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The 25MP Panasonic GH6 is the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds camera to date

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

after little bit of delayPanasonic has finally unveiled the 25.2MP GH6, the highest-resolution Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera to date. One could think of it as a mini version of it S1H “Netflix Camera,” As it is loaded with professional video features such as 5.7K ProRes V-Log video, tilt screen and CFexpress capture. However, it still stuck with contrast detection rather than auto focus detection like most modern cameras. Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on a pre-production unit to check out and learn about the new features early on.

First, let’s talk about the most interesting changes. As mentioned, the GH6 has a 25.2MP sensor with high-speed readout, although it’s not as stacked as its Micro Four Thirds competitor, OM-1. This obviously gives a much-needed image resolution boost, although sequential images actually perform less than a touch of GH5 II (8fps with continuous AF compared to 9fps).

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

Exhibition: Exhibition of Panasonic GH6 Mirrorless Cameras | 19 photos

When taking pictures of people in relatively low light, it sometimes fails to get focus fast enough to make the shot stand out, for example. In comparison, the latest Sony and Canon cameras (A7 IV and EOS R6) do not have such difficulty, even in low light. And I still see some shaking and hunting with video AF – though it’s far less than any previous GH cameras.

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In terms of video quality, things are more positive. The GH6 can now shoot 5.7K video with V-Log at up to 30fps with internal capture to either ProRes or ProRes HQ, or 5.7K up to 60fps to MP4 10-bit H.264/H.265 recording ( all-intra or longGOP). You can also shoot 10-bit 4:2:0 4K at up to 120 fps with 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 ultra-sampled video. It also supports 5.8K up to 30p and 4.4K up to 60p in 4:3 anamorphic modes, with grainy controls for different anamorphic modes and lenses. While the ProRes/ProRes HQ version is limited to 5.7KB for now, it will reach 4K via a future firmware update.

Also coming through a future firmware update, the ability to record ProRes RAW on an external Atomos recorder. Most interestingly, the GH6 is one of the first mirrorless cameras with an HDMI 2.1 output, so it will eventually let you record 4K RAW externally at up to 120fps via another future update. Upon first charging, it will support 4K at up to 60fps, with simultaneous external and internal recording.

Steve Dent / Engadget

In terms of video quality, Panasonic promises over 12 stops of dynamic range using ProRes and V-Log recording, or more than 13 stops of dynamic range using Dynamic Boost (more on that in seconds). It also claims that you’ll see less noise at higher ISO settings (ISO 6400 and above). For both videos and still photos, it wasn’t as good in low light as GH5s (which has less than half the accuracy) but it wasn’t far off.

5.7K video recording at up to 30fps in ProRes HQ uses internal data rates of 1903Mbps, far exceeding the capacity of SD UHS II. 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 various high frame rate MP4 codecs.

The drawback now is that there is only one CFexpress slot, so you won’t be able to get a backup for certain video resolutions unless you use 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 operate the camera while shooting.

If you’re concerned about shutter spinning at the extra finesse, the high-speed sensor reading should reduce that further than ever before. I confirmed that the moving shutter was very manageable, even at the highest resolution of 5.7k and 60p. However, it is present if the camera or target is moving too fast.

Gallery: Panasonic GH6 Gallery | 27 photos

As with previous GH models, the video quality is superb, with 5.7K video being sharp and particularly useful for editing. The ProRes option also saved me an extra step compared to the GH5s, as I no longer needed to transcode the video. The drawback is that video files are 4-5 times the size – so you’ll want to invest in higher capacity CFexpress Type B cards, which can get very expensive.

An interesting new feature called Dynamic Range Boost. When the setting is activated, it will use 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 distortion, although it is limited to ISO 2000 and above. I found it very useful for indoor shots with bright sunlight coming in through the windows, making it possible to restore highlights and details.

The GH6 has 5-axis in-body stabilization like other models, but now offers up to 7.5 stops of VR with the lens supported, right behind the eight stops. Canon EOS R6 camera. With its enhanced IS and E-stabilization, it really facilitates good video even in situations like walking, better than most mirrorless cameras I’ve used.

The GH6 looks like the GH5 II, but it’s a bit heavier (823 grams compared to 727 grams with battery and memory card), and the body has changed in several notable ways. It’s thicker, to begin with, thanks in part to the active cooling fan that ensures the GH6 doesn’t have overheating issues like Canon’s EOS R5 and R6. To this 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 much deeper than it is on the GH5 II (or the GH5 and GH5s. In doing so, the GH6 is more comfortable to use than any Micro Four Thirds camera I’ve tried, especially with larger lenses. Panasonic has made a number of other changes On the button and call layout too, most notably with the addition of a dedicated audio button that lets you change things like gain levels and quality.It also has an extra record button on the front of the camera that’s very useful for vlogging.

The GH6 now has a tilting screen like the SH1, with the same 1,840k-dot resolution as that of the GH5 II. This makes the camera thicker, but more practical for low-angle and other types of shooting, and the tilt option prevents the screen from being blocked by cables if you’re using an external recorder. It’s also Panasonic’s brightest monitor to date, and it was very visible even in sunlight.

The 3.68 million-dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) is unfortunately unchanged from the GH5 range. While it is true that the GH6 is more of a video than a still camera, many photographers prefer to use the electronic viewfinder in bright sunlight, so it was possible to get a clearer picture. Also unchanged was the BLK-22’s battery that delivers less shots than the GH5 II (380 compared to 410) and slightly less shooting time – likely due to the fan and the extra resolution.

Panasonic GH6 Mirrorless Camera Gallery

Steve Dent / Engadget

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

However, the biggest drawback is the contrast detection autofocus. The good news is that Panasonic has apparently finally realized that buyers want to spot the stage and has hinted that it’s not on future models.

The GH6 is rumored to be $2,500, but there’s some good news on that front. it’s a Now on pre-order for $2,200 (body only) with shipments set for March, making it relatively cheap compared to any models that could match their video specs. It looks like a solid choice for videographers, with equal or superior quality to any competitors – as long as they’re okay with contrast-detection AF. I’ll take a closer look at everything in my next Engadget review.

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