Panasonic GH6 review: A vlogging stunner, with some caveats

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PAnasonic launched the GH5 over five years ago, helping spark a mini vlogging boom and confirming the potential of mirrorless cameras for video. His replacement eventually came in the form of the $2,200 GH6 with an all-new sensor and desirable features like ProRes, 5.7K 60p video and an all-new stabilization system.

Panasonic had the video creator market largely to itself in 2018, but things are different now. It’s packed with models from Canon, Sony and Nikon, all offering similar features to the GH6 for a similar price. Some of them, like Sony’s A7 IV and Canon EOS R6, have full-frame sensors and superior phase-detection autofocus systems.

Advantages

  • Professional-level video quality
  • Exceptional stabilization in the body
  • Great maneuverability
  • Affordable

The inconvenients

  • Sub-normal autofocus
  • Relatively heavy
  • Battery life isn’t amazing

Panasonic also has its own full-frame range, so it effectively competes with its own Lumix S5 model. Is there still a place for a video-centric Micro Four Thirds camera with contrast-detection autofocus? I took a final production version of the GH6 to the French countryside to find out.

Bodywork and handling

Gallery: Panasonic GH6 Review Gallery | 32 Pictures


Gallery: Panasonic GH6 Review Gallery | 32 Pictures

Aside from the similar control layout, the GH6 doesn’t look much like the GH5 anymore. The first substantial change is the bump on the back. It accommodates both a multi-angle articulating screen and an active cooling system with a fan and vents for continuous video shooting at high video resolutions.

It also has a new grip, which is possibly the largest I’ve seen on any camera, mirrorless or otherwise. It uses a stickier rubber material and has a larger ridge for your fingers, providing a secure grip on the camera at all times.

All buttons and dials are in pretty much the same places, with a few exceptions. The most noticeable change is the addition of a switch in the top left corner that lets you lock out all the controls you want. The other is a dedicated autofocus button for changing AF areas, patterns, eye detection and more.

Another big change is the addition of a second video record button on the front, conveniently placed for vloggers. There’s also a nice dedicated audio control button that lets you quickly access levels, quality and more without delving into menus. Finally, there’s a second button on the front that can be set to do whatever you want.

Panasonic GH6 review gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

The GH6 uses the new Panasonic menu style found on the GH5 II and S5. It’s one of the easiest mirrorless cameras to use, with logical categories and not too much scrolling necessary. Additionally, it can be operated by touch or using the buttons and dials.

As mentioned, the GH6 has a fully articulating 1.84 million-dot rear touchscreen, as you’d expect, but it also borrowed a feature from the full-frame S1H: it tilts about 45 degrees, allowing you to keep it away from the microphone and HDMI ports for vlogging or external capture.

The 3.68 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder is as sharp as its rivals, but the refresh rate is capped at 60Hz. Since the GH6 is primarily designed for video which isn’t too important, as the higher EVF frequencies mainly help action photographers.

With the introduction of ProRes and ProRes HQ, internal data rates can reach 1.9 Gbps (237.5 MB/s). To that end, the GH6 now has a high-speed CFexpress slot, as well as a UHS II slot. The downside of having a very fast card and a very slow card is that you can’t save ProRes (or 800 Mbps All-I H.264 video) to the SD card. This could be a problem for videographers who absolutely need a backup when shooting weddings and other live events.

Panasonic GH6 review gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

As for ports, it has a full-size HDMI port as you’d expect on such a camera, as well as a USB-C port that supports power delivery so you can charge or power the camera while shooting. Naturally, it has headphone and microphone jacks, and you can upgrade them to four-channel XLR inputs using Panasonic’s $400 DMW-XLR1 hotshoe adapter.

Overall, the GH6 is a well-designed and very maneuverable camera, especially for video. Key settings such as audio levels, video resolution, and autofocus are easy to change and monitor.

There are, however, a few drawbacks. It’s heavy for a Micro Four Thirds camera at 823g, and the battery life isn’t great either. It’s rated for just 350 stills on a charge, compared to 400 on the GH5 at the same settings, and around an hour of continuous 4K shooting. On one of our shoots, however, he didn’t manage more than about 45 minutes of stop-start shooting, so you’ll want to buy and carry lots of extra cells.

Video

Much like the GH5, the GH6 is primarily a video creator camera. For that, it’s better than its predecessor in almost every way, from resolution to stabilization to dynamic range.

The GH6 can shoot 5.7K at up to 60 fps, DCI 4K at up to 120 fps, and 1080p at 240 fps. Like other Panasonic cameras, it supports anamorphic shooting up to 5.7K. This allows you to use lenses from VazenSirui and others and get those dramas JJ Abrams horizontal flares. 10-bit video with billions of colors is available for most of these formats, with an Intraframe I mode for easier editing and a LongGop L mode (with H.264 and H.265 codecs) to save time. ‘space.

Panasonic GH6 review gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

It also supports 12-bit ProRes and ProRes HQ formats, which consume card space but are easier to edit than MP4. You can only record ProRes 5.7K 25p video at this time, but ProRes DCI 4K and Full HD will arrive later via a firmware update. Up to C4K (4096 x 2160) 120p RAW output to an external Atomos Ninja V+ recorder will also be introduced at a later date.

ProRes 5.7K footage delivers crisp downsampled 4K footage or cropping where needed, while delivering the highest possible quality with minimal compression and 12-bit color. It will also play in real time on a decent editing computer, but you’ll need a lot of storage space – the file sizes are huge.

Meanwhile, 4K at 120 fps is a big plus for spectacular slow motion. Unlike its rivals, there’s no cropping or drop in sharpness at these higher frame rates, and 10-bit video is available. The only downside to 120p is that a feature called Dynamic Range Boost is not supported.

So what is it ? Rather than Dual Native ISO like the GH5, the GH6 has Dynamic Range Boost. It combines high and low gain readouts to provide additional dynamic range at ISO settings above 800. When turned off, dynamic range is a little less than the GH5 and when turned on, it’s a full point higher. high.

The GH6 is also Panasonic’s first non-professional camera with full V-Log, not hindered V-Log L. With all this, the video quality is exceptional, especially in demanding and contrasting scenes. It’s crisp, colors are accurate, and the added dynamic range stop on the GH5 gives editors more room to dial in bright scenes and amp up shadows in post-production.

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