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Old August 16th, 2013, 09:23 AM   #1
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Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

Hey guys,

I'm looking at upgrading to either:

i.) Canon 5d Mark iii
ii.) Sony Alpha A99; or
iii.) Panasonic GH3

The purpose of the camera is for wedding and similar event cinematography. I like to shoot hand held, with shallow depth of field and I like to use some (upto) 50% slow motion.

I know the Canon is a great camera and is very well regarded in the industry, however it does have some short comings that bother me. These are that it does not have image stabilization in the camera and can only shoot 720p at 50fps. So I want to make sure I've considered all other options before I jump in and buy it.

I've read lots of reviews but these are not aimed specifically at the camera's cinematic depth of field capability and also are definitely not aimed for our specific industry. So I would appreciate your views.

I've read some great things about the GH3. It has 1080p 50fps, focus peaking and is extremely sharp. (Plus it is the best value). However I have two concerns about this camera. Firstly I'm concerned that the two main lenses (12-35mm and 35-100mm) can only shoot upto f2.8, but I'm not sure if this is sufficiently shallow DOF. And secondly, no image stabilization if I chose to use say a Nokton 25mm 0.95 lens. Has anyone shot on the GH3 at 2.8mm and have an opinion if it has a shallow DOF?

Then there's the Sony A99. This is a bit of a new kid on the block. I had a play with it today in a shop and it feels just great. Its a bit cheaper than the 5d, but makes up for it with its more expensive (Carl Zeiss) lenses. The Sony shoots at 1080p at 50fps, has in-body image stabilization and is a mirrorless so I'm assuming could use vintage lenses.

So what are your thoughts?

Thanks,
Rich
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Old August 16th, 2013, 09:33 AM   #2
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Richard Tetik View Post
I've read some great things about the GH3. It has 1080p 50fps, focus peaking and is extremely sharp. (Plus it is the best value). However I have two concerns about this camera. Firstly I'm concerned that the two main lenses (12-35mm and 35-100mm) can only shoot upto f2.8, but I'm not sure if this is sufficiently shallow DOF. And secondly, no image stabilization if I chose to use say a Nokton 25mm 0.95 lens. Has anyone shot on the GH3 at 2.8mm and have an opinion if it has a shallow DOF?
I've used the GH3 and the 5D Mark III. They are both great cameras. One thing to note, the GH3 does not have focus peaking and the 5D you can get it with Magic Lantern.

I ended up selling my GH3 for the full frame Canon cameras because of the low light ability during receptions. I don't know if you use lights or not, but you would almost have to with the GH3 if you're using the 12-35 or 35-100. 2.8 is not bright enough on its own with the GH3.

You can get away with it on a 5D because of its amazing noise reduction. You can really increase the ISO without a huge hit to quality.

I do miss the slow motion options in the GH3.

Last edited by Daniel Latimer; August 16th, 2013 at 10:09 AM.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 09:57 AM   #3
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

Thanks for the reply Daniel. I'm assuming receptions would be ok with the GH3 and the Nokton f0.95 but I guess I'd have to be pretty close to the subjects for that to be useable. Hmmm..

Ooh... I've been doing some searches in this forum and have found some pretty damning news on the A99:
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-avc...pointment.html

This is such a shame, as I was really hoping it to be a great camera. Any chance these problems have been resolved with firmware over the past few months?
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Old August 16th, 2013, 10:16 AM   #4
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Richard Tetik View Post
Hey guys,

I'm looking at upgrading to either:

i.) Canon 5d Mark iii
ii.) Sony Alpha A99; or
iii.) Panasonic GH3

I've read some great things about the GH3. It has 1080p 50fps, focus peaking and is extremely sharp. (Plus it is the best value). However I have two concerns about this camera. Firstly I'm concerned that the two main lenses (12-35mm and 35-100mm) can only shoot upto f2.8, but I'm not sure if this is sufficiently shallow DOF. And secondly, no image stabilization if I chose to use say a Nokton 25mm 0.95 lens. Has anyone shot on the GH3 at 2.8mm and have an opinion if it has a shallow DOF?
.
So what are your thoughts?

Thanks,
Rich
You're not going to have image stabilization of that Nokton lens on the Canons either. Only possibly with the Sony Alpha body as they have In Body Image Stabilization.

The Canon & Sony is going to have a softer image with more moire and aliasing, but better low light/less noise and shallower depth of field.

The Canon will take Magic Lantern and shooting RAW will fix almost all the aliasing and moire. But shooting RAW video also means the cards need to be large & super fast (read: expensive) and will need to be changed regularly and often (read: need lots of them and be careful when you take a break).

The GH3 is going to have a sharper image with virtually no moire or aliasing, but not so good in low light/more noise and deeper depth of field. But is it enough for your purposes? And of course a faster prime lens like the Nokton or any F 1.2 - 1.8 prime will help with the low light. Oh, and no focus peaking. You'll need an external monitor to get that.

As always pick what's important to you and live with it. They all involve tradeoffs.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 10:45 AM   #5
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Bill Koehler View Post
The Canon & Sony is going to have a softer image with more moire and aliasing, but better low light/less noise and shallower depth of field.
Good summary, just to clarify one though. The 5D Mark 3 solved the moire issue, but it is true with the other Canon cameras that moire is present.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:06 AM   #6
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Daniel Latimer View Post
I don't know if you use lights or not, but you would almost have to with the GH3 if you're using the 12-35 or 35-100. 2.8 is not bright enough on its own with the GH3.
It depends on how you look at it, I"m sure it is only us videographers that see it as a negative not being able to see more then what your own eyes can see, also I"m sure that our own demands lie much higher then what the actual wedding client is expecting.

I have been shooting with a f2.8 lens on my steadicam up to 1600 iso for more then 2 years with my 550d without too much problems at weddings, I do have to use a flat preset when it gets too dark which gives much more possibilities in post. The only time I ran into problems was when they killed the lights at the first dance with only candle light in the venue and some mood spots against the wall, using 3200 iso on a 550d looked bad, noise was big and blotchy and needed neatvideo treatment, the result didn't alway look nice.

But I have seen during a test last saturday I"m able to shoot 6400 iso on the gh3, which I just got, there is noise but much less visible then 3200 iso on my 550d. Because the image is much sharper and the noise is much finer the footage should survive a neat video treament much better then on my 550d if that would be necessary.

So eventhough a gh3 can't match the high iso and clean image a 5d 3 produces you certainly can use it without extra light at candle light dinners, you only need to be sure to shoot at min f2.8, use a flatter image preset and use 3200 iso and if needed 6400 iso, in that way you can show it the way you can see it with your own eyes. I think we got spoiled since the dslr revolution, when the 5d II came out everyone was gobsmacked by it's low light perfomance and now we find it not good enough anymore.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 12:26 PM   #7
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
I think we got spoiled since the dslr revolution, when the 5d II came out everyone was gobsmacked by it's low light perfomance and now we find it not good enough anymore.
Can't argue with this!
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Old August 16th, 2013, 03:48 PM   #8
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Richard Tetik View Post
However I have two concerns about this camera. Firstly I'm concerned that the two main lenses (12-35mm and 35-100mm) can only shoot upto f2.8, but I'm not sure if this is sufficiently shallow DOF. And secondly, no image stabilization if I chose to use say a Nokton 25mm 0.95 lens. Has anyone shot on the GH3 at 2.8mm and have an opinion if it has a shallow DOF?
You haven't mentioned if you own dslr lenses? Because that might be an important factor choosing a camera, about those 2 zoom lenses to "only" have f2.8, you have to realize that's about as fast as it gets on a zoom lens, also both have a OIS so you have a zoom range between 12 and 100 mm covered with 2 lenses, both stabilized. you can always have a shallower dof with even slower lenses, on my nex-ea50 stocklens which starts at f3.5 I can have a shallow dof, only not as shallow as a f1.4 lens.

If you would buy one 5dIII with a quality zoom lens you could get the gh3 with the 12-35/35-100 f2.8, and about 2 more quality primes. It all depends what is on the top of your list of requirements.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 09:55 PM   #9
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

Thanks for the feedback and views guys.

It looks like there is compromises with both cameras, but I think I'm going to have to go with the Canon 5d Mark iii as I know that it has the unmatched shallow depth of field and just take a hit on its downsides.

Its a shame that Sony couldn't get the A99 right for video. I would've hoped that a firmware fix may have sorted the issues, but I can't find such news.

Does anyone know about any potential fixes on the A99?

Cheers,
Rich
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Old August 17th, 2013, 02:09 AM   #10
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

How does the GH3 compare to say the 60D for low light ability? I tend not to go above ISO 1250 on my 60D.
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Old August 18th, 2013, 11:27 AM   #11
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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How does the GH3 compare to say the 60D for low light ability? I tend not to go above ISO 1250 on my 60D.
I have just purchased the gh3 and used it for the first time as my main steadicam camera at a wedding, I have been using a 550d before so performance wise I think it's the same as your 60d.

See below test I did, the circumstances where perfect, the light from the dj was alternating in different colors and in different intensities, at certain short points it was almost completely dark in there with just small tealights at the tables.

I shot this using at f2.8 and 6400 iso, not bad eh? :) Only when he used a red light the grain shows up much more but still a finer structure then the grain on my 550d, 6400 iso on my 550d would result in unusable footage while now I can perfectly use the gh3 footage without any neatvideo treatment (I shot at 3200 and 6400 iso all evening). Vimeo takes away some of teh noise after it's compression though but the raw files look good enough for me. I"m very happy with the gh3 now, price/perfomance wise it's a very solid camera.

Red lights are actually the worst to deal with in very low light, they use that a lot here during teh first dance and it makes the couple look bad and it has the most negative impact on grain. I only wonder that if you have a continuous red lightsource if you would change your whitebalance so the red changes into another colour and then re-whitebalance in post, would that not eliminate much of the noise? Just guessing here but since red seems to generate the most noise I thought by taking it away it should solve the problem?

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Old August 18th, 2013, 11:45 AM   #12
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

Richard, don't forget Olympus has two F/2.0 zoom lenses that work natively with the GH3. Similar to the Panasonics but significantly faster. Expensive? Yes. However as far as I know there are few if any zoom lenses that fast other than those, Canon makes nothing even close and neither does Nikon, unless you get into some exotic stuff, I reckon.

They are amazing, but I don't know if IS will work with them, have no idea.
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Old August 18th, 2013, 11:53 AM   #13
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Richard Tetik View Post
It looks like there is compromises with both cameras, but I think I'm going to have to go with the Canon 5d Mark iii as I know that it has the unmatched shallow depth of field
You can get very shallow dof with any larger sensor dslr's, I guess the 5d would be able to get an even shallower dof because it's full frame but is a very narrow dof the only criteria for you to choose a camera? Don't know what you will be shooting but surely not every shot would need a 1 cm dof? :)
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Old August 18th, 2013, 12:01 PM   #14
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

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Originally Posted by Richard Tetik View Post
Hey guys,

I'm looking at upgrading to either:

i.) Canon 5d Mark iii
ii.) Sony Alpha A99; or
iii.) Panasonic GH3

The purpose of the camera is for wedding and similar event cinematography. I like to shoot hand held, with shallow depth of field and I like to use some (upto) 50% slow motion.
The 5D at full HD is only 25p - you'll have stuttering if you slow the resultant footage down to 50%
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Old August 19th, 2013, 06:59 PM   #15
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Re: Sony A99 or Panasonic GH3

I'm currently using a borrowed 5d and filming at 720p50 to enable me to slow the vision upto 50% in post.

I'm enticed by the GH3's ability to shoot at 1080p50 amongst some of its other features.
Having a shallow depth of field isn't the only criteria, but it is important for wedding cinematography.

Can the GH3 be used handheld with a lens like the Nokton 0.95?

I've been able to get away with it with the Canon 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.2.

Cheers,
Richard
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