The Panasonic GH6: What I needed, what I bought, and what I did not count on: Digital Images Evaluate

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5 years is a very long time. I requested my six 12 months previous and he agreed. That’s how lengthy it’s been since Panasonic launched the GH5, which I’d argue is likely one of the most vital digital cameras ever launched. It introduced 10-bit video recording to the lots and, for me, it was the primary mirrorless digicam that actually felt like a substitute for an expert cinema digicam.

Limitless recording in most modes, waveforms, vector scopes, shutter angles… These have been the conveniences {many professional} videographers and cinematographers would pay an enormous premium to have entry to. Now, abruptly, they have been accessible in a comparatively inexpensive, comparatively compact physique. I ditched the cinema cameras I used to be utilizing and haven’t regarded again.

I’ve had the chance to work with many cameras since then. Every little thing from APS-C to full body, and even medium format. However I’d at all times discover myself going again to the Panasonic GH5. It was reliable, and I knew that it might deal with most conditions. Nevertheless, expertise marches on and I used to be beginning to miss the upper decision recording, excessive velocity 4K and dynamic vary provided by many latest cameras. I knew a GH6 was coming and I knew what I needed from it.

A digicam so intuitive even your host can use it!

Now that the digicam is in my arms, am I giddy with delight, ambivalent or enraged? Was my checklist of GH6 expectations unreasonable?

What I needed:

A sooner scanning sensor

The GH5’s capacity to report 4K/60p utilizing the complete width of the sensor was a uncommon functionality, and lots of videographers accepted the constraints of Micro 4 Thirds to have entry to it. Now, in 2022 although, many (admittedly costly) full-frame cameras are starting to supply this functionality, and even 4K/120p.

One of many main advantages of a smaller sensor is the flexibility to learn out sooner. I needed the 4 Thirds sensor benefit to shine with a particularly quick readout velocity that will permit excessive body charges and minimal rolling shutter artifacts.

Extra 10-bit/uncooked recording modes

The ten-bit recording of the GH5 was its most important promoting level at launch. However, that functionality was lacking from many report modes. 4K/60p and any high-frame price 1080P would drop you again into the 8-bit recording of yore. This was particularly troublesome once I was recording in VLog-L, which requires a 10-bit shade area to get usable outcomes. If I wanted to seize a slow-motion clip, it meant switching my shade profile to one thing extra much less vulnerable to banding with 8-bit codecs.

One of many main advantages of a smaller sensor is the flexibility to learn out sooner

Additionally, whereas some Panasonic Micro 4 Thirds choices (BGH-1, GH5s) have gained the flexibility to ship exterior uncooked video, the GH5 and even GH5 II by no means obtained that functionality. I don’t report uncooked video usually, however some jobs require it. Whether or not inside or exterior, I hoped the GH6 would provide it.

Improved shows

The GH5’s 3.69M dot OLED EVF continues to be no slouch, however lately I’ve been spoiled by the upper decision EVFs in cameras just like the Panasonic S1H and Sony a7S III. With these cameras, I discovered that I might fairly constantly pull focus manually with out having to resort to an exterior monitor. I additionally adore the S1H’s hybrid tilt/totally articulating LCD. It retains the LCD display away from the ports on the aspect of the digicam, and permits waist stage taking pictures with the display parallel to the lens. Lastly, the infinite tilt display vs. articulating display debates might stop!

That is one of the best LCD design ever, and till now it solely existed on the S1H.

Improved autofocus

I included the phrase ‘Panasonic’ on this article, so inevitably many are heading to the feedback part to write down ‘Dangerous autofocus!!!’. This fame is much less warranted for pictures the place Panasonic have lately made main strides, however their video autofocus has remained extremely unpredictable.

I not often depend on video autofocus, which is a part of why Panasonic cameras attraction to me, however there are definitely instances the place it may be extraordinarily helpful, and lots of new video shooters is not going to need to dedicate the time to studying strong guide focus strategies. The fascinating factor is that Panasonic’s DFD distinction detect autofocus efficiency is basically depending on sensor readout velocity and processing energy. If the GH6 made main strides ahead in these areas, autofocus ought to dramatically enhance as properly.

(If this was a video, I’d do a handy guide a rough transition to right now, holding a pre-production GH6 in my keen arms.)

It is lastly right here!

Had been my burning wishes answered? Maintain studying to permit me to undergo them one after the other.

What I bought:

A sooner scanning sensor

The GH6 reads its full sensor at 17.8ms, and has modes practically twice the velocity of the GH5. That is significantly spectacular as a result of the sensor is just not one of many new stacked BSI CMOS sensors we’re beginning to see, however a traditional single layer CMOS that occurs to learn out very snappily. This enables steady 4K/120p recording, in addition to 1080/240p gradual movement in 10-bit 4:2:2 and 1080/300p in 10-bit 4:2:0. Oh, and it will possibly shoot full decision Uncooked pictures at 75fps!

Whereas not as spectacular because the readout we’re seeing in among the new flagship full body stacked sensors, this nonetheless implies that rolling shutter artifacts (wobble) will likely be tremendously decreased and the gradual movement capabilities are dramatically improved.

This sensor is probably not the most important, nevertheless it positive is speedy!

Extra 10-bit recording/uncooked modes

Checkmark! VFR excessive velocity recording can lastly be captured in 10-bit, one thing even the complete body and far more costly S1H can’t match. All the extra demanding recording modes now provide no less than 10-bit 4:2:0 recording, that means you may comfortably go away the digicam in VLog recording when switching to larger body charges or 5.7K recording.

That’s a formidable begin, however Panasonic has additionally added the flexibility to report 5.7K within the inefficient however eminently editable Apple ProRes 422 codec. That is an trade customary format, and it’s an enormous comfort to have the ability to seize ProRes internally, the place most different cameras would require an exterior recorder.

This brings me to uncooked recording, which is a bit muddy proper now. We all know that externally recorded 4K/120p ProRes Uncooked will likely be provided in a future firmware replace, however with the 25MP sensor, that seize would require cropping or line skipping for true uncooked video seize. I’d like to see native 5.7K ProRes Uncooked seize, in addition to some anamorphic assist. We’ll have to attend and see.

Improved shows

You win some and also you lose some. The EVF stays a 3.69M dot panel, and the LCD is similar 3.0” 1.8M dots because the GH5 II (however barely smaller and sharper than the GH5’s 1.6M dot panel). Regardless of that, I used to be thrilled to see that the S1H tilt/articulating design is right here, and even improved.

The decision of the EVF and rear panel would be the identical as on the GH5, however the tilt mechanism carried over from the S1H is incredible. It additionally means you will not block vital ports for those who tilt the display.

The S1H required you to press a small lock to tilt the LCD out, however this lock was inconveniently positioned proper the place you’ll mount a video fast launch plate. With the GH6, simply pull again on the LCD, and it’ll tilt away from the physique, additionally conveniently retaining the panel far sufficient away from the physique that it received’t intervene along with your mic, headphone, HDMI and USB ports.

Improved autofocus

As anticipated, a sooner scanning sensor and improved processor have led to raised DFD autofocus. The actual query stays, is it ok? The annoying reply based mostly on our preliminary testing is… it relies upon.

At 24p, autofocus was nonetheless fairly unreliable. This is sensible, because the digicam has fewer frames to research than different framerates. I used to be, nonetheless, fairly impressed with the autofocus efficiency when taking pictures 60p. The telltale DFD ‘flutter’ is tremendously decreased, and accuracy is a considerable step ahead. Sadly, the digicam can’t use topic detection when taking pictures 4K/120p, and autofocus efficiency took a serious hit in that mode.

I used to be fairly impressed with the autofocus efficiency when taking pictures 60p

There’s a nice new software to enhance your autofocus expertise, a really intuitive focus limiter which lets you select a customized vary the digicam will try to focus inside. Utilizing this whereas vlogging, and limiting the main target distance to underneath one meter, I used to be extraordinarily happy with the outcomes. Utilizing this software will preserve the autofocus from making large jumps to the background or fast foreground.

So I bought lots of what I needed, and a few disappointments. Panasonic stunned me with just a few options I didn’t even assume to ask for. Listed here are the standouts for me:

Twin learn sensor for Dynamic Vary Increase

I don’t need to get into the intelligent approach this technique works as a result of Richard Butler simply wrote a nice article with all the main points.

This system theoretically permits for dynamic vary rivaling bigger sensor cameras, and in observe I discovered the footage graded very like that from the S1H. Loads of spotlight info, and far more usable shadow areas than the GH5. When taking pictures stills, this characteristic kicks on mechanically at 800 ISO and above, when you can allow it when taking pictures VLog at over 2000 ISO. The vital factor is it offers you a center floor in DR between the GH5 II and the complete body S1H.

The ‘DR Increase’ mode permits the GH6 to seize extra dynamic vary than all different Micro 4 Thirds Lumix cameras, although nonetheless lower than the complete body ‘S’ our bodies.

The fan

Whereas this isn’t unprecedented, the S1H and Canon R5 C are each hybrid cameras with a fan to manage warmth, I used to be not anticipating a Micro 4 Thirds digicam at this worth to incorporate one. Need to report an extended type interview in 5.7K? Go for it. Roll 4K/120p of a fowl for 20 minutes till it takes off? Have at it. Panasonic cameras have been very dependable for controlling warmth, however the fan brings peace of thoughts that professionals (and even YouTubers) will actually worth.

Punch-In focus whereas rolling

Few emotions are worse than taking a look at your monitor whereas the digicam is rolling and pondering “Is that this out of focus?”. Till now, Sony and Fujifilm have been the one two hybrid digicam producers permitting you the flexibility to enlarge the picture to substantiate focus whereas rolling. Now Panasonic has introduced this functionality to the GH6, permitting you to substantiate mid-take whether or not or not you screwed up. Hopefully this pushes the opposite main mirrorless gamers to incorporate this characteristic of their subsequent fashions.

4-channel audio recording

Sony and Canon now provide 4 channel audio recording (2 XLRs and a stereo miniphone) on new equipment with three inputs, nevertheless it at all times appeared odd to me that when these are hooked up, it disables your present 3.5mm mic enter on the digicam.

Panasonic has provided a compact and inexpensive twin XLR accent for half a decade, the XLR1, however when the GH6 was introduced with 4 channel audio, I anticipated having to purchase a brand new 4 channel unit. Think about my shock when it seems that you should use the prevailing XLR1 and simply plug a mic (or two, with a stereo splitter) into the digicam port and revel in 4 tracks of audio. This delights me, however I do want there was a technique to management ranges individually for the 2 3.5mm channels. Firmware?

The GH6 audio controls are simply accessible and really intuitive.

Handheld HiRes

The G9 launched Panasonic’s excessive decision multi-shot mode, however we haven’t seen it in a Micro 4 Thirds digicam since then. I used to be thrilled to see excessive decision mode return, now able to 100 megapixel decision, and extra impressively now you can go away the tripod at dwelling whereas utilizing this mode.

The GH6 stunned all of us at DPReview when it captured 100MP handheld HiRes pictures and there have been no simply recognizable movement artifacts, even in busy scenes

Panasonic additionally has among the greatest ‘movement compensation’ accessible, the place it can solely use one of many eight exposures for transferring objects. I used to be not anticipating to see this functionality when taking pictures handheld, however the GH6 stunned all of us at DPReview when it captured 100MP handheld HiRes pictures and there have been no simply recognizable movement artifacts, even in busy scenes.

OK, that’s loads. So how badly do I need this digicam?

Actually badly!

Ultimate ideas

Apart from very low gentle taking pictures, capturing essentially the most excessive distinction scenes and once I want absolutely the shallowest depth of subject, the GH6 outperforms my present favourite video digicam, the S1H. The headline options like 5.7K limitless recording and 4K/120p definitely excited me, however the principle issues that make me really need this digicam are the sensible inclusions just like the 4 channel audio, punch-in focus whereas rolling, and 100MP handheld hi-res seize with movement correction.

This digicam will make me go away the S1H at dwelling for almost all of DPReview TV shoots, and which means Micro 4 Thirds is alive and properly.

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