Best compact system camera
We were initially very impressed by the concept of the Panasonic GF6 when we first saw a pre-production sample, and we hoped that the real deal would live up to our own hype.
Happily, it has done that - and then some. Although the overall size of the Panasonic GF6 has increased fairly dramatically from the Panasonic GF5, it comes with improvements that make the bulk up worthwhile - most notably the tilting touchscreen.
Because there's no viewfinder - and no way to attach one - having a highly flexible and responsive screen is extremely useful and solves the problem of awkward angles preventing you from capturing the shot you want to get. It's also very handy if you want to take self-portraits or film videos of yourself, since you can see exactly what you're doing.
We'd expected image quality to be good, because we've previously been impressed by the sensor onboard the Panasonic GX1, and again we weren't disappointed by the performance the Panasonic GF6 put in. Images are very pleasing, and if you're shooting in good light the majority of time then you'll probably never have any cause for concern with this camera.
In lower light conditions, where you're forced to shoot at higher sensitivities, such as ISO 3200, you might find that images are of a lower quality, but if you're using them at smaller printing sizes then they're still more than useable.
With the largest proprietary lens range available for the Micro Four Thirds system, investing in a camera from Panasonic or Olympus is a more flexible option than their counterparts from Sony, Nikon or Canon. With added flexibility coming from the fact that Olympus and Panasonic both use the same lens mount, anybody who has previously used a camera from either brand before will be able to bring across any optics already acquired.
One of the biggest let downs of the camera is the Wi-Fi functionality. While it should be a nice addition, the operability of sharing images and videos to sites such as Facebook is far fiddlier than it should be. Using your smartphone as a remote control is much easier, but Panasonic should take a look at some of Samsung's products, such as the NX300, to get a better idea of how to successfully incorporate Wi-Fi sharing tools.
How to use your new digital camera
Image quality is excellent, while the flexibility of the screen is useful for capturing images from awkward angles. The fact that there's no viewfinder is almost made up for by this screen, which could only have been improved by being fully articulating. It's a bonus though that it flips up 180-degrees to face forwards for self-portraits.
Fortunately there's not too much to dislike about the Panasonic GF6, but the Wi-Fi functionality could seriously be improved to make it much more useful. It would also be nice to be able to use the digital filters while shooting in manual and semi-automatic modes.
What camera should I buy? Your options explained
The Panasonic GF6 is one of the best compact system cameras currently on the market, especially for the beginner user.
Although it is the next in line after the Panasonic GF5, it's perhaps elevated slightly above that, being a little more comparable to the Panasonic GX1, with which it shares its sensor.
Image quality is fantastic, while usability, thanks in part to the touchscreen and sensible menu system, makes it one of the more pleasurable cameras to shoot with.
Unfortunately, at the moment its higher price is its only letdown. For a good chunk less than the price of the Panasonic GF6, you can pick up a Sony NEX-3N, so it seems that Panasonic will have a tough job convincing consumers to snap up this camera in bulk.
If however in the next few months, as is prone to happen with cameras, we think this be our top recommendation for those looking for an entry-level compact system camera.