Since this time, they have released a number of cameras. Here is an overview of the current models.
|Camera||Lumix GH3||Lumix G6||Lumix GX7||Lumix GM1||Lumix GF6|
|Announced||Sep 17th, 2012||April 24th, 2013||Aug 1st, 2013||Oct 17th, 2013||April 9th, 2013|
|Dimensions||133 × 93 × 82mm||122 × 85 × 71mm||123 × 71 v 55mm||99 × 55 × 30mm||111 × 65 × 38mm|
|In a nutshell||Weatherproof, pro ergonomics, the best video||Compact, value for money, good on features||Retro rangefinder style||Very compact, retry style||Compact, enthusiast friendly|
After a long two year wait, the Panasonic GH3 replaced the premium Panasonic GH2. While the GH3 is often perceived as a video centric camera, I would say that it is actually intended to mimic the classic pro DSLR photo camera.
It improves upon the GH2 in virtually all aspects, with some few exceptions: It loses the multi aspect feature of the two predecessors. Also, the viewfinder optics are not as good as the GH2.
The GH3 introduces a sensor which is designed by Sony, a first for Panasonic. It is basically the same sensor which is used in the Olympus E-M5 and even the Olympus E-M1, although the GH3 employs a heavier anti aliasing (low pass) filter, common for cameras that are optimized for video use.
Compared with previous Micro Four Thirds cameras, it improves the video AF dramatically. I would say this is the first Micro Four Thirds camera which is truly useful for autofocus during video recording. You can do focus pulling using the touch autofocus.
The G series made a detour in 2011 with the more style oriented G3, but is now back to the ergonomic style of cameras which the G1 pioneered in 2008. The latest instalment, the G6, lends a bit of the style from the Leica R9, with the tall shoulders.
You could view this camera as a cheaper, more compact GH3. It has almost all the features of the GH3. It has an earlier generation sensor, though, based on the GH2. And the G6 doesn't have the same high bitrate video output as the GH3. But apart from this, the G6 is a very capable camera at a reasonable price. Despite the older sensor design, it has updated image processing, and does beat the GH2 in terms of image quality.
The GX7 is one of the most exciting camera arrivals from Panasonic. While it includes new features, it is the form factor which is revolutionary. Enthusiasts have been craving for a camera shaped like the Leica M rangefinders, with the viewfinder in the top left corner, for a long time. Here it is.
Beyond the rangefinder style, it also adds a tiltable electronic viewfinder (EVF). This is useful for when having the camera on a tripod on a bright, sunny day. Also, the LCD display is tiltable, which is very useful. While employing a retro look, it is still quite ergonomic, with a handsome grip on the front of the camera.
The features are also new: It includes In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), a feature previously only seen on Olympus cameras. And the shutter is new, capable of 1/320s flash sync, and 1/8000s max shutter speed, both twice as good as previous models.
On the negative side, it is said to eat batteries rather quickly.
Also, the rubber eyecup is a bit narrow, and would not always reduce glare on a sunny day. This especially goes for people who use glasses. There is a solution, though. There is an extra large eyecup coming, the DMW-EC1. I would recommend people who use glasses to get this item, when it gets available.
Another camera which made a huge impact upon the launch, this time for the size. It is the smallest Micro Four Thirds camera so far. It also gains a retro style, heavy on aluminimum and faux leather body styling. Despite being small, it still gets a PASM mode dial view on the top, and remains enthusiast friendly.
In addition to the impressive size, the camera also introduces a new shutter module, introducing an electronic front curtain technique. It allows for a shutter speed of 1/16000s at the max, using the electronic shutter.
Together with the camera, a new compact wide angle zoom lens was announced, the Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6, featuring optical image stabilization. It is as compact as the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake, and needs to be extended to be usable.
It does not have any grip surface for the front, but this is remedied by an optional aluminium hand grip, the DMW-HGR1. It screws into the tripod mount, and adds some height to the camera.
There is no way to connect an external EVF, and there is no tilt LCD. This lessens the usability of the camera, in my opinion. It means that you are limited to holding the camera out in front of your face, which makes it hard to hold it stably. Recording video without shaking your hand in this way is pretty much impossible.
While this camera looks rather bland, I think it is in fact quite interesting. It adds enthusiast friendly features to the previously dumbed down GF line. Considering the size, it has quite good ergonomics, including a PASM dial.
Keep in mind that it lacks a flash hotshoe, though, so it is not entirely enthusiast friendly.
The LCD screen tilts, for more easy "shooting from the hip", a position which enables you to record video in a more stable way.
It is an inexpensive camera, but full of features, and very compact, true to the purpose of Micro Four Thirds.
The Panasonic camera lineup is quite impressive now. For the best of ergonomics and video quality, go for the Panasonic GH3. Sadly, it does not implement focus peaking, a feature which could have made manual focusing easier, especially during video recording.
If you like the classic rangefinder style, you will surely enjoy the Panasonic GX7. But this is not an old fashioned camera, it is in fact in the forefront of the technology now, with IBIS, and a new shutter. It also offers a weaker anti aliasing filter, for better image sharpness.
If you want the absolutely smallest camera, the Panasonic GM1 is for you.
But don't forget the G6 and GF6. They are enthusiast friendly cameras, compact, and reasonably priced.