Body & Design

The GH3's predecessors could easily be classified as mini-DSLR form factor cameras. And the GH3 doesn't radically break from their design so much as simply drop the 'mini' part of the equation. Its dimensions are not far off from some enthusiast DSLRs, although even with its magnesium alloy body and weather-sealing, the GH3's lack of mirror and glass viewfinder make it appreciably lighter camera than either the Canon EOS 7D or Sony SLT-A77.

If you crave external controls, the GH3 will not disappoint, with dedicated ISO, white balance and exposure compensation buttons, and no fewer than five customizable function buttons. Like the GH2, the GH3 has two dedicated function dials - here though the smaller dial on the camera's left shoulder controls drive mode rather the AF options. Panasonic's designers have taken further advantage of a larger platform by adding a second control dial, sitting behind the shutter button.

Top of camera

From the top, you can get a clearer idea of the changes relative to the GH2. The exposure mode dial has been pruned of a few automated options and there is only a single switch at its base - for powering the camera on and off. Drive mode options have now been moved to a separate dial. A much larger platform is now home to four buttons (WB, ISO, Exposure Comp and Fn 1) plus a second control dial.

You can select which of the dials controls Aperture and Shutter Speed in manual mode - both dials perform the same function in S or A modes, by default. This can be over-ridden by assigning Exposure Compensation to one of the dials.

Sadly the Exposure Compensation button can't be re-purposed, despite it being rendered redundant if you assign it to a dial. There's no option to retain auto ISO in manual exposure mode, so there's no situation in which you'd need it and a dedicated dial.

The smaller function dial shown here now selects drive mode instead of AF options. You pop-up the flash via a button rather than the switch found on the GH2.

Rear of camera

As with the GH2, the bulk of the GH3's control points are on the rear of the camera. You now choose focus modes via a switch next to the viewfinder. The 4-way controller is now a dial rather than discrete buttons. The movie record button has been moved to the rear of the camera within easy reach of your thumb. With the second mode dial devoted to drive modes, the focus mode selector is now a switch surrounding the AF/AE lock button. The swap isn't completely equitable though, as changing AF area options must now be made via a touchscreen menu (which makes focus point positioning very quick).

In your hand

The GH3 fits comfortably in your hand, with ample room afforded by the deeper and wider handgrip. Key shooting controls are all within reach, though you cannot differentiate the exposure compensation and white balance buttons by feel. The dual-control dials are well-placed for easy adjustment of on-screen parameters.

Articulated screen

The GH3's rear OLED screen is side-hinged, and swivels out away from the camera where you can tilt it to facilitate shooting from high or low angles, even when composing in portrait orientation.

Function buttons

While most would be hard-pressed to find complaint with three customizable function buttons - as was offered on the GH2 - Panasonic has upped the ante and includes a total of five such controls on the GH3. In the table below you'll find a list of the options you can assign to any of the buttons.

Four of the five physical function buttons can have one of 38 options applied to them.

Fn1/Fn2/Fn3/Fn5 custom options
 • Wi-Fi
 • Q.Menu
 • AF Mode
 • LVF/Monitor switch
 • AF/AE Lock
 • Depth-of-field preview
 • One push AE
 • Level gauge
 • Focus area set
 • Zoom control
 • 1 shot Raw + JPEG
 • 1 shot spot metering
 • Cursor button lock
 • Photo Style
 • Aspect ratio
 • Picture size
 • Quality
 • Metering mode
 • Burst rate
 • Auto Bracket
 • Self timer
 • i.Dynamic
 • i.Resolution
 • HDR
 • Electronic shutter
 • Flash mode
 • Ex. Tele Conv.
 • Digital Zoom
 • Stabilizer
 • Motion Pic. Set
 • Picture mode
 • Time Code display
 • Histogram
 • Guide lines
 • Rec area
 • Step zoom
 • Zoom speed

The function button on the camera's lower right (Fn4), only has nine options that can be assigned to it.

Fn4 custom options
 • One push AE
 • AF/AE Lock
 • Depth-of-field preview
 • Level gauge
 • Zoom control
 • 1 shot Raw+JPEG
 • 1 shot spot metering
 • Histogram 
 • Cursor button lock

In addition to the five physical buttons, there are also two touch-screen buttons that can be re-assigned to a variety of functions. These two virtual buttons can be set to 36 of the 38 settings that can be assigned to the hard buttons - the two exceptions being LVF/Monitor switching and AF/AE Lock.

A 'pull-out' tab on the right of the screen is home to the two touch-screen function buttons (Fn6 and 7).

These can be set to 36 of the 38 options available for most other function buttons.