Tim Coleman tests the latest compact system camera in Panasonic's entry-level range, which features a 16-million-pixel sensor, a newly designed tilt screen, built-in Wi-Fi and extra controls on its body. Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 review...
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 review – Build and handling
Image: The GF6 is the same size as a compact camera, so it is all the more easy to go unnoticed when capturing street scenes. The image has been wirelessly uploaded to a tablet device and then edited using the (free) Snapseed photo-editing software – all achieved on location during a break
Like its predecessor, the Lumix DMC-GF6 is a low-cost, entry-level model, with a solid plastic, rather than metal, body like that used in the GX1. The camera is equally compact in height and width, but is a little deeper on account of its new tilt LCD screen. Yet while the difference in depth is noticeable, it is minimal, and the tilt function is well worth the extra bulk. With a pancake lens like the 14mm f/2.8 attached, the camera is similar in size to the company’s Lumix DMC-LX7 compact camera. Thanks to the use of the four thirds format, available lenses are typically much smaller than those designed for use with APS-C-format CSCs. In short, the camera and its lens system are compact.
The form and button layout of the GF6 is very similar to that of the GF5. The most obvious difference is the addition of a shooting mode dial, which certainly enhances its handling. Through the dial, there is direct access to the creative control modes, scene modes and panorama mode, as well as the manual exposure control modes. The iAuto shooting mode is still activated via a dedicated button and overrides the current shooting mode.
A built-in flash is placed centrally above the lens mount, and a manual release catch pops it into place. In its elevated position, the clearance of the flash above some larger lenses is not quite great enough, so the lens can obstruct the flash illumination in the lower part of the frame. For example, with the new 14-42mm lens in place (which is smaller than the last version of the lens but still longer than the collapsible ‘X’ version), and with its lens hood attached, a significant portion of light from the flash is blocked. Without a hotshoe port, there is no option to attach an external flash unit, so flash photography is limited with the GF6.
I will talk in more about the LCD screen later, but it’s worth noting at this point that the screen greatly enhances the handling of the camera. Overall, the camera is great to use and certainly a noteworthy improvement over the GF5.