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:
- 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
- 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.