I’m asked very frequently what camera I use for my reviews and product shots. I was using the Panasonic GF2, but have recently upgraded to the GF6. Please note that I’m not a camera expert at all, I’m not a photographer in anyway whatsoever and have never classed myself as one. Hell, I use my camera on auto most of the time. I just like to take pictures like the next guy.
The GF2 has been great to me ever since I got hold of it around 18 months ago. I was waiting for a successor to the camera and the GF6 seemed ideal. Everything in general was improved, the sensor, megapixel count, speed and screen. The only thing was that the GF6 is a little bigger than the GF2 due to the screen which can be pulled out from the camera.
Like I stated earlier, I am no pro photographer so I’m not going to splash £1000 on a huge DSLR which I know will hardly be explored. The GF6 was a reasonable £500 and comes with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. With it being a Micro Four Thirds camera it is also a whole lot more compact than a DSLR – with a pancake lens I can easily get it into my jacket pocket.
The GF6 design definitely isn’t a stunner. I was considering the much sexier Olympus E-P5 but that I found was way overpriced, at nearly double the price of the GF6. But the GF6 isn’t ugly, it’s clean and fairly simple. The body is mostly made from plastic but it almost feels like metal – it’s very solid and doesn’t feel cheap at all. I wish the silver part on top was also black though, would have given it a much sleeker look.
The front of the camera is pretty plain with no buttons except for the lens release. The top has dual mics, a little speaker, pop-up flash (which can be held back to bounce light off the ceiling), a mode dial, zoom/exposure dial, shutter button, on/off switch, auto mode button and quick recording button.
The shutter button on this I found was nearly perfect. It has a satisfying click but doesn’t require much pressure to snap a picture. Some cameras I’ve found the shutter button requires quite a bit of pressure, that ends up shaking the camera, which then results in a blurred image.
The flash I use quite a lot. For most of pictures I hold it back and point it towards the ceiling, this creates a very nice light bounce. It’s one of the main reasons of buying this camera. Unfortunately because of where the flash is placed there is no hotshoe – but then I’ve never needed one.
The back has a large 3-inch 1040k dot screen. The resolution on this screen is very good and everything is super sharp. It’s also touch sensitive so you can swipe through pictures, change options and a whole lot more. Though I prefer using the buttons because the UI is terrible for touch. The screen can tilt too which is very useful for taking self-portraits. When flipped all the way round the camera automatically switches everything round and goes into a self-timer mode – it actually very well.
The kit lens that comes with this is Panasonic’s latest 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (the one you see above). It has a gorgeous brushed aluminium finish which I like very much. Panasonic should have finished the whole camera in the same way. Unfortunately it’s a let down when it comes image quality – as with most kit lenses. I have another 14mm f/2.5 lens and the 20mm f/1.7 lens. The 20mm f/1.7 lens is by far one of the best lenses you can get for the Micro Four Thirds cameras. It’s compact, super sharp and performs very well under low light. 90% of the pictures you see in my product reviews were taken with the 20mm f/1.7 lens.
This is the 14mm f/2.5 lens. It’s a pancake lens and as you can see it’s ridiculously compact.
The GF6 comes with built-in NFC and WiFi. This allows you to pair up Android phones and iPhones to share pictures. It’s absolutely crap when it comes to usability though. It’s slow, the app is ugly and the camera sometimes stalls when you try to connect or disconnect. It definitely works but it’s not the smoothest experience at all.
Battery life on the GF6 is more than adequate for most when it comes to taking pictures. You can easily snap a few hundred pictures which will get you through the day. Just don’t expect it to last long if you start recording video.
When it comes to taking pictures, the GF6 is stupidly quick. The autofocus system is very snappy – but that does also depend on your lens. You also have to make sure you have the right SD card – I use SanDisk Ultra Class 10 SD cards, which are perfect for this camera. You never realise how much of a difference the SD card can make till you get a faster one.
With this being a Micro Four Thirds camera, the sensor is pretty small compared to a fully fledged DSLR. However when it comes to image quality it’s top notch. It’s hard to tell the difference in image quality when it’s up against beginner DSLR’s. You’ll only see differences when it comes to a 100% crop. But myself and like most others will never blow up pictures to full resolution so you can’t really see the difference.
The dynamic range isn’t that great but the white balance is very good. Colours are very accurate but I do find sometimes that adding a little saturation in Photoshop can make the photos ‘pop’ more.
Noise performance isn’t great either. You’ll be fine up to around ISO 1600 but after that you’ll see noise creeping in. I usually set it to ISO 800 anyway so that you can’t see any noise at all.
Here are some sample pictures with the camera. None of the images have been edited at all, they’ve just been taken directly from the camera and resized – though one or two may have been taken with the filters that are built-in to the camera. Unfortunately there isn’t many pics because I only really use it for my reviews on UltraLinx. If requested enough, I will get some more sample pictures.