Panasonic Lumix GH3 Review

 
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Panasonic GH3 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally very good performance for a Compact System Camera.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~0.8 second

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~2.5 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
4 seconds after
80 Large/Fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
9 seconds after
24 RAW files*
18 seconds after
20 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time is quite fast for a Compact System Camera, but shutdown is a bit sluggish, likely due to sensor cleaning. Buffer clearing times are good given the deep buffers.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.7 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~0.6 second

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.2 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching is quite fast.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.210 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing done with the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 H-HS12035 lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.212 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode,
Flash enabled
0.380 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, auto flash enabled.
Continuous AF
0.209 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.086 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.079 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Panasonic GH3's contrast-detect autofocus is very quick for a CSC. It's faster than most consumer DSLRs' phase-detection AF as well, though slower than most high-end DSLRs. The GH3's full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) is 0.210 second using single-area (center) AF with the 12-35mm f/2.8 lens in our tests. 23-area AF is only slightly slower at 0.212 second. Enabling the flash increases lag quite a bit to 0.380 second, but that's still pretty good. When manually focused, the GH3's lag time drops to 0.086 second, which is also quite fast. The GH3's prefocused shutter lag time of 0.079 second is also fairly quick, though not as fast as some CSCs.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.48 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 2 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.48 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 3 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG
0.46 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 14 seconds to clear*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous High
Large Fine JPEG

0.17 second (6.06 frames per second);
80 frames total;
4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 80 frames with no signs of slowing.

Continuous High
RAW

0.20 second (5.11 frames per second);
24 frames total;
9 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 24 frames, then slows to an average of 0.53s or 1.88 fps with about 31% variation.

Continuous High
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.19 second (5.15 frames per second);
20 frames total;
18 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 20 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.05s or 0.95 fps.

Continuous Super High
4MP JPEG

0.05 second (20.0 frames per second);
80 frames total;
11 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over maximum buffer length of 80 frames.

Flash Recycling

4.1 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times are quite fast. We measured 0.48 second for Large/Fine JPEGs, 0.48 second for RAW and 0.46 second for RAW+L/F JPEGs.

Continuous High mode is pretty fast at about 6.1 frames per second when shooting full-resolution JPEGs. This drops to about 5.1 frames per second with RAW files, and 5.2 fps for RAW+JPEGs, though. Note that Live View is not available during bursts in Continuous High mode. Continuous Medium and Low speed modes offer 4 and 2 frames per second respectively, while supporting Live View.

Full resolution buffer depth is essentially unlimited for Large/Fine JPEGs, with a fast card. When shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG files, buffer depth drops to 24 and 20 frames respectively, which is still very good. Buffer clearing times are good with our 95MB/s UHS-1 card, considering the deep buffers.

The flash recycled after a full discharge in an average of 4.1 seconds.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

9,424 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds are reasonably fast, quick enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 SD card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Panasonic GH3's performance is generally very good. Mode switching and autofocus is fast, cycle times and burst speeds are good, and buffer clearing is good given the deep buffers.

Battery Life

Above average battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture, CIPA standard
(with H-HS12035 lens)
540 shots
Still Capture, CIPA standard
(with H-VS014140 lens)
500 shots

The Panasonic GH3 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The CIPA rated 500-540 shots per charge depending on the lens is above average for a Compact System Camera, but still lower than a typical prosumer DSLR when using an optical viewfinder. We strongly recommend getting a second battery for your GH3 if you plan any extended outings, and if you need longer battery endurance, consider purchasing the DMW-BGGH3 battery grip which effectively doubles battery life with a second lithium-ion battery installed.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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