Panasonic’s Lumix GH6 puts video at the fore

The Lumix GH series is a long-running favorite for video-first creators—the most recent GH5 Mark II is one of our top recommendations for video professionals and vloggers looking for a 4K camera. Rivals have pushed video resolution further, and Panasonic is catching up with the Lumix GH6, a new model that coexists with the GH5 II in the lineup, and one that offers a significantly advanced video toolkit, as well. A few reasons for still photographers to pay attention to.

a video-first hybrid

Panasonic, curiously, tells us that the GH6 is designed to be the first still camera. It’s true that its body design takes its cues from still cameras – the focused viewfinder, handgrip and silhouette are unmistakable. In the world of cinema production, the form factor lies somewhere between outlandish and disruptive – no one would mistake it for an Aerie Alexa or other Hollywood production camera.

The GH6 is built for use in the studio and out in the field. The USB-C port and supplied power adapter will power the camera continuously for on-set use. The magnesium alloy chassis with dust and splash protection comes in handy for use outside—we haven’t tried the GH6 yet, but there’s no reason to expect it to be less durable than the GH5 II.

Panasonic Lumix GH6

In the consumer mirrorless space, the GH series is a darling of videographers. And the GH6 has a pretty great toolkit – it supports 5.7K at up to 60fps, and can record with sound at up to 120fps at 4K UHD or DCI. Continuous autofocus is supported when recording in most modes, but in-camera silent VFR is removed from slow-motion mode; Despite the significant upgrades in the image processor, it’s just a little too much to handle.

Long duration recording is not a problem. The GH6 doesn’t limit clip length and includes an in-camera fan to actively cool the processor and CFExpress memory card while recording the highest-quality footage, which is 10-bit 4:2:2 Encoded using Apple ProRes 422 HQ at quality. A second memory card slot supports SDXC cards, and you can opt for more affordable V90-rated media for most formats, not just ProRes.

New, special image sensor

The attention-grabbing video specs are made possible by the updated image processor and 25.2MP Micro Four Thirds sensor. Panasonic tells us that it’s fast enough to read 120 times a second, relying on the traditional CMOS architecture. The Micro Four Thirds’ surface area comes into play here—full-frame chips are larger, so they require stacked CMOS to read quickly—but the all-new design and processing power certainly factor in.

Not only does the GH6 offer more pixels, its sensor promises greater dynamic range, up to 13 stops when recording with a V-Log profile. It takes advantage of a special Dynamic Range Boost recording mode and a dual gain sensor design to get there.

Available at 60 fps or less, DRB uses both low and high gain channels to illuminate a scene, and blends those exposures together. Panasonic tells us to expect more detail in shadows with less noise. DRB still works for engines, but it’s not a feature you’ll turn on or off. Instead, the image processing engine determines whether the metered scene would benefit from the effect, and applies it to the background.

Panasonic Lumix GH6, Rear

In-body image stabilization is included. The GH6 uses a new gyroscope and streamlined algorithms with up to 7.5 stops of correction with most lenses. The GH6 also uses IBIS for handheld multi-shot mode – it shifts the sensor and takes multiple exposures for a 100MP output with true color sampling.

Other notable stills features include a 75fps Raw capture mode, though we should note that this is with focus for bursts. The DFD focus system is capable of tracking moving targets at 8fps, by no means a class-leading figure. This is what you can expect from a contrast based system, though – the recently released OM System OM-1 tracks at 50 fps, possibly a better fit for action photographers who have phase detection Will happen.

We’ll have more information on the Lumix GH6 once we have a chance to review it. Panasonic expects it to ship in March. It costs $2,199.99 as body only, or $2,799.99 in kit with Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 zoom.

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