Panasonic GH3 review Imatest results

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This Panasonic GH3 test report is an annex of our Panasonic GH3 review, where you can read more (including our conclusion) about the Panasonic Lumix GH3. Measurements for this review have been carried out with Imatest. In order to compare the results for resolution of micro-43 cameras with the results of cameras with an APS-C sensor or  full frame sensor, the aspect ratio of the Panasonic GH3 was set to 2:3. Unlike the sensors of the Panasonic GH2, GX1 and G5, the Panasonic GH3 has no multi-aspect sensor, which means that the effective resolution decreases from 16 to 12 megapixels if you set the camera to an aspect ratio of 2:3. If you use the Panasonic GH3 in the regular 4:3 aspect ratio, the image height and therefore the resolution - which is expressed in lines per picture height (LW / PH) - will be slightly higher. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ. Lumix GH3 test

Resolution Panasonic GH3: Imatest results

The Panasonic GH3 delivers nicely sharp images, even at high ISO settings. We have determined the resolution of standard jpg files from the Panasonic GH3, using an Olympus 50mm macro lens. The average resolution over the range from 200 to 6400 ISO is equal to the resolution of standard jpg files we previously measured for an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Canon 650D. Carefully processed RAW files provide a higher resolution. Again, these values ​​correspond to the resolution of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 as well.

Panasonic GH3 test Resolutie

Dynamic range Panasonic GH3

Dynamic Range LUMIX GH3
We have measured the total dynamic range of the Panasonic GH3 using a RAW file without noise reduction and without sharpening. In the graph above you see the total dynamic range of different cameras at a 100 ISO setting. We have tested approx. 25 cameras by now, but for clarity we limited the cameras in the image to a number of recent models. If a camera does not have a 100 ISO setting, we chose the lowest ISO value available. Usually that is ISO 200, the Panasonic GH3 was set at 125 ISO. At the lowest ISO setting (ISO 125), the Panasonic GH3 realizes a wider dynamic range than the Canon 5D MK3 (@ 100 ISO). Who  had predicted a few years ago that a camera with a micro-43 sensor at the same ISO setting would have more or less the same dynamic range as a camera with a full frame sensor, would be considered crazy. The measured values ​​for the dynamic range are close together, and it is a difficult measurable property. Yet there seems to be a trend for the dynamic range of 100-200 ISO:
  • The highest dynamic range at low ISO settings are produced by the latest Nikon cameras with a full frame sensor and the Nikon D7000
  • Then there is a group of cameras with a full frame sensor (Canon 5D MK3), APS-C sensor (Sony A77, Nikon D3200) and the latest micro sensors 43 (GH3 Panasonic and Olympus OM-D E-M5)
  • Then follow the Canon cameras with an APS-C sensor (Canon 650D, Canon 7D and Canon 60D)
  • Finally, there is a group with the older cameras with a micro-43 sensor (Panasonic GX1, Panasonic G3) and the Nikon 1 cameras with a relatively small sensor.

On the DxO website you can also find dynamic range of RAW files found at low ISO settings, but measured by another method. The measurement results of DxO marks show the same trend. Move your mouse over the image above to see the results for this selected group of cameras by Dxprovide O mark.

This is of course not the whole picture, because at higher ISO values full frame cameras deliver a higher dynamic range. At higher ISO values the total dynamic range of the Panasonic GH3 decreases (to 6.8 stops at ISO 6400; actually pretty good), while the dynamic range of the Canon 5D MK3 remains high (8.1 stops at ISO 6400).

GH3DynamicRange

We measure the total dynamic range without noise reduction. In practice there is visible noise in the shadows, resulting in a smaller usable dynamic range. On the other hand, when you apply noise reduction, as much as possible of the dynamic range can be retained. Therefore, we also report the usable dynamic range of jpg files.

At ISO 125 and ISO 200 standard jpg files from the Panasonic GH3 exhibit so little noise, that the measured usable dynamic range in jpg files is 9 stops. Thanks to a relatively high degree of noise reduction, the usable dynamic range of the Panasonic GH3 at ISO 6400 is (with 5 stops) still  very high. If you carefully adjust contrast, sharpening and noise reduction in RAW files, it is possible to obtain a usable dynamic range for RAW files that is better or at least equal to that of the jpg files.

6400ISOexample

Panasonic GH3 @ 6400 ISO, standard jpg file

Noise

To the right you see examples of a photographed gray card at two different ISO settings. These crops show a detail of the image when you enlarge it in full size on your screen. At 125 ISO, you can use the RAW files without noise reduction. At ISO 6400 you can see in the RAW file a very modest degree of (color) noise. Thanks to noise suppression in the standard jpg file, the noise disappears, but it is also at the expense of sharpness.

If you take a close look at a jpg image shot at ISO 6400 under favorable lighting conditions, there is little noise, but the image is much smoother than a jpg file created at lower ISO values, due to the applied noise reduction. This is clearly seen in the two 100% image crops below. Under less favorable light conditions, such as night shots, you can see more jpg artefacts.

GH3Noise
125ISOjpg 6400isojpg

Color accuracy @ daylight

GH3daylight200ISOmini
Daylight color accuracy (Delta E94)

DaylightRAWjpg
Average5.76.0
Best3.64.1
Worst6.47.2
Skin tones5.14.8
Natural Colors4.55.8
Bright Colors5.06.0
White Balance6.14.5
The color rendering of modern cameras is so good, that nothing is to note the color in daylight. The Panasonic GH3 provides standard jpg files with natural colors that meet the requirements of the most critical user's requirements. And the color is to taste to match with the different picture styles.

The illustration above shows the color error of a 200 ISO jpg picture which is taken in daylight. The further the ideal color (square) is removed from the color of the camera (circle), the greater the color difference. As with many other camera brands, the orange colors 7, 9 and 15 are a little oversaturated, even using the standard picture style. That's probably a conscious choice by Panasonic, because this gives you beautiful warm colors, appreciated by many photographers. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ

Color accuracy @ tungsten light

GH3tungsten200ISOmini
Tungsten color accuracy (Delte E94)

Tungsten lightRAWjpg
Average1616
Best1515
Worst1717
Skin tones1515
Natural Colors1516
Bright Colors1213
White Balance2315

Images shot in tunsten light show, if you use the auto white balance setting, a clear orange hue, as clearly seen in the results shown above for a 200 ISO jpg file. This is nothing special, since perhaps 90% of the cameras we have tested so far shows an orange color cast in images shot in our artificial light test setting. If you shoot in RAW, the white balance can be adjusted properly and easily afterwards. Correction of the whitebalance afterwards of jpg images, was less succesful .

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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