Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is a category that is quickly growing thanks to its USP of offering better image quality in a comparatively compact form factor as compared to similarly priced DSLRs. Panasonic, Sony and Olympus have been quite aggressive in this segment and we are seeing the same camera launch cycle as is witnessed in the DSLR and compact camera market. We got our hands on Panasonic’s latest iteration from the G series – the Panasonic Lumix DMC GF6 which is a successor to the DMC GF5 launched last year. The GF6 has some visual improvements and it also adds in Wi-Fi. On paper it looks like a good entry level mirrorless ILC, but is that enough? Let us find out.

Build and Ergonomics
The Panasonic Lumix GF6 looks a lot like its predecessor – the GF5 – but there are some changes. For starters, the GF6 is a bit wider which gives you a decent amount of space between the lens and the palm grip. It is made up of an aluminium body with chrome finish on the top. The palm grip in the front is neatly complemented by a thumb rest on the rear side. The top edge has a slight outward protruding bulge around the lens region atop which you have the pop-up flash unit. Unfortunately, there is no hot shoe or accessory port.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 houses a 16MP LiveMOS sensor and comes with the 14-42mm kit lens

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 houses a 16MP LiveMOS sensor and comes with the 14-42mm kit lens

A good addition is the dedicated metallic mode dial, which was missing in the GF5. It has a good click mechanism to it and there will rarely be instances where you may accidentally rotate the mode dial. Dedicated buttons to get into the Intelligent Auto mode and video mode are placed one behind the other, towards the right hand side. When activated, the strip around the iA button glows blue indicating that the camera is being used in the iA mode which is quite thoughtful.

The shutter button is surrounded by the zoom lever which works in the preview mode. You can set it to work as an exposure controller, such that whenever you use it in the live-view mode, it will bring up the aperture and shutter rings, which can be adjusted using the rotary controller around the d-pad.

The top edge of the Panasonic Lumix GF6 has a mode dial which was missing from the GF5

The top edge of the Panasonic Lumix GF6 has a mode dial which was missing from the GF5

On the rear side you have the standard arrangement of buttons – a directional pad surrounded by a rotatory ring around it. Four buttons surround the d-pad. The screen can tilt a full 180 degrees thereby allowing you to see what you are shooting, when you are facing the lens while holding the camera. Selfie-addicts rejoice!

The camera feels sturdy in the hand and you can use it one-handed, of course provided you just want to point and shoot without making any adjustments. The extra space between the lens and the palm rest on the right hand side, gives more room for your fingers to rest. All the buttons have a nice feedback and we only found the movie-record button to be too recessed. The buttons and the d-pad are placed within easy reach of the thumb. The hinges holding the LCD together are firm.

Features
The Panasonic Lumix GF6 houses the same sensor that was seen on the GX1 – the 16MP LiveMOS sensor. It comes bundled with the 14-42mm kit lens which has a manual focus ring in front of the zoom ring (with the 2x crop factor, the effective focal length you get is 28-84mm) Unlike the motorised 14-42mm lens seen with the GF5, the regular 14-42 mm kit lens does not make this camera pocketable. It houses the Venus image processing engine.

THe 3-inch LCD screen can tilt a full 180 degrees allowing you to see what you are shooting provided the lens is pointing at you

The 3-inch LCD screen can tilt a full 180 degrees allowing you to see what you are shooting provided the lens is pointing at you

The 3-inch 1040k dot touchscreen LCD is quite responsive. We did not notice much lag while moving around the focus or swiping through the photographs in the preview mode or while zooming in and out. When you tilt the screen by a 180 degree angle for self portraits, the screen shows up three options – number of pictures (you can take 1-4 pictures at a time with a 3-sec interval), skin tone (low or high) and touch shutter. You can disable that by going to Custom menu and keeping the Self Shot menu off. Visibility in sunlight is quite good.

The Quick Menu button brings up the most important functions such as focus, white balance, exposure, image size, ISO and so on. The functions can be navigated either via touch or by using the rotatory d-pad.

MF Assist tends to zoom into the area of focus so that you get an accurate focus, however you need to keep your hands steady when you do so. You can disable the zoomed in view of the area under focus in the Custom menu. There are guidelines for those learning the basics of compositions. so you can choose from three different guidelines which basically form an overlay on your LCD screen.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 supports NFC and WiFi transfer as well as remote shooting.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 supports NFC and Wi-Fi transfer as well as remote shooting.

There are four function buttons, of which two are physical and two are touch buttons. You can set any of the 28 functions on any of the four buttons. We would suggest you to keep the Fn1 and Fn2 buttons as is, unless you won’t be using the Wi-Fi button much.

Screenshots of the remote shooting mode from withing the Panasonic Image App

Screenshots of the remote shooting mode from within the Panasonic Image App

Wi-Fi function works in conjunction with an app called the Panasonic Image app and you can connect it to the camera over your local Wi-Fi network to transfer images. Image size can be Medium or the Original size. You can also control your GF6 using the remote shooting mode from the Panasonic Image App. It is a detailed app and allows you the option to change white balance, focus, ISO, exposure among other things. While readjusting the focus we noticed hardly any lag. You can shoot still images as well as record videos. It is one detailed remote photography app we have seen off late.

The GF6 also has an in-camera retouching feature that allows you to clone out unwanted objects from the image. It works with touch using which you have to highlight the region you want removed. But instead of a smooth highlight, you get jagged edges which makes removing objects a bit inaccurate.

Performance

Studio ISO performance
Our studio ISO comprises a setup which has a healthy mix of colours, textures, materials, fine text and so on. We attached the Panasonic Lumix GF6 on a tripod and kept it in the Aperture priority mode at f/5.6. We proceeded to take images across the ISO range. To ensure minimal camera shake we had a 2-second timer enabled to click the pictures.

The base image for studio ISO performance test

The base image for studio ISO performance test

Base ISO performance is great and we did not notice any noise at ISO 160 and ISO 200. Till ISO 800, the images are packed with details and are print worthy. At ISO 1600 you will start to notice the noise algorithms kicking in, although the image is still quite usable. At ISO 3200, there is a definite drop in quality – the text on the bottle and on the board starts dithering. As you move from ISO 1600 to ISO 3200, the difference is quite prominent and taking an A4 size print will not be very pleasant. ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 are quite useless as there is a lot of noise and immense loss of detail.

ISO 160

ISO 160

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

ISO 12800

Focussing and speed of operation

The GF6 employs contrast-detect AF system and it gives you options such as face tracking, AF tracking, 23-area, 1-area and pinpoint focus adjustment. We like the various AF modes such as face tracking or 1-area AF. In pinpoint AF, you can select an area within your composition and the camera will give you a zoomed in view after which it will focus on the object and zoom out. With the manual mode, you get a zoomed in view of the area under focus when you rotate the manual zoom ring. While the camera claims to  have light speed AF, we did not notice that great an AF speed. It is definitely fast and we were impressed with the speedy focussing even at the corners with the pinpoint AF activated. But that’s about it. While shooting after sunset, we did find it hunting for focus.

The AF is speedy enough so that you do not miss that decisive moment.

The AF is speedy enough so that you do not miss that decisive moment.

It takes a mere 2 seconds for the camera to go from off state to taking your first photograph. The quick menu bundled with the four Fn buttons makes operations fast. Deleting photographs could have been a step less.

Image Quality
The images coming out of the Lumix GF6 are detailed in nature till ISO 800 after which you will start to notice noise. Colours are natural and we did not notice any unnecessary over saturation. The Vivid mode definitely adds a punch to the colours as compared to the Standard and Natural colour modes but we found that the shadow details were more prominent when in the latter modes. You can play around with the iDynamic and HDR modes to get more details out of scenes which have strong highlights or shadows. The GF6 offers 22 creative filters such as dynamic monochrome, starlight burst, expressive, sepia and so on. Each filter can be further adjusted using the d-pad. You also have multiple SCN modes for those photographs under tricky lighting conditions such as portrait against the sun, fast action, pets and so on. It also supports shooting in the RAW mode which pack in comparatively more details.

Note: Images below have been resized except for image no.3 (100 per cent crop) To check out these and more high resolution sample images, please head over to the Panasonic Lumix GF6 set on Flickr.

Images coming out of the camera are detailed

Images coming out of the camera are detailed

Portrait mode operation gives pleasing soft backgrounds

The Panasonic GF6 with its 14-42mm kit lens can give pleasing soft backgrounds

100 per cent crop of the above image

100 per cent crop of the above image

There was barely any noise in this image shot at ISO 800

There was barely any noise in this image shot at ISO 800

Panorama with the dramatic monochrome filter on

Panorama with the dramatic monochrome filter on

Panorama with the expressive filter on

Panorama with the expressive filter on


 
Video Performance

 

The Lumix GF6 offers these modes for video shooting: AVCHD Full HD 50i, AVCHD HD 50p, MP4 Full HD 25p, MP4 HD 25p and MP4 VGA 25p. Shooting at ISO 800 we found the raw footage to be slightly noisy, but it managed to keep things in focus. While panning you will notice framing which is normal with the videos of most entry level mirrorless cameras with a kit lens. The microphone is impressive as it manages to keep the wind noise to the minimum. Also there was barely any audible noise from the AF motor either.

Verdict and Price in India
Panasonic Lumix GF6 is a good camera that produces good quality images. It comes filled with features such as creative filters, various SCN modes and Wi-Fi and NFC as well for those who wish to transfer images instantly. The high-res tilting LCD coupled with a responsive touchscreen makes navigation a breeze. Dedicated mode-dial makes things quicker as compared to the GF5. In fact, the GF6 is a much better improvement over the GF5. It does lack a hot shoe which can be a bit of a problem for those considering to get a dedicated EVF in the future, but that will be a minority.

The only thing that can break the deal for this otherwise good camera is its price point. At an MRP of Rs 49,990, the GF6 is not only competing with mirrorless cameras such as Fujifilm XM1 and Sony NEX 3N, but also a lot of DSLRs which have a larger sensor and a much wider variety of lenses. If someone is just planning to use the kit lens, then that person still has more choices in terms of advanced compact cameras such as the Olympus XZ-2 and Sony RX 100 II which are great performers and much more compact than the GF6.

At around the Rs 40,000 price point this is a complete value for money camera. We have the Fujifilm XM1 review coming up soon so hold on a bit for that, as it too is an entry level mirrorless ILC around the same price bracket.

Specifications

 

Type

Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Effective Resolution

16 MP

Sensor Type

Live MOS

Image Stabiliser

Yes

LCD Screen

3-inch

Resolution

1040k-dot

Touchscreen

Yes

ISO Range 

160-12800

Kit lens focal length

14-42 mm (28-84mm equivalent)

Aperture range

F3.5-F5.6

White Balance

Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Incandescent / Flash / White Set 1, 2 / Color temperature setting

Shutter speed range

1/4000 – 60

Scene Modes

– Clear Portrait

 

– Silky Skin

 

– Backlit Softness

 

– Clear in Backlight

 

– Relaxing Tone

 

– Sweet Child’s Face

 

– Distinct Scenery

 

– Bright Blue Sky

 

– Romantic Sunset Glow

 

– Vivid Sunset Glow

 

– Glistening Water

 

– Clear Nightscape

 

– Cool Night Sky

 

– Warm Glowing Nightscape

 

– Artistic Nightscape

 

– Glittering Illuminations

 

– Clear Night Portrait

 

– Soft Image of a Flower

 

– Appetizing Food

 

– Cute Dessert

 

– Freeze Animal Motion

 

– Clear Sports Shot

 

– Monochrome

 

 

Video max resolution

1920×1080

Video formats

AVCHD FHD 50i, AVCHD HD 50p, MP4 FHD 25p, MP4 HD 25p, MP4 VGA 25p

Type of battery

Li-ion

Dimensions

(WxDxH in mm)

111.2×38.4×64.8

Weight

323 grams

Tags: , , , , , , , ,