Here’s what we know so far

The latest release in a family known for the best mirrorless cameras for 4K filming, the Panasonic GH6 boasts a number of improvements that make cinema-quality available to the masses. Its predecessor, the Panasonic GH5, broke ground with 10-bit processing, unlimited video duration and a host of advanced, professional-grade features. Now, the GH6 delivers next-generation quality with enhanced 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 what’s known as a Four Thirds camera, a system that lets manufacturers 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 have been itching for Panasonic to release an updated model.

The biggest improvements to the Panasonic GH6

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 (that’s 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. That gives discerning videographers the 10-bit palette of over 1 billion colors.

By sacrificing high frame rates and moving down to 60p recording, you have access to premium modes like 4:2:2 subsampling, which offers more clarity and crisper lines than the more common 4:2:0 mode. 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 at nearly lossless quality while still heavily compressing the stream, saving bandwidth and storage space. As evidence of the ongoing support Panasonic offers its newest video-centric camera, they’ve promised to develop firmware updates that allow for high frame-rate and 12-bit raw output via the HDMI port (as long as you’re using a capable high-end setup). Also upcoming is the ability to record straight to an external solid-state drive over USB-C.

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 the shutter speed to ensure a clear image without affecting the actual exposure time. That results in one of the best image stabilization systems now on the market.

Additional enhancements

Panasonic GH6

The GH6 offers other small but meaningful improvements. These include Panasonic’s V-Log and V-Gamut color spaces that provide users with enhanced dynamic contrast control and can bring out softer details in the right conditions. There’s also a new fan built into the camera that allows for longer recordings while avoiding overheating.

What about autofocus?

There’s one minor exclusion from the new GH6 that left a few enthusiasts upset. Many modern cameras use a hybrid autofocus system that prioritizes speed, but Panasonic chose to stick with a proprietary system called Depth by Defocus. Traditionally, Panasonic’s DFD isn’t quite fast enough to perfectly capture fast-moving targets. According to Panasonic’s engineers, they would have had to heavily redesign the sensor from the Lumix GH family, something they weren’t able to do in time.

As a measure of reassurance, Panasonic promises that its DFD algorithm has been revised and is now faster than ever. The key takeaway is that although the Lumix GH6 lacks hybrid AF, it continues to offer industry-leading dynamic contrast capabilities due to its advanced sensor design and algorithms. That’s something that even the most demanding users should consider a worthwhile tradeoff.

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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