Bruce's Photo Blog
Bruce Foreman | February 2013

Photo News

Panasonic does it again! They came out with a new model that “wowed” much of the market, the Lumix DMC GH3. The GH1 wasn't spectacularly great as a still camera but once the good “hackers” got into the firmware the video possibilities came “alive”. Then as the GH2 was about to be released Panasonic halted shipment of GH1's until they could code in a “block” that prevented unauthorized firmware updates.

Several things happened:

  1. Demand for “hackable” used GH1's jumped and sales for the “blocked” firmware GH1's dropped. The “hackers” worked furiously and “cracked” the “unhackable” firmware just as the GH2 was about to come to market.
  2. Panasonic underestimated the demand for the GH2 and for several months after release this model was in very short supply (like the Canon 5D MkII and the Canon 7D when they were released. I was on a “waiting list” for the 7D for a short while). The short “Summer Morning” by Bruce Dale (https://vimeo.com/14725884) shot with an advance pre-production sample of the GH2 showed stunning detail for consumer grade video, and this was the one that “pushed” me over the edge to begin converting to Micro Four Thirds with that camera.
  3. Several months after it's introduction and when supply began to meet demand the firmware for the GH2 was cracked and we began to see modifications that increased bitrates and produced smoother rendition of detail with motion. Semi serious “film makers” took notice and Panasonic was unprepared for the degree to which this camera was being put to use. Several full length “features” have been shot with the GH2


This time Panasonic took notice, they listened to the serious motion picture enthusiasts, professional users, and professional photographers and went to the drawing boards. The result was a slightly larger body (users with larger hands complained about the small size of the GH2 body), magnesium alloy instead of all polymer, higher bitrates (up to 72Mb/s compared to 24Mb/s on the GH2), significantly improved high ISO performance, weather sealing on the body, and more.

One of the improvements I appreciate is a second “control wheel”, one by the shutter button as we've become used to with the Canons and the second on the rear of the body just under the right thumb. The front wheel in Manual Motion Picture mode controls aperture while the rear controls shutter speed. The button layout is simplified and more logical.

But again Panasonic is unable to satisfy initial demand. I placed my pre-order on December 11th and began patiently waiting, UPS delivered it on January 30th. Two new lenses (both weather sealed and quite “pricey” were announced, a 12-35mm f2.8 and a 35-100mm f2.8. I already had on hand an Olympus 12-50mm f3.5-f6.3 lens that was the first weather sealed option for the Olympus OMD E-M5 and that should give me a “rainy day” body and lens combo.

My initial tests so far are very encouraging.

For Sale Items

This section is for photo club members to have me list photo gear items they would like to sell. Just email me at biforeman@gmail.com and I'll list it in the next issue.

Turns out I have one to list (too many cameras, time to “thin the herd”):

Olympus Pen E-P3. This is the little “jewel” I've been bringing to most meetings lately because for an interchangeable lens camera it is incredibly “handy”. Until recently this model was Olympus' top of the line Pen model, amazon has it new (existing stock) with 14-42mm “kit” lens for $623.75.   Originally it sold for $899.

Mine has under 1150 shutter actuations and comes with a $249 detachable EVF, one of the clearest I've seen. 14-42mm “kit” lens, has OLED screen on the back and touchscreen operation. One EXTRA Olympus battery original box with all accessories, all for $499 for club members.   I have it advertised for $550 on various forums). Looks almost brand new, no marks or blemishes of any kind.

Takes the full line of Lumix, Olympus, some new Sigma lenses, and almost all older “legacy” lenses from other brands can be adapted (Nikkor, Pentax Takumar, Minolta, Canon FD and more.