Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 review
New entry-level ‘G’-system interchangeable lens camera from premier brand
The 3-inch LCD on the GF6’s back can be angled up to face the viewer or down to achieve shots over the heads of a crowd with both hard key and touch screen options
Panasonic’s G-series compact system cameras are divided into two handling styles: those resembling compact cameras and those resembling digital SLRs. Falling into the former category is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6, which also provides the easiest ‘step up’ point for anyone looking for their first interchangeable lens camera.
It differs from last year’s GF5 in that resolution has increased from 12 to a more marketable 16 megapixels, plus the GF6 now comes with both Wi-Fi and NFC, or Near Field Communication, the tech used for contact-less payments. Users can therefore share images with suitably equipped devices, namely Windows and Android phones.
What’s further appealing is the price: the camera plus 14-42mm zoom lens, which provides a 35mm-equivalent focal range double that (28-84mm), retails for just under £400. This makes it an affordable alternative to an entry-level DSLR, as well as a more portable option for those wanting more professional looking pictures and video.
Despite the lower cost the camera feels solid when gripped in the palm, its small and occasionally plasticky backplate buttons one of the few indicators of the more budget price. Thankfully there’s also the alternative of bypassing buttons and using the 3-inch, 180° tilting touchscreen LCD to select operational options. Read more Camera reviews.
Screen resolution has been boosted between generations, from 920k dots to over one million, the clarity of visibility being such that users may not bemoan that there’s no eye-level viewfinder here, as on a DSLR, nor any means of attaching one.
Similarly, because a pop-up flash sits directly above the lens, we don’t get a vacant hotshoe for threading on an additional flashgun or optional stereo microphone either. Look to more expensive G-series models, such as the GX7, G6 or GH3, for these enthusiast-pleasing features.
What the Panasonic does have in its favour, like the rest of the G range, is a consistent, competent performance, delivering highly detailed, colour-rich images every time – even when the user is just pointing and shooting with the scene- and subject-recognising ‘iA’ mode button – otherwise known as intelligent Auto – illuminated.
Low-light ISO sensitivity has been extended from the ISO12800 of its predecessor to ISO25600, but images do of course appear progressively noisier the higher up the scale. So much so, we didn’t really want to stray above ISO6400 when shooting in available light without flash.
If you’re a fan of self-portraits the fact that the LCD here can be flipped up to face whoever is in front of the lens is an added bonus.
If you’re not bothered about attaching accessories and won’t often be shooting at higher ISO settings without flash, the GF6 is a competent, compact all-rounder for those wanting images that almost ape a DSLR but without the bulk attached. For beginners, the reliability factor here makes a purchase worthwhile.