In light of the recent launch of Panasonic’s latest Micro Four Thirds flagship, the LUMIX GH6, we had the opportunity to talk with Yosuke Yamane-san, Director of Panasonic’s Imaging Business Unit, about the GH6 in general, its inner workings, and its technical state within the MFT universe.
If you’re not yet familiar with this new offering in the MFT world, be sure to check out our news article, review, and / or in-depth lab test of the new Panasonic LUMIX GH6 before diving into this interview.
In a nutshell, the new LUMIX GH6 is the direct successor to the GH5 II, but with very different internals, namely, a completely new sensor accompanied by a brand-new engine and image pipeline.
In addition, the GH6 features an active cooling system and – a first for Panasonic – support for CFexpress Type B cards. All of this unlocks niceties such as 5.7K60, internal ProRes recording, and slow-motion at up to 300 frames per second.
Interview with Yosuke Yamane-san
First, of course, it’s about the delay in the market launch of this new camera. Originally, Panasonic had envisioned a late 2020 release, which, as we all know, didn’t happen. The reasons for the delay are twofold: 1) the ongoing chip shortage, but also 2) the overwhelming amount of feedback from creatives and filmmakers asking for all sorts of features and headline specs. According to Yamane-san, this constant stream of feedback was actually very helpful in pinpointing the most wanted features.
Yamane-san then talks about the challenges in making this camera a reality. Since it sports a completely newly developed sensor and processor, things don’t usually just fall into place, and you’re done. This kind of technology naturally requires intensive research and development, and many iterations of testing and improvement.
The objective was not only to build a successor to the GH5 II, but also a competitor for mirrorless full-frame cameras in terms of dynamics and speed. And since all this technology generates quite a bit of heat inside, a corresponding heat dissipation system had to be implemented as well. Not only the new sensor and processor are responsible for the heat buildup, but also the newly introduced Type B CFexpress cards.
Improvements of the LUMIX GH6
According to Yamane-san, the new LUMIX GH6 is more than the sum of its specs on a sheet of paper. The images it can capture feel more natural and three-dimensional. This is due to the newly developed imaging engine and pipeline. Although the GH6 doesn’t shed its heritage, it seems to produce a more organic look. A feature not found in any spec sheet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see for ourselves how this camera’s footage feels in post-production. But it does indeed sound promising, as it’s not just about the pure technical specs.
In fact, Yamane-san notes that one of the goals in developing the GH6 was to be able to produce “zero-edit” images. But of course, it also gives filmmakers all the freedoms of internal ProRes (not RAW) recording, which makes it easy to tweak the resulting footage as desired. Although internal ProRes RAW recording is not an option, Panasonic and its partner Atomos will support external ProRes RAW recording.
The LUMIX GH6 still relies on contrast-based autofocus, a technology that works well for capturing still images but doesn’t have much of a reputation on the video side. Still, Panasonic has decided to stick with this approach rather than turn to more video-friendly technologies like phase-detection autofocus. However, the company has worked hard to improve existing technology and implement a large number of clever algorithms to teach the camera what to focus on.
Yamane-san goes on to say that the company is of course not neglecting other technologies per se, but for this particular model, the decision was made to use existing technologies and further improve them. And apparently, the implemented autofocus works quite well, but as with all autofocus systems, it too has its pitfalls.
Other features of the LUMIX GH6
As with most Panasonic cameras, the company is dedicated to supporting and improving its capabilities well after its launch in the market. The LUMIX GH6 won’t be an exception and Yamane-san states that not only external DCI 4K 120p ProRes RAW is coming via a firmware update but also DCI 4K internal recording and the ability to use an external SSD for capturing video via USB-C . Last but not least, an option for outputting 4K 120p over HDMI (no raw data but HDMI video) is on the way.
Finally, the interview revolves around the newly added Dynamic Range Boost Mode, a new feature of the GH6. In short, it is not Dual ISO with the possibility to choose between native ISO values, but a combined and simultaneous recording of two ISO values, resulting in an increased DR.
This is quite advanced technology and a welcomed addition to this camera’s capabilities. However, according to Yamane-san, Dual-ISO and DR Boost are two different tools that do not replace each other but complement one another depending on the camera and workflow.
What do you think? Would the new LUMIX GH6 be a worthy addition to your gear bag? Share your thoughts in the comments below!