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Monday, October 7, 2019

Panasonic's Lumix GH3 and the 14-140mm II

Panasonic's Lumix GH3 and the 14-140mm II
October 2019, Carl Garrard

Yesterday I took the GH3 and 14-140mm II lens out for a hike. I've never used any of the GH series cameras, so recently I  purchased the GH3 in near new condition, boxed, for less than $300.00 USD. For a camera that used to sell for $1,300.00, this is quite a bargain. It's metal construction is top notch, it's weather sealed (splash proof), and has electronics that are quite capable even today. It's really a do it all camera, and when paired up with the 14-140mm II (second version) lens, you have a weather sealed lightweight combo that gives you a 28-280mm equivalent focal range. I wasn't so impressed with the lens of the FZ2500, so I wanted to see how this combination would do in comparison. Practically, there's not a whole lot of difference between 280mm and 480mm in terms of field of view.
Panasonic GH3  or Panasonic 14-140mm II f/3.5-5.6 Lens
First of all I loved how comfortable the GH3 is, its dense all metal body exudes quality, and the supple soft rubber grip is very comfortable. It focuses fast, accurately, and it's image quality is quite good even by today's standards. Control placement is mostly excellent too, and the dual dials are really a treat. It's battery is huge, I shot about 190 photographs without the battery going down one bar at all. The GH3 leaves little to desire for enthusiast photographers, or  even videographers really. With headphone and mic jacks, a tilt/touch glass screen, and excellent still and image quality, it's quite a steal if you can grab one for the price I did. 


Good lens for closeups @140mm, good background blur when close. One of two large garden spiders I encountered on this hike.


Now the other treat is the Panasonic 14-140mm II lens. Here is a lens that has almost no weak points. It's very fast to focus, small, light, optically excellent no matter what focal length you are using, its weather sealed, and has great close focus capabilities.  I prefer it to the 14-150mm II Olympus for two reasons: It's faster to focus (almost twice as fast) and it's better optically through the range. It's lighter too but in the world of micro 4/3 there is no such thing as big and heavy in comparison.


Backlit is the only way to go sometimes.


I laughed at reviews that said the GH3 was huge.  The combination I used is smaller in volume than the FZ1000. With the 14-140mm II lens, it's perfectly balanced and I have a manual zoom to work with here. Even fully extended there's no perceivable shift in weight. Although on this hike I was afforded no flying bird situations, I'm highly confident the combo would have no issues tracking and nailing birds in flight. It's a very fast to focus. On this hike I set it to f5.6, as that aperture setting would work for any focal length or type of shooting I would do on the trail.


No birds, so a fence swift will have to do.

While hiking about, I kept thinking about how much of a bargain this set up is. Panasonic's 14-140mm II lens may be the best overall long zoom lens I've used from any manufacturer. It ticks off all the important things I desire, let alone need, for a very reasonable price. It has no annoying traits. For example, zoom creep, sticky zoom action, soft corners, and awful vignetting are absent on this lens. And being the size and weight of the 16-80mm, I'll take this lens any day over that one. The added telephoto range is highly welcome when you want an all in one lens. It's worth the sacrifice from 24 equivalent to 28mm equivalent on the wide end in comparison.

 
Sharp at wide or telephoto, just what you want in a zoom lens. Plenty of detail from the sensor.


Overall I'm very impressed with the GH3's image quality, even at the extended 125 ISO setting. The Jpeg processing is honest and detailed (I back off sharpening and NR to -5), and the raw quality is better than I hoped. Detail is also better than I hoped considering the sensor does have a fixed AA filter. I personally wouldn't need more detail for anything I do. Dynamic range is quite good, and plenty enough for any work I do as well. For being an older camera, it sure does produce some great images for stills. With all the mainstream hype about its video capabilities I feel the GH3 has been overlooked as great still camera.


At telephoto. Just an excellent performance from this lens.


Paired with the 14-140mm II lens, I can't say I'm disappointed in the least. The combination far exceeds any expectations for the money spent, and I'd prefer this combination over the FZ1000 or FZ2500 for most hiking excursions, and especially so in inclimate weather where there would be simply no contest at all here.

Another species of garden spider. This time I got a pregnant mother (she is huge) and a proud daddy.


So if you are looking for an affordable all weather set up that can do just about anything very well to excellent, this combination is a no brainer of a choice. You'd be hard pressed to need anything more unless you are a pro needing every conceivable advantage in gear advancements. I'd not hesitate to make 30x40" prints from this combination from on a non cropped file, any day of the week. As for a comparison to the FZ series, I find this combination a bit more attractive in that it is weather sealed and optically better, especially at wide angle. 

Unless you absolutely need 4K video and a larger viewfinder (the GH3's is more than adequate and quite nice in fact), then I'd recommend this combo over those cameras. The increase in image quality, build quality, weather sealing, excellent video capability, and battery life make this the best small trail combo I can find to date for the price. This is an excellent jack-of-all-trades combination that I highly recommend.

Stay Focused,

-Carl

Panasonic GH3  or Panasonic 14-140mm II f/3.5-5.6 Lens


Local watering hole.
I guess they don't have white out or auto-correct for graffiti artists. Practice on cardboard next time, idiot.



And some b-roll video footage (in monochrome) of the soon proud to be couple of garden spiders.







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