Sunday, September 29, 2013

GH3 firmware v1.2 and connecting to Mac over WiFi

This post is a bit late - the firmware version 1.2 was published already in July this year: I have updated the body at the first days when it came out, but first come to try to actually upload some files over wifi only now. It worked, but not from the first time - I had to google a little bit for how I do it. I came to success by following the instructions at, but later also found a step-by-step with screenshots here: (scroll down to post by @maxr). The only thing he has forgotten to mention is that you may need to also change firewall settings to enable file sharing. Firewall settings are available under System Settings -> Security and Privacy -> Firewall. Press "Firewall options..." and unset the "Block all incoming connections" checkbox if it is set.

From my side I want to stress that you need to change in the "Settings for transferring images" image quality to RAW+JPEG: when you see it for the first time be quick to press the display button, it disappears very fast. And if you missed that, the default setting is JPEG only - you will not be able to transmit any RAW files.

The overall process is very slow - it takes several minutes to set up a connection, but if you need it - it works.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Another RAW pseudo-HDR and Lumix Link review

After using GH3 for a couple of days I stay amazed how huge the step in image quality GH3 is compared to previous GH-series. Below is another pseudo-HDR image created from a single RAW file.

If I would pull the blacks so hard on my GH1 as I did here the image would fall apart completely. The big help is also the low level and the quality of the noise (almost no chroma noise).

The second topic of this post is a short list of features and my opinion of the Lumix Link app used to remotely control the GH3 over WiFi.

On the main screen press the Set button to change basic settings. The setting are:

  • Aperture
  • Exposure
  • Sensitivity
  • White Balance

No picture profile, no on-screen quick menu as in the camera. To get other settings you have to go to Menu tab and select Recording Settings. Here in addition you can change:

  • AF Mode
  • Photo Style
  • Flash Mode (Forced, Red-Eye, Slow Sync., Slow Sync+Red Eye)
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Quality
  • Metering Mode
  • Video Rec Quality
  • Recording Time

Live preview quality is either VGA (640x480) or QVGA (320x240).

What I like:

  • Easy to change basic settings
  • Considering the image is transmitted over WiFi having a VGA stream with delay around 0,5 seconds (or less) is actually pretty good

What I don't like:

  • Poor design: ambiguously named or icon'd buttons placed arbitrary around the screen. No interaction / workflow design at all. Weird separation of the settings between main screen and menu. Menu is actually used for application settings, camera control has nothing to search here. PANASONIC, IF YOU READ THIS PLEASE HIRE AN INTERACTION DESIGNER / USABILITY SPECIALIST. People who did the app have no idea, believe me, I develop for iOS professionally, I know what I'm saying.
  • No RAW support. You can set image quality to RAW and take pictures with Lumix Link, but you cannot review them. Neither you can upload RAWs to iPad if you started GH3 in upload mode. Why not? I know, the is no API to store a RAW file in the camera roll on iOS, but GH3 can create a JPEG to preview, actually JPEG preview IS already a part of the RAW file, why not use that? I hope this will be added in future firmware / app versions.
  • No microphone gain display / control: very important if you record sound in camera but don't want to touch it - e.g. if it is on a steady cam.
  • No flash control: if you are a strobist this is the one most needed feature for a remote control app.
  • No Focus Assist: though I cannot manual focus without touching the camera obviously, I still want to be sure I have the correct focus.
  • No way to switch on / off electronic shutter: I use electronic shutter a lot, but it has its limitations. Sometimes you need to switch it on or off during the shot.

UPDATE: after actually trying to use the app in different situations I have a couple of things more that I feel are worth to mention.

  • You can start video recording inside the app, but to stop it you have to go to the camera and press video button on the camera. Alternatively, it is possible to set recording time after which the recording will be stopped automatically. Recording time is set under Menu -> Recording Settings -> Recording time, you can set any time in format hh:mm:ss. Recording will also stop if the card gets full. Furthermore, during the recording the display stays black - you don't have any feedback whatsoever. Though I understand that keeping the video stream during recording may be not feasible due to high CPU load for higher-quality video compression, not having any possibility to stop recording is a big limitation. Basically, these both things together, sadly, render the Lumix Link useless for me in video more.
  • GH3 is providing the live view stream as a sequence of VGA (640x480 or less, depending on the aspect ratio) resolution JPEGs, sent over UDP, simply one after another without any specific protocol. The camera itself is sending them out with 30fps, though Lumix Link is not very efficiently implemented and actually shows a few fps less. I made a sample iPad app that reads the stream and displays it - it is visibly faster than Lumix Link. The idea for me was to try to implement focus peaking based on video stream. It works, but unfortunately gives no better focusing precision than simply focusing by eye using the camera display. Furthermore, it is unusable in video mode since the stream stops when you start recording video.
I was thinking if I should make an alternative to Lumix Link - but faster, nicer and with much more features - like sub-second precision timelapse control, stop-motion, etc., however I'm not sure how many people would actually use it. If it's just a couple of people, then probably it doesn't make sense for me to invest the time. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Namesake youtube video

At the same time as writing my previous post I discovered a youtube video with the same name as this blog and an accompanying thread at DPReview. For my goal here is to collect as many technical tips I'm re-posting it:

The corresponding DPReview thread can be found here:

Personally, my findings from this video are that Quick Menu can be customized (separately for each mode) and that electronic shutter is limited to ISO1600 and 1 second shutter speed. Good to know.

Some comments to the viewfinder smearing issue: I don't have it. At all. In fact, my old GH1 has much fuzzier viewfinder image than GH3. I bought my GH3 in a shop in Europe though, can it be that smearing is a US-specific quality control issue at Panasonic? Neither I have the flash sensor issue.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

WiFi export to Mac - works but not really

Today I spent another 3 hours trying to make GH3 to export images to a Mac. At the end it has worked but with some reservations:

  • First of all export works with Windows shares only (SMB/CIFS), no other protocols are supported.
  • Second, a complete NETBIOS implementation is required for GH3 can find the sharing hosts. That means that you need a running Windows computer at any time you want to export images from GH3 to your Mac or to an Airport Extreme-connected hard drive (or Time Capsule). Even if you have had successfully transmitted files before, but turned the Windows machine off and now press "Select a destination from History" on GH3, it tells you "No destination found" - same as if you try to setup a connection from scratch. Another implication is that PC wifi export works only inside of a single LAN. E.g. if, for example, you have 2 LANs connected by a router netbios traffic will not survive at that router boundary and export will not work.
  • On Airport Extreme set up disk sharing security to "With accounts". If you set it to "Disk password" or "Device password" GH3 will crash completely so that you will have to pull the battery to reset it. When security set to "With accounts" GH3 will ask you for the user name and password as required.
  • I also tried the NAS4FREE FreeBSD based NAS server. It does contain NETBIOS implementation - so GH3 shows the list of servers when NAS4FREE is turned on (that's why I'm pretty confident that it should lie on netbios). However, its implementation seem to be incomplete, or possibly GH3 implementation relies on some quite specific Windows features not supported here. Anyway after you select a server GH3 hangs and you have to pull the battery again.

For me, though I made it running, the requirement to have a Windows machine running at all times when I want to export images render PC export option completely useless. I only hope that Panasonic will catch up at some point and make it working also for Mac. They state in the GH3 User Guide that it shall work for Mac, so we have hope.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

First test results

Today was a nice weather and I walked a little with the new camera. Specifically I wanted to try HDR feature and high ISO astro shots.

Well, unfortunately handheld HDR shots do not really give you any usable image quality, even using a stabilized lens at 12mm. What is acceptable for iPhone is a no-go for a 1000+$ camera. And if you do invest time to set up a tripod why not just spend a little more to post-process from RAW on a computer? The win in flexibility and image quality is enormous. Good news however is that RAW files do keep a plenty of dynamic range: pseudo-HDR from a single RAW file is very well possible.

The above image is shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom 4.3 (click on the image to see larger). Considering that the sun is in the frame the performance is pretty amazing.

Continuing with the positives I'm really happy with the high ISO performance of the camera.

Here is a 100% crop from the second image.

RAW f2.8 13" at ISO2500, no noise reduction applied.

What I see:

  • No signs of chroma noise - just nice film-like luminance grain.
  • No banding issues that plagued GH1 (and so far I know also GH2) at longer shutter speeds and high ISO.
  • Absolutely usable up to ISO3200.
  • Since it is a full moon today I didn't really had a chance to test ISO6400. Though this will definitely require some de-noising, with downscaling to 1080p it may still be usable for timelapse.

As I said I'm pretty happy with the performance.

By the way, there is "one more thing" that makes this camera the best camera for astro photography I ever used: switching on the Constant Preview setting under Custom settings pane allows you to live preview how the current aperture and shutter speed affect the image. For astro photography it means that you finally can frame your shot without guessing by the completely dark viewfinder what is going to be in frame. It can take up to the shutter speed time until everything is completely settled but it is still much faster than making a test shot and then try to move the camera blindly to get the framing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Electronic shutter

Basically, electronic shutter allows to shoot completely silently in situations where you need it: street photography, wedding photography, making photos during presentations, etc. There are three things to mention however:

  1. By default after switching over to electronic shutter the shutter sound is generated electronically even though there is no mechanical shutter movement. You can switch it off completely in Setup/Beep menu.
  2. If you close down the aperture on an electronic lens you will hear aperture closing down sound when you release. It is much more discrete than shutter sound but still audible in silent environment. For complete silent shooting either shoot wide open or use completely mechanical lenses (without electronic coupling).
  3. When using electronic shutter under certain types of lighting you may notice banding. It is caused by interferences between current frequencies and sensor readout speed. If you see it in your image the only way to get rid of it is to turn electronic shutter off.

In theory, there is also another use of electronic shutter: high sync speed flash photography. As the theory goes, since there is no physical curtain covering part of the sensor as a flash pops, it should be possible to sync flash at any speed, opening possibilities to overpower sun with a small flash on a bright day. Unfortunately, we are out of luck here: flash is disabled when using electronic shutter. I think the cause is the same why we see banding with certain types of light: sensor readout is in fact not instant but reads the sensor line by line (rolling shutter instead of global shutter, see this interview of Mr. Inoue from Panasonic).


A short overview of the current WiFi implementation on the GH3: what it can and cannot do.

  • Control your camera using a smartphone or tablet (Remote Shooting menu). For that you will need the Lumix Link app that is available for both Android and iOS. You can look at Nick Driftwood's video to get first impression of how it works:

    The Lumix Link app is not the most intuitive app I used, nor it has a full feature set to control everything on the camera - just basic settings are supported. But it does work, it works without any major issues, could be invaluable in situations where you just cannot touch the camera physically and it is free.
  • Show you images on TV. You will need a DLNA-capable TV for that.
  • Tethered shooting (Send Images While Recording menu) and transfer images (Send Images Stored in the Camera menu). These work either with a smartphone / tablet or a PC. I tried for more than one hour to make it working with a Mac - without success. It can be that I miss something or my configuration is invalid - the user guide tells nothing of what protocols are required on the client side or how this shall be configured. Or it may be just a bug in the implementation. I will keep trying and will share the results with you as soon as I know more.

Overall, my impression is that PC part is, let's put it this way, a little rough. Whereas it has just worked with a direct connection using my iPad I had continuous troubles connecting over Wifi access point, including one time that the display turned black and the camera stopped reacting even to turning off - I had to remove the battery to restart. What I know now is that this assumed to work with SMB protocol (Windows file sharing, works also on a mac) because once I could come that far that I could select a server. It seems FTP is not supported though.

On the other side, Will Crocket from seem to have accomplished connecting GH3 to an Apple's Time Capsule without any issues.

I don't own a Time Capsule so I cannot confirm it. But next days I will try to connect a USB drive to my older Airport Extreme base station and let you know if that works.