Panasonic LUMIX GH6

The GH6 has been officially announced by the Panasonic team! It has been labeled the brand new flagship camera of the Panasonic brand. An evolution of the GH series; and we can vividly remember the last time that happened with the GH5 release in March 2017.

So let’s dive straight in and explore this brand new GH6 and what it means for us as underwater videographers.

GH6 Specs

  • 25 million pixel LPF-less sensor
  • 100 million pixel high-resolution shooting
  • 5.7K video
  • Sensor read up to 300fps
  • High-speed read at 4K resolution of 120 fps
  • Rolling shutter suppression
  • Double omputation processing capacity
  • New Intelligent detail
  • New 2D noise reduction
  • High performance 3D-NR (Video)
  • Improved AF (3 times faster than GH5)
  • New recording mode:
    • 4K120p 4: 2: 0 10bit 300Mbps
    • 4K 60p 4: 2: 2 10bit 800Mbps
    • 600Mbps 5.7K 60p 4: 2: 0 10bit
    • 300Mbps C4K 120p 4: 2: 0 10bit
    • 300Mbps C4K 60p 4: 2: 2 10bit 800Mbps / 600Mbps
    • Recording file method supports Apple ProRes in addition to MP4 and MOV
      5.7K 30p Apple ProRes 422 HQ 1.9Gbps
  • ​​Card slot: CFexpress TypeB slot, UHSII compatible SD card slot
  • Weight: 739g
  • Dynamic range boost: shoot a wide dynamic range image at a maximum of 60 fps by synthesizing an overexposed image and an underexposed image in real time. Achieves a dynamic range of up to 13+ stops approaching the full size. The minimum ISO sensitivity is 800, and when using V-log it is 2000
  • Dual I.S. 2, 7.5-Stop 5-Axis Stabilizer
  • High low-light performance up to ISO3200.

Top 5 features of the GH6 compared to the GH5

The new GH6

In order to truly understand the power of the new GH6, it is essential to compare it to the GH5.

25.2 MP image sensor

The new 25.2 megapixel of the GH6 is a 20% increase which brings a higher resolution, a higher speed readout, and a greatly increased dynamic range.

This on its own says it all for the GH6 as the go-to underwater video camera. The greater image quality and dynamic range will provide truer than ever color. Furthermore, that dynamic range will bring means that you will have much more control in post-editing.

4K 60p 4:2:2 10-Bit Unlimited Recording

Now we are destroying the GH5S recording capabilities. The GH5S was boasting a 4:2:2 10-bit 400-Mbps All-Intra in 4K 30p. This is has doubled with the GH6 to 60p and 800-Mbps.

That means that you can now have twice higher quality video relative to its resolution. Furthermore, you can now also have some smooth slow-motion edits.

The reason I am not going into the higher fps modes is that the dynamic range boost is only available up to 60fps. Good enough for me if you ask.

Dual I.S. 2, 7.5-Stop 5-Axis Stabilizer

The GH5S was a dedicated video camera compared to the GH5 didn’t have any stabilization. This is one of the main reasons underwater videographers were wary of going for the GH5S. Therefore, the Dual I.S. 2, 7.5-Stop 5-Axis Stabilizer is not only a huge step forward compared to the GH5S but also for the 5-Axis Sensor Stabilization; Dual I.S. 2 of the GH5.

This means that your videos will be silky smooth and more importantly, the blur created by shakes will be something of the past.

personally never really thought that image stabilization was essential for us underwater videos. Good diving skills are essential for us, and with that comes good stabilization in the water. But, I guess we can’t say no to a helping hand.

High low light performance

The GH6 far surpasses the GH5 when it comes to low light sensitivity. So the comparison comes with the GH5S which was the benchmark for micro four-thirds in that field. Consequently, UW filmmakers will be stoked to know that the low light performance of the GH6 is on par with that f the GH5S. The ISO ranges from 800 to 3200 sensitivity.

This low light performance matched with the high dynamic range and 25.2 MP sensor is a dream come true. You can now imagine shooting a reefscape with perfect colors popping straight out of your camera.

Lens adaptibility

Looking at the released pictures released on the Panasonic and leaked info websites, I can tell that the lenses of the GH5 and GH5S will fit the GH6.

This is one great relief for me as I am sure you are well aware that lenses are the biggest investment when it comes to cameras. Therefore, upgrading to the GH6 means that you will be able to keep your old lenses.

Other great GH6 features

GH6 top view

Above and beyond the main points that make a camera great for us as UW videographers, the GH6 offers more than we could ever ask for.

GH6 Firmware and updates

The team at Panasonic has already confirmed that a new firmware is already available after the launch of the GH6. They are also confirming ongoing updates, and we know from the GH5 that we can trust them on that!

The confirmed firmware updates are:

  • DCI4K Apple ProRes 422 HQ / Apple ProRes 422
  • FHD Apple ProRes 422 HQ / Apple ProRes 422
  • USB-SSD Direct Recording
  • 4K 120p HDMI Video Output during Live View
  • 4K 120p HDMI RAW Video Data Output to ATOMOS Ninja V+

5.7K 30p Apple ProRes 422 HQ

Yes! You can bite your fingers in awe of that news. This recording ability paired with the 20% increase in the sensor megapixels and dynamic range means that you are recording information at a level never seen before.

This for me is a real bonus for professional work. The ProRes recording will be using the CFX card slot because it’s the one meeting the requirements for it. In general, I think I will be shooting in 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-Bit. Those are already heavy-loaded files and would more than suit the general needs.

I can’t wait to see the crop-in results on the 5.7k ProRes; the sky is the limit!

GH6 for photography

Even though the GH6 can be seen as the perfect video camera, it now also places itself as one of the best of the whole Panasonic range; and we are also talking full frame here.

The 25.2 MP image sensor paired with the dynamic range boost and 75 frames per second shooting with IBIS provides the cleanest and blurless images.

Battery compatibilty

You will be glad to know that you can use your GH5 and GH5S batteries in the GH6. It will only work for a limited amount of features though. The GH5 and GH5S batteries have a lower voltage than the GH6 even though they are of the same physical format. Therefore, it won’t hold the needs of the newer GH6 features.

My advice is to get your GH6 spare batteries (charger and 1x battery included when you buy the camera. You can then be sure that you don’t mess up anything with your new camera.

GH6 cons

As with every amazing news, we also have the less pleasant side that comes with it. The GH6 is no stranger to that.

Autofocus

Yes, the nightmare is back! Well at least in some ways.

The biggest complaint that GH5 and GH5S users ever had was the autofocus. So guess that one thing they haven’t really fixed? Yes, sadly it is the autofocus.

The DFD AF System is a disaster, and that is the least to say. Therefore, Panasonic keeping that same system on the GH6 will make you question their sanity.

But there may be a light of hope here. The updated DFD system promises:

  • The processing speed of the autofocus has been tripled. The updated algorithm calculates the distance to your subject and predicts whether it is moving closer or further away from the camera, anticipating where it will be for the following frame. It functions by collecting data from several focal planes, then creating a 3D, real-time depth map.
  • The subject-tracking focusing system also supports face, eye, head, body, and animal recognition. The autofocus will automatically switch from body recognition to face, then eye recognition as the subject approaches the camera for improved sharpness.
  • The Focus Limiter, Manual Focus Assist and an updated joystick enable quick and precise focusing. Zone AF is a less obstructive overlay, and Face Priority in Multi Metering prevents unwanted exposure changes.

All sounds good on paper, though we will have to wait until its full release and many tests to see whether there is an actual improvement.

I personally find the focus tracking totally lame when it comes to shooting marine animals in wide mode. Especially because there are often some floating matters that come in the way and the focus just goes back and forth. For macro videos, I stay on manual focus so no issues there.

Dual card slots

The GH6 comes with a CFexpress Type B and slot an SD UHS-II Card Slot.

I was a big fan of recording on dual SDs as I often found myself with a full SD card after shooting on a 75 minutes dive at 4K – 4:2:2 10-bit 400-Mbps.

On the other hand, the CFX card is a must to open up the door to the ProRes potential of the camera. The CFX card is no cheap investment on top of that. The usual retail price is around $200, so grab 2 and you can feel the pain starting to stack up.

On a positive note, when pre-ordering your GH6 with Panasonic, you will receive a fully compatible CFX card (also compatible for future updates). So do make sure to grab one of those deals.

GH6 price and release date

GH6 rear view

The GH6 is to be released at end of March 2022 and is already available for pre-order.

The GH6 will be priced at USD 2,199 | EUR 2,199. This may seem like a high price tag but I think it is totally worth it. Being able to use all your existing lenses will cut your cost of reinvestment by half. Furthermore, the GH6 is a one camera fits all, bringing an enhanced GH5 and GH5S in your hand.

Conclusion

The GH6 is a must! No question asked there. For me, it brings all that I need to produce the best quality videos in a setting that I am well used to, that of the GH5S. I cannot find any low points on this new flagship camera. Maybe the autofocus? Not even that as we can easily deal with this as underwater videographers.

So yes! Swapping as soon as Nauticam releases its housing and ports for it.

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