Panasonic Lumix GH6: Micro Four-Thirds Strikes Back!


The long-awaited successor to Panasonic’s GH5 is finally here! The GH5 was such an innovative camera that had video specs no other small cameras did when it came out. However, the competition has evolved. Is the new Panasonic Lumix GH6 enough to fight back?

This has been a great year for Micro Four Thirds (M43) fans. OM Digital Solutions has released the new OM-1 and continues to bring out new lenses. Panasonic has finally given us the Lumix GH6. These are the first M43 cameras in ages to sport a new sensor. So let’s dive in and see how it performs.

Pros:

  • New 25mp sensor
  • Excellent video specs (5.7K RAW internal!)
  • Great video quality in all resolutions
  • One of the best hand-held hi-res implementations yet
  • Comfortable ergonomics
  • Full V-log without paid firmware upgrade
  • S1H-style rear screen

Cons:

  • Missing some photo features like 6k photo mode pre-burst
  • DFD Autofocus wobble/pulsing is still a thing

Panasonic Lumix GH6 — Technical specifications

All technical specifications were taken from the B&H product page:

  • 25.2MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Sensor
  • 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-Bit Unlimited Recording
  • 5.7K 60p, 4K 120p HFR, FHD 300p VFR
  • ProRes 422 HQ, V-Log, and DR Boost
  • Dual IS 2, 7.5-Stop 5-Axis Stabilizer
  • 100MP Handheld High-Resolution Mode
  • 3.68m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0″ 1.84m-Dot Free Angle Touchscreen
  • CFexpress Type B & SD UHS-II Card Slots
  • Built-In Active Cooling

Panasonic Lumix GH6 — Ergonomics and build quality

Panasonic did an excellent job on the ergonomics of the Lumix GH6. If you’ve ever used a GH5 or G9, you’ll feel at home quickly. The grip is excellent. It’s chunky enough to provide an excellent hold. However, it’s not so large as to be uncomfortable.

The buttons and dials of the Panasonic Lumix GH6 are well thought out and placed. The camera is highly customizable and features two record buttons. I’ve long been a fan of the autofocus controls on the back of Lumix cameras, and the GH6 is no exception. Being able to switch through all the modes, use the joystick, and hit the AF button without having to look is great.

The menus on the GH6 have also been updated. While Panasonic menus haven’t been bad, it’s nice to see a UI update. The menus now have a nested feel to them, similar to the style of the new Sony menus. It took me a little bit to get used to them, but I quickly found navigating to what I wanted to be easy enough.

Yes, it’s chunkier

The internet has been quick to point out that the Panasonic Lumix GH6 is a chonky boi. Yes, the GH5 wasn’t the smallest camera on the market. Yes, the GH6 is a bit bigger due to the new cooling system and screen. However, it’s still a manageable camera body. It balances larger lenses like the Lumix 10-25mm f/1.7 well. It can also retain a somewhat smaller profile with one of the many small M43 lenses on the market.

One thing that is noticeable, however, is that the camera is a bit heavier to the left. This wasn’t something that bothered me much, but it was more noticeable than I anticipated.

Build quality

Panasonic Lumix GH6

The Panasonic Lumix GH6 is built like a tank. Its weather-sealed and sturdy chassis should last for the long haul in diverse conditions. The buttons and dials all feel great. The rear screen mechanism seems robust as well. Everything on the camera looks and feels like it will hold up to the test of time. I had the camera for a month and even took it on a few mountain bike rides with no issues. Not even a spec of dust on the sensor.

Panasonic added a couple of nice touches to the GH6 as well. The memory card door housing the CFexpress and SD card slots is sealed and has a locking mechanism on it. It’s also nice to see a lock on the battery door as well.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 — In the field

The Panasonic Lumix GH6 is a great camera to work with. With its excellent ergonomics, updated menus and great displays, it offers a nice user experience. Previous owners of Panasonic cameras will feel right at home.

Panasonic Lumix GH6

It’s a bit of a shame that the GH6 viewfinder hasn’t changed much. Panasonic normally did a great job of keeping their displays above the competition. However, the new OM-1 with its 5.76 million dot EVF beats out the GH6’s 3.68 million dot EVF handily. Having said that, the rear screen is a nice improvement. The S1H style flip-up hinge paired with the fully articulating hinge is just great to use. Especially now that the S1H locking mechanism has been removed for the GH6.

IBIS and Handheld Hi-Res mode

100-megapixel handheld hi-res shot with cars moving in the frame

As you would expect from the M43, the Panasonic Lumix GH6 features excellent IBIS. Panasonic is now claiming up to 7.5 stops of shake correction when paired with certain lenses. In use, it’s exactly what you’d expect. It smooths out video shooting wonderfully.

Panasonic’s IBIS is one of the best in the business for video. Somehow the GH6 can tell when movement is intentional or not, and retains smooth performance at all times. When it comes to stills, it’s possible to pull off long exposures by hand at wider angles.

Another benefit to IBIS comes in the form of sensor-shift hi-resolution modes. The Panasonic Lumix GH6 can use the IBIS to rapidly capture eight photos as the sensor shifts and combine them into either 50 or 100-megapixel images. What is great about this newest iteration is that it can be done handheld.

It also corrects for motion in the photos. The GH6 makes this feature much more useful in many more applications. In the image comparison tool above, the photo to the right is a cropped section of a 100-megapixel handheld hi-res shot.

Battery life and media

Battery life in the Panasonic Lumix GH6 is fairly mediocre. It’s CIPA rated for 360 shots and has a power saver mode that can easily double that. In real-world conditions, getting much more than the CIPA rating is easily achievable. While it’s certainly not bad, it’s not the greatest either. However, the Lumix GH6 can be powered via USB-C if you have a PD-rated power source that can deliver 9V, 3A.

In terms of media, the Panasonic GH6 has a single CFexpress Type B card slot and a UHS-II SD card slot. You’ll need to pony up for the CFE cards if you want to unlock every video mode in the camera. Although, Panasonic has made a huge amount of the video modes compatible with the SD card slot as well.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 — Autofocus performance

The autofocus performance of the Panasonic Lumix GH6 in photography is rather good. I put the camera through its paces with the Lumix 10-25mm f/1.7. I took it on mountain biking rides and tested it on fast-moving subjects and trail dogs. It went on an engagement shoot with me as well. The eye, face, and subject detection and tracking modes all worked quite well in my testing. While the Depth-from-Defocus pulsing in the EVF when in continuous AF can be disconcerting, it rarely let me down. Single AF is blazing fast and accurate too.

However, in the video department, it’s a bit of a different story. Panasonic’s DFD autofocus seems to perform best when it has more opportunities to analyze a scene. In 60fps and higher modes, I didn’t have issues with the camera losing its subject. However, in 24fps, it did occasionally wander. In addition, the Panasonic pulse does show up quite noticeably in some scenes. In the video sample below, you’ll notice pulsing quite badly in the intro even though I was shooting in 60fps.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 — Video performance

If you’re looking at the Panasonic Lumix GH6, odds are you’re interested in the video. The GH6 doesn’t disappoint. It has a plethora of video modes available. It can shoot 5.7k, 4k up to 120fps, 1080 up to 240fps with audio and AF (with select lenses), and 1080 at 300fps in HFR mode. On top of all that, it can shoot raw video. Also, ProRes 422 HQ in nearly every mode is here in the GH6.

The image quality in every mode is also exceptional. Even in 1080p, the image is crisp and vibrant. Having the full V-log unlocked from the factory is awesome. Grading the footage was simple enough in DaVinci Resolve, and it looks great. Panasonic has also improved its noise reduction, which seems to handle low-light video well. In terms of video, the only letdown is that the DFD pulse mentioned above still exists.

Dynamic Range Boost mode

A new addition to the Panasonic Lumix GH6 is the Dynamic Range Boost mode. Likely due to the new sensor having a dual gain output design, Panasonic has been able to implement this new technology with the GH6. With this technology, the camera is able to output from both gain paths to retain more shadow and highlight detail. On paper, it shows nearly full-frame sensor levels of dynamic range.

In use, the Dynamic Range Boost mode does seem to provide a nice bump in what the camera can do. In the video sample above, I shot in 1080p60 with DR Boost on in V-Log and then graded the footage in DaVinci Resolve. It’s really quite impressive how well this camera does. I’d say Panasonic has retained the M43 hybrid video crown with the Lumix GH6.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 — Image quality

While the GH line of cameras is known for video, the Panasonic Lumix GH6 delivers excellent photos as well. Its 25-megapixel sensor provides excellent detail. That, along with its processor, produces great color, better low-light performance, and impressive dynamic range. Let’s further break that down.

Dynamic range

As you can tell by moving the slider above, the Pansonic Lumix GH6 has little trouble with dynamic lighting. I was able to easily recover the highlights near the windows as well as pull back detail in the shadows near the door and the right side of the image. This was all done by processing a single RAW file in Lightroom. The GH6 handles highlight and shadow recovery with aplomb. Noise levels stay nicely controlled when recovering shadows as well.

JPEG quality

JPEG shooters won’t be disappointed with the Panasonic Lumix GH6. It delivers pleasing, neutral colors. The camera also seems to control highlights and shadows rather well. In addition, the updated 3D noise reduction does a great job without smearing detail into oblivion.

If you want to shoot JPEGs with a GH6, there’s little reason not to! It will deliver tons of detail. If you want to shoot a photo, transfer it via the phone app and post it to social media, the GH6 has got your back.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 — Proving Micro Four Thirds isn’t dead yet

Panasonic Lumix GH6

Panasonic had a tough job ahead of them when they decided to replace the GH5. Not only was it a great camera, but also other companies have had time to get their cameras up to spec. Luckily for fans of the GH series, Panasonic delivered a solid upgrade with the Lumix GH6. While it may not be a perfect camera, it does improve on the previous generation in meaningful ways.

The Panasonic Lumix GH6 may not be cheap at $2,197, but that does put it in line with the OM-1. Yes, you can buy cheaper full-frame cameras. However, the GH6 is a bit of a specialty tool. With smaller M43 lenses, excellent IBIS, and a native 4:3 ratio with more anamorphic options than any hybrid camera out there, the GH6 offers up a ton of versatility for videographers. It’s important to keep in mind just how much this camera is capable of when it comes to video.

Also, don’t write off its photo capabilities. The new 25-megapixel sensor is quite capable as well. While I’m sure many of us are disappointed that modes like 6k photo and focus stacking are missing, the new handheld hi-res mode is quite impressive. Hopefully, Panasonic will bring a photo-oriented model out ala G9 in the future. That said if you’re primarily a video shooter looking for all these features, but need a capable stills camera as well, the GH6 is worth a look. This camera would certainly serve you well.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 Mirrorless Camera

A pioneer in the Micro Four Thirds class, the Lumix GH6 Mirrorless Camera from Panasonic is a petite beast that challenges full-frame rivals, a powerful hybrid in addition to the video-centric GH series that offers cutting-edge tech to cinematographers and photographers alike. The improved processing power of the Venus Engine enables fast sensor readouts for internal recording of 5.7K 30p in Apple ProRes 422 HQ, FHD 300p and handheld 100MP photos.



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