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Old July 25th, 2011, 01:40 PM   #1
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How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

Knowing that many of you GH2 users here came from Canon DSLR film side I would like to get some perspectives on this topic. I am comparing the features of two models and cannot ignore the big difference in price, not to mention the availability of them. Now Canon T3i with 18-55IS and 55-250IS lenses kit on amazon is selling about $670 with all the rebates and promotions, while GH2 with 14-140 lens is selling for $1500 if you can even find one.
My question is GH2 really more than twice the video cam than T3i? Basically, I would like to know a list of unique GH2 features that make it worth to you, specifically, auto focus and extra resolution, etc. Thanks much for sharing your thoughts.
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Old July 25th, 2011, 02:44 PM   #2
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

I kind of like shooting clips longer than 12 minutes and never overheating.
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Old July 25th, 2011, 04:48 PM   #3
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

I haven't seen a good gh2 vs t3i thread, some hopefully this is constructive. I think it boils down to your shooting taste. IMO, gh2 is a videocamera and t3i is more of a film camera. I have a gh1 and a t2i. I've done tests to compare the differences. I use my gh1 as a backup camera and do not have the experience of some of the others on the board to really get the most out of it (yet). In one test, I compared a 50 zeiss to a canon 100mm. The footage on the gh1 was much sharper. In practice I compare the difference in sharpness to watching HD nfl coverage compared to watching a film on the big screen.

The issue with a 2x crop sensor is you can't get subject isolation in the wider focal lengths (with the glass thats available). If your coming from a video camera background and deliver a documentary edit, then the gh2 will have the features you are looking for. If you are looking to deliver the dslr style video that stillmotion and other groups have popularized then things like 12 minute record times are not a problem. I've never had a camera overheat, but I'm out west where the temperature maybe is not ever a problem.

IMO, the canon's are good for wedding work because it can offer an intimate feel to the footage. You can get really narrow DOF in close ups which just adds to the romantic feeling to the delivered piece. Thats why I think you don't see the top 25 event dv guys moving over to the panasonics. What you see is that they are investing in the latest evf tools to really nail down their precision of their rack focusing.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 04:15 AM   #4
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

The T3i/600D does not overheat. The 12 minute recording limit is not an issue for most shooters.

I have both cameras & there are pros & cons to each. The GH2 is tiny, fiddly & plastic whereas the 600D feels much better in my hands (my main camera is a Canon 5D Mk II). Objectively the GH2 shoots better video (higher resolution, less moire & aliasing) but to my eye does have more of a 'video' look partly due to the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor & consequent deeper depth of field. The 600D is much simpler to operate. The GH2 only records the highest quality 24Mbps AVCHD at 24fps. It does not record 25fps at all (potentially a major hassle for us in PAL land). I found continuous AF to be all but useless on the GH2 as it is far to prone to hunting. The 600D is a far better stills camera.

BTW Those prices are not really comparing like for like as the Canon kit lens is not great & the 17-55mm F/2.8 IS that I use costs more than the camera. The Panasonic 14-140mm is a similarly pricey lens.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 10:31 AM   #5
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

For me it's about how the camera fits into my system of gear. Both have great image quality and both can produce professional results, but I find the GH2 works better in my system. For example:

Auto focus:
I can mount the GH2 on my jib, slider, or Merlin and get wonderful results. With the T3i, I have to keep a specific distance from what I'm shooting to stay in focus. That can be tricky on a jib as it moves up and down while moving forward and back. Even at f4, I can get clear, focused shots on all of my stabilizers with the GH2 and auto focus.

Record limit:
I can use the GH2 as a stationary camera when shooting weddings and events. It's nice not being concerned about the record limit. Then I can roam around with the T3i on a mono pod and get lots of shallow DOF shots, while the GH2 keeps cranking in the back. People often ask "Should I get a camcorder for a backup when shooting weddings." I say, get a GH2.

Control: Sometimes I think the GH2 gives you too much control. As someone who likes to tweak and fiddle, it can slow me down to be able to adjust every parameter. That said, when you need that control, it's nice to have it. I also didn't know how valuable the audio meters where until I didn't have them. Why Canon buried them in the menu is beyond me.

The LCD/ Viewfinder: I can get sharp focus using the LCD in most cases. If that fails, the view finder works great. With the T3i I feel like I'm in the ballpark, but sometimes I don't know if I'm spot on. I should by a Z- finder, but spending another $400 on a $800 camera doesn't appeal to me right now.

The little things:
-The GH2 is little. Too little. I like the way the T3i feels in my hand.
-The battery on the GH2 seems to last much longer then the T3i.
-The menu button being on the left side of the T3i is just lame IMO.
-Having standard A/V out of the the T3i is awesome. I have a cheapo monitor for my jib and it's nice to be able to use it. It's not good for focus, but at least I can see what the camera is pointed at while hovering 12 feet above my head. Again this is how it fits into my system and may not apply to most.
- I like the GH2's mic. I can get usable audio from it. The T3i isn't horrible, but the GH2 is better.
-Canon glass VS Panasonic. No contest here. The Canon glass is insane, but it comes with a fat price tag. You could spend $10,000 on Canon glass and just have the basics covered. Also you can find more Canon lenses on Craig's List or Ebay then Panasonic lenses.

That's my take on the GH2/T3i. I own both, use both, and love them both for what they are. If I have to pick one...I'd pick the GH2. For my system and workflow, it fits me the best.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 08:38 PM   #6
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

Evan and Nigel have nailed it pretty muchy. BTW, the GH2 body only is $899. You may think you want the 14-140mm lens, but if you do weddings, don't bother, IMO. Is is not a wedding quality lens, it is slooooow. Nice for outdoors.

Canon 12 minute limit is no good for me. I run multiple Panasonics and leave them running for up to 90 minutes unattended, couldn't do that with the Canon.

As has been wisely said, you need to know what you need from your camera and choose accordingly.
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Last edited by Jeff Harper; July 27th, 2011 at 02:59 AM.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 10:15 PM   #7
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

I used to think the crop factor would be a problem until I picked up a Nikkor 35/1.4 - killer lens! We have 2 GH1's, 2 GH2's, and a T2i. I will be buying more GH2's as soon as Panny makes them available. We are using these cam's for event work primarily paired with 70-210/2.8 glass and the images are simply mind blowing for the price of the gear. The T2i is used now either on my shoulder or reserved for stills duty.

And actually for event work, I've often found myself craving for more reach; so the 2x crop factor is actually a benefit and the ETC mode is INCREDIBLY useful in many situations. And when you open up a 70-210 at 400mm FF equiv, you're going to get lovely bokeh without experiencing unmanageable focus issues like you would on FF (5D2).

You can check out some recent results with the GHx's at our website: CenterStage Productions. The Harris footage was filmed exclusively with the Panny's. I hesitate to share this because the quality is not up to snuff - we had the wrong lenses on our cam's for a solo act singing to a track. instead we were setup for a full band that did not materialize. But I had everyone roll as soon as I heard him start singing. so the focal length of most shots make absolutely no sense with this footage, cameras are in the shots, I'm in the shots, just amatuer hour. But we'd like to work this guy eventually so I put up some footage in a good faith gesture to show the potential when everyone is on the same page. Also it was the first time the jib operator had ever operated one, so it's pretty shaky but he'll get the handle eventually and I can't do everything. And the other operator on the head and shoulders shot didn't know I wanted that to be a fairly static shot since it's really the money shot. Oh well, it's ok for not intending to film any of it for this solo act.
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Old July 27th, 2011, 07:16 PM   #8
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

Thanks much guys for sharing your experience and opinions. I agree that there hasn't been a good GH2 vs T3i thread on the web or here on this forum.
Some of features mentioned here like GH2's no overheating, no 12min limit and ETC mode, are also present on T3i. T3i with ML software pretty much lets you record continuously.
The only significant ones I can think of are AF and better resolution (no m&a). If you use non-Pani glass, AF is a moot issue. So how often do you find yourself use m3/4 native Pani glasses and if you use them can you keep a scene like the bride walking down the aisle in focus all the time with AF?
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Old July 27th, 2011, 08:21 PM   #9
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

For focus, you must use manual focus for the processional, the auto focus is useful, but only in select situations. You must use non-panasonic glass at present, if you're using multiple cameras and need to cover a multitude of ranges.

Otherwise, you can start with a Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 and go from there, it is a great lens and very useful in a multitude of situations. For reception coverage the 20mm is extremely nice, just the right thing for things like cake cutting, etc. and for taking great photos.

No matter which camera you choose, this is the beginning of a long journey for you, with lots to read and learn. It is both exciting and frustrating, and I wish you well.

There is a new Leica lens coming out for the GH2 (25mm F/1.4) which would put you at a great advantage early on, and I would recommend getting one if possible, even over the 20mm. It should arrive at b&h soon, and if you're going with the GH2 I recommend you sign up at b&h to get a notification as to when it becomes available, it will be a must have lens.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 02:07 AM   #10
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

I think in the end it will come down to which one you prefer the look and feel of. The shaper, more video-ish look of the GH2 vs the softer Canon, which has amazing colour reproduction and dynamic range; and the small, light GH2 vs the more sturdy (but heavier) t3i. A lot of the other points for each camera are either exaggerated, moot, cancel each other out, or have simple workarounds.

For Example:

The crop factor difference is greatly exaggerated. Because th t3i has to crop its APS-C sensor to get 16:9, its crop factor is more like 1.8x, not 1.6x.

The t3i now has Magic Lantern so it can record continously, though with a small gap (1-2 seconds) every 12 minutes.

The t3i's inbuilt audio features are pretty much useless. You can't monitor the audio while your recording (when it actually matters), only during preview.

The GH2's autofocus only works with a select few lenses and of those the 20mm f/1.7 is the only one I would use. If you actually want to use decent lenses, you lose autofocus - that goes for stills as well.

The GH2 can use pretty much any lens, but most really great lenses, such as quality Pentax or Nikon mount lenses, can also be used on the t3i. Canon FD lenses are the only significant system that can be used for the GH2 but not the t3i.

The GH2 PAL version has not 25p. (this is what made me sell my GH1 and switch to Canon, a move I have not regretted at all. If the GH2 had come out with 25p though, I would probably still be shooting with the Panasonics).

As you can see, for every point you give or take for one system, there is something to balance it out with vs the other system. My advice would be to make your choice, then try to stick it out and back yourself up by truly investing in the system with lenses. If you don't fully commit you'll probably find yourself being tempted by the other system and second guessing yourself, which leads to lower confidence in your gear, and by extension your work, as well as poor purchasing decisions.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 02:13 AM   #11
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

One thing we may have neglected to mention is that the GH2 has minor moire issues, almost none. I've heard complaints about relatively bad moire issues with other cameras, including the Canon. I can't verify or confirm this, I've just heard it in passing.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 06:06 AM   #12
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

Having owned a 550D the same color performance as the 600D, I do not put the color performance as amazing as you, good yes but my GH2 is better in some ways as is the Canon, what I could not lose is the extra resolution the GH2 has over any Canon DSLR.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 12:35 PM   #13
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

I got tired of constant overheating of 7D and decided to replace my handheld camera. I really wanted to get GH2, always wanted to compare it to Canon and so many guys here are happy with it, but I ended up buying 60D, I just couldn't find fast IS zoom for m4/3,
so depending on what you need your camera for 'better' has way more to it than just moiré issues and clip length limit.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #14
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Lloyd View Post
For me it's about how the camera fits into my system of gear. Both have great image quality and both can produce professional results, but I find the GH2 works better in my system. For example:

Auto focus:
I can mount the GH2 on my jib, slider, or Merlin and get wonderful results. With the T3i, I have to keep a specific distance from what I'm shooting to stay in focus. That can be tricky on a jib as it moves up and down while moving forward and back. Even at f4, I can get clear, focused shots on all of my stabilizers with the GH2 and auto focus.
Evan, what lens & what combination of menu settings are you using on the GH2 to have the AF work so well? I found it terribly inconsistent & hunting about like crazy that eventually I was reduced to using manual focus despite having the 20mm F/1.7, the 14-140mm & the 7-014mm F/4 which are all Panasonic lenses & supposed to work for continuous AF.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 07:44 PM   #15
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Re: How much better is GH2 over Canon T3i?

I use the 14-42mm for auto focus shots, and it works great. I use it on my jib and on my Merlin. Hunting for focus has never been a problem. I usually set the Aperture to around f4 and try to pause a second or two before I begin my move. The 20mm sucks for auto focus. The 14-140mm is usable but not great. the 100-300mm has been effective when I've been shooting surfers, but I can't say it has reliable auto focus in all situations. For whatever reason the 14-42 has been great for auto focus.

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