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.


  1. Found your blog through personal-view. I read a lot online that people are transfering RAWs to their ipad and iPhones but i cant seem to get it done at all. Am i missing a setting somewhere?

    Apparently iOS does support the same RAW files as a Mac as read here:

    And i've no trouble using the AirStash to transfer RAW files over to my phone or ipad. Just not via GH3 wifi. I can even change the setting at the transfer screen from JPG to RAW.

    1. Hi Hazrul! (I hope I haven't mixed up your name.)

      As I said above, I haven't found any possibility to import RAWs via WiFi directly from GH3. Nor can I preview RAWs that already are on GH3. Basically you can set GH3 to shoot RAW only via iPad app, but you will not be able to see the results. Let's hope this will be fixed with a new firmware.

      To import RAW files to iPad use Apple's Camera Connection Kit, this is the only way to import RAW files to iPad without decoding them. Other apps to store images to Saved Photos album must go through the programming interface (API) that Apple provides, and this cannot handle RAW files. Those third-party apps can store RAW images separately from regular iPad photos, but this is not what you are asking, right? Furthermore, using Apple's Camera Connection Kit is the only way how you can preserve the original file name. Because Apple's API always rename images when storing them.

      By the way, since you are asking about working with RAW files on iPad you may be interested in my app for editing IPTC photo metadata (keywords, title, description, location, etc.). See it in AppStore.

  2. I found your review of the plus and minuses very helpful. I thought it was me doing something wrong with the Raw files. Know I understand why. You are also so correct Flash control would be a great added feature. You don't mention that you can only start video recording within the app to stop the video you must go to the camera. Makes the video feature useless. Maybe you can help, I can't seem to get the app to find my iMac 27 any suggestions

    1. That's right, Lumix Link is pretty much useless for video. You can start capture but cannot stop it, except you set a predefined fixed interval for how long the capture should last. And the display stays black during capture.

  3. Have you given anymore thought to creating a Lumix Link replacement? I, too am sorely disappointed with the Lumix software for all the points you mentioned. One of the main reasons I bought this camera was the anticipation of live monitoring and playback via wi-fi of the video.

    It did not even occur to me that a obvious thing like rec. stop was not implemented.

    I did stumble on a possible solution. I just ordered a wireless remote trigger. This in conjunction with Lumix View on my Nexus 7 may allow me to rec. start/stop.

  4. I too am still disappointed with the App. The last update DID NOT fix the Mac issues as stated. My call to tech support failed to even get a follow up response as they said they would. I love there Camera but hate the APP. Panasonic are you listening.