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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF6 First Impressions


Panasonic have just announced the latest addition to their popular LUMIX G range of compact system cameras. The range use the Micro Four Thirds system pioneered by both Panasonic and Olympus, which gives the benefits of an interchangeable lens system, but in a smaller form factor.

The LUMIX GF6 is a rangefinder style compact system camera that will replace the GF5 in the line-up, bringing with it a number of significant enhancements, notably to its sensor, design, screen and connectivity.




Compact Yet Fully Featured
There’s plenty of choice in the LUMIX range already, but this model looks to have been clearly aimed to tempt customers upgrading from a compact camera. Image quality should be impressive, as the GF6 uses the same 16 megapixel CMOS sensor as the GX1, and this is complemented by a new Venus engine which should ensure speedy, responsive operation and help keep noise at bay. ISO sensitivity ranges from 100-12800 in Auto and can be expanded to 25600 when required.

New mode dial and zoom control
In a welcome move, Panasonic have added both a mode dial to the top plate, and a zoom lever surrounds the shutter button. Whilst it will only control zoom when using Power Zoom lens, it can be used to control exposure compensation on non-PZ lenses, which will allow photographers of all abilities an intuitive way to control the brightness of their shots.




Fingertip Control
The LCD is the same size as GF5’s, but the similarities end there. The new screen can be tilted up and down – which, in the absence of a viewfinder, is handy to reduce glare and reflections in bright sunlight – and also flipped up 180 degrees to allow self portraits using the self shot mode. The screen itself is slightly higher resolution than the GF5 at 1.04m dots, but more importantly is a capacitive touchscreen, like that used on modern smartphones, which makes operation quicker and easier than the pressure sensitive screen on the GF5.

Further control is provided by several function buttons that can be customised to perform a number of different operations.
New 7.5cm / 3" touchscreen LCD

Scene Modes
Like most cameras the GF6 includes a variety of scene modes to help you get the best results in a variety of shooting situations. The new scene guide includes 23 different shots taken by professional photographers; you can simply select the scene that matches your environment and the camera will take care of the rest. 19 creative filter effects, a new stop-motion animation mode and a food recognition mode complete the comprehensive set of shooting parameters. Experienced photographers will appreciate the inclusion of the RAW shooting mode, to harness the full potential of the sensor.

Easy Wi-Fi
The GF6 is the first interchangeable lens camera to feature Near Field Communications (NFC), the same technology used in contactless payment systems, that is set to feature on more and more devices in the coming months. It means that you can simply touch two devices together and instantly share images and movies, without having to go through the time-consuming set-up process normally needed to pair devices when using Wi-Fi.

Of course, you’ll need an NFC enabled Smartphone or tablet to take full advantage, but with devices like the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, it’s quick and easy to share images. For those of use without an NFC phone or tablet (Apple have yet to adopt NFC for iPhone or iPad), you can use the Panasonic Image App for Android or iOS to share images or control the camera using Wi-Fi. The setup process is quick and only needs to be done once to pair the devices.

Lens Choice
The camera is available in black and in a couple of flavours; firstly with a LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens for £499 and also in a twin kit, featuring the same 14-42 and the LUMIX G VARIO 45-150mm f/4-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. for just £649.

It’s likely that further variations will be available in the future. Personally, I’d be looking to pair the lens with the 14-42 Power Zoom lens. This will not only take full advantage of the compact size of the body, but can also be controlled using the new zoom lever on the body.

Conclusion
Whilst we've yet to get our hands on the camera, it looks a great package, and if the quality of the GX1 (which uses the same sensor) is anything to go by, then image quality should be first class. The addition of a mode dial, zoom lever and the newer screen with improved touch sensitivity, together with the innovative NFC technology, make this a compelling choice for those moving up from a compact camera or looking for their first system camera.

We’re expecting stock of the GF6 towards the end of April, so why not pop into our showroom to see for yourself?

Park Verdict
An impressive compact system camera, perfect for the novice or enthusiast alike

We Love
©       Lightweight, compact design can be taken anywhere
©       Tilting touchscreen LCD display aids composition and makes operation easy
©       Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC technology for easy image sharing

Also Consider
Sony NEX-3N & Olympus E-PL5


Jon Penney
Park Cameras

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