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24th April 2013
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 hands-on preview and image samples
by Ian Burley
9178: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 hands-on preview and image samples

More balanced and better-looking G6 plus under the hood improvements

(Some images syndicated from our Four Thirds User site).

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Panasonic Lumix camera business boss, Ichiro Kitao, unveiled the DMC-G6 in Vienna

At the same time that we were playing with pre-production samples of the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 in Vienna a couple of weeks ago we also tried out pre-production Lumix DMC-G6 samples. We have a gallery of images exploring the camera's design, plus 33 sample images although these have been reduced in resolution down from 16MP to 5MP at Panasonic's request because we were using very early engineering samples.

The new G6 is not an immediate replacement for the DMC-G5, which after all is still less than a year old. The G6 slots in above the G5 with an enhanced specification and, in my opinion, a much better looking design. The G5 looked a little as if the designers weren't quite sure what to do with the shorter of the two 'shoulders' but the G6 has a much more balanced designer look.

But the G6's attractions are not just skin-deep. Panasonic has updated the integrated electronic viewfinder to a 1.4 million dot OLED type similar to that already seen in the DMVC-GH3. Like the recently-launched DMC-GF6, the G6 sports wifi and NFC (Near Field Communication) for handy image transfer to NFC-equipped devices like tablets and smartphones. Another GF6 innovation you will find with the G6 is enhanced low light autofocus that sacrifices speed for accuracy - it works surprisingly well, too. The G8 also has a slightly faster continuous shooting rate of 7 frames per second and even faster if you use the silent electronic shutter mode.

Key features of the DMC-G6:

  • New 1.4 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Wifi and NFC support
  • Improved video recording modes now including 24p and 50p (60p in some markets) at full HD (1080 resolution)
  • GH2-derived sensor with on-sensor analogue to digital conversion
  • Enhanced low light autofocus
  • 7 frames per second continuous shooting
  • Capacitive articulating touch screen

Handling

Like the G5, although the G6 is a reasonably chunky prospect in the world of compact system cameras, it's very light. The camera does feel like it's of plastic construction rather than metal, but nothing creaked and the camera comes across as solid and robust. I also felt that the positioning of the single thumb-wheel which can be pushed to change mode was better than the G5.

The new OLED electronic viewfinder is a big improvement over the old LCD type and the old colour break-up of old when panning, for example, is now history. On the other hand, Sony offers EVFs on some its cameras with almost double the resolution, which does provoke the question why has Panasonic not matched this.

Sensor

The new GF6, it was revealed, had a slightly nobbled GH2-derived sensor. The new G6 has the same sensor but unlike the GF6 the sensor outputs digital data converted from analogue on the sensor rather than externally as in the GF6. This should mean superior RAW file image quality from the G6 compared to the GF6. This all sounds positive, but I have to say that I was really hoping Panasonic would jump a generation and fit the notably better Sony sensor used in the flagship DMVC-GH3, as well as all the new Olympus Pen and OM-D models.

First impressions

It's unfair to make critical comments concerning image quality as the samples we used were running very early firmware and frequently locked up. But from a practical point of view the G6 impressed me with its looks and operational design. I like the fact that it's light in weight even though the pessimistic side of me felt this was a sign of cheapness in construction; it's actually not and I have long been convinced of the benefit of lightweight cameras when traveling. The much improved EVF, the prospect of using wifi and NFC, and the much nicer new capacitive touch screen all add up to a camera that I am looking forward to review in its shipping form.

 
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