Panasonic Lumix GH6 - Hands On Review and Testing!
It’s been around five years since the GH5 was released, and of course, that camera has been raved about ever since it came out. Panasonic truly raised the bar with the GH5, giving a whole new set of video recording capabilities that had never previously been seen in a camera within that price range. On the 21st February 2022, Panasonic officially announced the successor to this absolute beast of a video camera: the GH6. I was fortunate enough to get hands on with this camera for a few weeks prior to the official release to test the new groundbreaking features that come inside this pretty new package. In this blog, I’ll be discussing some of my first impressions and my experiences when first using the GH6.
So, Panasonic are calling the GH6 their new flagship μ4/3 body, with the ability to shoot up to 5.7K internally as well as 6K60 to two colour sampling. The Variable frame rate options go up to 300FPS 10-bit in HD and the high frame rate options go up to 200FPS, anamorphic up to 30p, and 4.4K anamorphic at a 4x3 aspect ratio up to 60p. There are absolutely no record time limits on any of the video recording options, so you should be able to record for as long as your battery and memory cards have capacity. In terms of autofocus, the GH6 stills opts for a contrast detect system which I know will make a lot of you upset to hear, but from my limited testing, it’s actually been the best contrast detect AF i’ve ever seen, far exceeding the GH5 and an obvious leap from my beloved S5.
The GH6 uses an all-new Venus engine processor which enables these high-quality video recording options internally, and of course, there’s active cooling, so you’ll never run into overheating issues whilst using this device. Moving onto the physical attributes: the GH6 comes with a brand new 25 megapixel μ4/3 sensor, a full-size HDMI port, a dual card slot (one for an HS2 card and the other for CF Express cards), a headphone port and of course a USB-C port for supplying power to peripheral devices and for charging the camera itself. The GH6 body features the same screen mechanism that we saw on the S1H, so you can actually flip the display out and up, which is extremely handy and it’s probably my favourite screen implementation on the market right now. The EVF is an OLED display with a 3840K dot resolution and the 3” LCD panel has a 1840K dot resolution. This camera also boasts up to 7.5 stops of in-body image stabilisation, making it the most powerful IBIS system that has ever been seen on a Panasonic camera. The craziest thing about this camera for me is its extremely attractive £1,999 price (in the UK), which is an absolute steal for all the features this camera comes with. For me, it certainly earns its place at the top of Panasonic’s video ranks for the μ4/3 system.
This was one of my first times shooting with the μ4/3 body, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but wow…this camera is certainly an incredible piece of kit. When I was originally told that I’d be able to get my hands on one early, I was both excited and apprehensive because of my lack of experience shooting with a μ4/3 system. To get the best idea of this system in a short space of time, I quickly booked a trip Regal, Latvia, with the GH6 in-hand. I thought the change of location would inspire many shots that could show off its video capabilities, and all other real-world uses would be covered by my usual corporate work that I do on a daily basis (footage examples can be found in the YouTube video linked to this blog post).
From my first impressions using the GH6 in Latvia, the autofocus appeared to be pretty snappy from what I could see on the LCD screen whilst recording. There’s an option available with the GH6 called ‘Fast AF’, so naturally, I enabled that, and I went about filming some of the Latvian scenes. From that first use, the AF performance seemed to be pretty great, so maybe Panasonic have done the unthinkable and improved their AF algorithms within the GH6 to make it useable, and maybe (just maybe), one day people can finally stop moaning about the AF in the LUMIX series of cameras.
In general, I was extremely impressed using this camera out and about as well as for my corporate work. I have to say I ended up using the GH6 quite a lot for filming social content for my clients, even handheld! The results were great thanks to the 4K 120FPS ability within this camera; if things begin to look a little shaky, its quick and simple to slow the footage down a little whilst retaining high resolution and making the content look more cinematic than ever. If you pair this with the 7.5 stop IBIS available, it’s hardly even worth putting the effort into setting up and using a gimbal…it’s THAT good. Comparing the IBIS performance of the GH6 with the S5, there is a huge difference favouring the GH6. If you’re someone who enjoys shooting handheld, then the GH6 is an absolute dream for you, especially when shooting at 4K 120FPS…you’ll be hard of luck trying to stop any shaking or jitteriness, so that’s absolutely great. The flip-out screen and the amazing video codecs that come with this package are fantastic for vlogging as well, and in terms of AF: it truly is the best contrast detect AF system i’ve ever used inside a Panasonic camera. It’s much more snappy than my S5 in this regard, and I’d go as far to say that I could rely on it for some of my corporate shooting. At just under £2,000 here in the UK, this μ4/3 body is a strong contender for anyone who currently shoots with a μ4/3 setup, or to anyone who’d like to get into this form factor.
FEATURES THAT NEED TO BE CARRIED OVER TO OTHER LUMIX CAMERAS
One thing I truly hope Panasonic carry over to their other cameras is a new filter setting within the menu system inside the GH6. Essentially, due to the enormous amount of flexibility in the codecs that are available within this camera, the range of compressions, etc., Panasonic have developed a ‘my filter’ option inside the menu, which allows you to quickly and easily find settings that you commonly use without having to scroll through the huge catalogue of settings available. This is fantastic as it saves a lot of time when switching between two common modes that you might use this camera in whilst on a shoot, and I’ve found it to be a really effective addition to the firmware. The audio within the GH6 has had a huge facelift from the GH5, allowing you to record four channel audio, thus allowing for up to two XLR inputs (with the adapter). This means you can record scratch audio simultaneously with the in-built camera mics so that you’re able to get four different channels of audio. This is great for extra redundancy when shooting. On the topic of audio, the Panasonic audio pre-amps are historically known to be quite hot, with the lowest gain setting sitting at -12dB. In the GH6, however, this has been improved upon, and the lowest gain setting available is now -18dB. This to me is a great addition because it allows for a little more dynamic range when using the on-board pre-amps.
Overall, I think the GH6 is an incredible little filmmakers camera for anyone that’s already in the μ4/3 system or who wants to be for utilising the smaller and lightweight lens options out there. The lens selection for this system is insane; there’s plenty of options for you seeing as this form factor has been around for a very long time. This package is insanely good value for money if you’re after a solo video shooter, with an AF that is actually surprisingly good for a Panasonic camera. I loved using the GH6 so much that I’m actually considering buying myself one as a secondary B-cam to my S5; I’m currently using the S1 for this purpose, but I’d be more than happy to get into the μ4/3 scene with this camera. The 4K 120FPS capability is definitely one of the defining features for this camera to me and I can certainly see myself using that feature to death. There’s so much I love about this camera; Panasonic have smashed it out of the park with this system and I’m sure it’s going to fly off the shelves.