Not since my Nikon F3 film camera, have I liked a camera so much. I used my Nikon F3s for 20 years. (A lifetime in digital) Since 2001, I have used quite a few digital cameras when I put the beloved F3s on eBay. I was spending over a $100 a month on film and processing. Another reason I started doing digital photography was because, I had been manipulating images in the computer for sometime with Photoshop and other programs. I was scanning film and prints. I thought that shooting digital would eliminate that step. I had been shooting digitally with my video camera since 1995 so I was happy to start shooting stills digitally. I waited till the cost of digital cameras came down to about $1000. I think I found a digital version of my Nikon.
I first started with the Sony F-707. It was wonderful to be able to look at the images right away. Coming from video, I actually liked electronic viewfinder of the camera. The first digital cameras were pretty low in resolution. At five megapixels, you had to get the shot right and you could not blow them up that big. The lens was a fixed zoom.
Then the 6 megapixel Canon Digital Rebel came out. Unlike my F-707, it was a DSLR which meant interchangeable lenses and optical viewfinder. I bought the consumer lenses for it and they were at best, so so. Not great. Not like the Nikkors for my F3. I could not afford the L-Glass from Canon because most of my money went into buying video cameras as they were my main money maker. I liked the images but the color was a little off for my taste. I was a Kodachrome guy and it was more like Fuji. The auto focus was not to fast. I adapted some of my old manual lenses for it as well.
I needed a second camera, so I bought an Olympus E300 on a special deal. Being the new Four Thirds sensor format camera, the E-300 had a smaller sensor than the Rebel. (Though that not much) It had a Kodak 8 megapixel sensor and Kodak color. The jpegs out of the camera were excellent. Olympus is known for that. The images were very good but the camera noise was much higher than the Rebel. The first Olympus cameras were not too fast auto focusing cameras. What I liked about the Olympus camera was that even the consumer level lenses were very sharp.
I next bought the Olympus E-1, which had a beautiful image at 5 megapixels. The pixel sharpness was better than my previous cameras. I really liked it for the rugged construction and how quiet the camera shutter was. The sound of most digital cameras are quite noisy and the press photographers use them like machine guns. Not very discrete. The camera was smaller than the other manufacturers cameras. Lighter too. I was happy to loose the weight. The LCD was small and fixed. I added some Pro level for lenses to my kit.
The Olympus E-3 had a 10 megapixel image, which was even better and I loved the colors and richness of the image. It was weather sealed like the E-1. since it was a live view camera, it also introduced the back swiveling LCD like a video camera. It was nice being able to adjust the angle for low angle pictures just like I done with my Nikon F3 by taking the viewfinder off. I could close the LCD to protect it. I got spoiled by it. Olympus improved the autofocus in the E-3 to such an extent that it competed with Nikon and Canon.
Then Canon 7D came out and for the first time I had a still camera that had 1080p video from a large 18 megapixel sensor. I bought the expensive L-Glass as this was going to be my video camera. I settled for the Canon L 24-105 F4 IS lens. I did because of the image stabilization. My clients wanted the low depth of field the large 35mm sized sensor gives. The lenses focused fast. Faster than any other camera I had owned. But, the 7D had some minor and major problems. You could only shoot for 12 minutes. The audio had to be spoofed with a pilot tone into being usable and it couldn’t be monitored. I bought a JuicedLink DT454 audio mixer to help. More importantly, the sensor would overheat and shut the camera down. It did this on a professional shoot and it was not good. I was also unhappy with the moire and aliasing at the sensor had. At 1080P resolution was not that great. Canon uses line skipping to create their video in their DSLRs. The rear LCD was the viewfinder. It had to be adapted to be used as a handheld viewfinder which required a camera rig.
The 7D did not have a swivel LCD. I missed it, so when the 60D came out, I bought one. The 60D also offered manual audio level control for more control, but no meters. It was not weather sealed and made of plastic composite. I was happy with the 60D.
I had heard that Panasonic GH2 had better video then the Canons, so I investigated it. The camera also had the swivel LCD screen. I was impressed, so I purchased one. After using to GH2 I could not use by Canons anymore. Besides swivel screen, the other thing I liked about the camera was being able to see the audio level in viewfinder and on the LCD. I was happy that I had a camera that can be used for both stills and video. Panasonic and Olympus introduced some very nice lenses. It was nice to have a smaller, lighter camera again. It was not weather sealed and I could not monitor audio. I was very happy with the GH2 and bought a second one.
I have used all these cameras over the past 10 years. I was always looking for something better. I think I found the camera. When Panasonic announced GH3, I was hoping that it would be a better camera. It is a better camera. The camera possesses many of the good quality of those other cameras but now they were all together in this camera. I now have a relatively small, light weight, magnesium, weather sealed, fast focusing, swivel LCD, electronic viewfinder, audio monitoring, high dynamic range, high quality, low picture noise, hybrid camera with great lenses. I think I found a digital version of my Nikon in the Panasonic GH3.