I had the chance to see the GH3 in action on set and in the editing stage last week. I haven't ordered one yet, I saw it in action with a friend's working on a feature film independant,
then we went to his home to review the footage. So I can give you my first impressions.
My overall sensation is very positive, with some irritating negative points.
I'll start with the negatives.
- It pisses me-off that Pana, in order to protect their pro gear, still refuses to go 4:2:2 (bye bye green screens and heavy CC)
even the HDMI output is 4:2:0. Anyway, with those cams going external recorder is pointless and doesn't add any benefit.
The 4:2:0 is for me the very worst negative point.
- Second negative in order of importance is the lack of Log support. That is really a stupid limitation.
- If the battery seems more robust than the Gh2, I desperatly miss a 12V imput like in the Black Magic Camera.
There is a grip option but it's suitable for stills. D.I.Y solutions will show-up but they are D.I.Y
- If they choosed to go INTRA, wich is a very wise decision, they should have provide at least 100 MB/s and not 70
because INTRA is more demanding in terms of bitrate. Not bad, it could have been 50, but not ideal. However, this could be
solved very soon with the hackers. We will have at least 150MB/s reliable no doubt.
Nota: keep in mind that the hackers with the GH2 have pushed the boundaries quite far and the lastest hacks, Intra GOP1, are really amazing,
and enhanced the GH2 capabilities to levels unknown until recently. Some are even based on the GH3, but with double bitrate of the GH3 factory.
- No peaking focus or if there were we couldn't see it.
- No built-in ND filters wich would be ideal to keep the phylosophy of micro-cam and avoid Mateboxes. The screew filters are a mess, they fall, they break, they are lost etc...
I hate them.
- Codec finaly INTRA. Time are gone of those ridiculous long GOP sagas.
The other option of 1080/60p and 50p for us at 50Mbit in H.264 and wrapped in QT is very decent for this framerate, even some respectable pro gear don't do that.
My only complain is that it's wrapped in QT. Bloody QT !...They just could have provide a MXF.
- In the editing room, I found the footage truly better than any Canon DSLR on earth, it has a less pronunced "video look" (cold and too detailed) than the GH2 and seems a-priori easier to get organic look but also less detailled than an high-end hacked GH2 (but still much more precise output than the Canons)
In fact there is plenty of detail and the only downside resides in the limitations of 8bits 4:2:0
wich obliges to lite perfectly and nail it. Not a lot of room for averageness or mistakes.
The screen is more reliable in terms of exposure than on the GH2. It's more WYSIWYG. The GH2 was a mess.
I found the DR a little better than the gH2, specially on the shadow. But it's not gona be Red DR, no.
We didn't do high ISOS so can't comment on that.
The Intra allows a very straightforward workflow, a bit like the Alexa with Prores config. You shoot, you edit. No transcode. (you like that don't you?)
Mmmm...I'm speaking too fast. If you are still in FCP7, you might well need to transcode to Prores 4:2:2
Gosh, you really need to take a sweet look at MC and go out of the vintage zone.
Or you could see if you could transcode directly from Resolve and link it to FCP.
We haven't use the timecode (we had a manual clapperboard wich results super reliable always) so can't comment on that point.
- Good point although not ideal: they abandonned the silly minijack for audio present on the GH2 for a decent and less breakable standart jack.
The audio is Dolby digital.
- I've been very impressed by the AF performance. Probably the most surprising thing. Can't remember the lens involved, but it means
that it has to be a Pana one. I'm not far to think that AF is truly usable in motion with this camera. It looks intelligent, ultra fast, silent, a perl.
What I don't know is that AF will be only that good with latest Pana lens generation, or if it would work so well with the current Pana line? No idea on that.
It's IMO definatly a very good device for crash cam, B-roll, impossible angles, fast action cam, reportage-news and it will stand still along with Red footage
with no problem.
I would have some reservations in ultra low-light, higher isos, but the R1 is not super top in higher isos either. Battery life is ok, but again, a proper way to connect power devices should indeed
be present. The Cam however doesn't heat-up. So in a day of shooting you can calculate 4-5 batteries numbered and the corresponding chargers.
The battery grip is not an option in the rig config (it could but really is silly).
To be honest, I wasn't hot to buy a GH3 when I heard that it was 4:2:0. After seeing it in action, I might well change my view. It's a great motion tool and IMO has it's place on set
to do things others cams will be a burden.
It's 1000 bucks, delivers top imagery (but not flexible because 8bits 420 bla bla), is small, has a really really wide lens options, included cine Zeiss, takes PL without issues and the hackers are working on boosting its performance and it will improve within the next months.
Now...the big question is: how does it stands in front of a high-end hacked intra GH2? Honestly, you might well get 2 GH2 for the price of 1 GH3, hack them with the latest hacks, and you'll got the same grocery.
So you double the crash cams. IMO, it's a plus compared to the GH2, but the improovements are not huge enough to make the choice evident. If Pana had done 4:2:2, log support, MXF wrapper, 12V imput, that would have been another story and the choice compared to the GH2 would have been easy to make.
But what's sure, is that if you got one, you're going to use it.