Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-G6 sits just behind the flagship GH3 in the company's collection of Micro Four Third mirrorless system cameras.

Despite its DSLR-like styling, it is quite light.

It looks like a DSLR because the built-in Oled electronic viewfinder, or EVF, sits in the spot where you would usually find an optical viewfinder.

This EVF has a resolution of 1,440,000 dots, looks sharp and offers plenty of detail when you compose images.

The touchscreen display, rotatable to 270 degrees, is great for changing settings and shooting from unusual angles.

Another advantage of the DSLR-like design is the rubberised contour grip that makes the camera great to handle. All four fingers can be accommodated on the grip, with the thumb resting comfortably at the rear thumb rest.

The button layout is well thought out. Every button is within easy reach and the handy mode dial and dedicated video recording button are on top.

In Manual mode, use the front lever to change aperture, and the rear command dial to change shutter speed.

The rear directional buttons also double as short cuts to ISO, white balance and other settings.

There are seven buttons - five physical and two virtual - that can be customised.

On the downside, the menu interface can be confusing because there are so many options.

Operation of the camera is quite fast. It powers up in 0.9 seconds. Shutting down takes a bit longer at 2.2sec. Shutter lag is minimal at around 0.2sec at most.

With an SD card rated at 25MB per second, the G6 can capture 10 RAW images in 4.5sec before the buffer runs out. The advertised high-speed shooting speed of 40 frames per second is possible only when shooting at 4 megapixels. Still, I managed to capture only 37 images in around 1.1sec.

Using the 14-42mm (equivalent to 28-84mm because of the sensor's 2x crop factor) kit lens, autofocusing (AF) is swift with instantaneous lock-on focus in bright light.

In dim light, it takes about 2.2sec without the aid of the AF assist light. With the AF assist light on, it takes a quick 1sec to secure a focus.

Image quality is exceptional with nice contrast and great details. The auto white balance works fine in most lighting conditions.

However, the smaller Micro Four Thirds image sensor means the noise performance is not as good as in a mirrorless camera with a larger APS-C image sensor.

While the images are devoid of noise artefacts till ISO 400, they start to appear at ISO 800. I recommend using

ISO 1,600 at most to avoid loss of details.

Video quality is top-notch, producing sharp moving images with very little ambient and wind audio.

You can hardly hear the sound of the AF doing its work, but it does pick up the sound of the zooming of the lens. The AF refocuses in less than 2sec when you pan or zoom to a new scene.

Battery life is pretty good for a mirrorless camera. The G6 can capture about 400 still images before the battery runs flat.

With its built-in Wi-Fi, you can transfer photos from the camera to your smartphone or remotely control the camera using the Panasonic Image app (Android and iOS). It has Near-Field Communication (NFC) ability for automatic pairing with NFC-enabled smartphones.

n If a DSLR-like appearance does not bother you, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 is a great mirrorless camera with good image quality, great handling, fast AF and a superb video recording function.

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