Here’s what we know so far
The latest in a family known for the best mirrorless cameras for 4K filming, the Panasonic GH6 boasts a number of enhancements that make cinematic quality accessible to the masses. Its predecessor, the Panasonic GH5, broke new ground with 10-bit processing, unlimited video length and a host of advanced professional-grade features. Now the GH6 delivers next-gen quality with improved resolution and frame rates.
Why the Panasonic Lumix GH6 is a big deal
In the five years since its release, the GH5 has become a household name in the world of video photography. It’s called a Four Thirds camera, a system that allows manufacturers to pack wide-angle lenses into relatively compact and lightweight bodies.
The GH5 was among the first mirrorless Four Thirds systems to specialize in video, and while it wasn’t exactly cheap, its performance was still impressive for the price. In fact, it still holds up well today, although many enthusiasts are eager for Panasonic to release an updated model.
Panasonic GH6’s Biggest Improvements
Sensor resolution and capture speed
The sensor is the bread and butter of any camera, and the GH6’s new hardware doesn’t disappoint. It can now capture DCI 4K images (i.e. 4096 X 2160 pixels, compared to the 3840 X 2160 format standard among consumer recordings) at up to 120 frames per second in 10-bit color. This gives demanding videographers the 10-bit palette of over a billion colors.
By sacrificing high frame rates and switching to 60p recording, you gain access to premium modes like 4:2:2 downsampling, which offers more clarity and sharper lines than 4 mode: 2:0 more common. Thanks to the improved sensor, you can even capture 5.7K video.
Advanced codec and output support
On the software side, it has access to the Apple ProRes 422 codec family, which encodes with nearly lossless quality while heavily compressing the stream, saving bandwidth and storage space. As proof of Panasonic’s continued support for their newest video-centric camera, they have promised to develop firmware updates that enable high frame rate and 12-bit raw output through the HDMI port (both you are using a device capable of high-end configuration). The ability to record directly to an external SSD via USB-C is also coming.
Improved image stabilization
The GH6’s updated image stabilization offers an advanced 5-axis sensor that claims to deliver up to an impressive 7.5 stops. This allows you to effectively increase shutter speed to ensure a clear image without affecting the actual exposure time. The result is one of the best image stabilization systems currently on the market.
The GH6 offers other minor but significant improvements. These include Panasonic’s V-Log and V-Gamut color spaces which give users improved dynamic contrast control and can bring out softer details under the right conditions. There’s also a new fan built into the camera that allows for longer recordings while preventing overheating.
What about autofocus?
There is one minor exclusion from the new GH6 that has upset a few enthusiasts. Many modern cameras use a hybrid autofocus system that prioritizes speed, but Panasonic has chosen to stick with a proprietary system called Depth by Defocus. Traditionally, Panasonic’s DFD isn’t fast enough to perfectly capture fast-moving targets. According to Panasonic engineers, they should have thoroughly redesigned the Lumix GH family sensor, which they were unable to do in time.
To reassure themselves, Panasonic promises that its DFD algorithm has been revised and is now faster than ever. The main takeaway is that although the Lumix GH6 lacks hybrid AF, it continues to offer industry-leading dynamic contrast capabilities thanks to its sensor design and advanced algorithms. This is something that even the most demanding users should consider as a valid compromise.
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.
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