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Panasonic Lumix GH6 Review

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review
Review

Price when reviewed

£1999.99

$2199.99 / €2199.99
Check current price

Our Verdict

Now that small full-frame cameras are more readily available and 10-bit video is more common, it’s hard for the Panasonic Lumix GH6 to shine, but somehow it still does. It goes way beyond the requirements of the occasional video shooter, offering high-end features that will keep small-budget professionals happy. Its results are very impressive and while the autofocus system isn’t the best, most of the time it does what it needs to do. To summarise the GH6, it has a lot to offer at a great price.

For

  • Extensive array of video features
  • Excellent stabilisation system
  • Excellent image quality for the sensor size

Against

  • Big & heavy for a Micro Four Thirds camera
  • AF system not up with the best

What is the Panasonic Lumix GH6?

The Panasonic Lumix GH6 sits at the top of Panasonic’s line-up of Micro Four Third mirrorless cameras. It’s the replacement for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and sits above the Panasonic Lumix GH5 II. Although it has a few features such as a 100Mp High Resolution Mode that can work when the camera is hand-held, it is primarily a video camera. As such, it offers an extensive range of video features and can shoot 5.8K, 5.7K, DCI 4K, UHD 4K and Full HD video in wide range of modes.

Specification

  • Camera type: Micro Four Thirds mirrorless
  • Announced: 22nd February 2022
  • Sensor: 25.21 Mp Live MOS Sensor (17.3 x 13mm)
  • Key video specs: 5.8K (5760×4320) (4:3) at 29.97p, 200Mbps (4:2:0 10-bit LongGOP) (H.265/HEVC, LPCM), 5.7K (5728×3024) (17:9) at 59.94p, 300Mbps (4:2:0 10-bit LongGOP) (H.265/HEVC, LPCM), 4.4K (4352×3264) (4:3) at 59.94p, 300Mbps (4:2:0 10-bit LongGOP) (H.265/HEVC, LPCM), 4.4K (4352×3264) (4:3) at 59.94p, 300Mbps (4:2:0 10-bit LongGOP) (H.265/HEVC, LPCM), 4K (3840×2160) at 119.88p, 300Mbps (4:2:0 10-bit LongGOP) (H.265/HEVC, LPCM), FHD (1920×1080) t 239.76p, 800Mbps (4:2:2 10-bit ALL-Intra) / 200Mbps (4:2:2 10-bit LongGOP) (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, LPCM
  • Video format: MOV: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/HEVC, Apple ProRes MP4: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/HEVC
  • Log Mode: V-Log L pre-installed
  • Sensitivity range: Stills (normal): ISO 100-25600 (expandable to ISO 50-25600), (V-Log) ISO 250-12800 (expandable to ISO 125-12800), Video: (Normal) Dynamic Range Boost OFF (Base ISO 100): Auto / 50 (Extended ISO) / 100-12800 Dynamic Range Boost ON (Creative Video Mode) (Base ISO 800): Auto / 800-12800 (V-Log) Dynamic Range Boost OFF (Base ISO 250): Auto / 125 (Extended ISO) / 250-12800 Dynamic Range Boost ON (Creative Video Mode) (Base ISO 2000): Auto / 2000-12800 (Hybrid Log Gamma) Dynamic Range Boost OFF (Base ISO 250): Auto / 250-12800 Dynamic Range Boost ON (Creative Video Mode) (Base ISO 2000): Auto / 2000-12800
  • AF system: Contrast detection with DFD
  • Stabilisation: 5-axis Dual IS II giving up to 7.5EV shutter speed compensation
  • Viewfinder: 3.68m-dot OLED with up to 120fps refresh rate
  • Touchscreen: 3-inch 1.84m-dot tilt & free-angle touchscreen
  • Storage: Dual slots, 1 CFexpress Type B, 1 UHS-II SD
  • Maximum stills continuous shooting rate: Mechanical shutter: H: 14 frames/sec (AFS/MF), 8 frames/sec (AFC) (with Live View) M: 6 frames/sec (AFS/MF) (with Live View), 5 frames/sec (AFC) (with Live View) L: 2 frames/sec (AFS/MF/AFC) (with Live View) Electronic shutter: SH75: 75 frames/sec (AFS/MF) SH60: 60 frames/sec (AFS/MF) SH20: 20 frames/sec (AFS/MF) H: 14 frames/sec (AFS/MF), 7 frames/sec (AFC) (with Live View) M: 6 frames/sec (AFS/MF) (with Live View), 5 frames/sec (AFC) (with Live View) L: 2 frames/sec (AFS/MF/AFC) (with Live View)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 100.3 x 138.4 x 99.6 mm (excluding protrusions)
  • Weight: 739g with SD card and battery

Panasonic Lumix GH6 price and availability

The Panasonic Lumix GH6 went on sale in March 2022 for £1,999.99 / $2199.99 / €2199.99
body only or £2,199.99 for a kit including a 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens or £2,599/$2,797.99 with the Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 lens.

You can order the Panasonic GH6 from Adorama in the USA and Wex Photo Video in the UK.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review

Features

It would take a lifetime to explain the specification of the Panasonic Lumix GH6 fully so I’m going to focus on the highlights.

First up, the GH6 has a brand new 25.21Mp Four Thirds type sensor. That’s the highest resolution Four Thirds sensor currently available in a camera, trumping the 20.4Mp of the new OM System OM-1. At the pre-launch press briefing about the GH6, Panasonic refused to comment on whether the sensor has a backside-illuminated or stacked design or not, which to my cynical mind suggests that it doesn’t, most brands like to shout about such things.

Nevertheless, Panasonic says that sensor has a fast readout speed to reduce rolling shutter and our testing confirms that it is controlled well.

There’s a huge range of video options and combinations available with the GH6 but the headlines are 5.7K 30p video in ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes 422, recording internally to a CFexpress Type B card. This is the first time that a CFexpress card has been seen in a Micro Four Thirds camera.

The GH6 is also capable of 5.7K 4:2:0 10-bit 60p/50p and 5.8K 30p/25p/24p 4:2:0 10-bit anamorphic 4:3 recording, using the whole sensor. In addition, 4:2:2 10-bit Cinema 4K 60p can be recorded internally while 4:2:2 10-bit Cinema 4K 60p is simultaneously recorded over HDMI.

Alternatively, 4:2:0 10-bit 4K 120p (equivalent to 5x slow motion) and 4:2:2 10bit FHD 240p HFR (High Frame Rate) footage can be recorded with audio for creative speed ramping. VFR (Variable Frame Rate) recording can also be recorded with a FHD maximum of 300fps (equivalent to 12.5x slow motion) for more dynamic videos.

The CFexpress card slot sits alongside a SD UHS-II slot to enable internal ProRes 4:2:2 HQ, ProRes 4:2:2 and 4K recording at  800Mbps. Other video format and bitrates up to 600Mbps can be saved to a fast SD UHS-II card such as a Lexar Professional 2000x Gold Series card.

It’s also possible to set the recording method to Relay Recording, Backup Recording or Allocation Recording using both the SD memory card and CFexpress card.

Panasonic has paired the sensor (which doesn’t have a low-pass filter) with a new Venus Engine that has approximately twice the processing power of its predecessor. This enables three key technologies: New Intelligent Detail Processing, New 2D Noise Reduction and High Precision 3D Noise Reduction for video.

The new Intelligent Detail Processing detects the flat, detailed, and edged elements in a frame more accurately to produce a realistic image. The new 2D Noise Reduction suppresses chromatic noise and improves the texture of luminance noise to achieve clearer and more natural images even at high sensitivity.

The detection capability of still and moving parts has been improved for the High Precision 3D Noise Reduction for video, to optimise noise reduction while minimising artefacts. As a result, the image quality of video with dynamic motion is enhanced. In addition, high-precision Dual 3D Colour Control enhances colour reproduction by brightness level, saturation level and hue level.

The combination of the new sensor with enhanced saturation performance and the new engine makes it possible to render a clearer 25.2Mp image and reduce the minimum ISO sensitivity. Consequently the normal sensitivity ranges are ISO 50(extended) – 25600 for stills and ISO 50(extended) -12800 for video, however, selecting the Dynamic Range Boost and using V-Log (pre-installed) has an impact on the range available.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review

Dynamic range and dual output gain

According to Panasonic, the Lumix GH6 is capable of capturing 12+ stops of dynamic range with the pre-installed V-Log recording, but the Dynamic Range Boost mode (which uses the dual output gain system) can take this to more than 13 stops. This mode automatically kicks in for stills when the sensitivity is set to ISO 800 or higher. With video at up to 60p, however, the Dynamic Range Boost is a selectable option and it automatically sets the sensitivity to at least ISO 800.

In Dynamic Range Boost mode, the GH6 can combine a high-saturation image from the low ISO circuit with a low noise image from the high ISO circuit at each pixel. The resulting composite image this therefore cleaner and smoother with rich gradation.

Using V-Log results in very flat footage with all the colour information, giving greater scope for grading. The GH6’s Live MOS sensor achieves a wide colour gamut known as V-Gamut, the GH6’s optimum colour space, which is wider than BT.2020.

The Lumix GH6 also featured the colourimetry of the Panasonic VariCam line-up of cinema cameras and V709 LUT (Look Up Table) with Rec.709 standard is available in the camera by default. In addition, V-Log View Assist (which can apply LUTs in real-time) supports the import of .CUBE as well as .VLT file formats.

Firmware upgrades

While the Lumix GH6 is capable of recording 5.7K 30p ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes 422 video at launch, Panasonic plans to expand the ProRes capability (and more) with firmware updates that will enable:

  • Cinema 4K ProRes 422 HQ / ProRes 422
  • FHD ProRes 422 HQ / ProRes 422
  • USB-SSD direct recording
  • 4K 120p HDMI Video output during Live View
  • Cinema 4K 120p HDMI Raw Video Data Output to Atomos Ninja V+

Unlimited recording

High resolution and high frame rate recording is a recipe for heat generation but the Panasonic GH6 has optimised the heat-dissipation path with a forced-cooling fan mechanism. According to Panasonic, this enables recording that is only limited by the battery power and storage capacity.

Stabilisation

Panasonic has given the Lumix GH6 a new 5-axis gyro sensor with a new algorithm to deliver up to 7.5 stops of stabilisation by itself (Body I.S.) and Dual I.S.2.

The 5-axis Dual I.S. 2 applies appropriate compensation according to the type of movement by assessing the cause – panning, tilting, or hand-shake.

As usual, the Body.I.S. compensates for camera movement even when the mounted lens is not stabilised. In addition to the physical stabilisation system, the GH6 has digital stabilisation that can be used when recording video if you don’t mind a slight crop being applied to the framing.

The stabilisation system also enables a 100Mp High Resolution mode that can be used without a tripod.

When High Resolution mode is selected, the GH6 captures 8 images in succession while the sensor is shifted using the Body I.S. (Image Stabiliser) mechanism. These files are then composited into a 100Mp-equivalent (11552 x 8672-pixel) image that can be saved in raw and Jpeg format.

Audio recording

For greater flexibility when shooting outdoors or where there are multiple sound sources, or when recording backup audio, the Panasonic GH6 can record 4 channel 48kHz or 96kHz 24-bit audio when an XLR microphone adaptor is attached.

Dual channel 48kHz 24-bit recording is also supported with the built-in mic along with 2 channel 96kHz 24-bit high-resolution recording with an external mic.

It’s also possible to switch the channel used for headphones during video recording and audio menus can be directly accessed with the Fn1 button on the top of the camera for sound-level checking during 4-channel audio recording.

Naturally, there’s also a 3.5mm stereo jack for connecting an external mic.

Autofocus

Like its predecessors, the Panasonic GH6 uses a contrast detection autofocus system. This is supported by the company’s DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology that was introduced with the GH4 in February 2014. DFD focusing uses information from the lens about its micro contrast and bokeh, so it’s only available with specific lenses, but it makes the focusing quicker and more decisive than a standard contrast detection system. Follow the link for an in-depth explanation of the Panasonic DFD focusing system.

Panasonic’s decision to stick with contrast detection rather than move a hybrid system that also uses phase detection is a very divisive topic of conversation. On the one hand there are people who have seen the speed and accuracy of Sony, Canon and Nikon AF systems and want that in the GH6, and on the other, there are people who feel that most ‘serious’ filmmakers focus manually so any debate about AF is pointless.

My opinion is that, although the GH6 is large for a micro four thirds camera, it’s a small system camera that’s likely to appeal to filmmakers on a budget that doesn’t stretch to paying dedicated focus pullers. The focusing equipment also adds extra bulk and weight.

Connections, battery and more

Panasonic has given the GH6 as full-size HDMI Type A port and and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, plus there’s a cable lock holder to prevent accidental disconnection.

As is expected now, the 2200mAh battery can be recharged either via a mains supply or USB. It also complies with USB PD (Power Delivery) when the corresponding DMW-BTC15 battery charger is used.

The Lumix GH6 is compatible with Time Code IN/OUT synchronisation through the flash synchro terminal and bundled BNC converter cable with BNC cable. This makes the non-linear editing of footage shot with multiple cameras easy.

Wi-Fi 5-GHz (IEEE802.11ac) is enabled along with 2.4-GHz (IEEE802.11b/g/n) to provide a secure and stable connection with a smartphone/tablet or other devices for smooth control. The transmission speed of photo/video data is also increased by using the 5-GHz band.

Meanwhile, Bluetooth 5.0 (BLE: Bluetooth Low Energy) enables constant connection with a smartphone or tablet with minimum power consumption. Helpfully, the settings of one GH6 can be copied and transmitted wirelessly to other GH6 for easy setting matching.

The GH6 also supports both linear and non-linear manual focusing. In linear mode the degree of lens ring rotation required to shift the focus can be set from 90 to 360 degrees in 30-degree increments.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review

Build and handling

Panasonic has used die-cast magnesium alloy to make the front and rear frame of the GH6 and it’s listed as splash-, dust- and freeze-resistant (down to -10°). In addition, the shutter unit is claimed to be durable for around 200,000 cycles.

Overall, the GH6 feels very solid and built to last, but at 739g body-only it’s very heavy for a micro four thirds camera. For comparison, the full-frame Nikon Z7 II weighs 615g body only and the full-frame 12Mp video-centric Sony A7S III weighs 699g.The GH6 is also bigger than both of those cameras, so it’s only when you factor in a collection of lenses that you start to see any size or weight advantage to the micro four thirds camera.

Part of the reason for the extra bulk of the Lumix GH6 is the inclusion of the fan, the outlets of which can be seen either side of the screen on the back of the camera.

Weight aside, the Panasonic GH6 feel very comfortable in your hand and the deep grip is nicely shaped.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review

Screen and viewfinder

The Panasonic GH6 has a 3.0-inch 1,840K-dot tilt and free-angle touchscreen with an aspect ratio of 3:2 on its rear. The tilting aspect of the screen isn’t immediately obvious, but pressing the button underneath the monitor’s bottom left corner releases the mechanism so the screen can be tilted up from the bottom.

It’s also possible to lever the screen up without pressing the button, but it’s easier to do it the intended way.

There are two stop points in the screen’s tilt movement. The first one is at the right point to enable the screen to be flipped out to the side of the camera without catching on the viewfinder while the second one at about 45° gives a more comfortable viewing able when shooting at waist-height.

To the uninitiated, the tilt and free-angle combination may seem a bit over the top but it means that the screen can be flipped out and twisted to face forwards, up or down, without fouling on any of the cables that may be connected to the ports on the left side of the camera (mic, USB-C and full-size HDMI).

With 1.84-million dots, the 3-inch screen gives a good view of the scene and doesn’t suffer to badly from reflections even in sunny conditions (at least not in March in the UK). However, even when shooting video, there are times when it’s preferable to use the 3,680k-dot 0.76x OLED viewfinder. This has a contrast ratio of 10,000:1 and gives a sharp, accurate preview of the scene.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review

Control layout

Panasonic hasn’t made any dramatic changes to the GH6’s control arrangement in comparison to the Lumix GH5 and Lumix GH5 III. As before, there’s a drive mode dial on the left of the top-plate and an exposure mode dial on the right.

There are also front and rear control dials but the rear dial is now the exposed wheel type. This latter dial moves a little too easily for my liking and there were quite a few occasions when I realised that the shutter speed had shifted from the value I originally set.

The usual large control wheel is also on the back of the camera, which is handy for scrolling quickly through the menu if you don’t want to use the touch control.

Checking the drive mode dial carefully reveals that there’s no option for 4K or 6K Photo on the GH6 but there’s a dedicated setting for High Resolution Mode. Searching through the menu confirms that the GH6 doesn’t have the option to shoot in 6K Photo, 6K Photo or Focus Stacking mode.

There are two red record buttons on the GH6. The first is on the top-plate between the mode dial and the rear control wheel. This is very awkward to press when the camera is at around head-height, but thankfully, the shutter release button can be used instead. When the camera is at waist-level the top record button is conveniently placed for pressing with your right thumb.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review

The second record button is on the front of the camera, it’s perfect for when you’re standing in front of the camera recording yourself. It’s also great to see a tally light on the front of the camera so that the talent can see that the camera is actually rolling.

Performance

Although I concentrated on the video aspects of the Panasonic Lumix GH6, I have also shot a few stills with it and their quality is very good. There’s a good level of detail and in the default settings, the colours are generally pleasantly natural. In addition, noise is controlled well up to around ISO 12,800, perhaps showing the benefit of the dual output gain (dual ISO) that kicks in for stills at ISO 800.

I’ve used all of Panasonic’s G-series cameras and the autofocus system in the recent high-end models has proved fast enough for shooting sport and wildlife. However, autofocus system has moved on considerably in the last couple of years and the fact that the GH6 can put a rectangle around a dog to show it’s identified it, but not spot its eyes even in stills mode is a little underwhelming. Nevertheless, when I was filming my dog running and walking, it managed to stay with him most of the time.

Thankfully, there is human eye detection and while it’s not as reliable as the best from Sony and Canon, it does a decent job. The focus may jump to the background if the person looks away from the camera, but if they look at the camera it’s pretty stable.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 review

Testing Panasonic’s claim that the GH6 can record ‘unlimited’ video, I popped 512GB Lexar Professional CFexpress Type B Gold Series card into the CFexpress card slot, plugged in a USB-C power supply and set the camera to record ProRes 5.7K 422HQ video at 25p. It recorded for 42minutes 49 seconds, only stopping when the card was full. The camera and card got warm, but neither was really hot. After reformatting the card, I set the camera running again and got almost 45 minutes of footage before the card was filled again. This time the card felt quite hot, but it was still fine to handle and after reformatting the card, the GH6 was ready to continue recording. After another 40+ minutes of recording, the camera was ready to continue, but enough is enough.

The GH6 has a maximum continuous shooting rate of 75fps (frames per second) when the electronic shutter is in use. When a Lexar Professional 2000x SDXC UHS-II Gold Series card was in the SD card slot, I was able to shoot 200 raw and fine-quality Jpegs images at 75fps. The focus and exposure is fixed at the start of the sequence, but being able to shoot for around 3 seconds at 75fps good be useful for some creative photography. Switching to shoot just fine-quality Jpegs had no impact on the burst depth, it remained 200 images.

The maximum shooting rate with continuous AF is 7fps. I was able to capture a burst of up to around 44 raw and fine-quality Jpegs at this rate with the Lexar 2000X SD card in use.

I used the GH6 with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH., which is stabilised. Combining this with the camera’s onboard stabilisation produced watchable results even when I walked over uneven ground. Walking through reeds, however, proved a step too far.

Shooting at 50p and slowing the video by 50%, helps smooth out a little more of the jiggle, but there’s also the digital stabilisation which improves things a step further.

After shooting in variety of different modes, it’s clear that the GH6 is a very capable video camera. In C4K (4096×2160) 4:2:2 10-bit LongGOP at 50p, for example, there’s an excellent level of detail and the footage looks remarkably natural.

Shooting in the Standard Photo Style, I was able to judge the exposure fairly well using the preview on the screen or in the viewfinder and the histogram, but there’s also a waveform if you want the additional information – perhaps when shooting in V-Log.

Using the Dynamic Range Boost didn’t produce noticeably different footage initially, but I was able to pull out some of the detail from the ink black shadows inside a bird hide while still seeing detail through the windows, making for very acceptable and attractive results.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 sample video

This video was shot on the Panasonic Lumix GH6 set to shoot C4K (4096×2160) in 4:2:2 10-bit LongGOP at 50p. The camera was handheld throughout with the lens (Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH.) and camera optical stabilisation systems on, but without the digital stabilisation. The playback is a mixture of 100% and 50% slow motion playback with the first slow-motion sections being flagged.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Panasonic GH6.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 image gallery

Verdict

While the Panasonic Lumix GH6’s autofocus system isn’t perfect, it’s far from the nightmare that some may have you to believe. Yes, it would be nice to have better and more targeted subject detection, but it usually does the job and once you understand its capabilities, you can work with it.

I’d prefer the GH6 to be a little smaller and quite a bit lighter, but there’s no denying its rugged feel. I’ll also take the extra weight for the cooling system that means you can keep recording for as long as you have storage and power.

Panasonic has packed a lot of video options into the Lumix GH6 with settings to suite a wide range of scenarios. It would take a long time to get to know every aspect and explore all the features fully, but the GH6 is very capable and attractively priced.

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