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.