Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: which mirrorless camera to buy?

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Panasonic’s Lumix G range has given the world some of the best 4K video-focus mirrorless cameras of all time, with models like the Panasonic GH4 and Panasonic GH5 arguably achieving icon status among avid filmmakers. And all this despite using a Micro Four Thirds sensor significantly smaller than the full-frame sensors currently in vogue thanks to the Sony A and Canon EOS R ranges.

But suppose you’ve opted for a Micro Four Thirds model, recognizing the benefits a smaller sensor can bring: a lighter and more compact body, more effective image stabilization and much smaller lenses. Which of Panasonic’s video stars do you choose: the Panasonic GH5 II, the updated and improved edition of a classic Lumix G; or the just-released Panasonic GH6, the most powerful camera in the Lumix G range, boasting an enormous wealth of video options albeit in a larger body at a higher price?

Here we compare the design, specs, features and performance of the two cameras, identifying the key differences and hopefully letting you know which Panasonic Lumix G is for you.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: price

When purchased for the body only, the Panasonic GH6’s suggested retail price is $2,199 / £1,999 / AU$3,229, while the Panasonic GH5 II is $1,699 / £1,499 / AU$2,699. AU$.

You can also purchase each of the cameras with a kit lens. The Panasonic GH6 and a 12-60mm Leica DG lens sell for around $2,798 / £2,599 / AU$4,799, while the GH5 II with the same lens costs $2,298 / £1,899 / AU$3,059 .

Panasonic GH6 and GH5 II cameras side by side

(Image credit: Panasonic)

There’s a reasonable, if not massive, difference in the price of these cameras, which isn’t surprising given they sit side-by-side in Panasonic’s Lumix G hierarchy: the GH6 is the flagship of the range , with the processor, sensor and the widest range of specs, while the GH5 II resides a notch lower while still being touted as a premium model.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: design and battery

As you’d expect from close stable mates, there’s not a huge difference between the design of these models.

Mainly due to its built-in cooling system, the Panasonic GH6 is the larger and heavier of the two, but not by much: without a lens attached (but with a battery and SD card inside), the Panasonic GH6 weighs 823g compared to the Panasonic GH5 II weighs 727g and measures 138.4 x 100.3 x 99.6mm compared to 138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4mm. Once you have a goal set, the difference in volume seems negligible. Both models are also dust and splash resistant, with sturdy magnesium alloy frames.

Panasonic GH6 and GH5 II cameras side by side

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Both models have the same OLED viewfinder, with 3.68 million dots, and we couldn’t discern any real difference here. But when it comes to the rear touchscreen, the Panasonic GH6’s tilting free-angle design adds an extra dimension of flexibility over the simpler free-angle design of the Panasonic GH5 II. The screen itself is the same (3 inches, 1.84 million dots, 3:2 aspect ratio) but the GH6 can be tilted a bit more precisely.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: design and battery
Panasonic GH6 Panasonic GH5II
Cut 138.4 x 100.3 x 99.6mm 138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4mm
Weight 823g 727g
Battery life (CIPA rating) 360 shots 400 shots

Both models use the same 7.2V, 2200mAh battery, with the Panasonic GH6 delivering slightly fewer shots and videos on a single charge (likely due to the more powerful processor and cooling system). According to Panasonic, when using an SD card, the Panasonic GH6 can take 360 ​​images on a charge, while the Panasonic GH5 II can take 400. Both cameras also support charging and USB-C battery power.

In terms of handling, again, there is not much difference between the two: the controls are generally located in the same place. One thing to note is that the Panasonic GH6 has front and rear LEDs to indicate when recording is in progress, unlike the GH5 II. The GH6 also has an additional record button on the front, making it easy to stop/start recordings when you’re in front of the camera.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: features and autofocus

One of the advantages of Micro Four Thirds cameras over their APS-C and full-frame rivals is that the small image sensor can be stabilized more easily. The Panasonic GH6 and GH5 II both benefit from built-in 5-axis image stabilization, which automatically counteracts movement to provide steadier shots, but the former’s version is a bit more effective: up to 7.5 corrective stops vs. 6.5. Both configurations work well, but the Panasonic GH6’s is slightly superior.

As with all Panasonic mirrorless models, autofocus on both cameras is provided by a contrast-based system. Most competing manufacturers prefer a hybrid system that uses both contrast and phase detection to operate, and generally works a bit faster and more accurately than Panasonic’s pure contrast setup.

Panasonic GH6 and GH5 II cameras side by side

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Still, with both cameras here using the same system and specs, there’s not much to say between them, although after testing both we found the Panasonic GH6 to be slightly better to keep a constantly moving human face sharp than the Panasonic. GH5II.

One feature of the Panasonic GH5 II that you won’t find on the more expensive GH6 is live video streaming. If you wish, you can configure the camera to stream in Full HD quality directly to YouTube, Facebook or any RTMP/RTMPS-based platform. Worth noting if you come from a content creation angle.

The main exclusive feature of the Panasonic GH6 is its fan-forced cooling system, which prevents overheating during long and demanding video recording sessions. We should say that we never had the Panasonic GH5 II overheat during our time with it, but Panasonic promises that due to the cooling system, the GH6 will never have its recording time reduced by overheating – the duration of its recordings is not limited by anything other than storage space and power supply.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: features and autofocus
Panasonic GH6 Panasonic GH5II
IBIS Up to 7.5 stops Up to 6.5 stops
Burst shooting (electronic shutter) 75fps 12 fps (60 fps for 4K photos)
Burst shooting (mechanical shutter) 14fps 12fps

Speaking of storage, there’s also a difference here: the Panasonic GH5 II has two SD card slots, while the Panasonic GH6 has an SD slot and a CFexpress Type B slot. high, is required for some of the GH6’s most demanding video recording modes.

Panasonic GH6 and GH5 II cameras side by side

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Both cameras have full-size HDMI outputs, mic and headphone ports, and XLR microphone compatibility (via optional DMW-XLR1 accessory), but the GH6 can record in stereo or four-channel audio, while the GH5 It is limited to stereo. The GH6’s USB-C port is also 3.2 as opposed to the GH5 II 3.1, with a transfer speed of up to 10Gbps, and after a future firmware update it will be able to record directly to an external SSD.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: image and video quality

Both cameras are video-focused Micro Four Thirds hybrids with a wide range of recording options, but the Panasonic GH6 is by far the more advanced of the two models.

The Panasonic GH6 is based on a new 25.2MP sensor and an updated Venus processor, while the Panasonic GH5 II uses a 20.3MP sensor and an older Venus (as seen previously on the Panasonic Lumix S1H full-frame camera).

Panasonic GH6 and GH5 II cameras side by side

(Image credit: Panasonic)

These may look quite similar, but the GH6’s extra power and resolution allows it to record 5.7K Apple ProRes and 5.8K Anamorphic at up to 60 fps, C4K and 4K at up to 120 fps, and Full HD at up to at 240 fps. In contrast, the Panasonic GH5 II can record anamorphic 6K at up to 30 fps, and C4K, 4K and Full HD at up to 60 fps. The additional frame rate options mean it’s easier to produce great looking super slow motion footage on the GH6 than the GH5 II.

The Panasonic GH6 also has more 10-bit recording modes and greater dynamic range, and overall its image quality is just slightly cleaner and crisper. That’s not to say the Panasonic GH5 II is left out in this department, and most of the time you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between videos recorded by either.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 vs GH5 II: image and video quality
Panasonic GH6 Panasonic GH5II
Sensor 25.2MP 17.3 x 13mm Live MOS 20.3MP 17.3 x 13mm Live MOS
Native ISO (extended) 50-25600 100-25600
Maximum shutter speed 1/25000s 1/16000s
Video 5.7K/60fps C4K/60fps
Slow motion video C4K/4K 120fps, Full HD 240fps C4K/4K/Full HD 60fps

Both cameras can take photos too, of course – and while neither can be described as stellar cameras, they can do a decent job in most situations, especially with a good quality lens.

There’s not much difference here (both models have the same ISO range: 50-25600 for the GH6, 100-25600 for the GH5 II) but the GH6’s slightly better resolution and faster burst mode give it the advantage. The GH6 can shoot full-resolution photos at up to 75fps with its electronic shutter, while the GH5 II can manage up to 60fps, but only by downscaling its resolution to 4K quality.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 versus GH5 II: verdict

There aren’t many surprises here: given their respective ages, prices and positions in Panasonic’s Lumix G range, we think these two cameras are where they should be.

For the majority of users, even video-focused content creators, the Panasonic GH5 II is probably good enough: its image quality, image stabilization, build quality and general performance are solid, reliable and, sometimes really impressive.

Panasonic GH6 and GH5 II cameras side by side

(Image credit: Panasonic)

The Panasonic GH6 is a much more powerful option, as you’d expect from its price and position as the flagship Lumix G model, and it’s definitely a treat for more discerning filmmakers. Its wealth of recording options and thoughtful touches like the pointing lights, screen and front record button make it, for our money, Panasonic’s best pound-for-pound video camera.

But unless you’re really obsessed with pixel-watching, color grading, and wringing every last drop of dynamic range out of your footage, you can probably get away with its slightly more affordable stablemate. If you’re all of the above, however, the Panasonic GH6 is a masterful movie-first hybrid.

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