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Can the GH3 replace a Traditional Video camera for Amateur work?
  • I have been shooting indoor climbing competitions for years with Micro Four Thirds cameras(GF1, GH2, and now the GH3). I don’t shoot professionally. I simply record the event and share the videos with anyone who wants to see them.

    I thought the videos were good in the past. However, the lack of image stabilization, accurate Continuous Auto Focus, and a good wide aperture zoom lens were always mentioned as limitations with my videos.

    Finally with the GH3 I think we are over that hurdle. The video below was shot entirely hand held(No tripod or monopod at all) by 1 person in continuous Auto Focus mode with the 35-100mm F2.8 lens. I also only used one battery and still had some juice left after more than 4 hours of filming.

    I would say that the focus was spot on for pretty much every clip. Even the focus pull at the beginning from the guy’s Ipad to his son climbing worked perfectly. That was a one take shot. If I didn’t get it right I couldn’t ask the guy and the climber to go back and do it again.

    I simply slid my finger from the Ipad to the climber on the camera’s LCD screen. I think it gave the video a very nice effect.

    I had other lenses with me like the 25mm F1.4 and the 14mm F2.5. However, I never felt like I needed them. At F2.8 I was almost never above ISO 3200 even with the darker lighting they used for this round.

    I think the IS was terrific in the 35-100mm lens as well. Yes I would rather have had the OMD’s 5 axis stabilization. However, I think this is the next best thing. Try holding a camera up for 4 hours straight with a 200mm 35mm equivalent focal length and see how shaky it is without good IS. I also like to take images while I record video and instantly upload them to the web so that spectators can follow along with the action with real-time pictures. With the GH3 I put it in the real time wireless upload mode and shot at 1080p @ 60 FPS in the stills mode. That way I could take stills during video and instantly upload them.

    The only issue I had with that is that every time you press the shutter button to take a still it will initiate a focus adjustment. That actually made the focus go off more times than not. After noticing this I just decided to save images directly from the videos in playback mode(Press pause during video playback and then save an image). The camera will upload those images in real time as well.

    I have tested the quality of images recorded during video recording and images saved during playback and they are indistinguishable in my opinion.

    I also mount my GoPro 3 Black on top of the GH3 and shoot simultaneous wide angle 720p @ 120 FPS video. However, I scrapped all of the GoPro footage because it simply was not up to the caliber of the GH3 video. It is great for super slow motion but the 120 FPS mode indoors produces so much noise that it would not mesh well with the excellent video from the GH3.

    I also was impressed with how well the youtube encoding turned out. I normally post to Vimeo as well because it is better for compression. However, in this case I thought the 1080p youtube encode looked great.

    I didn’t alter the video at all. I did not do any color grading or post processing on it. I shot in scenery mode with -2 Contrast, +2 sharpness, Zero Color, and -5 Noise Reduction and simply pieced the videos together with a cheap($50) program called AVS Video Editor.

    It was really nice to be able to produce the video with the footage as it was shot in camera and still get what I thought was a decent result.

    There were plenty of other professional film crews there with much more sophisticated equipment. The little 11 year old girl in the last clip is probably the 2nd best female climber in the country(At 12 years old) and she has a film crew that follows her around everywhere she goes. I wonder how much better their footage looks?

    So what do you think? Is the GH3 finally the camera that would make you put down the traditional video camera if you shoot both stills and video?

  • 23 Replies sorted by
  • Marvelous climbing competition and great video! I enjoyed it. I abandoned video cameras a long time ago, so I am with you for family use... Al

  • Ya it is,, but traditional camera?? No gh3 cannot do traditional 48 shutter. A vg30 or a vg900 would replace traditional video cams.

  • I'm not so sure I'd say replace. I wouldn't want to try ENG work with it so I'll keep them but for 95% of everything else....Yep!

  • I really meant for Amateur work. Where you want high quality video but you really don't want to put any effort into it since you are not getting paid by the person consuming the footage. In this case 1080p @ 60 FPS with good AFC and great IS is what you really need.

  • @mpgxsvcd well my GH3 will be here in a few hours and now that I have the warranty solved, I'm excited.

    If Vitally is able to hack them, I think it will be on the top of the heap for a year or so.

  • @peternap

    Just curious. What exactly would the hack add that would make it that much better for Amateur use?

  • Higher bitrate can fill up card and hdd quicker :)

    Those are nice captures. I'm planning to start rock climbing lessons w/ kids next year.

    Prolly I'd get one of those Sony handycams.

    26-260mm equivalent focal length, f/1.8-3.4, 1080p60 28Mbps, 5.1 ch. Not too shabby. Hopefully price cut in half by next year!

  • @stonebat

    I know all of the gyms in your area if you want some pointers on where to climb indoors there.

    I would really be curious to see how the IS on the camcorders stacks up against m4/3s in body and in lens IS.

    Those prices seem a little outrageous to me. Everyone seems to think $1300 for a GH3 is really high. What in the world makes a camcorder worth $300 more?

  • I'm going to check out Is that a good place for beginners?

    I guess camcorders are going through rapid improvements, too. I've seen a testing video showing pretty stabilized walking shots. Partially it's due to much better ergonomics of handycam design. It's like holding a football in one hand :)

    I'm waiting for the price cutting in half. In a year or so, I'm expecting below $800. Then I'd sell some of my camera gears to buy it.

    In a few years I really hope to see 1" sensor sized handycam.

  • @mpgxsvcd Don't know what it'll add yet...assuming it can be hacked, but look what it did for the GH2. I won't use it for amateur work but there really isn't that much difference in what we want our video's to look like.

    There was a huge laundry list of "we'd like to see"....posts before the GH3 was introduced.

  • For web streaming, difference would be very little if there's any. I doubt if amateurs like myself would gain anything significance out of increasing bitrate where GH3 already has pretty good bitrate. Nowadays I totally forget about hack settings and bitrates.

  • @stonebat

    "Nowadays I totally forget about hack settings and bitrates."


  • @stonebat

    We just got back from Sport Rock a few weeks ago. Personally I am not too fond of that gym. The bouldering that was good was extremely hard. Earth Treks in Rockville is a much better facility for new climbers. It is a hike though.

    The new Mananas gym called Vertical Rock is a much better option for South of DC climbing.

  • Cool. I will try Vertical Rock. Thanks!!

    Definitely sensing a change in the air. Local gyms are full of people days and nights. Really glad to hear about new rock climbing gym.

  • @stonebat I'm not sure I understand the climbing Gym unless you're a flatlander stonebat. You're in the same state I learned to climb in and God put it all there for free. Times change I guess.

  • @peternap

    Now the local crags are more like amusement parks than some of the climbing gyms are. Times have changed.

    For someone starting out climbing with kids a well run gym is probably the safest place to teach them. Earth Treks is prefect for that and from what I have heard Vertical Rock is as well.

    It seemed like at Sport Rock there were some sections that were off limits to young kids.

  • Here is the Professional video that was produced for the competition. This was not produced by me. I think they used Canon cameras. They did render it in 1080p on Vimeo but it looks softer than I was expecting.

  • @peternap I am a flatlander. Hehe.

    @mpgxsvcd Hmmm... easy money. Haha.

  • @mpgxsvd put aside the 'pro' video was more stable (tripod+fluid head) and edited better, I think the GH3 holds up well. My GH3 comes in soon and I have big plans for it.

  • @Henry

    Yes those LT11 guys know what they are doing. They really have an elaborate setup for a bunch of climbers that decided to get into doing videos. I do wonder if Canon cameras really are still a good choice for this type of work though.

    It might just be what I am accustomed to? However, I really do like the look of the GH3 better. It would be nice to see what it would have done in their capable hands.

  • @mpgxsvcd - "Those prices seem a little outrageous to me. Everyone seems to think $1300 for a GH3 is really high. What in the world makes a camcorder worth $300 more?"

    Just remember though that to get half decent low light capability with image stabilization you need:

    GH3 - $1300 12-35mm f2.8 - $1100 35-100mm f2.8 - $1400

    plus for decent audio you need at least at least a Tascam dr-100 mk II or equivalent $300 for sound. This brings you to $4,100. You could get a decent professional camcorder for that price.

  • @DanPV

    I disagree. I would definitely take the 25mm F1.4 over the 12-35mm. You don't need IS with it. It is wide enough to hand hold. That and the 14mm F2.5 are a lot cheaper than the 12-35mm. You can't use a microphone at all in these type of events.

    They play copy written music at very loud levels throughout the entire event. That is why everyone has to put music over top of the audio or leave the audio out all together. One Led Zeppelin or Hendrix song and that clips audio will be unusable unless you can afford the royalties.

    You are right though the 35-100mm F2.8 is the kicker. I could have done it with a tripod and a prime lens for a lot less. I just was too lazy to do that. I wanted to follow specific climbers and shoot tight so I couldn't really bring a good enough tripod for that in my carry on luggage.

    I haven't checked lately. What type of focal ratios do camcorders have closer to the telephoto end now?

  • The answer for the question in the header of the post depends on many things including: - purpose (family video / documentary / ENG / cinema-like videos); - budget; - video-editing tools available; - codec quality preference; - availability of video equipment (lights, tripods, steadicam); - etcetera.

    For example, my wife LIKES shooting amateur family video, she does not care about codec quality, she is not going to carry tripods and monopods, she is not familiar with many settings of videocam. Thus she owns a very simple and small pistol grip videocam having optical image stabilizer and shooting at 1080p 50 fps at 28 Mb/s rate AVCHD. To start recording she just pushes one button and does not care about settings. The result is that she makes a decent video that she likes a lot. For her purposes this cam is amazing and may not be substituted by any dslr available at market.

    In the meantime I keep on filming with the hacked GH2 at crazy bit rates with tripods/monopods, extra audio gear, nd filters, prime lenses and that's my choice for my purposes and wishfull dedication to many hours of transcoding and color grading.

    Thus I believe that dslrs / mirror less cams still could not substitute videocams in all circumstances. It depends on purposes.