Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Review
The GH3 is the first Micro Four Thirds camera to include built-in Wi-Fi capability. It provides the camera with a broad range of capabilities - starting with the ability to control the camera from a smartphone or tablet, and running to the ability to automatically download the camera's output to your computer, smartphone or the web. It's also capable of showing images you've taken on a compatible television.
|When you press the Wi-Fi button, you'll be asked whether you want to create a new connection, use one you're used recently or one you've permanently saved.|
|Part of setting up a new connection includes deciding what you're trying to achieve with this connection|
The Lumix Link app gives some of the best remote control we've yet seen on a Wi-Fi camera. You can operate just about any of the camera's settings, specify focus point simply by tapping your smart device's screen, or zoom a power zoom lens. You can adjust the camera's settings in enough detail that you can fine-tune the amount of sharpening being applied with the current Photo Style.
|If you choose a device that is going to connect to the camera (rather than the other way 'round), it will show its network details, which then need to be typed into the external device.|
|Once the connection has been established, the camera will prompt you to start the Lumix Link app on your smartphone.|
You don't quite gain full control of the camera though - features such as iDynamic can't currently be engaged and, oddly, although you can specify the video quality you wish to record and can initiate recording, you can't control or stop the camera once you've started capturing video. Instead it will grab three minutes of footage or less if you press the REC button on the back of the camera.
|The app then gives you access to the camera.|
|Pressing the 'Set' button lets you control settings such as aperture (though you're given no exposure indicator).|
|The 'Menu' tab includes more detailed camera settings and lets you specify what size image is transferred.|
|The 'Playback' tab gives you access to the images you've already shot.|
|Holding your finger on one of the images brings up a bordered screen - 'pulling' the image towards one of the four edges of the screen implements one of four user-definable functions, such as transfer to smartphone, delete or upload to Lumix Club.|
This oddity aside, the app includes some clever features such as 'Self-Shot' mode, which flips the live view image horizontally to make it more readily comprehensible if you're standing in front of the camera and operating it.
Once you've taken an image or video clip, you can see it in the app and, simply by holding your finger on the image, you are presented with a choice of places to upload it to - the smartphone's memory, Panasonic's Lumix Club service or one of the popular social networks (Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Picasa or YouTube). Uploading to any of these services requires your images to be sent via Lumix Club, so you'll need to create a Lumix Club account before you can send your images and videos on to your favored site.
Automatic download to PC/Smartphone/Cloud Service
Rather than controlling your camera from a smartphone or tablet, you can also set the camera to automatically upload all the images you shoot across a Wi-Fi network. This can either be a direct connection or via a local network and can be used to send the files directly to your computer, smart device or up to the web (via Lumix Club).
|Deciding to download images as you shoot gives you more choice over where your images are transferred.|
|You can either connect direct to a PC (by directing your PC to the hotspot created by the camera, and typing in the network details, as with a smartphone), or you can link both devices to an existing Wi-Fi network.|
|If you're lucky, your router will offer one of the easier means of connecting...|
Establishing a Lumix Club account isn't the most obvious process - it involves trying to connect to the site through the GH3 with the camera connected to an internet-connected Wi-Fi router. You are then provided with a long and complex login ID, which you can change once you've used it to log into the site from your computer. It's hard not to believe that there must be an easier way of preventing non-owners from exploiting the service.
|Otherwise you'll find yourself trying to type details in to establish a manual connection. The same process is necessary to log in to the computer itself - and can be incredibly frustrating if it fails.|
Connecting to your own PC should be simpler (and doesn't require a Lumix Club account), but getting it to work requires extensive knowledge of your computer's sharing and security settings. Frustratingly, connecting via a common Wi-Fi network requires you to type in your network's passcode then the login details of your computer but, if it doesn't work, it will throw away all that information, such that you have to start all over again. The direct connection method is simpler but getting it to work still requires an fairly profound understanding of OS X or Windows file sharing - something Panasonic offers no help on in the camera's user manual.
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