How to use your new digital camera
We liked the Panasonic G5 because as well as producing high quality images it has all the headline features that we want from a modern compact system camera: a good built-in electronic viewfinder, a vari-angle touchscreen, the ability to shoot raw and JPEG images when using the Creative Controls and a sensible control arrangement with some novel thinking.
While Panasonic hasn't done anything radical such as increasing the pixel count of the sensor, the Panasonic G6 has some good enhancements over the G5. The touchscreen, for example, is much more sensitive, which makes it faster and more inviting to use.
It seems strange that Panasonic has stepped back with the G6's Quick Menu, which unlike the G5's is not customisable.
Best compact system camera
Being able to compose images in either the viewfinder or on the LCD screen is something of a luxury with a compact system camera, and one that we really appreciate. The Panasonic G6's screen provides a nice clear view in all but the brightest light, but there are times when it just seems more natural to shoot with the camera held to your eye. It's also a more stable way of holding the camera, so the risk of camera shake is reduced.
Having a fully articulating screen is also a huge bonus, because it encourages you to shoot from more interesting angles. In these situations it's particularly helpful that the camera can be controlled via the touchscreen, even to the extent that the lens can be focused and the shutter fired with a touch of a finger on the screen.
We often complain about cameras only enabling us to shoot JPEG files when we want to use filter effects. Thankfully Panasonic enables raw files to be recorded at the same time when the Creative Control options are used. This means you can have a JPEG image with the effect applied and a clean raw file for normal processing.
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The 16 million pixel sensor in the Panasonic G6 has been around for a while now, and while we know that Panasonic likes to get value for money from its sensors, it would've been nice to have seen the pixel count rise to challenge the 24.3 million pixel offering of the Sony NEX-7.
It would also be nice if the Creative Control options could be used in the advanced exposure modes (aperture priority, shutter priority and manual) so there is control over the exposure.
The Panasonic G6 feels like the most complete and well-rounded enthusiast-level Panasonic compact system camera to date. It may lack a few of the features and the rugged build of the Panasonic GH3, but it's also significantly smaller, making it a more attractive option to carry around with you.
It's also very capable, capturing high-quality images with plenty of sharp detail at the lower sensitivity settings. Image colour and exposure is also generally excellent.
Using the Wi-Fi connectivity isn't quite as slick an experience as we'd like, but the additional functionality is useful - and fun.
It is clear that the compact system camera is now stepping beyond the confines to which it has traditionally been assigned. The Panasonic G6's focusing system is fast and accurate in a range of conditions, and it is possible to shoot sport and action as well as take travel and landscape images.