Panasonic’s 25-megapixel GH6 is the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds camera yet

After a bit of a delay, Panasonic has finally unveiled the 25.2-megapixel GH6, the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera to date. It can be considered a mini version of its S1H “Netflix camera”, as it comes with professional video features such as 5.7K ProRes V-Log video, a tilt and swivel screen, and CFexpress capture. However, it’s still stuck with contrast detection rather than phase detection autofocus like most modern cameras. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on a pre-production unit to check out the new features and get a first feel for them.

Let’s talk about the most interesting changes first. As mentioned, the GH6 has a 25.2-megapixel sensor with high-speed readout, although it’s not stacked like its Micro Four Thirds rival, the OM-1. This obviously gives a much-needed improvement in image resolution, although photo burst performance is actually lower than the GH5 II (8fps with continuous AF versus 9fps).

The GH6 still uses a contrast-detection autofocus system (what it calls “depth of defocus” or DFD) rather than phase-detection like nearly all of its rivals. As with the GH5 II, it also includes face/eye/head/body/animal AI recognition. Although Panasonic has pretty much perfected its DFD system, it’s still not as fast or reliable as phase detection systems.

Gallery: Panasonic GH6 Mirrorless Camera Gallery | 19 Pictures

Gallery: Panasonic GH6 Mirrorless Camera Gallery | 19 Pictures

When shooting people in relatively low light, it sometimes happened that the focus wasn’t fast enough to get the shot right, for example. By comparison, the latest cameras from Sony and Canon (the A7 IV and EOS R6) don’t have this difficulty, even in low light. And I still saw wobbling and hunting with video AF – although it’s far less than on all previous GH cameras.

In terms of video quality, things are more positive. The GH6 can now record 5.7K video with V-Log at up to 30 fps with internal capture in ProRes or ProRes HQ, or 5.7K at up to 60 fps in 10-bit H.264/H.265 MP4 recording ( all-intra or longGOP). You can also shoot 10-bit 4:2:0 4K photos at up to 120 fps using the longGOP codec, or 1080p at 300 fps (240 fps with autofocus).

All 5.7K and 4K modes (including 120p) use the full width of the sensor with super-sampled video. It also supports 5.8K up to 30p and 4.4K up to 60p in 4:3 anamorphic modes, with granular controls for different anamorphic modes and lenses. While ProRes/ProRes HQ is limited to 5.7K at the moment, it will be upgraded to 4K via a future firmware update.

The ability to record ProRes RAW to an external Atomos recorder is also available via a future firmware update. More interestingly, the GH6 is one of the first mirrorless cameras with HDMI 2.1 output, so it will eventually let you record 4K RAW externally at up to 120fps via another future update. When it first ships, it will support 4K up to 60 fps, with simultaneous external and internal recording.

Steve Dent/Engadget

In terms of video quality, Panasonic promises 12+ stops of dynamic range using ProRes and V-Log recording, or 13+ stops using dynamic range boost (more on that in a second). It also claims you’ll see less noise at higher ISO settings (ISO 6400 and above). For video and stills it wasn’t as good in low light as the GH5 (which has less than half the resolution) but it wasn’t far off.

Capturing 5.7K video at up to 30 fps in ProRes HQ uses internal data rates of 1,903 Mbps, well beyond SD UHS II capability. As such, the GH6 is the first Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera with a CFexpress Type B card slot. This is required for ProRes recording and many high frame rate MP4 codecs.

The current downside is that there’s only one CFexpress slot, so you won’t be able to get a backup for some video resolutions unless you’re using an external recorder. However, the GH6 will eventually support recording to an external SSD recorder via the USB-C 3.2 port, which also allows you to power the camera while shooting.

If you’re concerned about the rolling shutter with the extra resolution, the high-speed sensor readout is supposed to reduce that more than ever. I confirmed that the rolling shutter was very manageable, even at the highest resolution of 5.7K and 60p. However, it is present if the camera or subject is moving too quickly.

Gallery: Panasonic GH6 Image Gallery | 27 Pictures

Gallery: Panasonic GH6 Image Gallery | 27 Pictures

As with previous GH models, video quality is exceptional, with 5.7K video particularly crisp and useful for editing. The ProRes option also saved me an extra step over the GH5s because I no longer need to transcode the video. The downside is that video files are 4-5 times larger – so you’ll want to invest in high-capacity CFexpress Type B cards, which can get very expensive.

A cool new feature is called dynamic range boost. When you enable the setting, it uses two analog circuits at different ISO settings to take two different exposures. The result is improved dynamic range in scenes with bright and dark areas, without any excessive noise, although it is limited to ISO 2000 and above. I found it very useful for indoor shots with bright sunlight streaming through the windows, helping to pick up highlights and detail.

The GH6 has built-in five-axis stabilization like the other models, but now offers up to 7.5 stops of shake reduction with supported lenses, just behind the Canon EOS R6’s 8 stops. . With improved IS and E stabilization, it really smooths out video even in situations like walking, better than most mirrorless cameras I’ve used.

The GH6 kind looks like the GH5 II, but it’s a bit heavier (823 grams versus 727 grams with battery and memory card), and the body has changed in several notable ways. It’s much thicker, for starters, thanks in part to an active cooling fan that ensures the GH6 doesn’t suffer from overheating issues like Canon’s EOS R5 and R6. To that end, Panasonic promises unlimited recording in all video modes, including 5.7K 60p and 4K 120p.

    Panasonic GH6 Mirrorless Camera Gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

The other major change is the grip which is considerably deeper than on the GH5 II (or GH5 and GH5s. With this, the GH6 is considerably more comfortable to use than any Micro Four Thirds camera I’ve had. have tried, especially with large lenses.Panasonic has also made a number of other changes to the layout of the buttons and dials, including the addition of a dedicated audio button that lets you change things like gain levels and quality. It also has an additional record button on the front of the camera which is extremely handy for vlogging.

The GH6 now features a tilt-and-swivel screen like the SH1, with the same 1,840,000-dot resolution as the GH5 II. This makes the camera thicker, but more practical for low angle shots and other types of shooting, and the tilt option prevents the screen from being blocked by cables if you are using an external recorder. It’s also Panasonic’s brightest screen to date, and it was highly viewable even in direct sunlight.

The 3.68 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) is sadly unchanged from the GH5 range. While it’s true that the GH6 is more of a video than a camera, many shooters prefer to use an EVF in direct sunlight, so a sharper image would have been nice. The BLK-22 battery also remains unchanged, which offers fewer shots than the GH5 II (380 vs. 410) and a slightly lower shot time, likely due to the fan and additional resolution.

Panasonic GH6 Mirrorless Camera Gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

The GH6 has a few other serious downsides compared to its rivals. One of them is the relatively small size of the sensor compared to a full-frame camera. This offers fewer creative possibilities, although it is also more forgiving in terms of focusing and makes lenses cheaper and lighter.

The biggest flaw, however, is the contrast-detection autofocus. The good news is that Panasonic seems to have finally figured out that buyers want phase detection and hinted that it’s not out of the question for future models.

The GH6 is rumored to cost $2,500, but there’s good news about that. This is now on pre-order for $2,200 (body only) with shipments slated for March, making it relatively inexpensive compared to any model that can match its video specs. It looks a solid choice for video shooters, with quality equal to or better than any of its rivals, as long as they’re okay with contrast detection AF. I’ll take a closer look at everything in the next Engadget review.

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