It's a M43 S1H.
Rated 5 out of 5
I was hoping the GH6 would be a M43 S1H. I have not been disappointed.
User context: Professional DP, videographer, photographer (less so these days), former video photojournalist. Clients include healthcare, corporate, industrial, Doc, some event work. B-roll, sit down interviews, green screen etc. Fwiw, I've been doing this since 1989.
So far I've used the GH6 for several healthcare related b-roll / doc-type shoots, including a surgery. I shot the surgery in Boost DR, V-LOG, @ iso 2000 and 4000. Surgery suites can be quite dark and yet have very high contrast with the operating table lighting. I shot this all handheld, tripods are typically a no-no in a surgery suite. I used the 10-25 1.7. The IS is quite nice, definitely improved over the GH5. DR boost worked very well for this situation, I was able to maintain highlights while getting a good exposure for the (mids and lows) rest of the room. In this scenario the required high iso of 2000 worked like a charm. I feel very comfortable using iso 4000 with this camera for appropriate subject matter. It's pretty darn clean all things considering. Whatever noise issues there may or may not be, Neat Video will fix.
Boost DR- It has it's place and it's effective at what it does. I'll definitely use it where appropriate, low light/ high contrast interiors, such as the aforementioned surgeryThe downside is with exterior situations: the massive amount of ND required to get the iris opened up in the larger apertures with my 10-25 (1.7-2.0) . I have a 10 stop fixed ND and I plan to get a 8 stop in addition to other fixed ND's currently owned.
AF for video... I vastly prefer rolling my own focus. IMO there are three reasons why the video AF thing is such a fixation for the masses: 1) Lack of experience manually focusing (and possible laziness), 2) typical fly by wire photo lenses are hard to manually focus, and 3), AF makes shooting motion footage less painful within the mirrorless form factor. The hybrid form factor is a huge bag of hurt for shooting video/ motion. It's brutal compared to using a shoulder mount or camcorder configuration. Ergonomically, manually focusing or otherwise operating the camera smoothly or quickly is not the hybrids strong suit. I can appreciate how "Auto" could make this a less painful experience. For me, I'm content with using the quick focus feature to get initial focus and then go manual from there.
The GH6 AF is a significant improvement over previous Lumix video AF implementations. I would never use it for an interview, just b-roll or on a gimbal. Although not to the level of some of the competition, Panasonic has definitely upped their game in the video AF realm. It's quite usable in the right situation.
IQ, video and stills:
ProRes, enough said. The color science is significantly improved over the GH5. Skin tones are much improved, as is tonality. I would go higher in a pinch, but I feel very comfortable going up to ISO 4k for corporate b-roll, journalistic or doc situations.
The detail, color and tonality makes me very, very happy. I shot at ISO 100-250, I'm no seeing the low Iso shadow noise that one photo site complained about. I cranked the shadow recovery up in Photos as far as it would go, didn't see anything to be concerned about at all. Maybe another program with larger adjustment parameters might cause this to occur- I dunno. On occasion I do corporate headshots and some product-shot work. I'd happily use this camera for these jobs.
In the months leading up to the GH6 release, it dawned on me that what I was really hoping for was a M43 S1H. Of course an improvement in IQ was needed, I assumed there would be improvement there. I wish the boost DR was more flexible to use (lower iso settings= less ND), but otherwise it's a solid step up (or two) from the GH5 in terms of DR capability.
I was envious of the operational features on the S1H. Recording red frame indicator, tally lights, front recording trigger, adjustable waveforms, V-log and the full swivel up screen are critically important features for me. Usability enhancements and professional tools were the features that would cause me to purchase yet another hybrid camera. The one major disappointment was the lack of a S1H level viewfinder... . I would have paid more for that. That said, the GH6 viewfinder is better than the GH5's . I'm puzzled as to why, as they have the same resolution specs, but It's just a better and more immersive user experience. Maybe the magnification specs have been increased? Even though it's not S1H level, I'm pleasantly surprised.
I do wish that Panasonic would allow for more customization of info in the VF. Also, the card capacity warning indicator needs to be far more obvious. It's easy to run out of card capacity due to this indicators anemic size and function.
It's Chunky. That's a good thing:
As a motion shooter, The previous GH series cameras have been too fiddly for me. The quality of the button and dial interfaces was lacking, the buttons were too small, often times poorly located, and not enough of them for camera operation. The dedicated audio button and lock switch are awesome, as is the display button, the size of the grip and the angled top where the WB/ISO buttons are. I like the chunkier body for motion work. For stills, certainly not ideal but definitely usable. I'm not sure why folks think every M43 camera has to be svelte and tiny- function and form. For video, the GH6 size is an improvement in function IMO.
I purchased the GH6 as a concession to the lack of there being a successor to the AF100 or even the DVX200 which I own. The hybrid form factor has its strengths, but the cons are significant for professional motion work. If there was an updated AF100, I'd take it in a heart beat over the GH6 as a video tool. My hope is that Panasonic would really start to diverge from the hybrid concept and introduce a professional M43 video-only camera. The mirrorless form factor is gimped in so many ways for video/motion. Limited real estate for controls, limited VF and LCD function/ size, no internal ND's, the necessity for cages, audio adapters and other work arounds. Panasonic's continuation of the GH line without bringing back a dedicated M43 ILC video/cinema style camera is a huge misstep IMO- not playing to the formats technical or market differentiation advantages. They really dropped the ball in releasing excellent glass like the 10-25 and 25-50 as late as they did. If they are serious about continuing to develop M43 as pro or prosumer video creation tools, they should release a pro version of something like the 14-140 lens. Honestly, I have wondered for some time how committed Panasonic is to continuing M43 as a pro/prosumer video format. Their marketing material and corporate statements would indicate that they consider M43 as "pro-ish" or "not too pro" compared to FF. It is an artificial distinction that they seem intent on making for marketing reasons. It's a shame. They have created a self inflicted wound.
As much as I have gushed about the GH6, this could be my last hybrid/mirrorless for pro video. The limitations and wacked ergos have me beating my head against the wall some days. Although the release of this camera would seem to indicate otherwise, I have my doubts about how seriously they are committed to M43 as a professional video production format. I adore the sensor format- maybe more than Panasonic does.