Panasonic Officially Introduces The Rugged, Pro-Focused Lumix GH3 Mirrorless Camera

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Panasonic has officially introduced its successor to the GH2, the Lumix GH3 (via DPReview) a Micro Four Thirds camera that looks and, in many ways, behaves like a DSLR. The GH2 was a shooter that caught on with pros, especially due to its impressive video performance. In fact, many held it up as the standard to beat for more expensive cameras and supposedly more professional devices, including even the much more expensive 5D Mk II. Panasonic looks to hope to please the GH2′s avid fan base with more pro-focused features, and a new 72Mbps codec for video capture that should do away with the imperfections AVCHD (used on most mirrorless cameras) introduces into the mix.

The GH3 is definitely a beast, with a magnesium alloy body that pro shooters will find feels familiar to their DSLRs, complete with some degree of weather-resistance via dust- and splash-proof construction. It gets a slightly upgraded sensor, capable of 16.05MP capture with a native ISO range of 200 to 12,800, and an expanded range of 125 to 25,600. On the video front, in addition to the new high-bandwidth codec, the GH3 has no cap on recording time thanks to an internal layout designed to dissipate heat, and it can record in AVCHD, AVCHD Progressive, MP4, or MOV formats. The GH3 can also support an external mic via a 3.5mm stereo input jack, and also boasts another for headphone monitoring.

Panasonic has taken great pains to minimize noise on low-light shots and video, thanks to a refined image processor, as well as a redesigned low pass filter to reduce moire (all of which is to say that images off all kinds should appear clearer, sharper, and truer to the original, especially in low-light situations). A new 6fps burst mode makes things a little quicker than rapid-fire still shooting on its predecessor, and the camera comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, providing remote control and remote monitor capabilities via smartphone and tablet, plus immediate transfer of files either to Lumix’s own cloud, or to local network devices.

The camera also debuts alongside a fast, f/2.8 35-100mm zoom, which, like the GF3, boasts a splash- and dust-proof design. The company clearly sees these two as a good pairing, and indeed it would seem like that focal range at that aperture will appeal to Panasonic’s prosumer audience for the GH3. The only thing that might be hard to swallow: The camera will be around the $2,000 mark when it hits shelves later this year, according to Engadget. That’s a far cry above the current $800 or so you’d pay for the GH2, so it’ll be interesting to see if consumers and reviewers think the upgrades are worth it. Stay tuned for more as Photokina gets underway this week and other companies debut new equipment.