Panasonic tempts movie-makers with new video-centric GH Series flagship
Though Panasonic did take its video-focused G series MFT flagship into Mark II territory last year, it seems a while since the prosumer camera got a proper upgrade. Now the company has shone the spotlight on the all-new DC-GH6 – with a new 25-MP sensor, the latest image processor and 120p 10-bit 4K video capabilities.
The first of a new breed of video-centric Micro Four Thirds Lumix G cameras was introduced by Panasonic in 2009, which boasted a 12-megapixel image sensor, dual-CPU image processing and support for Full HD video recording.
The first model to hit the 4K video barrier was 2014's GH4, and it was to be over two years before the company revealed that a new GH Series shooter was on its way. The official announcement for the Lumix DC-GH5 came in early 2017, and we got one on the test bench later that year – noting that the camera was "a creatively inspiring piece of equipment that runs very deep, but is also very accessible for new users."
An even more video-focused sibling was revealed at CES 2018, and the GH5 was given an image processing upgrade for a Mark II edition just last year – with the company also taking the opportunity to confirm that a new series flagship was in the works. And now launch time has arrived.
This impressive specs sheet for the Lumix DC-GH6 starts with a 25.2-megapixel Live MOS (17.3 x 13-mm) sensor that comes without a low-pass filter and benefits from a high-speed signal readout to reduce rolling shutter issues while allowing for high dynamic range.
Panasonic has treated the camera to the latest Venus Engine, which comes with key technologies for the production of "highly realistic images" while suppressing noise in both stills and video shooting.
Light sensitivity is reported to be ISO100 to 25,600 in photo mode, which can be extended down to ISO50, with video maxing out at ISO12,800. And there's up to 14 frames per second of continuous shooting available using the mechanical shutter, or 75 fps with the silent electronic shutter.
A nifty High Resolution Mode snaps eight consecutive images, with in-body image stabilization shifting the sensor slightly to produce a sharp 100-MP composite image in RAW or JPEG format.
But much of the focus for the GH6 is on video capabilities, and this camera is a movie-making monster capable of recording 4:2:0 10-bit video at 5.7K/60p or 4:2:0 10-bit 5.8K/30p anamorphic 4:3 video. It's also possible to capture 4:2:2 10-bit C4K/60p video with simultaneous output over HDMI for unlimited recording time, with a built-in fan helping to keep the camera from running hot.
Users can also record at 4:2:0 10-bit 4K at 120p (that's around 5x slow motion), 4:2:2 10-bit Full HD at 240p with High Frame Rate or 300 frames per second (12.5x slow motion) with Variable Frame Rate.
Panasonic expects C4K/120p RAW output over HDMI to be available in the future, along with C4K/120p RAW over HDMI 2.0 to an Atomos Ninja V+ monitor.
It's the first Lumix G to come with V-Log/V-Gamut cooked in, with the former allowing for more creative freedom in post processing and the latter offering a wider color space than the BT.2020 gamut. And there are 12 stops of wide dynamic range with V-Log recording, which can be increased to 13 by using the Boost feature.
The MFT flagship is also the first Lumix camera to be compatible with Apple's ProRes 422 HQ when recording 5.7K/30p video to a CFexpress Type B card (the camera hosts dual media card slots, the other being for UHS II SD). Support for DCI4K, FHD ProRes 422 HW and ProRes 422 will follow at a later date via a firmware update.
The GH6 employs a 5-axis gyro and a new algorithm for up to 7.5 stops of in-body or hybrid image stabilization, which will be useful for run and gun shooting.
By plugging in an XLR microphone and making use of the built-in mic, users can record audio at up to 24-bit/96-kHz resolution.
Panasonic has included a bunch of photo and video functions to help with creativity, including different Cinelike gamma presets and assist features like Waveform Monitor, Luminance Spot Meter and Tally lamps.
The contrast autofocus system has been given a bump thanks to a new algorithm and enhanced subject detection, and a feature that allows a focus point to be enlarged is now available in photo and video modes.
Framing up is undertaken using the 3.68-million-dot OLED live viewfinder, which benefits from a magnification ratio of 1.52x (or 0.76x in 35-mm camera talk). Under that is a 3-inch vari-angle LCD touch monitor at 1.84 million dots that's mounted in such a way that it doesn't interfere with cable attachments for HDMI or USB. Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 5 allow for wireless data transfer and remote operation, the magnesium alloy body is splash- and dust-resistant, and the camera can operate at temperatures as low as -10 °C (14 °F).
The 5.45 x 3.95 x 3.92-in (138.4 x 100.2 x 99.6-mm) Lumix GH6 goes on sale from mid-March for a body only price of US$2,199, or $2,799 with a Leica DG kit lens.
Product page: Lumix DC-GH6