About a year ago, I made a choice to change over my camera gear in a very drastic way. For almost a decade, I have always used Panasonic camcorders to record video, and I still have one right now. But then I wanted to do photography and I went with Canon, first buying a used 30D, and then a brand new 60D and even ending up with a used 5D MkII. The 5D MkII is of course the camera that brought HD video to the HDSLR market place and changed the game for the industry. But it, and it's successors, as well as those made by Nikon all have their limitations. Yes, they record amazing video, when in the hands of a skilled operator. And in a controlled environment, like on a set, they are made a huge impact. But for the run and gun style of wedding and event work, I was always hesitant to jump in. My two main reasons were always focus and record time. Manual focus was your only choice. Again, great in controlled situations, but can be a bit much when capturing things live. And then their is the record time. Because they are recording to memory cards that are FAT formatted and using the MOV codec, each clip was limited to being between 12 and 29 minutes. When the file gets to the file size limitation of a FAT32 formatted card, the camera would complete the file write and stop recording. You then have to force the record to continue and deal with this lapse of time later on. And, these cameras also had a problem of over heating, rendering the camera useless until they cooled down. This is all because these are still cameras that were given the ability to record video.
Enter the Panasonic Lumix GH3. This is the camera that I sold off all of my Canon gear for. Panasonic made conscious decision to design this around great video recording. They engineered it in such a way that the camera does not overheat while recording, boasting that you can record over 250 minutes straight without a heating issue. That is most likely longer than a single battery will last. They have also allowed the camera to record in multiple codecs from the very compressed and great for long recordings AVCHD format to full size MOV in a variety of frame rates. The small size is a plus as well for recording videos on a 10 hour day because it is so light. With the micro 4/3 sensor, the lenses are also smaller, lending to less gear to carry around at busy wedding. And each of their lenses has stabilization built in!
Then there is focusing. It has more than one auto focus mode that works while recording. You can do zone focus, touch to focus, tracking focus and of course manual focus. All great for different scenarios and all controlled form the touch screen, along with the audio control for the microphone.
I went into last wedding season after buying this camera a little nervous about using it as my main camera. I still carried my AG90 with me and would set it up on a tripod during ceremonies as a second camera. But not this year. This year I know that the GH3 is my main shooter for all of my video needs. The down side is I can't plug my wireless mic right into it, but that is what my Zoom H4 is for. As a run and gun style shooter, I am always looking for bringing the smallest camera bag while capturing the biggest image I can, and this camera really lets me do that. I can't say enough good things about this camera. And what is even better is that Panasonic is releasing the GH4 next month which will allow for the recording of 4K video. I can see clearly that my style of shooting and Panasonic's business model are inline with each other and I will continue to be loyal to them. While Canon and Nikon keep putting out DSLRs, it's companies like Panasonic that are doing away with the lens reflux, and going mirror less, allowing for smaller camera bodies with the same quality that are going to make a real impact.