: 23|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||Approx. 310 images with H-FS014042|
Approx. 320 images with H-PS14042 or H-FS45150
|Approx. 270 images (When using the LCD / LVF) with H-FS014042
Approx. 250 images (When using the LCD / LVF) with H-FS045200
Quote from the G5 vs G3 comparison:
“The G5 is better where you want it to be: higher resolution LCD, better processor and improved image sensor, better battery life, higher max. ISO, faster burst, 1080p60 (progressive), has a level gauge, function lever, move scene modes and better grip. However, it’s larger and a bit heavier then the G3. Another important thing to know is that the digital to analogue conversion now takes place on the sensor itself, rather then as external circuitry. According to Panasonic that should improve noise performance by quite a lot.“
GH3 Firmware Hack
Let’s take a slight turn and talk about the GH2 a bit more. I think that some of you might be interested to know the background behind the popularity of the GH2 in related to the video functionality. This will give you a good knowledge about what made the GH2 so popular, and what makes the GH3 such a very anticipated camera.
Before I jump into a side by side comparison, let’s first talk about both cameras video capabilities. You should know that the Panasonic Lumix GH3 is a very movie-oriented camera as the GH2 was. This means that if you want a camera with the best movie shooting capabilities and functions, you should kook no further. The GH3 is by far one of the best filmmaker consumer-level camera ever created. We can’t deny all the existing GH3 firmware hacks that are out there, because in my opinion are actually a part of the GH family evolution and what made the GH2 so popular among amateur and professional filmmakers.
With the Gh3 is not like searching for the best deal and get a cheap camera, but investing more and getting a lot more in return. One question that you should ask yourself is whether the Gh2 is good enough and why would you want to buy the GH3 over the GH2, which is of course cheaper. I recommend reading my GH3 vs GH2 comparison to get an answer to this question.
People mentioned that the GH2 has those hacks, so they for those apply the hack, the GH3 might not seems like a well-worthy upgrade. Indeed that with the hack, the GH2 might be an answer to many people’s needs. Some people also mentioned that the GH3 will probably be a lot harder to hack. Who knows, maybe there will be a hack for the GH3 too. Too put things into perspective, let me share my opinion with you.
The GH3 has a higher resolution screen, new Venus Engine, native ALL-I, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm mic and headphone audio monitoring hack, better EVF, official battery grip, excellent battery life, clean HDMI and better noise performance, those all should make the GH3 very appealing to videographers. Even if you need to put your 4K fantasies aside, the GH3 is certainly worth a serious look.
It also seems that Panasonic are very interested about what’s going on with the GH2 hacks and keeping a close eye on the various firmware hacks out there. Panasonic can certainly learn something from it, don’t you think? – The thing is that thoseGH2 hacks might take the camera hardware capabilities to it limits and this can degrade the life expectancy of the product. Some hack firmware updates actually push the camera outside its normal specifications which can lead to overheating and even camera failure. That’s why the hacks voids the GH2 warranty
You also probably be surprised to know that Vitaly, the ‘GH2 hacker’ will work directly with Panasonic and will develop firmware for new cameras (source). All this thing reminds me the Open-Source community. The bond between Panasonic and it’s loyal customers is something that you can’t find anywhere else. People who buy the GH2/GH3 belong to a large group of video enthusiasts that do their best to built a well-established community to help each other shoot better videos and maximize the potential of Panasonic GHx cameras. This is something that adds another social dimension to the customer who bought the GH2 or the GH3, you feel that you are not alone, you are part of a large group of people that have the same passion to videography as you. If you buy a GH2 or GH3 camera – you belong to this group. There are plenty of forums that will help you take an active part and contribute your knowledge, as well as learn from some of the best minds in the filmmaking industry. I personally recommend starting with EOSHD.com, but there are plenty more.
So as you can see, there is more going on with the GH3 that meets the eye. I just thought that you should be aware of this, because I think this is another aspect that is important to know before you make a decision buying one camera over the other. It’s a bit off-topic, but still I think it’s a valuable information that some of you might look further into the GH3 after reading this.
Even without a GH3 firmware hack, the GH3 is an amazing camera!
OK, not that you’ve been give some background about this all GH2/GH3 hack madness, let’s go back to reality and continue our non-hacked comparison
GH3 vs G5
The GH3 and G5 are different cameras and are targeted for different market segments. Some of those who buy the GH3 care about the video quality, some of them don’t mind how the stills IQ is. That doesn’t make the GH3 a less of a camera for stills, not at all. In fact, Panasonic designed this camera to be excellent for stills as its for video. For those of you who intend to shoot stills rather then a lot of videos, the G5 is still a very valuable option to consider and it has its advantages over the GH3 as you’ll soon see.
|Panasonic GH3||Panasonic G5||Notes|
|Announced||September 17, 2012||July 18, 2012|
Live MOS Sensor
17 x 14 mm
Micro Four Thirds
Supersonic wave filter
Live MOS Sensor
17.3 x 13 mm
Micro Four Thirds
Supersonic wave filter
|Both cameras utilize Panasonic's latest generation sensor design|
|Processor||Venus Engine VII FHD||Venus Engine VII FHD||Venus Engine VII was designed to maximize image rendering output for both stills and videos, especially for low light shooting. It also features more advanced signal processing capablilities|
|ISO (inc. expanded range)||200 - 12800||160 - 12800||The E-M5 have a higher maximum ISO sensitivity compared to both the GH2 and GH3|
|White Balance Presets||5||5|
|Image Stabilization||via lens||via lens|
|AF Assist Lamp||Yes||Yes|
|Focus Points||23-area contrast AF||23-area contrast AF|
Capacitive (like an iPhone screen)
|The GH3 has a resistive touch panel, which has better responsiveness like you get with an iPhone cellphone, which is better than Resistive that on the G5. The G5 on the other hand has a higher resolution display.|
|The GH3 features a more advanced Viewfinder, higher-resolution and also utilize OLED technology for much better refresh rate|
|Shutter Speed||60 - 1/4000 sec||60 - 1/4000 sec|
GN12 (ISO 100)
1/160 sec Sync speed
GN8.3 (ISO 100)
1/160 sec Sync speed
|GH3 has a stronger buiit-in flash|
|Continuous Shooting||6 fps (20 fps @ 4M)||6 fps (20 fps @ 4M)|
|Exposure Compensation||±5 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)||±5 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±3 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)||±3 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)|
|Video (for NTSC)||MOV:|
1080p30 / 72Mbps (ALL-I)
1080p24 / 72Mbps (ALL-I)
720p60 / 72 Mbps (ALL-I)
1080p60 / 50Mbps (IPB)
1080p30 / 50Mbps (IPB)
1080p24 /50Mbps (IPB)
MP4: (all IPB)
1080p30 / 20Mbps
720p30 / 10Mbps
580p30 / 4Mbps
AVCHD Progressive (all IPB):
1080p60 / 28Mbps
AVCHD (all IPB):
1080p24 / 24Mbps
1080i60 / 24Mbps
1080i60 / 17Mbps
1080p60 / 28Mbps
1080i60 / 17Mbps
1080p30 / 1Mbps
720p60 / 17Mbps
|This is where the GH3 shines. With the option to choose between ALL-I or IPB, instead of just IPB for all resolutions. Furthermore, the bitrate has increase from the GH2 and offers the ability to shoot at 72Mbps ALL-I. Video editors and filmmakers enthusiast will certainly prefer the GH3 offering over the G5, but this doesn't make the G5 a bad camera for videos, not at all. Also notice that the G5 doesn't have 24p|
|Video Sound||Internal Stereo mic|
φ3.5mm for external microphone
|Internal Stereo mic|
no socket for an external microphone
|GH3 new 3.5mm standard in place of the 2.5mm of the GH2. The G5 doesn't have a microphone jack, bummer.|
|Body Construction||Weather Sealed (dust / splash proof)|
Full Magnesium Alloy
|No Weather sealing|
Aluminum front plate
|Wireless||Built-in Wi-Fi||No||GH3 have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity|
|Headphone Socket||Yes||No||GH3 offers a headphone sound monitoring jack, a pro's feature. We can clearly see that the GH3 is an movie oriented camera|
|Optional Battery Grip||Yes|
DMW-BGGH3 Official battery grip for the Panasonic GH3
Maybe Via 3rd party vendors but I personally didn't find any
|Nice to see an original OEM battery grip for the GH3!|
|Battery Life||540||320||Great battery life on the GH3, another great update here, much longer battery life than the G5|
|Dimensions||132.9 x 93.4 x 82.0 mm||119.9 x 83.2 x 70.8 mm||GH3 is the bigger camera.)|
|Weight (inc. battery)||550 g / 19.40 oz||396 g (0.87 lb / 13.97 oz)||GH3 is heavier than the other two cameras|
|GPS||No||No||Non of the two cameras have built-in GPS receiver|
Both cameras are quite similar in many of their basic spec, but of course there are plenty of differences as you can see from the specs comparison. What I really thing that makes the GH3 very attractive is:
- OLED & Capacitive type LCD
- OLED Higher Resolution EVF
- Movie recording capabilities, the option to shoot 24p inc. ALL-I compression
- 3.5mm standard mic jack and headphone jack for video shooting
- Weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Optional OEM battery grip
- Excellent battery life
- More buttons which allows you faster access to mostly used camera settings (Fn button is available too)
Now you probably going to ask me if those extra features worth $500. The price difference is high that’s for sure, you can but the Nikon D3100 for this price with the 18-55mm lens!
For those of you who don’t need the excellent arsenal of video shooting capabilities, weather-sealing and Wi-Fi, the G5 is a well worthy alternative and offer a better value. You can spend the extra $500 on a better / extra lens, like a fat prime lens or a telephoto zoom lens. That alone will help you boost shooting capabilities and creativity. For videographers / filmmakers, this is not even a question – BUY THE GH3!
Let’s looks at some more differences between the GH3 and G5:
|AF Lock||Set the Fn button in custom menu to AF lock||Yes (AF/AE LOCK button)|
|AF Options||Quick AF, Continuous AF (during motion image recording), AF+MF, Eye Sensor AF, Touch AF, Touch Pad AF, Touch shutter, Touch MF Assist||Quick AF, Continuous AF (during motion image recording), AF+MF, Eye Sensor AF, Touch AF, Touch Pad AF, Touch shutter, Touch MF Assist, Shutter AF, Half Press Release|
|AE Lock||Set the Fn button in custom menu to AE lock||AF/AE LOCK button|
|Flash Sync Socket||N/A||Yes|
|Support Wireless Flash Control||No||Yes (control flash-firings of 3 flash groups and the built-in flash by using DMW-FL360L (optional) that support the wireless control.)|
Need to be done manually by combining GPS data from external device using software
|Using the Wi-Fi capabilities and let the GH3 pick up the GPS data through the smartphone|
|Creative Video Mode||?||Exposure Mode: Program AE / Aperture-Priority / Sutter-Priority / Manual Exposure
Slow and Fast Motion: 40% / 48% / 80% (Records 0.4 times, 0.48 times, 0.8 times slower)
160% / 200% / 300% (Records 1.6 times, 2.0 times, 3.0 times faster)
(1,920 x 1,080, 24p, 24Mbps in MOV, MP4, AVCHD)
|Actual recordable time (Motion images)||AVCHD with picture quality set to [FSH]: Approx. 75 min with H-PS14042 / AVCHD with picture quality set to [FSH]: Approx. 70 min with H-FS014042 / AVCHD with picture quality set to [FSH]: Approx. 75 min with H-FS45150||AVCHD with picture quality set to Approx. 120 min with H-HS12035 / Approx. 110 min with H-VS014140|
|Time Code (Motion images) (except MP4)||N/A||ON / OFF, Count Up : Rec Run / Free Run selectable, Time Code Mode : Drop frame / Non-drop frame selectable(NTSC only)|
DMC-GH3 Sample Image Gallery & Video
I’ve recommend visiting the Lumix GH3 special site, where you can find sample images / test shots taken by various professional photographers, including Ira Block, Daniel Berehulak, Kazuo Unno and see the sample video “Genesis” that was produced by Bruce Logan, Philip Bloom and Elliot Rosenblatt. Quite interesting stuff, worth a visit.
Take a look at Behind the Scenes video of how they shot “Genesis” with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3:
*GH3 vs G5 High ISO Image quality analysis will appear here soon as more high ISO photos and lab test shots are available.
As I said in the start of this post, maybe it’s not a fair comparison. Nevertheless, it gives you an option to investigate the differences and help you make a better buying decision. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 is an amazing camera and it’s certainly one step ahead of the GH2 in my opinion.
The Panasonic G5 still offers a better value for those who aren’t into video shooting. The G5 boasts many of the functions that you find on the GH3, but lacks the weather sealing and durable body construction (Splash / Dust proof), OLED EVF and Wi-Fi capabilities and many other functions that make the GH3 so unique.
I personally think that the G5 is an amazing camera and a excellent alternative to an entry-level DSLR. It’s an affordable path to start exploring the CSC world. Some people opted out from CSC because the lack of EVF and those cameras who have an EVF were too expensive for some. Now you can get a great Micro Four Thirds camera with an EVF for a very affordable price.
The G5 shoots great videos and the ability to shoot videos in MP4 format as well as 1080p60 is great. The G5 is an all-around amazing mid-range camera that might satisfy all of your needs. It’s really depends what you are looking for, but now that you know the differences, it makes it easier to make a decision.
I hope that you find this comparison useful. If you do, please share it with your friend sand feel free to leave a comment below.