Panasonic has revealed its latest GF Series camera, the LUMIX DMC-GF6. With the addition of easier access to manual controls and a chunkier body, the new mirrorless digital camera looks set to take the series in a slightly more enthusiast direction. However, the standout feature of the GF6 is undoubtedly its wireless capabilities, which include Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC technology – meaning users can easily connect the camera to a smartphone/tablet with a simple touch.
The new LUMIX DMC-GF6 boasts a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm) Live MOS sensor – up from 12 megapixels in the GF5. Combined with a new Venus Engine image processor and advanced two-step noise reduction, this is said to deliver detailed images with minimal noise. The ISO range is 160 to 3200, though this can be expanded to 25600, which suggests Panasonic is confident in the camera's low-light capabilities.
Ready to shoot 0.5 seconds after start-up, the camera uses contrast AF for its full-area focus, while a newly integrated Low Light AF enables accurate focusing on the target subject even in low-light situations. It's capable of burst speed shooting at 4.2 fps (with AFS) – while this is limited to seven images if recording RAW, it's unlimited if only shooting JPEGs. Full HD recording is present at 1920 x 1080 60i/50i in AVCHD.
The wireless capabilities are what makes the DMC-GF6 particularly interesting. It's billed as the first interchangeable lens camera with NFC (Near Field Communication), and looks set to make sharing images easier than it is on most cameras. Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC means users (after an initial setup) will be able to connect tablets and smartphones to the GF6 with a simple touch, without constantly having to re-enter passwords.
Once connected, iOS and Android apps allow images to be easily downloaded from the camera for sharing or editing. The apps also enable remote shooting, using the smartphone/tablet as a live (30 fps) monitor. In addition to basic shutter control, the remote apps can be used to adjust focusing, settings (like shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation), and even zoom when using Power Zoom lenses. The wireless functions of the GF6 also mean it can transfer data via a wireless access point to a computer, or Panasonic's cloud service, which synchronizes with your social networks.
While the DMC-GF6 keeps the curved lines of its predecessors, the GF3 and GF5, the latest camera appears to be moving away from the GF Series' recent point-and-shoot style simplicity. A mode dial has been added (last seen in the GF Series with the GF1), which gives quick access to PASM (Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, and Manual) options as well as custom settings and scene modes. Slightly chunkier than some previous GF cameras, the GF6 measures 111.2 x 64.8 x 38.4 mm (4.4 x 2.6 x 1.5 inches) and weighs 323 grams/11.4 oz (body, SD card and battery). But that bulk is partly due to the added 180-degree tiltable (think selfies) touch LCD with 1040K-dots.
Users wanting to take more control will also be pleased to see the addition of a function lever, which can make it quicker to alter exposure or aperture as well as zoom (with Power Zoom lenses). For beginners, or those who just don't want to get into manual settings, the GF6 has all the automatic settings you'd expect, such as scene and face recognition, and some you wouldn't … a new Food Recognition mode is said to detect food on a dish and make the settings adjustments to make it look delicious in your photo.
The Panasonic DMC-GF6 is due to go on sale with a LUMIX G VARIO 14 - 42 mm / F3.5-5.6 II kit lens in the next month or so, for around US$700.