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Panasonic GH3 versus Panasonic GH2

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and September 2010. Both the GH3 and the GH2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Panasonic GH3 vs Panasonic GH2

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH3 and the Panasonic GH2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 side – the GH3 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Panasonic GH3 vs Panasonic GH2
Compare GH3 versus GH2 top
Compare GH3 and GH2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH2 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Panasonic GH3. Moreover, the GH2 is markedly lighter (20 percent) than the GH3. It is worth mentioning in this context that the GH3 is splash and dust resistant, while the GH2 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.

Concerning battery life, the GH3 gets 540 shots out of its DMW-BLF19 battery, while the GH2 can take 330 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLC12 power pack.

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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH3» 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.2 in 19.4 oz 540 Y Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Panasonic GH2« 4.9 in 3.5 in 3.0 in 15.6 oz 330 n Sep 2010 1,499- i Panasonic GH2
Olympus E-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-M5« » 4.8 in 3.5 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 360 Y Feb 2012 1,299- i Olympus E-M5
Panasonic GH5s« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 23.3 oz 440 Y Jan 2018 2,499 i i Panasonic GH5s
Panasonic G85« » 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 Y Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 290 n Apr 2016 799 i i Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G7« » 4.9 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 14.5 oz 350 n May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » 3.9 in 2.2 in 1.2 in 7.2 oz 230 n Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH1« » 4.9 in 3.5 in 1.8 in 13.6 oz 300 n Mar 2009 1,499- i Panasonic GH1

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The GH3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the GH2, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic GH3 vs Panasonic GH2

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.

Panasonic GH3 and Panasonic GH2 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the GH3 and the GH2 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the GH3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the GH2, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

GH3 versus GH2 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the GH3 provides substantially higher image quality than the GH2, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH3» Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p22.712.481271Panasonic GH3
Panasonic GH2« Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i21.211.365560Panasonic GH2
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-M5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i22.812.382671Olympus E-M5
Panasonic GH5s« » Four Thirds 9.9 3680 27004K/60p----Panasonic GH5s
Panasonic G85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.912.666271Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p----Panasonic G7
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264Panasonic GH1

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GH3 provides a higher frame rate than the GH2. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the GH2 is limited to 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic GH3 vs Panasonic GH2

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration 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 GH2 (1746k vs 1534k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic GH3 and Panasonic GH2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH3»1746 n 3.0 614 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Panasonic GH3
Panasonic GH2«1534 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic GH2
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-M5« »1440 n 3.0 610 tilting Y 4000 9.0 n Y Olympus E-M5
Panasonic GH5s« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n n Panasonic GH5s
Panasonic G85« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 9.0 Y Y Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« »2765 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G7« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G7
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »- n 3.0 1036 fixed Y 500 5.0 Y n Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH1« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic GH1

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GH3 has a touchscreen, while the GH2 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Both the GH3 and the GH2 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH3»YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Panasonic GH3
Panasonic GH2«Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GH2
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-M5« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-M5
Panasonic GH5s« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5s
Panasonic G85« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G7« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Panasonic G7
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Panasonic GH4
Panasonic G6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH1« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Panasonic GH1

Both the GH3 and the GH2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GH2 was replaced by the Panasonic GH3, while the GH3 was followed by the Panasonic GH4.

Review summary: Panasonic GH3 vs Panasonic GH2

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GH3 and the Panasonic GH2? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (1746k vs 1534k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 460k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (540 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 11 months after the GH2).


Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2:

  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 108g or 20 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH3 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 2 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

GH3 15:02 GH2

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the GH3 or the GH2 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH3»HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Panasonic GH2«HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i Panasonic GH2
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-M5« »HiRec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2012 1,299- i Olympus E-M5
Panasonic GH5s« »-84/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2018 2,499 i i Panasonic GH5s
Panasonic G85« »HiRec84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« »HiRec82/1005/54.5/55/5 Apr 2016 799 i i Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/54.5/5 May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »Rec78/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH1« »HiRec72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 1,499- i Panasonic GH1

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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