Panasonic GH3 ISO test at Focus Numerique (with E-M5 comparison).


The French website Focus Numerique (translation here) tested the Panasonic GH3 ISO performance. You can compare the ISO results with those of the Olympus E-M5 and Sony NEX-7. As expected the JPEG engine of the Olympus manages to get slightly better results at High ISO. But if you shot in RAW than there is really little difference between the two (you can download the RAW files at Focus Numerique).

The GH3 is right now in Stock at Wexphotographic UK (Click here) and at Wex Germany (Click here) and preorders are shipping at Amazon, Adorama and Samys. Plenty of them are also available on eBay (Click here).


  • MJr

    This obsession with high-iso has got to stop. Who even uses anything beyond 6400.

    • LovinTheEP2

      It was just 12-18 months ago that the same comment was made about how goes beyond 1600.. In 18 months time, we’ll be seeing 51,200 with clean 12,800 ..

      The only issue I have with the high ISO obession is that we are losing sensor options at ISO 100 as native iso or even 50 to get good high iso performance which is a real shame. I’d rather leave it as is at 25,600 and get a 50-25,600 sensor. Now that would be sweet!

      • Ken Rockwell

        Clean images at and beyond ISO1600 will not be happening within the next 12-18 months or even 24 months for the four thirds format. Heck it’s barely even happening for larger sensors such as APS-C. Well, it could happen for APS-C but manufacturers are pushing the pixel count towards 24 Mega pixels right now so clean high ISO takes a back seat again. Sadly you’ll need to go full frame for that.

        Four thirds sensor with clean high ISO beyond 1600 still a possibility? Perhaps. But manufacturers may have to scale back the pixel count to 8 or 12MP. It’s all in the pixel pitch you see. The more densely packed your pixels, the more noise creeps in.

        • beautemps

          It is not all “in pixel pitch”! It is all the question how many photones you can collect! Backside illumination (BSI) has improved high iso for smaler sensors and dropping AA-Filters etc. are other technological steps.
          So we will get improvements for the sensors here. And more then that, some technologies, like BSI, spread from the smal sensors to the bigger and will reach APS-C/Fullformat the last.

        • I have just spent 2 weeks looking at images to compare m mount lenses of 28mm. My reason, I want an m mount 28mm lens for the E-M5. This was done with groups of 20 shots in the browser in multiple browser windows with multiple tabs, (by lens type and by sensor type) then studying at the ones that yell “look at me”. Exif info came in useful to establish the shot technicals. I then blow up to a full (24″ custom colour calibrated, IPS) screen size if possible and sit back a meter or two from the screen to get the feel of the image, followed by a look at the corners and such in detail. While the vast majority of shots were at base ISO some went to 1600 often and very few I looked at went over.
          I made some interesting discoveries after several thousand images from a range of cameras and lenses in many configurations. One of them is the fact that the Leica M9 is is possibly the noisiest camera made, very few M9 images are available over medium size, I wonder if noise is why. Though the M8 shots were generally excellent. I am now convinced that paying thousands for a lens is a waste of money for all except the neck trophy brigade. An image will stand on correct exposure and framing. An ultra sharp, high contrast or fast lens is not required to create a great shot. It will help in some circumstances, but if the image is exposed correctly and framed well, it does not matter.
          Also worth note is that the venerable 14-42mm mzuiko can produce some wonderful shots. Of course I only look at pictures, I don’t do computer analyses, so what would I know.
          So ISO at high numbers is not such a “must have” for most. Try the test yourself.

          • Jim, you really meant 14-150mm. Did you not?

      • homer

        ISO 1600 on the em5/gh3 is not clean enough? Wow, some people are amazing…

        • Ken Rockwell

          It really is not clean enough at iso1600 with nr set to low or off. With nr on, it gets very smeary. Aps-c is still better but only just.

    • With all the obsession over IBIS, clean high ISO will remain popular here, I am afraid…

      • bart

        Clean high ISO allows for using higher shutter speeds and still get properly exposed images.

        Image stabilization allows for using lower shutter speeds without causing blur due to camera shake.

        While both can be relevant when dealing with low light, they do serve fundamentally different purposes.

        For example, when doing sports photography on a heavily overcast day, shutter speed requirements may easily cause you to shoot at ISO 1600. That is outdoors, middle of the day.

        For example, when trying to smooth that water of a fontain with a 0.5 sec shutter, no amount of clean high ISO will help, but IBIS will do wonders. Again, this is outdoors, middle of the day. May need a ND filter for this as well, and a tripod would help as much if not more then IBIS.

    • Just Sayin

      You would if it was good.

      • Marcus Wolschon

        How else would you retain a deep depth of field in a dark scene with moving objects (trees? grass? candles?) if not with high ISO?
        Fast lenses are not always an answer.

        • When did trees, grass and candles become moving objects?

          • When trolls sing ray ray ray :-P

          • “When did trees, grass and candles become moving objects?”

            At dusk, when 50 mph wind gusts blow over the coastal terrace prairie or the coastal range.

            • Something is wrong. I can’t edit my post, which coincidentally is a double-post.

              I have noticed another issue: when I click a “preview” link to someone’s comment on the right sidebar, I am taken to that person’s post, but I have to scroll down to see who made the post. Apparently, the target link is specified to be one line too low.

          • “When did trees, grass and candles become moving objects?”

            At dusk, when 50 mph wind gusts blow over the coastal terrace prairie or the coastal range, even candles will take off!

          • Dave

            Don’t be a trolling idiot.

    • peevee

      “Who even uses anything beyond 6400.”

      Try to freeze motion with a kit lens, even in good artificial light.

    • napilopez

      I don’t. That’s because 6400 is nearly unusable on my G3. If I could, I would.

      In other words, those of us who take a lot of photos at night, and/or of moving things. I don’t even currently own a lens slower than f1.8, yet 3200 is probably my third most used iso setting, and only because I limit it to that. I do my regular “artsy” photos with my camera, but who’da thunk it, I actually use it to take pics of my family and friends during get-togethers. And the less I need to use an obnoxious and large flash, the better.

      Not to mention being able to use smaller apertures in low light would actually be awesome. Not everyone shoots landscapes in perfect daylight.

      • Pavlo

        Hi. Could I see some of that images posted online? I’m considering G3. Thanks.

  • Charles

    Agreed. Show me the comparison at 1600 or maybe 3200. That’s the highest most people use and would use and where I would care about improvements. 6400 is rarely needed, but I agree no body really goes beyond that.

    • Walter

      There are uses. I saw a series from a guy shooting big mammals in Africa who got this tremendous series of pictures of crocodiles and lions going after wounded buffalo at dusk. He was using a Nikon FX body with an exotic fast tele, either a 500/4 or 300/2.8, I forget which, and still had to crank the ISO to 6400. There aren’t many things that Four Thirds can’t do, but those shots were one of them.

      A two-stop improvement in high ISO means that shots that would ordinarily take a 300 f/2.8 — a $5000 lens, give or take — could instead be done with a 300 f/5.6, which is a few hundred bucks. This is huge.

      • LovinTheEP2

        That’s a given. No one is denying that FX has a 2stop advantage and in some cases, having a FF makes sense. Anyone going on a safari expecting to use really long tele lens for very little light would obviously need a dSLR; ideally FF.

        As for Ken’s comment about 1600 being a limit on ISO usability is just Ken being out of touch with 99% of the market. Most can use 3,200 in dark very dimly lit if processed well. GRAIN/NOISE isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on the Exposure and Composite in some ways can add to the image.

        M43 isn’t a solution for wildlife or fast sport sport professional photographers. No doubt. But for everyone else – the OM-D fits the bill very very nicely or a ELP-5 as a 2nd body.

        I personally think the key to m43 is smaller, lighter with an amazing assortment of lens and you don’t stick out in a crowd like a dSLR person does. It’s a compromise of weight-cost-bestISO0-bestDOF vs. lighter, smaller, cheaper with excellent image quality with a compromise in ISO and DOF. As the market is showing, that compromise is very much accepted by a great deal of amateurs, semi-pro’s and full out pro’s who get over the FF envy factor..

    • tyth

      The main reason that very high ISO is not used is that it sucks , I have the E-M5 ,no matter what the hype the files above 1600 are very poor assuming you want a detailed colorful image as opposed to NR mush. Imagine the possibilities if 6400 ISO performed like 200 ISO does.

  • Bite Me

    So for $200 I’m getting supposed better video against E-M5. Yet, GH3 lacks image stabilization if I use prime lens (as an example) to do videos. Not to mention ZERO GROUNDBREAKING results on pictures against the competition…

    If I wanted to do videos, I’d use an ACTUAL HD camcorder. Otherwise, make mine E-M5.

    • Steve

      If you want to do video you’d use a tripod.

      • Mr. Reeee

        Some people simply don’t care about stabilization. I certainly wouldn’t trade good ergonomics and interface for it.

    • You do realize the EM5 is a ergonomic mess for some people. I am not getting the GH3 because it has better IQ then the EM5 or for video. I’m getting it for all the things they left out of the EM5 in order to make it look old and cumbersome. Having IQ just as good is icing on the cake and makes it the best M4/3’s camera to date.

      • thethirdcoast


        The lack of a substantial right-hand grip on the EM-5 means that it is garbage to my perception and shooting needs.

        Can’t wait for the GH3 and some real grip!

        • Anonymous

          “The lack of a substantial right-hand grip on the EM-5”
          Is this including the optional half-grip?
          I haven’t tried it myself but this is the first complaint I have heard about it’s function (I have heard some criticism about having to pay for it separately)

          • mymaco on instagram

            I never had a problem with OMD, but I bought the grip mainly because you need it if you want to use comfortably heavy lenses as Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95. I rarely push it to 1600 iso. At f0.95 I stay at 1000 iso up limit, at 1.4 I go up to 1200, but it’s not really necessary. IBIS helps a lot in dim light. Btw, I love shooting in the dark.

      • Ronan

        And you do realize MOST people that actually own one will tell you it’s the same as the old SLR’s.

        Only people i found that complain are the one’s that ‘heard from a friend’ or ‘i tried it for 2 minutes at the store’.

        The same BULLSHIT about the X100 when it came out and how it was ‘impossible to use because of the menu layout, BLABLABLA’. I owned the X100, it took me an hour or two to get use to it and i was clicking away like i have been using it for a long time. More BS from users that ‘heard it from a friend’ or ‘i tried it at the store’.

        They all give you a review of a product they:
        #1 Do not own.
        #2 Barely tried.

        • Esa Tuunanen

          > MOST people that actually own one will tell you it’s the same as the old SLR’s.
          Mmost people will never want to admit that expensive thing they bought has disadvantages!

          And that Flintstones era design is the problem…
          Or actually E-M5 is worser than father’s manual focus era gripless Nikon SLR because that film era brick has at least more free surface to hold it from without fear of accidental button presses.

          • bart

            Thank you for confirming what the post you replied to said.

            You don’t own one, and don’t like it, which is fine.

            Your never ending stream of mostly unfounded bashing however makes you look totally absurd, as absurd as those who keep complaining about the GH3 being a giant.

        • Anonymous

          I own both a GH2 and an OM-D. Yes, the OM-D handles much like an “old” SLR. And there’s a good reason the rest of the industry has moved on from those designs. Modern cameras with built-in grips, like the GH2 and 3, are simply more comfortable to hold and handle better. The shutter button is easier to reach in the forward (on grip) position. The strap lugs don’t get in the way.

    • Gabriel

      Like what?

    • …sigh

      That’s because you don’t do video. No one in any business I know hold the camera when filming if it is not a shoulder cam. If you use an hybrid you attach it to a shoulder rig/steadycam rig/tripod/jib, you don’t just hold it in your hands like a tourist.

      All-I is not an improvement? Obviously you don’t edit/master video. Timecode? Obviously you don’t have to match content from various audio recorders/video cams.

      You like being stuck with 30p and have to constantly change your framerate in post, with the cute stutter that comes with it? I don’t, I like having the option of filming at various rate to match the prod (and no 24p is not the only pro format, far from it actually).

      Nothing wrong with your way of considering a video camera, as a tourist or baby moment archiver I would choose IBIS over what the GH3 has to offer but realize that is not who the GH3 is aimed at and for serious, professional or semi-pro usage the GH3 offers some kick ass features.

    • Anonymous

      You probably own a em5 already, so why the comment if you wasn’t going to buy the GH2 in the first place? Don’t talk crap and try to justify your purchase at the same time.

  • Heat Legend

    FINALLY! Someone has done the test I’v needed to see to help me make my mind up. The .jpg at maximum ISO test, for TOO LONG have people neglected to do the .jpg maximum ISO test neglecting those of us who like to shoot .jpg at 25600 ISO for that classic “unusable” look.

    • Walter

      Yeah, seeing “exactly how much like garbage” ISO 25600 looks is sort of silly: all this test shows is that I can’t shoot 25600 on either. I’d rather see differences in the ISO’s that look reasonable.

  • I’m sure liking the GH3 3200 over the EM5 3200.

    • kavat

      Because you’re a fat troll!

  • PanasonicSucks

    OM-D kicks GH3 butt!!!!.

    • Gardenia

      Come on man, if you’re going to troll at least put a modicum of effort into it.

    • GH3 have more heavy AA and Low-pass filter, so E-M5 i thinke this is for GH3 is mean for video use more so E-M5 is.

      • Walter

        The AA filter for stills doesn’t really impact video moire.

    • Incessant Troll

      your point is a salient one, but i have seen that OMD is produced by hobo children by the light of a thousand drum barrel fires

      • james70094

        Cool, they now have a thousand drum barrels.

  • Yun

    Well Done ! Pana .
    Finally make it a close call to EM5 .
    Now lt’s the time to work on the highend rangefinder camera .

  • matt jones

    The noise levels seem fairly close, the E-M5 image is sharper at the bottom of the test image and the GH3 sharper at the top, I can only conclude they focussed slightly differently. But there is still that out of camera JPG pop that Olympus manage, the Nex jpg’s look pretty impressive too. You really have to shoot the Pana in Raw and do some processing to pull the colour out, and get the white balance right. I don’t know why that is.

    • Anonymous

      I wouldn’t want it any other way. I stopped shooting jpgs on the regular years ago. RAW is the only way to go. I would rather have the option to enhance/correct my photos, than have the camera do it for me.

  • ColinH

    This is really good news for Panasonic users and m43 in general. Personally, I’ll stick with my OM-D’s and E-PL5, but it’s good to see Panasonic bringing out a great camera to rival the OM-D. Panasonic users have been patiently waiting for this and looks like they’re not going to be disappointed.


    • Camera usage is defined by mount. There are no Panasonic or Olympus users (despite what they think), only m4/3 users. Everything is easily interchangeable between the brands (again, despite what the loyalists shout).

  • Anonymous

    What is the point of this test? ISO 25,600, really?

    How about clean ISO1600? Lets first get that

    • Ren Kockwell


  • Kavat

    OMD still better !!
    Smaller( real m4/3 philosophy), better image quality, cheaper, IBIS, weather sealing… Well done Olympus

    Can’t wait to see your OMD-PRO !!

    • “Better” for your needs, maybe. Based on what was tested in this report they are rather equal.

    • Incorrect

      You silly kids make me laugh. Go ahead and keep buying your lenses twice ID1OT

  • I was fortunate enough to use a GH3 a little while back (I do work for a major Photo Store in NJ) and in all honestly, shooting the camera in the real world, the images are fine and completely hold up to anything I will and have printed at 30 x 40 or shown on my clients. To most people point here, who really does shoot over 1600 and isn’t satisfied with the results from any of the Micro 4/3rds cameras. If I want really high ISO work, I’ll switch to my X-Pro 1 for the time being. Anyway, some of the images I’ve shot with the GH3 are here:

    One image in particular was shot at 3200 ISO with the 12-35 @ f/3.2. The
    noise is completely acceptable IMO:

  • homer

    Got mine in the mail yesterday, you cant really tell tue dfference between it and the omd files, unless you zoom in to 200%, the magnification everyone here seems to use all the time apparently…
    ISO 1600 is already very clean, if you shoot raw then you can get near perfect iso 3200 photos with post. And if you shoot jpegs (which is perfectly fine) stop kidding yourself, youre not “shooting mammals in africa at dusk” or “at a high speed sporting event in an overcast day” so your shot of aunt ethel at iso 12,800 will look perfectly fine on your facebook account or the preview window at flickr…does anyone in your family gatherings even know what digital noise is?does anyone care???

  • Anonymous

    Comparing noise from jpegs is a waste of time. These images say more about default (or chosen) NR settings than they do camera or image quality. The OM-D jpegs shown have less noise, but less detail. Crank up the NR on the GH3, or turn it down on the OM-D, and the situation might be reversed.

    • Anonytrackball

      It is valid, if the test is to show the results of the cameras in user hands.
      With the given array of cameras and lenses any other comparison cannot be made. There is no single basis for comparison using these shots other than jpeg. RAW comparisons do not show the designers intentions, and on this variation of samples do nothing for comparative purposes.

  • Pixnat

    Same sensor, same results…

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