Panasonic GH1 versus Panasonic GH3
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2009 and September 2012. Both the GH1 and the GH3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The GH1 has a resolution of 12 megapixel, whereas the GH3 provides 15.9 MP.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH1 and the Panasonic GH3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the GH1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH3 is notably larger (11 percent) than the Panasonic GH1. Moreover, the GH3 is substantially heavier (43 percent) than the GH1. It is noteworthy in this context that the GH3 is splash and dust-proof, while the GH1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt)||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||300||no||2009||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft)||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||no||2009||499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||YES||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||no||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||99 mm||55 mm||30 mm||204 g||230||no||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||no||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||no||2011||949||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||no||2010||549||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||no||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||no||2010||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||no||2010||499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||119 mm||71 mm||36 mm||385 g||380||no||2009||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||no||2008||599||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GH3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the GH1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the GH3 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixel, compared with 12 MP of the GH1. This megapixel advantage translates into a 15 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the GH3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 4.33μm for the GH1). However, it should be noted that the GH3 is much more recent (by 3 years and 6 months) than the GH1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the GH3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the GH1 (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21||10.6||667||56|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||no||21.1||10.3||463||53|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the GH3 provides a faster frame rate than the GH1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the GH1 is limited to 1080/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the GH3 offers a higher resolution than the one in the GH1 (1746k vs 1440k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic GH1 and Panasonic GH3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4000||3.0||10.5||no|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft)||1746||no||3.0||614||swivel||YES||4000||6.0||12||no|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||no|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||17||no|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||4000||7.0||10.5||no|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1036||fixed||YES||500||5.0||4||no|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||YES||4000||4.0||11||no|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||YES||4000||4.2||7.6||no|
|Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||YES||4000||2.6||6.0||no|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1534||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4000||3.0||15.6||no|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||YES||4000||2.6||11||no|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||202||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||2.6||11||no|
|Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||3.0||6.0||no|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4001||3.0||10.5||no|
Both the GH1 and the GH3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The GH1 was replaced by the Panasonic GH2 , while the GH3 was followed by the Panasonic GH4.
So how do things add up? Is the Panasonic GH1 better than the Panasonic GH3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1:
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 165g or 30 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p vs 1080/24p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (1746k vs 1440k dots).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (540 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 6 months of technical progress since the GH1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH3 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 2 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the GH1 and the GH3 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt)||89/100 HiRec||72/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||79/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||83/100 Rec||69/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||2009||499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||-||5/5||-||4.5/5||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||78/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||75/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100 Rec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2011||949||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2010||549||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100 HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||72/100 Silver||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||2010||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||70/100||4/5||-||4/5||2010||499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2009||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||70/100 HiRec||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2008||599||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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