Panasonic LUMIX GH6 review: Is it worth the upgrade?

Does the GH6 live up to its legacy, or does it fall short? That’s the question we aim to answer in this review of the Panasonic LUMIX GH6.

We’ll start with an introduction to the camera and then move on to its pros and cons and the results of our performance tests. We’ll also tell you about any issues we encountered during our testing period. And rounding out our analysis of the GH6, we’ll look at the marketplace to see what other cameras you might consider alongside Panasonic’s new offering. All of this will help us determine whether or not LUMIX GH6 lives up to its name — and whether it’s worth buying.

Behind the lens

Like previous iterations in the popular LUMIX GH lineup, the Panasonic LUMIX GH6 is a Micro Four Thirds camera. At the heart of this camera is its 25.2 megapixel Live MOS Micro Four Thirds image sensor. With it, the camera can shoot at a top resolution of 5728 x 3024 at 29.97p at an amazing 1900 megabits per second. Plus, using the ProRes 422 HQ codec, the camera can record 4:2:2 10-bit footage — great for color work and special effects.

This latest model offers quite a few different frame rate options, starting with 5.7K at 60 frames per second. Shooting at 60 fps will give you cinematic slow-motion footage when slowed to 30 fps or 24 fps for playback. You might push it and record at 120 fps, but it’s unlikely you need to go above that unless you have a specific shot planned out. Fortunately, the GH6 shoots at frame rates up to 240 fps in 4K and up to 300 fps in full HD.

To keep shots steadier, the GH6 features Panasonic’s Dual I.S. 2 image stabilization system, offering 7.5 stops of 5-axis stabilization. The system now also works while shooting anamorphic.

The camera also adds a new dynamic range boost mode along with some other useful new features. For instance, it has a new audio info button. Like the Q button, but for audio, this gives you quick access to audio control. The LUMIX GH6 also features a built-in fan for cooling and as well as a fully-articulating touchscreen.

Pros and cons

Now that we’re a bit more familiar with this camera, let’s talk about the pros and cons we discovered while shooting with the GH6.

Things we liked about the Panasonic LUMIX GH6

First thing first: 4K 4:2:2 10-bit video at 60 frames per second with unlimited internal recording. That’s awesome. This gives you lots of flexibility in post-production — high resolution, high bit depth and a frame rate that can provide either crisp action footage or satisfying cinematic slow motion. Plus, your only limitations in terms of clip length will be your battery and the size of your media.

On top of that, the GH6 has a new dynamic range boost mode that we found to be helpful. We’ll talk more about those details in our performance tests.

Then lastly, as mentioned above, this camera offers 7.5 stops of 5-axis image stabilization. And that image stabilization works with anamorphic. This is a big help for those who use lens adapters and thus lose any optical image stabilization the lens might have offered.

Things we didn’t like

Panasonic Lumix GH6 on its side

Now let’s talk about our cons. The first one up is the camera’s contrast-only autofocus. With contrast-based AF systems, if you are in a situation where you don’t have strong contrast, it’s going to struggle. We’ll talk more about this con when we discuss our autofocus test.

Our next gripe is the size of the camera. Despite being a Micro Four Thirds camera, the GH6 is really about the same size as a full-frame Panasonic LUMIX S-series camera, specifically the S5. The GH6 isn’t necessarily a smaller camera these days, but we wish it was.

For our last issue, let’s talk media. The GH6 has two media card slots, but they’re not the same media. That’s kind of a bummer. We’ll talk more about that in the media section.

Performance tests

We conducted several image quality and performance tests to see how the GH6 handles the demands of video production. Here are the results.

Dynamic range

Let’s start with dynamic range. For this test, we shot on our DSC Labs Xyla 21 dynamic range chart. This chart shows us how many stops of dynamic range you can expect to capture with a given camera. We specifically wanted to know what kind of advantage the GH6’s new dynamic range boost would give us in practical application.

When shooting with the boost on, we saw 12 to 13 stops a dynamic range — that’s shooting in V-log along with the dynamic range boost. For comparison, we saw 11 stops dynamic range when shooting just in V-log with the dynamic boost turned off. Getting those two extra stops is going to be pretty fantastic in those situations where you want — or need — to have more dynamic light and shadow in the shot. Being able to capture more dynamic range helps you get the shot without overexposing your highlights or losing detail in the darker areas of your frame.

Low-light shooting

Now we’ll move on to low-light performance. For our low-light test, we do an ISO ramp from ISO 100 all the way up to the camera’s highest ISO. The purpose of this test is to find out how high you can take the ISO before noise is introduced into the image and before there is too much noise to get a professional result.

When testing the LUMIX GH6, we started off at ISO 100 and stepped through the ISO settings all the way to ISO 1600. In this range, the image was quite noiseless — no problem at all. The noise starts after 1600 ISO and gets worse up to 6400 ISO. We wouldn’t shoot too much higher than that. At that point, the abundant noise will start to color shift, which is difficult to correct later.

Autofocus performance

As we mentioned earlier, the autofocus on the GH6 is contrast-only. That’s disappointing as it will not be suited for all users. Here’s what you need to consider: If you’re relying on contrast in situations where you don’t have strong contrast between your subject and its background, it’s going to have a harder time there.

On the plus side, the GH6 does offer facial eye detection. It’s great at detecting faces when the subject is facing forward. However, we noticed that if the subject looks away from the camera, it loses track of the subject altogether. We also tested the camera’s tracking ability by running toward the camera and popping in and out of frame. Unfortunately, the camera didn’t keep up that well. In general, it works fine in a static shot, but if you are doing any kind of active shooting, you’ll likely be disappointed. We found we got better results when taking manual control over the focus. The tap focus feature also worked in a pinch.

A note on rolling shutter

The GH6 has some rolling shutter effect, but t’s not bad. It’s definitely there — the camera uses a rolling shutter after all — but we wouldn’t be concerned about it too much. It’s typical for a camera like this.

The GH6 in your hand

Let’s move on to the ergonomics and usability of the Panasonic LUMIX GH6. This section covers the creature-comfort features that can make a camera either a joy or a pain to operate.

The monitor

Panasonic Lumix GH6 screen

The GH6 features a fully articulating rear display with an angle tilt feature. That means, when you flip out your screen, it can flip out and not interfere with your HDMI or your audio input cables. This makes it so you can use the fully articulating screen and not have to worry about knocking and bumping your cables.

The monitor is on the small side, but all monitors are quite small on mirrorless cameras. If that’s an issue for you, we just recommend getting a bigger external monitor.

Button layout

Now moving on to the buttons, the GH6 has a dedicated record button on the front and the back, along with a tally light. This gives you a button to press no matter which side of the camera you’re on. Also, you can reassign the record button and the shutter button to work as the camera’s record button.

As we mentioned earlier, the GH6 features a new audio button that allows you to quickly see all your meters, adjust your input and change all of the audio settings. This is a lot more convenient than having to go in the menu, find the audio section and make the change there.

Menu navigation

As usual for the LUMIX lineup, the menu on the GH6 is not hard to deal with. In particular, we found setting up the autofocus to be quite simple. Indeed, it was easy to locate all of the options we need to access during shooting. There’s no need to deep dive into menus; it’s really intuitive. In fact, it’s one of the best menus in the industry.

Battery life and overheating

Now moving on to battery life, we got about 80 minutes of battery life shooting continuously. However, if you want to record for longer than an hour and 20 minutes, you can run the camera off USB power.

Fortunately, we didn’t experience any overheating at all when we were shooting with the camera — not in any of the high frame rates nor the high data rates, nothing. The GH6 could handle all of that. That’s likely due to the camera’s new fan and slightly thicker body, both of which help it dissipate all that heat.

Recording media

Now on to the media options. The GH6 has two card slots. One is a CFexpress Type B while the other is a UHS-II SD card slot. Now, we would have liked to see the same media in both card slots. It just makes managing all your media easier. However, CFexpress Type B cards are not cheap, so some might appreciate the more affordable media option. However, keep in mind that you can’t capture all data rates onto the SD card.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 memory cards

Whichever media you use, you won’t have to worry about a record time limit. There is also the option to dual capture. There are three different ways to do it. First, if you’re shooting at a data rate that the SD card supports, you can have the camera switch to the second card automatically when the first one fills up. You can also have it record the same shot on both cards at the same time and with the same quality. Finally, you can make it so that one card holds video and the other holds photos. Hybrid shooters may find that really convenient.

Adding a rig to the Panasonic LUMIX GH6

The LUMIX G-series cameras have catered to filmmakers from the beginning, and the LUMIX GH6 is no different. That’s why we wanted to try the camera out with a rig. We outfitted the GH6 with a SmallRig cage with a top grip handle and rails. To this, we added a follow focus, matte box, external view mount and battery mount.

Having shot with this setup for a while, we would probably recommend using just the cage with the grip. It’s probably the most usable situation and it’s only around $235 depending on the grip you go with. The rest of the additional accessories were a bit overkill for our situation, but they would have been great to have in different circumstances.

The follow focus is super awesome if you’re using a lens that has hard stops at the extremes of the focus ring. Photo lenses that have an infinite spin of the focus ring make using the follow focus kind of difficult. However, you can mark your in and out points on the focus ring as a workaround. We used the 12-40mm Olympus F2.8 lens, and it’s really nice because it actually has hard stops on both sides of the focus ring.

Panasonic Lumix GH6 grip

Overall, it was nice to have the camera rigged out. It definitely makes it a lot more functional. The additional mounting points make it easier and quicker to get all of your gear set up and attached. The cage also gives you a chance to actually screw your accessory mounts into the cage, so they’re secure and properly connected. Plus, having the handle and the grip makes it easy to go from a high to a low shot with no problem. You’re able to be a lot more comfortable when you’re shooting. Just beware, if you do plan to add several accessories to your rig, they do add up in cost. Make sure to leave room for them in the budget.

Marketplace

The LUMIX GH6 is competing in a different marketplace compared to when the LUMIX GH5s came out. There are more cameras with larger sensor sizes that offer very similar features. Let’s look at a few other cameras you might consider and see how they compare to the GH6.

GH6 vs. Olympus OM-1

First up is the Olympus OM-1. It is $2,200 and features a 20-megapixel stacked BSI Live MOS sensor. Its top resolution is DCI 4K 60p with a bit depth of 10-bit. Its top video frame rate is 240 fps in HD, and it uses an autofocus system called Cross Quad Pixel Phase-Detection. Rounding it out, the OM-1 has a 1.62 million dot 3-inch swivel touch screen LCD that can fully articulate. It accepts dual UHS-II SD cards.

GH6 vs. Panasonic LUMIX S5

Next up is another Panasonic camera, but it has a much larger sensor. It is the Panasonic LUMIX S5, priced at $1,700. It features a 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and can shoot up to UHD 4K in 10-bit with a recording time limit of 30 minutes. In HD, the S5 can shoot up to 120 fps. This camera uses a contrast-detect 225-Area DFD autofocus system and features a 1.84 million-dot rear display. That fully-articulating display measures 3-inches. It offers dual UHS-II SD card slots.

GH6 vs. Fujifilm X-T4

Next, the Fujifilm X-T4 has a larger sensor than the GH6, but it’s not quite as large as the S5’s sensor. Priced at $1,700, it has a 26.1 megapixel APS-C X Trans BSI CMOS sensor and can shoot up to DCI 4K in 10-bit with a record time limit of 30 minutes and at up to 240 fps in HD. It has a 425-Point Hybrid AF system and a 1.62m-Dot 3-inch Vari-Angle screen. It also has dual SD card slots.

GH6 vs. Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II

Last up is the Panasonic GH5 II. At $1,500, it has a 20.3MP Live MOS sensor with AR coating. It can shoot up to DCI 4K 10-bit and at up to 60 fps with no record time limit. Its autofocus system is a 225-Area DFD AF with advanced subject detection. The rear screen is a 3-inch 1.84 million dot free-angle touchscreen. It has dual UHF-II SD card slots.

Should you buy the Panasonic LUMIX GH6?

So, given all we’ve talked about, is the Panasonic LUMIX GH6 worth buying? Well, there are no lies in the camera’s marketing. The GH6 is what it says it is. If you can benefit from the features it offers, you should look into buying it. But if you just need features that are also offered on the GH5 II, the GH5S or the GH5, the cameras are more affordable. You may find that you’re just going to get more bang for your buck using those cameras. But if you could use things like image stabilization for anamorphic, the extra dynamic range boost or the extra cooling that the camera has, then the upgrade can be justified.

Summing it up

Did we like the Panasonic LUMIX GH6? You bet you. We have always been impressed by Panasonic’s LUMIX G-series, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Is it worth the money in the marketplace? Well, it depends on your perspective and what you already have. If you’re already using Micro Four Thirds lenses, it’s a good upgrade for more. For everyone else, you’ll have to find out for yourself whether the features this offers exclusively are worth it for you.

Panasonic LUMIX GH6

$2,200

Recommended uses:

  • Narrative Filmmaking
  • Documentary Filmmaking and Journalism
  • Corporate and Event Videography
  • Marketing Video Production

Specs

Lens MountMicro Four Thirds
Sensor ResolutionActual: 26.52 Megapixel
Effective: 25.2 Megapixel (5776 x 4336)
Sensor Type17.3 x 13 mm (Four Thirds) MOS
Crop Factor2x
Image StabilizationSensor-Shift, 5-Axis
ISO SensitivityPhoto: 100 to 25,600 in Auto Mode (Extended: 50)
Video: 100 to 12,800 (Extended: 50)
Image File FormatJPEG, Raw
Recording ModesH.264/MOV/MPEG-4 AVC/ProRes 422 HQ 4:2:2 10-Bit
5728 x 3024 at 29.97p [1900 Mb/s]
5728 x 3024 at 23.98p/24.00p [1500 Mb/s]
5728 x 3024 at 25p [1600 Mb/s]
H.264/MOV/MPEG-4 AVC/ProRes 422 4:2:2 10-Bit
5728 x 3024 at 29.97p [1300 Mb/s]5728 x 3024 at 25p [1100 Mb/s]
5728 x 3024 at 23.98p/24.00p [1000 Mb/s]
H.264 ALL-Intra/MOV 4:2:2 10-Bit
4096 x 2160 at 47.95p/50p/59.94p [600 to 800 Mb/s]
4096 x 2160 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [400 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 47.95p/50p/59.94p [600 to 800 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [400 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 200p/239.76p [800 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 100p/119.88p [400 Mb/s]
1920 x 1980 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p/47.95p/50p/59.94p [200 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 50i/59.94i [100 Mb/s]
H.264 Long GOP/MOV/MPEG-4 AVC 4:2:2 10-Bit
4096 x 2160 at 50p/59.94p [200 Mb/s]
4096 x 2160 at 47.95p [200 Mb/s]
4096 x 2160 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [150 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 47.95p/50p/59.94p [200 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [150 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 200p/239.76p [200 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 100p/119.88p [150 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p/47.95p/50p/59.94p [100 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 59.94i [50 Mb/s]
H.265 Long GOP/MOV 4:2:0 10-Bit
5760 x 4320 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [200 Mb/s]
5728 x 3024 at 47.95p/48.00p/50p/59.94p [300 Mb/s]
5728 x 3024 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [200 Mb/s]
4352 x 3264 at 47.95p/48.00p/50p/59.94p [300 Mb/s]
4096 x 2160 at 100p/119.88p [300 Mb/s]
4096 x 2160 at 47.95p/50p/59.94p [200 Mb/s]
4096 x 2160 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [150 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 100p/119.88p [300 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 47.95p/50p/59.94p [200 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [150 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 23.98p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [100 Mb/s]
3840 x 2160 at 23.98p/25p/29.97p [72 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 200p/239.76p [200 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 100p/119.88p [150 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 23.98p/24.00p/25p/29.97p/47.95p/50p/59.94p [100 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 50p/59.94p [28 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 25p/29.97p [20 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080 at 23.98p [24 Mb/s]
External Recording Modes4:2:2 10-Bit via HDMIDCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 50p/59.94p
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 50p/59.94p
Media/Memory Card SlotSlot 1: CFexpress Type B
Slot 2: SD/SDHC (UHS-II) [U3/V30 or Faster Recommended]
I/O1 x HDMI Output, 1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRRS Headphone/Mic Microphone Input1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRRS Headphone/Mic Headphone Output, 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x USB Type-C Input/Output
Wireless5 GHz Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Video Output, Audio Output, Control
Display TypeFree-Angle Tilting Touchscreen LCD
Display Size3″
Resolution1,840,000 Dot

Nicole LaJeunesse is a professional writer and a curious person who loves to unpack stories on anything from music, to movies, to gaming and beyond.