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  • Soon Kai Hong

Panasonic Lumix GH6 Review: Competent At Photography Too!

It’s been a whole decade since the birth of the mirrorless camera. Why are they supposedly better than full-frame DSLRS? Fans of the Micro Four Thirds system say that they’re lightweight, compact, and built for interchangeable lenses. Basically, they bridge the gap between DSLRs and compact cameras. But now it's 2022 and gone are the days where professional photographers only swear by big, chunky DSLRs for weddings and commercial photography. Nowadays, I’m seeing more photographers use Micro Four Thirds not only as a back-up camera but even their main camera.

Today we’re talking about the Panasonic Lumix GH6, the latest successor to Panasonic Lumix’s popular GH5 and GH5 II cameras, a flagship Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera packed with a compelling set of features. Like its predecessor, the GH6 is marketed as a video-focused camera that’s equally great for stills. But is that really the case?

Okay first impressions. The GH6 is pretty bulky for a Micro Four Thirds camera, with its body weighing 823g. To put things in perspective, the body of my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV already weighs 890g so that’s not a very big difference. It’s got a very similar look and feel to its predecessors, with a build that reminds me of a classic DSLR camera. There’s a protruding ridged grip on the right and a hump on the back to fit both a swiveling multi-angle live display, as well as a cooling system to support continuous video shooting at high resolutions. When shooting, the weather-proof camera body feels sturdy in the hand, with controls placed in rather intuitive spots.

If you’re already acquainted with the Panasonic Lumix series, you’ll be glad to know that most of the buttons and controls are in pretty much the same spot, with a few exceptions. New features include a new switch that lets users lock out any controls they want on the top left and a dedicated autofocus button that lets them adjust AF areas and eye detection.

Vloggers or any sort of digital content creator basically, this camera’s for you. A second video record button has found its way to the front of the camera. Plus, a dedicated audio control button allows you to change levels and quality without even accessing the menu.

Whether you’re shooting in the day or night, the camera’s fully articulating 1.84-million dot rear touch screen ensures clear views. Borrowing a feature from the full-frame S1H, the screen can be tilted by about 45 degrees, allowing space for HDMI ports and microphone. Thanks to specifications like ProRes and ProRes HQ, the camera’s data rates can reach up to 1.9Gbps. There’s also a high-speed CFexpress slot together with a UHS II slot—this unfortunately means that having one fast card and one slow card won’t allow you to backup ProRes on the SD card.

The GH6 is basically a filmmaker’s workhorse, allowing you to shoot at 5.7k up to 60fps, DCI 4K up to 120dps, and 1080p at 240fps.

As a photographer, I found the GH6’s 8-shot high resolution mode a useful one. The mode, which delivers 50 or 100MP images, now has a hand-held mode in which the camera aligns and combines images even if there’s handshake or movement between the shots. Paired with Panasonic’s motion correction processing, this mode allows you to capture 100MP images, handheld even in tough situations. For instance, trying to photograph a rather active puppy at a couple’s anniversary photoshoot turned out to be a breeze as the the images remained tack-sharp.

Plus, the camera’s noise reduction has been updated as “2D Noise Reduction”, which works to suppress colour noise and avoid the grain at higher ISO. In the video mode, this function is taken up a notch as it can analyse and distinguish between real movement and temporal noise via “3D Noise Reduction.”

When shooting portraits, the autofocus was a little slow especially in low-light conditions. However, the GH6 is backed by A1-trained subject recognition, with a choice of human (torso/head/face/eye), face/eye, as well as Human/Animal, to make better focusing decisions. This worked well for group shots, as well as individual portraits.

When paired with the Leica DG Summilux 25mm / F1.4 II ASPH. (H-XA025) Micro Four Thirds Lens, the GH6 delivers smooth images with a beautiful depth of field. Meanwhile, the Lumix Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH.POWER O.I.S. offers a versatile 24-120mm focal length range that makes it great for wide-angle architecture photography or even telephoto perspectives.

While the camera offers 75dps at a full 25 megapixel resolution for up to 200 JPEG or raw images, this is limited to AF-S mode using only the electronic shutter. Hence, it’s not exactly the sort of camera you’ll take out to the field for wildlife photography or even to fast sporting events. While trying to shoot fast-moving subjects like road cyclists, I noticed that the camera sometimes failed to lock onto the subject—this was especially obvious for sports and wildlife.

Portraits and landscapes look set to be its strong suit. You’ll find the lockable shooting mode dial for different exposure modes, alongside the Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes for more seasoned shooters. To save time on post-editing, consider using the camera’s eight filter effects, as well as the 15 customisable Photo Styles—which are essentially preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation, and noise reduction levels.

The monochrome modes fall short of expectations, while modes like Vivid and Portrait fit their purposes well. Meanwhile, the Cinelike modes create a desaturated feel reminiscent of a vintage film. The Retro mode pumps up the contrast for a rather old-school Instagram filter look that users will either love or hate.

During my two-week review period, the camera produced crisp images of fine quality both in daytime and lowlight conditions. Photos were noise-free from ISO 100, with some noise appearing only at ISO 3200 onwards. Overall, the GH6's a solid all-rounder camera for content creation especially if you’re into vlogging and casual photography. Image stabilisation is great even in low-light conditions if you’re used to single-hand shooting. Photos straight from the cam are rich in details, with a pretty impressive dynamic range. What I didn’t like so much…the battery life is rather lousy at abt 380 stills on an SD card.

Plus, the GH6 uses a contrast detection-based AF system similar to what you’ll find in compact cameras, rather than a phase detection auto focus system in DSLRs or rival mirrorless cameras. Although AF is accurate on still subjects, it’s rather slow when it comes to fast-moving objects. If you’re a professional photographer who shoots action-packed events like sporting events and weddings or commercial stills over long hours, you’re better off getting a full-frame camera with longer battery life, a more sophisticated AF system, as well as 4k/6k shooting capabilities.

Priced at $2,199 for the body only, the GH6’s not your cheap entry-level camera that’s for sure. If videography isn’t your priority, you might want to consider other stills-focused cameras like the Canon EOS R6 or the Nikon Z6 II.

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