In this comparison I will compare the Panasonic GX7 vs Panasonic GH3. Both cameras are Micro Four Thirds cameras belong to Panasonic’s Lumix G family. The GH3 signifies Panasonic’s high-end model, whether the Gx7 is a mid-range offering. The GH3 was announced on September 17 2012, and since then the price was dropped and now it sells for only $70 more than the GX7 on Amazon.com the last time I checked (12.10.2013).
This is one reason why many people are still debating between the two. In this comparison we’ll take a closer look at the differences between those two mirrorless cameras and hopefully it will help you make up your mind about which camera is the best for your specific needs, as the price difference by itself is not significant.
I will start with a short introduction to each camera and then I will talk about the differences.
Panasonic Lumix GX7
The GX7 was announced on August 1st 2013 and it replaces the GX1. It sits below the DMC-GH3 and above the GM1 in the Lumix G lineup. The GX7 gains a lot of positive ratings in many camera review websites, including a Silver Award in dpreview website. The GX7 incorporates many advanced technology enhancements over Panasonic’s cheaper models. As it was designed from the ground up to impress the enthusiast photographer, those who are willing to pay extra in order to get a better camera.
The Lumix GX7 has a retro-style external design with magnesium-alloy die-cast frame. The frame of the camera helps to keep the camera cool and disperse heat more efficiently (the same process used with the GH3). The GX7 is much smaller than the GH3 but much larger than the GM1.
The above comparison image from camerasize.com perfectly illustrated the differences. The GX7 will also be a favorite among those who prefer buying a mirrorless camera due to their smaller size factor compare to DSLR cameras, but obviously this shouldn’t be the only reason you buy this camera for.
The GX7 is aimed towards enthusiasts, and one of the features that enthusiasts are looking for is an electronic viewfinder. The GX7 features 2764K-dot 90-degree tiltable Live View Finder, which is one of the highlights of this camera. This high quality finder also enjoys a a display panel that can display colors that covers almost of the Adobe RGB color space. This means that you see very accurate color reproduction and with an industry-leading resolution, it comes as close as you can get to an optical viewfinder. The tiltable features make the GX7 one of its kind, and it’s the first camera to offer this unique feature. It allows you to shoot low-angle shots while still using the viewfinder, rather than the rear LCD for that purpose.
Talking about the LCD, the GX7 features a 3-inch 1040K-dots tiltable wide-angle touchscreen and offers wide-viewing angles.
At the heart of the camera is a 16.00 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor. Both the sensor and the Venus Engine image processor are newly developed for this model and offer an advantage over the DMC-GX1 in terms of color reproduction, noise and high ISO performance.
GX7 also features in-body optical image stabilization. The effectiveness of this IBIS is comparable to Panasonic’s MEGA O.I.S., and it’s the first time that this IS is used in Panasonic’s Compact System Cameras. The camera supports both the IBIS and lens stabilization. When you mount a lens with image stabilization, you can set the camera to give priority to the lens, so it will utilize the lens IS instead of the built-in one. The IBIS was criticized by some reviewers, one of them is dpreview, for its disappointing performance. So it seems that photographers should favor a lens-shift IS rather if image stabilization is crucial to their work.
Other features include four function buttons, WB and ISO direct access buttons, WiFi and NFC connectivity, two separate dials both in the front and back for easier control over changing camera settings, built-in flash (1/320th sync, 1/250th with the external flash connected) and hot-shoe, Full HD 1080p24 and 1080p60 (progressive) video recording with stereo sound with full-time AF, focus peaking, time lapse shooting feature and stop motion animation function.
The use of NFC will help you to quickly connect the camera to your Smartphone for easy sharing of photos and remote view by just touching them together. This is the holy grail of device pairing and it takes just a few seconds to set things up. Just keep in mind that you need to install Panasonic’s “Image app” in order to support the pairing functionality. The GX7 also features lots of creative filters to play with and all in all it’s a superb enthusiast mirrorless camera. The GX7 direct competitor is the Sony NEX-6, which also positioned below the NEX-7 (Sony’s mirrorless flagship) and also comes with an EVF.
Panasonic Lumix GH3
Announced on September 17, 2012 — for many people the Panasonic GH3 need no introduction. This is one of the favorite mirrorless cameras among enthusiast and Videographers alike. It’s Panasonic’s flagship Micro Four Thirds model. The GH3 is getting a bit old and it will probably be replaced soon with a newer model. Still, the GH3 is a fully-featured camera that offers many of the features enthusiast need in order to maximize their potential and become more creative with their cameras, whether it for stills of video shooting.
The GH3 replaces the Panasonic GH2, and as you can see from the image above, Panasonic buffed up this baby and it certainly looks much more bulky compare to its predecessor the DMC-GH2. I remember the day that the GH3 was announced, many people were shocked to see the GH3 so much larger than the GH2, but some people actually preferred having a larger grip and camera body for better handling. The fact is that the GH3 is almost the size of an entry-level DSLR, and in fact there are some DSLR smaller than the GH3. It seems odd for a mirrorless camera to be in this size, but for the audience this camera is aimed for, the functionality, features and handling is more important than having a smaller camera.
The Preferred Video Camera By Videographers
GH3 already won some several prestigious awards, including TIP Awards 2013, dpreview Gold Award and EISA Award 2013-2014 for Best Photo-video camera. The GH3 is aimed for both photographers and videgraphers alike, and it was designed from the ground up to attract enthusiast Videographers due to its advanced video functions. Those video capabilities include 1080p60 video recording (progressive frames) in either MOV, AVCHD Progressive and MP4 video file formats, 1080p24 and the ability to choose between ALL-Intra 72Mbps or IPB 50 Mbps.
The camera was designed with exclusive heat-dispersing design to keep the camera cool and extend the time you can record videos without that having a negative effect on the video quality. Other features include Time code value embedding for those of you who edit their videos using video editing software (available in MOV and AVCHD) and auto seamless file generation. The GH3 body was designed to accept a wide range of accessories, and it’s compatible with the DMW-MS2 Stereo shotgun microphone, has 3.5mm mic socket and 3.5mm headphone socket to connect an external stereo microphone or a headphone for monitoring the audio recording quality..
Here’s a full list of the video recording capabilities of the GH3:
- 3.5 mm mic socket (neither the GM1, GF6, and GX7 have this feature, only the G6 got a mic jack)
- 3.5 mm headphone socket (neither the GM1, GF6, GX7 or G6 has this feature)
- 3.0-inch 614K-dot Free-angle OLED rear monitor
- Built-in Dolby Digital Stereo microphone
- HDMI monitor-through
- 1080p60, 1080p24 (progressive)
- Choose between ALL-Intra or IPB
- Seamless File generation
- Heat Dispersing Design
- Time code recorded for video editing use
- Slow Motion / Fast Motion in FUll HD (Slow: 0.8 / 0.48 / 0.4, Fast: 1.6, 2.0, 3.0)
- Manual exposure control
- Touch AF full-time AF, Face Recognition AF for video recording
- MF assist
- Silent operation
- Photo capture while recording a video
- Creative control (filters for videos)
- Cut Animation (extract frames into photos from a video playback)
- Divide a video into two separate parts
No doubt, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 was designed as an advanced camcorder, and it’s certainly a few steps ahead of what you get with other flagship mirrorless cameras at that same price point. The GH3 is used by many professionals and if you are one of those photographers who needs a high degree of control over the video functionality, the GH3 should be in the top of your list.
The GH3 is also both Splash and Dust proof and can operate under harsh weather conditions, therefore should be favored by the outdoor photographer. Keep in mind that you have to use a splash proof lens as well to keep the camera protected. A few of those lenses are the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 lens and Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100 F2.8 Power OIS lens.
Other features include Electronic shutter function, shutter delay function, support for wireless control flash system, built-in WiFi, eye-sensor AF and 1744K-dot OLED EVF.
GH3 vs GX7 Comparison
As you can see from the previous section, those two cameras are quite different from each other. The fact that the GH3 clearly wins in the video department, doesn’t make it a less of a camera for stills photography. However, one might ask how the GH3 compared to a camera that was announced a year later, and whether for stills, the GX7 is the better camera of the two. Furthermore, with each new generation of cameras, new improved hardware components like a new sensor and new imaging processor are used, and that has a direct effect on the image quality for both stills and videos. This means that you should also inquire about the video and stills image quality as well.
Before we jump further to talk more about the differences between those two cameras, let’s take a look at a side by side specs comparison table first. This will give you a good understanding of the key differences between those two cameras. Some photographers make their decision based on the info that you see here, because they already know what features they want and must have in their new camera.
|Announced||September 17, 2012||August 1, 2013|
Live MOS Sensor
17 x 14 mm
Micro Four Thirds
Supersonic wave filter
Live MOS Sensor
17 x 14 mm
Micro Four Thirds
Supersonic wave filter
|ISO||200 - 12800|
Extended, 125, 25600
|200 - 25600
|Image Stabilization||via lens||Built-in Sensor-shift image stabilization|
|The GX7 features in-body image stabilization, which means that every non-stabilized lens mounted on this camera is stabilized. This can save you money when buying lenses that doesn't have in-lens stabilization, but the GX7 IBIS is less effective than the lens-shift IS - something to keep in mind, especially if you intend to shoot with long telephoto zoom lenses, or count on it for crucial low light shooting without flash and when shooting with slow shutter speeds.|
|Build Quality||Magnesium alloy chassis|
|Magnesium alloy chassis|
|Design||DSLR-like||Retro rangefinder flat design|
|Size||132.9 x 93.4 x 82.0 mm|
5.23 x 3.68 x 3.23 inch
|122.60 x 70.7 x 54.6 mm
4.83 x 2.78 x 2.15 inch
(inc. card and battery)
|550 g / 19.40 oz||402 g / 14.81 oz|
|Weather Sealing||Splash and dust proof||No|
|Optional Battery Grip||Yes (DMW-BGGH3)|
The battery grip is also weather sealed, same degree as the GH3 body
|The Panasonic GH3 is more bulkier than the GX7, however, in return you get improved grip and ergonomics, second dial at the top, more buttons for fast access to frequently used camera functions, circular scroll wheel instead of buttons, fully-articulated display, weather sealing and an optional battery grip (official by Panasonic which is also weather-sealed).
It's worth mentioning that the extra dimensions and weight help to better stabilize the camera when you mount external accessories, like a large flash unit or a large external stereo mic at the top. The battery grip can hold an extra battery an therefore prolong shooting time. Those features are all be well appreciated by enthusiasts and professionals that care more about the added functionality than the sheer size of the camera.
|RAW + JPEG||Yes||Yes|
|The GH3 has a fully articulated display which is very helpful when shooting overhead ow waist-level videos.
I am not so sure about the OLED display in bright daylight, as LCD tend to have better visibility due to their backlit technology. However, OLED has deeper blacks and more saturated colors which is more pleasant to view.
I am still blank here regarding why Panasonic has opted for OLED rather than LCD - my only guess here is that OLED displays are more energy efficient and consume less power. OLED display blacks are actually turned-off pixels. So my guess is that Panasonic wanted to allow videographers to shoot longer as they compose their videos via the rear LCD.
The GX7 is a new generation camera and therefore already enjoys a higher resolution display, but it's limited to 90 degrees up tilting mechanism
1.34x / 0.67x (35mm(
1.39x / 0.7x (35mm)
LCD (100% color reproduction)
|The GX7 enjoys a next-generation viewfinder with a very high-resolution, slightly larger than the GH3, 100% color reproduction according to CIE 1931 x,y color space and of course the world's first tiltable mechanism for an eye-level viewfinder.
The GX7 does win in this regard and it's great to see that Panasonic spoiled the enthusiast photographer with such a handy feature and will give the GX7 an edge over competitive models like the NEX-6.
|Shutter Speed||Stills: 60 - 1/4000 sec|
Bulb max. 60 min.
Videos: 1/16,000 - 1/30 sec.
|Stills: 60 - 1/8000 sec
Bulb max. 2 min.
Videos: 1/16,000 - 1/25 sec.
|The GX7 supports faster shutter speed but limited bulb speed compare to the GH3. Having a faster shutter speed gives you more control over the exposure, as you can open up the aperture and compensate for that extra light using faster shutter speed for the same exposure settings. Furthermore, a faster shutter speed helps to better freeze fast moving subjects and mainly used by fast actions shooters, wildlife shooters and sports photographers.|
|Continuous Shooting||6 fps at full resolution|
up to 20 fps in reduced 4MP resolution
|4.3 fps with AF tracking
5 fps in AFS both for high-res images.
Up to 40 fps using an electronic shutter
|AF Modes||Face detection|
Low Light AF (*via firmware update)
|Low Light AF
|Silent Mode||Yes (via firmware update)||Yes|
|Built-in Flash||Yes (12m)||Yes (7m)|
|External Flash||Yes via hot-shoe||Yes via hot-shoe|
|Flash X Sync Speed|
|1/160 sec.||1/320 sec.
1/250 sec. (External Flash)
+ stereo sound
+ stereo sound
|No doubt that these two features (mic and headphone jacks) are very important for video shooters, and that alongside other advanced video capabilities, make the GH3 the preferred camera for video recording.
The GH3 also has extensive manual audio control, which gives you more precise control over the audio input.
|HDMI||mini HDMI Type C||mini HDMI Type C|
|Uncompressed HDMI||Yes (4:2:0)||No|
|Timecode Metadata for Videos||Yes||No|
|Battery Life||540 (CIPA)||350 (CIPA)|
The above side by side comparison table gives us a good understanding of the differences between those two cameras. The GX7 belongs to a new generation of enthusiast micro four thirds camera. Therefore it has some advantages over the GH3 for stills photography, including a newly developed sensor and next-generation Venus engine image processor, allowing native ISO 25,600. It features tiltable high-res viewfinder and high-resolution rear LCD display, 1/8000 sec shutter speed, in-camera Panorama, up to 40 fps burst using an electronic shutter, Panasonic’s Silent Mode, faster flash sync speed and NFC for easy device pairing.
Some of those features we would probably see in the GH5, but no doubt that as for the time being, the GH3 certainly has some advantages over the GH3 for stills photography.
Having said that, the GH3 is still the better of the two for video recording, and also comes with some unique features that lacks on the GX7 including Environmentally-sealed body with compatible weather-sealed battery grip, digital telephoto mode, heat-dispersing design, OLED fully articulated screen, OLED EVF, faster burst, a more advanced video recording function inc. mic and headphone sockets, clean HDMI and much longer battery life and a wide variety of dedicated buttons and dials for fast access to frequently used camera functions.
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 might be out soon, but that doesn’t take from the GH3 from being a superb camera for both stills and video shooting. The GX7 will attract stills photographers who are searching for a highly-capable mirrorless cameras or those who upgrade from an entry-level micro 4/3 camera.
The GX7 seems to outshine the GH3 due to its new hardware, but you might still want to know whether or not the new sensor and image processor actually yield a better image quality for both stills and video — let’s find out!
Image Quality Comparison
The image quality plays a significant role for customers who buy a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. After all, the reason for getting one of Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras is due to the flexibility that you get using interchangeable lenses, as well as being able to shoot with a camera that boasts a relatively large sensor (Compare to a point-and-shoot).
Before we go inspecting the high ISO performance of both cameras, let’s take a look at a video shot by Blunty that compared the GX7 vs GH3 side by side in a shootout video.
Lovely footage from both cameras as you can see, although I lean towards the GX7 rendering in this particular comparison. The GX7 white balance seems better and the colors are more punchy. I think that the casual video shooter will be very satisfied with the GX7 results, regardless of the advanced features of the GH3 for video shooting. IF you don’t need pro function for video shooting, I’m sure that you’ll love the video quality of the GX7 out-of-the-box.
High ISO Performance
I want to know that I am buying a camera has low noise in high ISO. I personally find myself shooting at high ISO quite a lot. Nothing is better than getting a fast lens that will help you shoot in low-light at relatively low ISO. However, at times, you find yourself shooting with a relatively slow telephoto zoom lens, or sometimes you need to bump up the ISO even when shooting with a fast prime lens.
Having a relatively clean ISO 1600 certainly helps getting some unique shots that otherwise be ruined due to lots of noise and ruined details.
Here’s my observation conclusion after comparing the GH3 versus GX7 using imaging resource comparometer tool:
- ISO 200 – both cameras produce very clean and sharp images. The GH3 has an advantage in texture areas (see the red napkin), but it’s only visible in the dark red areas. The GX7 produces a bit more saturated image than the GH3, but overall both look pretty much the same. It might suggest that the GH3 has a slightly higher dynamic range than the GX7, regardless of the GX7 new sensor – Advantage: GH3 (slightly higher dynamic range)
- ISO 400 – same results as ISO 200 more or less. Image still very clean significant visible noise to worry about - Advantage: GH3
- ISO 800 – images are relatively very clean. The GX7 has a slight advantage here as its image looks slightly cleaner with less image noise, but the GH3 seems a bit sharper. It might be due to the GX7 applying a stronger NR that makes this difference, but we’ll have to wait for ISO 1600 to find out. Advantage: GH3 (sharpness) / GX7 (less noise)
- ISO 1600 – A clear jump in the amount of noise on both cameras. The GX7 has a visible advantage with a cleaner image overall. However, it seems like the Gx7 applies stronger NR + sharpening which leads to dotty/line artifacts which look like noise and it’s very evident in many parts of the image. No doubt that both cameras have a different image processing in the way they handle noise. I personally prefer the way the GH3 handles it, but the GX7 does result in a cleaner image. Advantage: GX7 (*see my comment)
- ISO 3200 – The GX7 looks cleaner overall and in some areas the GH3 actually outperform the GX7. It leads me to assume that there is certainly a difference in how both handle noise. You can clearly see that in plain areas, the GH3 does a more intelligent processing, keeping those plain color areas much cleaner than the GX7 (see the color board at the bottom). However, overall I give my top score to the GX7 rendering. Advantage: GX7
- ISO 6400 – very similar to ISO 3200 but with more noise. Advantage: GH3
I find the GH3 to perform better overall. This comparison was a mixed bag for me. In some areas I loved how the GX7 image looks, in others I like the GH3. There isn’t any big difference when it comes to image noise, and I certainly wouldn’t base my buying decision on the high ISO performance between those two particular cameras.
We’ve seen that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 has a clear advantage in video recording, and in no doubt it will be the choice of enthusiasts and professional Videographers — you just can’t beat that large arsenal of video features. This actually puts the Lumix GH3 in a strong position against other high-end Micro Four Thirds cameras, as it provides photographers a great tool for both stills and video shooting all-in-one.
The Panasonic Lumix GX7 was although features 1080p60, isn’t all about video recording at all, but rather focuses on impressing the experience stills photographer, and to attract people who already have an entry-level Micro Four Thirds and want to upgrade to a more advanced model. This camera therefore also gives Olympus a good run for its money with its large range of features and its innovative high-quality EVF.
If you are not that much into video shooting, I think that the Panasonic Lumix GX7 might be the perfect camera for you. That being said, you should consider buying the GX7 over the GH3 if you don’t need to have a weather-sealed body, don’t plan to buy an optional battery grip to extend battery life, don’t need a fully articulated rear monitor or advanced multiple-flash wireless control and flash synchro socket capabilities, or don’t want to buy a relatively large mirrorless camera. All in all, the GH3 offers a wider range of features for more experienced photographers and those of you with special needs. Therefore it’s important to understand your specific needs and see if the GH3 can answer those needs with its wide range of advanced features.
Image-quality wise, both cameras produce very high-quality images and I was very impressed with both cameras. The GH3 seems to have a slightly higher dynamic range that it’s quite noticeable in the red color space. This might have an advantage of certain type of scenes, but I wouldn’t worry about that too much as a “casual” photographer and for every day shooting. Image noise is on the low side and up to ISO 800 you get images that are almost noise-free.
The difference in IQ is very small, and it comes as a mixed bag for me. In some areas of the photo I liked how the GH3 process the image, in others I liked the GX7 processing. The sensor themselves seems to perform very close in terms of image noise, but it looks like the GH3 has a higher dynamic range. I can say that overall I liked the GH3 image better, but I wouldn’t base my buying decision on the high performance when it comes to those two specific camera models.
These two cameras are aimed towards different audiences, but we can’t deny the fact that they are many enthusiast photographers that will be torn between the two. The difference in price is not significant enough to convince a budget-aware photographer to get the GX7 because it’s cheaper. With the GH5 around the corner, it might seem a bit risky to buy the GH3 now. Those of you who find the GH3 a match for their shooting style might wait a bit an buy the GH3 replacement when it comes out. The GX7 is certainly one of the most attractive MFT cameras on the market and if the GH3 didn’t convince you with its features, I highly recommend buying the GX7 — it’s an amazing camera for any photographer who want to be more creative and searching for a camera that won’t pose any hard limits to its potential.
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