Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH6
Resolution: 25.21 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
(17.3mm x 13.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 50 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/32000 - 60 sec
Dimensions: 5.4 x 3.9 x 3.9 in.
(138 x 100 x 100 mm)
Weight: 29.0 oz (823 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $2,200
Availability: 03/2022
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic GH6 specifications

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25.21
Megapixels
Micro Four Thirds 4/3
size sensor
image of Panasonic Lumix DC-GH6
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Panasonic GH6 Hands-on Preview

by William Brawley | Posted 02/21/2022

Updates:
02/21/2022: Full Preview & Pre-production Sample Gallery added

07/15/2022: Gallery Images (with production firmware) added

GH fans, the day is finally here. At long last, the successor to the wildly-popular Lumix GH5 has arrived. Say hello to the Panasonic Lumix GH6. Teased with a few specs and details back in May of 2021, the GH6 was slated to originally go on sale at the end of that year. Here we are, in late February 2022. Things clearly got delayed, and while we can only speculate, it's likely the recent global semiconductor shortage and other supply chain issues that have been affecting multiple industries around the world played a part in pushing the GH6's debut back a few months. But that is all in the past now, and the Lumix GH6 is hitting store shelves very soon.

Before today's full announcement, we knew only a few details about what the new flagship Lumix G camera would offer, such as an all-new sensor and processor and, as expected, improved and even more video recording options. Panasonic promised that the GH6 would offer 4:2:2 10-bit DCI 4K/60p, 10-bit 5.7K at 60p and 4K at 120fps, as well as unlimited recording times in every video mode.

But now we know everything. The Lumix GH6 features a higher-resolution Four Thirds sensor -- making it currently the highest-resolution Micro Four Thirds camera on the market -- a new image processor with two times the performance of the previous one, better dynamic range, better in-body image stabilization, faster autofocus, faster sensor readout performance, a high-res shooting mode, and of course a slew of video features that the GH-series has become famous for. Much like with the full-frame S1H, the new GH6 has an active cooling fan that helps it achieve its impressive video recording capabilities. There's also an even more incredible array of recording modes and resolutions to choose from, making it an excellent camera for video productions both large and small. Panasonic's already planning a future firmware update to add more high-end features, such as in-camera Apple ProRes recording, which will make the GH6 an even better fit for high-end cinema production workflows.

LEICA DG 12-60/F2.8-4.0: 60mm, F4.5, 1/500s, ISO 100
(Shot on a camera using pre-production firmware.)

Panasonic does, however, state that the GH6 is still a photo camera first and foremost, and the GH6 does offer several improvements for still photographers. However, it's quite clear from all of the features, improvements and their stated target customers that the Lumix GH6 is focused heavily on the video market.

Read on below for the full rundown on what's new with Panasonic's new flagship GH6 Micro Four Thirds camera.

Key Features & Specs

  • 25.2-megapixel Four Thirds sensor with AR Coating and no optical low-pass filter
  • New Venus Engine processor with 2x processing speed
  • Updated DFD-based AF with 315 AF points/areas
  • ISO Range: 100-25600 (native); Low expanded ISO: 50, 64, 80
  • 7.5-stop 5-axis Dual I.S. 2 image stabilization system
  • 100MP Handheld High-Res Shooting mode
  • Up to 75fps continuous burst shooting with AFS mode
  • 5.7K 60p 10-bit
  • 4:2:2 10-bit 4K up to 60p
  • 10-bit Full HD up 300fps
  • Apple ProRes 422 internal recording
  • 13+ stops of dynamic range in video with new Dynamic Range Boost Mode
  • Unlimited video recording time in all resolutions and frame rates
  • Built-in active cooling fan, but still weather-sealed
  • 3680k-dot OLED EVF
  • Tilt and vari-angle touchscreen with 1840k-dot LCD
  • Dual card slots (CFExpress Type B, UHS-II SD)
  • USD$ 2200 body-only

Design and Ergonomics

From an initial glance, the Panasonic GH6 looks quite similar to the several previous variations of the GH5, though perhaps a bit more angular-looking in some areas. However, the most obvious design change is the addition of a cooling fan on the back that's sandwiched between the rear of the camera and LCD. It's a similar design to that of the Lumix S1H, and while it protrudes slightly out from the back of the camera, it's not all that noticeable or cumbersome. It doesn't get in the way of using the EVF in any way, and Panasonic was clever in designing the LCD panel that it still offers the usual vari-angle swivel design plus an upwards tilting mechanism. The fan inside is a cordless design, meaning that it floats within a magnetic enclosure. All of the electronic components are still sealed, and the GH6 is still fully dust-, splash- and freeze-resistant to the same degree as the Lumix GH5 models.

Beyond just the fan itself, the GH6 incorporates other heat-dissipating elements in its design to help the camera achieve its impressive high-resolution, high-data-rate video recording features. The Venus Engine processor and the memory cards are the areas that utilize the cooling fan, whereas the sensor itself is passively cooled with the mag-alloy chassis of the camera by way of a highly thermally conductive graphite sheet structure that pulls heat away from the sensor. Meanwhile, a thermal interface material and another graphite sheet consolidate heat from the motherboard (image processor and CFexpress card) and transfer it to the cooling fins (heat sink) and cooling fan. Users can also control the high-temperature threshold via a camera menu option. Setting the "Thermal Management" setting to High mode will allow the camera to continue recording for longer even as the temperature rises.

Beyond the fan, let's now explore the rest of the GH6's design and physical features, starting with the top of the camera body. Here, we see a more-or-less similar array of buttons and dials that we find on the GH5. The GH6 offers front and rear sub-command dials, though the rear thumb dial now sits on top of the camera rather than "built-in" to the back of the body like on the GH5. There are also the same three dedicated buttons for White Balance, ISO and Exposure Compensation situated right behind the front command dial, putting these important shooting setting controls with easy reach. The ISO button has two small dots while the other two on either side do not; this makes it easier to operate and feel which button is which without taking your eye away from the EVF.

One particularly handy new button on the top is a dedicated audio info button that shows you a dedicated audio options quick menu. Here, you can see audio levels display, as well as the status of several audio modes and change some audio options, such as gain and sound monitoring channels.

The top of the camera also has a dedicated video recording button, as you would expect, and then a locking PASM mode dial and a drive mode dial on the left of the EVF.

On the back of the camera, there have been a number of tweaks to the overall control layout, as well as some new buttons and the removal of a couple. Most prominently, however, the GH6 maintains a rear scroll wheel that also doubles as a 4-way directional button. The rear joystick control button had to move over to the right slightly due to the addition of the cooling fan, but in doing so, the control is in a more natural position and is more comfortable to use. Further, the joystick control itself is new and now offers 8-way directionality, allowing for fast, diagonal movement of the AF point.

Right below the joystick, we have a single button, which by default opens up the Quick Menu. Above the joystick is an all-new button for the GH-series, an AF-ON button, which makes it easier for back-button focusing. Right next to the EVF, we again have a rotational lever for changing focusing mode. The lever surrounds a new button, a quick-access button for AF modes and other AF area settings. Off to the left of the EVF, the GH6 now has an operation lock switch that lets you disable functionality to the buttons and dials, which is handy when using the camera remotely or on a rig of some kind and you don't want settings changed by accident. Lastly, there's the playback mode button situated just to the right of the lock switch.

On the front of the camera, the GH6 now offers two customizable function buttons, compared to just one in the earlier models. These are located right next to the handgrip and are designed to be accessed while shooting. Further, taking a note from the S1H, the GH6 now also has a front-facing video record button. If, for whatever reason, such as the camera being mounted in a unique way or location, or you have the camera set up in a cinema rig with lots of accessories, you can trigger video recording start and stop with this extra button. You can, of course, reassign this function button to something else if you wish.

Lastly, the electronic viewfinder remains the same as in previous models, with a high-resolution 3680K-dot OLED screen. The EVF has a magnification factor of 0.76x and either a 30fps or 60fps refresh rate. The LCD screen, meanwhile, gains a slightly higher-resolution display -- the same 1840K-dot LCD that comes on the new GH5 Mark II. The screen has responsive touch functionality, and the display housing mechanism allows for both an upward tilt for shooting low positions as well as full tilt-swivel articulation, including a front-facing position.

Image Quality

The heart of the new Panasonic GH6 is a brand-new 25.2-megapixel Four Thirds sensor, which makes the GH6 currently the highest-resolution Micro Four Thirds camera on the market. Other MFT cameras currently top-out at 20MP sensors. This new 25MP sensor has the same AR coating technology that Panasonic applied to the 20MP sensor in the earlier GH5 II. It also lacks an optical low-pass filter, allowing for improved fine detail resolving power.

The new sensor is also said to offer improved dynamic range performance for both photos and video. The camera features a new Dynamic Range Boost mode (more on that in a bit), which should offer around 13+ stops of dynamic range. Without Dynamic Range Boost, the camera is said to offer around 12+ stops of dynamic range.

LEICA DG 12-60/F2.8-4.0: 34mm, F5, 1/400s, ISO 100
(Shot on a camera using pre-production firmware.)

The sensor is also said to offer improved readout speed performance, although the sensor is not a stacked design like the one we see inside the new OM System OM-1 camera. Despite the non-stacked design, the sensor's performance allows for high-speed tasks such as Full HD video at up to 300fps, 4K at up to 120fps and full-res stills shooting with AFS at 75fps. The camera is also stated to include less rolling shutter distortion.

Paired to this new sensor is Panasonic's latest-generation Venus Engine. The company states that the processor offers 2x the processing performance compared to the previous GH5 camera. New image processing algorithms, including "edge correction processing," are said to achieve better and more natural fine detail, particularly with thin lines and edges, such as power lines or hair, for example.

The camera has a wider native ISO range as well, starting at a base ISO of 100 and going all the way up to ISO 25,600. There are no expanded high ISOs, though there are three extended low ISO options: ISO 50, 64 and 80. At higher ISOs, Panasonic claims better low-light and high ISO quality for both stills and video. For stills, a new "2D Noise Reduction" algorithm is said to improve the graininess of luminance noise and better suppress color noise while achieving more natural detail. For video, the camera uses a "3D Noise Reduction," in which the camera has improved motion detection accuracy when recording video. The system also helps suppress noise at higher ISOs by being able to distinguish between stationary objects and moving objects in a scene. The GH6 promises higher ISO video with better detail and lower noise and also show less horizontal noise on moving objects.

LEICA DG 12-60/F2.8-4.0: 60mm, F4.5, 1/640s, ISO 100
(Shot on a camera using pre-production firmware.)

As with the GH5, the new Lumix GH6 features 5-axis in-body image stabilization, but the performance of the IBIS system is improved compared to the earlier model thanks to new higher-precision gyro sensors and improved gyro-sensor algorithms. Using the Body IS by itself, the GH6 is rated for up to 7.5 stops (tested at 60mm), which is a notable step up from the 5-stop rating of the GH5. Similarly, when using an OIS lens in conjunction with Body IS, the Dual IS 2 system offers up to 7.5 stops of stabilization when shooting at more-challenging telephoto focal lengths (rating is tested at 140mm).

Thanks to the improved image stabilization system and fast image processing, the Panasonic GH6 also offers a handheld High-Resolution shooting mode, resulting in 100-megapixel RAW and JPEG files. The camera can quickly capture 8 consecutive frames while the body IS shifts the sensor ever-so-slightly. It then processes the data and composites the final image in-camera.

Dynamic Range Boost

One of the new image quality features in the GH6 is Dynamic Range Boost mode. This feature can almost be thought of as a real-time HDR composition but from a single exposure. The camera obtains two types of image data from a single frame, processing these two different sets of image data separately and then recombining it for images with lower noise and higher saturation.

How it works is that on each photosite, the voltage from the diode is fed into two separate analog circuits, or gain stages, at the same time. One gain stage is designed for lower ISO or low gain, which helps with dynamic range and saturation, but there are not enough photons for good shadow detail. However, the other circuit, the high ISO circuit, offers cleaner shadows but poor dynamic range. So, image data is processed simultaneously in two different ways, one for high dynamic range and saturation and one for low noise. Data from these two circuits is then passed to a dedicated image synthesis circuit and composited together for a final image.

LEICA DG 12-60/F2.8-4.0: 60mm, F5, 1/800s, ISO 100
(Shot on a camera using pre-production firmware.)

This processing mode works for both photos and video. For video, the base ISO for standard picture profiles goes is pegged to ISO 800, and ISO 2000 when using V-Log/HLG profiles. You also cannot shoot video frame rates higher than 60fps with Dynamic Range Boost turned on. According to Panasonic, due to the additional processing overhead required for the DR Boost mode, the camera can't handle higher frame rates above 60fps.

In photo mode, Dynamic Range Boost behaves a bit differently. It works or operates automatically, depending on shooting mode or ISO setting, but it's generally on all the time as part of the camera's normal image processing. However, when shooting with an ISO below 800, DR Boost will turn off, same as when the shutter speed is longer than half a second. Further, DR Boost turns off when shooting in the fastest 75fps burst mode. You can also set the burst to a slower 60 frames per second, at which point DR Boost can be enabled.

Video

When it comes to video recording, it feels like the Panasonic GH6 has basically every video format and resolution under the sun. That's, of course, an exaggeration, but the GH6 has a remarkably extensive array of video formats, resolutions and frame rates to choose from, making it a very versatile video tool for almost every type or style of video production.

The GH6 is now capable of both Cinema 4K and 4K UHD at up to 60p and at 10-bit with 4:2:2 color sampling. The camera shoots video above 4K resolution, as well, including 5.7K 10-bit at up to 60p as well as Anamorphic 5.8K at up to 30p and 4.4K at up to 60p (both 10bit). The GH6 is also the first Lumix camera to offer internal Apple ProRes recording, which is currently offered at ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes 422 for 5.7K (17:9) at up to 30p.

Panasonic is also already planning a future firmware update that will add more video recording modes, including DCI4K Apple ProRes 422/422HQ, Full HD Apple ProRes 422/422HQ, USB-SSD direct connect video recording, 4K 120p HDMI output during live view and 4K 120p HDMI RAW video output to an ATOMOS Ninja V+ recorder.

In addition to standard video recording modes, the GH6 also offers several options for high-speed and slow-motion video. The GH6 offers both a High Frame Rate mode and Variable Frame Rate mode. HFR mode is used when you want to create slow-motion footage in post-production, while VFR will create footage that's already slowed down for you. HFR video can be recorded at both Full HD and C4K/4K, with Full HD going up to 240fps at 422 10bit and C4K/4K at up to 120p 420 10bit. Meanwhile, VFR modes offer Full HD at up to 300fps in 10bit, C4K/4K at up to 120fps 10bit and 5.7K at up to 60fps 10bit.

LEICA DG 12-60/F2.8-4.0: 60mm, F5.6, 1/125s, ISO 125
(Shot on a camera using pre-production firmware.)

In HFR mode, the GH6 is also now capable of full-time autofocus and audio capture, but only on frame rates up to 200fps. At faster frame rates, AF and sound are disabled. VRF modes do not have audio or AF at all.

Despite the camera's vast array of video recording resolutions and frame rates, the camera offers unlimited recording time in all of its recording modes. There's no 29:59 recording limit, and sustained recording time is limited really only by card capacity or temperature. There are, however, some limitations or restrictions on what video modes can be recorded to which type of memory card. The faster CFExpress Type B card is the ideal choice, but most formats can also be recorded to UHS-II SD cards. On video formats with bitrates higher than 600Mbps, such as with C4K/4K 60p 4:2:2 10bit or Apple ProRes formats, you are required to use a CFExpress card.

Additional new video recording features include 13+ stops of dynamic range when using the include V-Log/V-Gamut profile with DR Boost. The GH6 now also supports LUTs from both VariCam cinema cameras and EVA1 cameras. The GH6 also now supports higher quality audio recording and 4ch audio recording. Using either a built-in mic or external mic, the GH6 can record 48Khz 24-bit audio as well as High-Res 96kHz 24-bit audio when using an external mic. 4ch Audio is only compatible when recording video with Apple ProRes and when using the DMW-XLR1 mic adapter, but it allows for multiple channels of audio from different mics to be recorded at once.

LEICA DG 12-60/F2.8-4.0: 12mm, F7.1, 1/400s, ISO 100
(Shot on a camera using pre-production firmware.)

Autofocus & Performance

The autofocusing system on the GH6 remains a contrast-detection-based system backed by their Depth-from-Defocus technology. The camera incorporates newer AF algorithms as well as an overall updated AF system with more AF zones/areas. The GH6's AF system now offers 315 AF points, up from 225 in the previous GH5 cameras. The new AF algorithm should offer much faster performance, as well as less visible pulsing. The GH6 also offers face, eye, head, body and animal-detection AF modes, and the focusing system is rated for low-light situations down to -4EV.

One question we're sure readers are curious about: Why stick with a contrast-detection-based AF system? According to Panasonic, they were already designing the GH6 sensor at the time of the GH5's debut, and the engineer's focus at the time was on improving dynamic range and low-light, which put AF performance at a lower priority. As it turns out, the engineers could not integrate phase-detection pixels and achieve the level of image quality goals that they wanted. Instead, Panasonic engineers focused on image quality and then improving AF performance through algorithms and processing.

The AF system on the GH6 might not make it the ideal camera for every type of subject, but we'll have to put the camera through the paces in the field before we pass any judgment.

LEICA DG 12-60/F2.8-4.0: 20mm, F5.6, 1/640s, ISO 100, -0.3EV
(Shot on a camera using pre-production firmware.)

When it comes to sheer performance, the new Lumix GH6 has some high-speed tricks up its sleeve. When shooting with the electronic shutter, the GH6 can shoot at up to 75 frames per second with AFS mode (i.e. AF locked at the first frame). With the mechanical shutter, AFS burst mode tops-out at 14fps. If you want continuous AF (CAF), the speed dips dramatically, down to 8fps with mechanical shutter and 7fps with electronic.

With the electronic shutter, the AFS burst speeds can be adjusted from 20fps, 60fps or 75fps. In either of these speed settings, the buffer depth is stated to be around 200 frames, in either RAW, RAW+JPEG or just JPEG. When using the mechanical shutter, the camera can capture around 40 frames in RAW+JPEG in High burst mode (14fps AFS; CAF: 8fps, mech; 7fps, elec).

Ports, Storage & Connectivity

In terms of ports and connections, the GH6 includes a full-size Type-A HDMI port that supports 4K 120p via HDMI2.1 and a USB3.2 Type C port with Power Delivery that allows you to charge and power the camera via USB. However, note that you cannot power the camera and charge the batter with the supplied cable and charger in the box. You can, however, use any third-party 9V USB-C charger and trickle charge the battery and operate the camera at the same time.

As mentioned, the Lumix GH6 features dual card slots, with one being a CFExpress Type B slot and one UHS-II-compatible SD card slot. The camera also features 3.5mm jacks for headphones and microphones, and it has a 2.5mm remote socket that also supports Timecode In/Out.

The GH6 also has wireless connectivity with 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v5.0 connections. Using the Lumix Sync App on a paired mobile device, users can transfer images, remotely control the camera and update the firmware wireless. You can also use the Lumix Tether desktop application for remote control for both photo and video, as well as control multiple cameras.

Pricing & Availability

The Panasonic GH6 will be sold body-only for USD$2,200 and as a kit with a Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4 lens for $2,799.99. The camera is scheduled to go on sale in mid-March.

 

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