Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 for Sports Photography

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Free running demonstration
I had a chance to recently shoot a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 at a digital photography exposition as part of a workshop. The days events were focus on sports and action photography and as part of the day I had the opportunity to take the Lumix through a series of test shoots photographing a freerunning club. If you don’t know what freerunning is you are surely missing some great Youtube videos, give it a search someday.

Ergonomics

Back to the camera. This was the first micro four thirds system that I had the chance to shoot. In the hands if felt small compared to my Canon 5D. Even being small, it was still sufficiently large to handle comfortably in my hands. I guess it is worth nothing I usually were small or medium gloves so I don’t have big hands. The lenses themselves were also smaller, but felt well built. I had a chance to shoot the 35-100mm as well as the wide angle 7-14mm lens. Given the environment I was in the wide angle was where I spent most of my time. The zoom on both lenses felt good to the touch and had the right amount of resistance.
As I was in an action environment burst rates were important. The specs on the camera advertise up to 20 fps. That sounds more like a marketing gimmick to me. As I was shooting Large jpegs at the time the burst rate felt a little slow compared to my Canon 5D Mk III. Checking out the Panasonic website it sounds like I could have expected abotu 2 fps with large jpegs and that sounds about right.

Autofocus and Sensor Noise

Using the AFF autofocus mode the focus was quick and seemed to lock fairly well in the dynamic environment I was in. Some the images I had taken did appear a little soft but I am not sure if that is due to focus or the cameras processing of the images into jpeg format. I’d need some more time with the camera to tell.

I was shooting at ISO 800 at f4 for most of the event. It was was a dark environment and in the final images while there didn’t seem to be lots of noise there were quite a few jpeg artifacts that I could have done without. Not sure if that was related to the low light, high speed environment.

Final Thoughts

The camera was fun, the event was fun, but for me, I think a full sized DSLR is what I prefer for shooting sports.  For a Camera that is currently selling for around 900 USD on special Christmas cash back offers my feeling is you get a decent camera for the price.  However, its performance was not compelling enough to be on my list.  This camera sits somewhere between a high end prosumer point and shoot like the Canon GX1 and a full sized DSLR body and for me I don’t really need a camera in that space.

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