The Panasonic Lumix G6 is the latest addition to Panasonic's G-series, sitting alongside the G5 and GH3. Find out how it fares in the What Digital Camera Panasonic Lumix G6 full review...
With a wide selection of models now available to appeal to anyone from those looking for an easy to use alternative to a compact right up to professionals, Panasonic’s single-digit range of G-Series cameras has always been aimed towards DSLR users looking for a more compact alternative.
Panasonic LUMIX G6 Review – Features
While the Panasonic G6 features a identical resolution to the G5, the 16.05MP Live MOS sensor is a hand-me-down from the once range-topping GH2. This has been paired with a all-new Venus Engine image processor to deliver an ISO range from 160-12,800, and that can be extended to an ISO sensitivity equivalent to 25,600. This offers a 1EV Step gain over the G5 and a match for its closest DSLR rivals.
It also sees the G6 capable of shooting at an impressive 7fps, and with focus tracking engaged it’s still impressive at 5fps. Should you wish, the G6 can also capture shots at 40fps at a reduced resolution with an electronic shutter.
Paired with this fast burst rate is Panasonic’s Light Speed AF, with the digital signal exchanged between the camera and lens at 240fps to minimize focusing time. There’s a choice of focusing modes that features Face Detection, AF Tracking, 23-Area, 1-Area and Pinpoint.
As is the norm with CSCs, the Lumix G6 features an electronic viewfinder (EVF). The new unit features a 1.44m-dot resolution, a high contrast ratio at 10,000:1, a 100% coverage and OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) technology that promises to improve power consumption over it predecessor.
Panasonic also claims display time lag has been minimised dramatically compared to its predecessor, while an eye sensor next to the EVF automatically switches between that an the rear screen.
The Panasonic G6 features a 3:2 aspect ratio 3in rear screen with a 1040k-dot resolution that’s fully articulated, allowing it to be rotated 180° to the side and 270° up and down. The viewing has also be improved thanks to the front panel sitting directly on top of the LCD without containing an air layer in between.
On top of this, the G6 also features touchscreen functionality. The capacitive system improves on the pressure-sensitive design of it predecessor and offers multi-touch control that includes tap focus and swipe gestures.
Wi-fi and NFC
As we’ve seen with a few Panasonic cameras recently, the Lumix G6 features not only Wi-Fi connectivity, but also NFC (Near Field Communication) as well, allowing users to connect to their compatible smartphone or tablet by simply touching the two devices together. This allows for quick and easy transferring of images.
Users can also download the Panasonic Image App, allowing you to select the focus point, control the power zoom lens (if applicable) and adjust exposure, while images can be transferred to your smartphone once you’ve taken a shot.
It’s no surprise that thanks in part to the use of the Lumix GH2′s Live MOS sensor that the G6 delivers a very impressive video spec. Users will have the choice of shooting Full HD 1080p video at 24, 25 or 50p in AVCHD or at 25 or 50p in MP4 format, while the G6 offers full manual shooting control.
As well as this, there’s also a 3.5mm socket to attach a dedicated stereo microphone if you’d prefer over the built-in stereo mics.
Along with the usual M, S, A, P and scene modes, the G6 also offers a Creative Control mode with a choice of 19 filters including Bleach Bypass, High Dynamic and Soft Focus. There’s also a new Creative Panorama function that builds a panoramic image from consequent shots taken in a sweep of a scene, while Clear Retouch allows users to clone out unwanted subjects during image review by using the touch interface to trace offer the unwanted element of the shot to be removed.
Panasonic LUMIX G6 Review – Design
The Panasonic Lumix G6 features a new, more hunched and purposeful design that’s a little reminiscent of Leica’s R9 film SLR when viewed front-on. While the majority of CSCs shun a large handgrip, the G6 sports a nicely sculptured grip that provides a comfy hold.
Even taking the grip into consideration the G6 is still a neat little package that’s noticeably smaller than its DSLR peers, measuring 122 x 85 x 71mm. That only tells half the story though, and the absence of a mirror and pentaprism sees a depth of only (around) 40mm from the lens mount to the rear of the camera.
The Panasonic G6 is predominantly finished in a matt plastic that in places doesn’t feel that satisfying to the touch – especially on the top plate – and feels a step back from the G5 which sported an aluminium front. Quite of few of the exterior buttons, including the shutter button and 4-way D-pad, also don’t have quite the same tactile, quality feel as those found on the G5 also.
Despite the Lumix G6 offering an advanced touchscreen, there’s still a host of exterior controls dotted round the body, that includes five customisable ‘Fn’ buttons with over 30 options to assign them. As well as this, there are four ‘hard’ buttons for ISO, AF, White Balance and Drive on the D-pad, as well as Playback and Display.
The rear command dial overs input for shooting settings while there’s a Function Lever positioned just behind the shutter button that allows you to control a plethora of settings, such as zooming into and image during playback, exposure compensation during shooting.
If you’re using one of the growing range of Panasonic power-zoom lenses, the lever can be used to set the focal length of the lens if you wish.
Panasonic LUMIX G6 Review – Performance
The Panasonic G6′s AF speed in Single AF is pretty impressive, with fast focus acquisition that quickly jumps between opposing ends of the focusing scale, with it only really struggling in dimly lit low contrast scenes.
In ’1-Area AF’ the focusing area can be refined, with the choice for four preset sizes, while you also have the ability to select anywhere in the image to focus on right up to the edge of the frame, while the performance of the AF is mirrored whether you’re using the EVF or rear screen.
Continuous AF is also pretty solid provide your subjects not moving too rapidly, while its a similar story with the AF Tracking – there’s still room for improvement here, but that’s pretty much the same story for most contrast-detect AF based cameras.
An EVF may not be to everyone’s taste, but that on the Lumix G6 is nice and bright, offering plenty of punch, 100% coverage, while the magnification delivered means it feels less cramped than similar DSLRs in this sector. Refresh rates appear quick, with no noticeable lurches if you quickly re-compose and in bright sunlight it does a solid job, though can’t quite match the latitude of the sensor, with high contrast scenes almost burning out in some situations, though this detail is retained in the final shot.
The performance of the rear screen is excellent. The breadth of movement for the side-angled hinged means pretty much you can shoot from any angle should you need to, and the clarity delivered by the 1040k-dot resolution and viewing angle make it a pleasure to use.
That said, the 3:2 aspect ratio of the screen does seem a bit of waste for the 4:3 images produced in its native format, resulting in black lines either side of the frame.
The quality of the display is just half the story however, with the new capacitive touchscreen delivering a pleasurable user experience. Only light touches are needed, and while all adjustments can be carried out via the exterior controls it’s quicker to simply tap the screen to make your selections. Reviewing images is a similar experience to that of a high-end smartphone, with light swipes through images, the ability to pinch and zoom, while double taps automatically zoom in on the image.
If you prefer to use the Panasonic Lumix G6 in a more traditional manner, the body mounted controls offer plenty of quick access points. The luxury of 5 function buttons means you can really tailor the camera to suit you, while the G6′s interface features a clean design that’s easy to navigate.
Shooting with the G6 set to 7fps and in Raw we could manage just 8 files in a consecutive burst before the buffer needed time to recover, while you’re looking at 20 Fine JPEG files at the same rate and this compares favourably to rivals.
Once you’ve installed the Panasonic Image App on your smartphone (iOS or Android options are available), its very easy to get up and running – once you’ve entered the Wi-Fi password into your smartphone to connect to the G6, you have control shooting modes, select focus, review images and transfer them to your device.
Panasonic LUMIX G6 Review – Image Quality
Colour and white balance
Using our Datacolor Spyder Checkr chart for a lab tests revealed the Panasonic Lumix G6 to deliver punchy, vibrant and rich colours at base ISOs that’s maintained until ISO 6400, where after that colours appear a little more muted.
The Lumix G6′s Auto White Balance coped with a range of lighting conditions, delivering pleasing results under a range of light sources, though as with the Lumix G5, we’d perhaps like to see slightly warmer results in some circumstances.
The Panasonic G6 uses a new 1728-zone multi-pattern sensing system that copes admirably under a range of lighting conditions, though on occasion does tend to underexpose by around 0.3-0.7EV, which can easily and quickly be corrected via the Function Lever.
There’s also an HDR mode that combines three images recorded in quick succession at different exposures. Alternatively, there’s also the Lumix G6′s Intelligent D-Range mode that adjusts a single exposure to retain more detail in both the highlights and shadows, available in 3 strengths.
The 16.05MP Live MOS sensor offers you the flexibility to print just a bit larger than A3 at 240ppi without the need to interpolate the file, while looking at our resolution charts from a lab tests, the Lumix G6 is capable of resolving just under 24 lines per mm (lpmm) at its base ISO of 160, dropping to 20lpmm at ISO 6400.
While not quite as strong as the G6′s DSLR rivals, it’s still good, especially considering the smaller sensor size compared to the larger APS-C sized sensors used in the DSLRs.
Even with the smaller sensor size over its DSLR rivals, the Panasonic G6 delivers smooth, noise-free results that are a match for a relative DSLR between ISO 160-1600.
At ISO 6400 and the G6′s in-camera noise reduction system does a good job at controlling luminance and colour noise if you’re shooting JPEGs. This compares well to rival DSLRs, but you’ll find this does come at the expense of overall image sharpness, with results displaying a waxy, muddy look that’s bettered by a DSLR.
Raw files naturally retain more sharpness, while it’s possible to control image noise in Adobe Camera Raw to deliver more than useable results at these high sensitivities.
Panasonic LUMIX G6 Review – Verdict
Packed with features, there’s not a lot missing from the G6 it this price point, especially when you factor in the Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. The touchscreen interface and host of body-mounted controls make the G6 really easy and quick to use, and while we feel the overall finish has taken a slight step back over the G5, the curved handgrip delivers one of the most satisfying grips out there.
Image quality is strong, delivering plenty of detail, and while it might not be quite a match for DSLRs at the higher sensitivities, it’s still more than adequate – especially if you shoot Raw – while the video performance will also appeal.
That’s not forgetting its compact proportions. If you’re looking for comparable DSLR performance and images in a smaller body that’s complimented by a growing range of compact lenses, then the G6 is the perfect travel companion.
Sample Image Gallery
These are just a selection of images from our Panasonic G6 review. For a full range, visit the Panasonic Lumix G6 review sample image gallery.
LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8
Black and white processed from Raw
LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm F3.5-5.6
LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8
Panasonic has refreshed its G-series lineup by announcing the Panasonic Lumix G6 – a compact system camera that arrives two weeks after the announcement of the Panasonic Lumix GF6.
Not out to replace the popular Panasonic Lumix G5, Panasonic say the Lumix G6 is a new addition to the G-Series, not a direct replacement. Featuring a 16.05MP Live MOS sensor that’s similar to that found within the Panasonic Lumix G5, developments to the chip and the inclusion of a new powerful Venus Engine have allowed it to offer a broader ISO range. Set to its base sensitivity, the Panasonic Lumix G6 shoots at ISO 160. At the high end it’s possible to shoot at a setting that’s equivalent to ISO 25,600 – a 1EV gain over the Panasonic Lumix G5′s 160-12,800 ISO sensitivity.
Boasting Panasonic’s high-speed AF system, the Lumix G6 shoots 1fps faster than the Lumix G5 and is capable of recording a 7fps continuous burst when the camera is set to its rapid burst-shooting mode.
Other improvements include a new 24p video mode that enables users to capture moving images and play them back with a dedicated ‘film like’ appearance. The sensor and Venus Engine enable the camera to record in Full HD 1080/50p, with stereo sound, producing professional movie quality with minimal noise. With outputs in both AVCHD progressive and MP4, the Lumix G6 provides wide compression and compatibility options.
Unlike the LCD viewfinder that was featured on the Panasonic Lumix G5, the Panasonic Lumix G6 features an OLED viewfinder that’s claimed to be brighter and offer better visibility outdoors when the camera is used in bright sunlight. Featuring a 1.44million dot resolution, the key advantage of the OLED viewfinder is that it’s designed to increase battery life with a much lower power consumption.
Beneath the OLED viewfinder lies a 3in, 1036k-dot touch screen that supports full-area touch focusing. The focus point can be set immediately to the subject, or to the background, by just one touch of the large monitor even when using the EVF.
Much like the recently announced Panasonic Lumix GF6, the Panasonic Lumix G6 benefits from Wifi and NFC connectivity. Offering more flexibility when it comes to sharing images, the Panasonic Lumix G6 will also be compatible with smartphones and tablets that have the Panasonic Image App installed – available as a free download from iTunes and Google Play for iOS and Android mobile devices.
The Panasonic Lumix G6 will be available at the end of May in four combinations. Body only, the Lumix G6 will cost £549. Partnered with the 14-42mm lens it’ll cost £629, whereas with the 14-140mm lens it’ll cost £949. Panasonic will also sell the Lumix G6 as part of a twin kit with the 14-42 and 45-150mm for £799.
SD, SDHC, SDXC
+/- 5EV in 1/3EV steps
Auto, 7 preset, Colour temp set
4608 x 3456 px
Yes, 1.44m-dot OLED EVF
Fine and Standard
3in free-angle touch LCD, 1036k-dot resolution
2500 – 10000K in 100K increments
Micro Four Thirds
3 exposures in blue / amber or magenta / green axis
16.05MP, 17.3 x 13mm Live MOS
Yes, Supersonic wave filter
Yes (Power O.I.S)
1728-zone multi-pattern; Intelligent multiple, Center weighted, Spot
1920 x 1080, 60p, AVCHD / MP$
PASM, iAuto, Scene
USB 2, miniHDMI
Li-ion rechargeable, approx. 340 images
JPEG, Raw, MPO
122.45 x 84.6 x 71.4 mm
60 – 1/4000 sec (up to 120 seconds in Bulb)
AFS (Single), AFF (Flexible), AFC (Continuous), MF
5fps with AFC, 7fps with AFS
sRGB, Adobe RGC
160 – 12800 (25600 in extended)