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For Rs 50k is Panasonic Lumix GF-6 better than a DSLR camera?

November 03, 2013 13:12 IST

For Rs 50k is Panasonic Lumix GF-6 better than a DSLR camera?

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The Panasonic Lumix GF-6 offers a lot more than just the promise of better quality visuals, fast autofocus and strong low-light photography. But does it present a viable alternative to the standard DSLRs in this price range or compete with the likes of Sony and its NEX range? We find out.

Panasonic isn’t the first name you think of when going in for an SLR-level camera, especially with options like Nikon and Canon available. However, the company has come into its own with its Lumix GF series which -- unlike the leading players in the market -- aims at providing mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses to the masses.

Design

If you’ve become used to the polycarbonate, heavy-duty plastic of a Canon EOS camera, then prepare for a bit of a culture shock.

The Lumia GF-6 is made of aluminium with some chrome finishing on the top of the device. A thick, rubbery palm grip has been provided on the front to make for easy gripping but we admire the solid build quality of the GF-6. It looks and feels premium but isn’t afraid to take a few knocks. There’s enough room between the lens and palm grip to tighten your fingers around the camera, thus making one-handed shots all the easier. The camera weighs 323 grams overall.

Of course, that’s not all.

The screen, like most Canon and Nikon devices, is capable of tilting at an angle for difficult shots. Except on the GF-6, you can tilt it in such a way as to have the display facing you while you look into the lens. If you’ve ever wanted to take self-photographs against awe-inspiring backdrops without worrying about the clumsiness associated with the same, the GF-6 is more than appropriate.

In terms of button arrangement, you have the standard mode dial on top, a D-pad and buttons for previewing, four Fn buttons -- two physical and two touch-based - for setting 28 functions, and much more. There’s also a Quick Menu button for adjusting settings such as ISO, white balance, etc. Oddly enough, there’s no support for a hot-shoe or accessory, which the GF-5 had.


Image: Panasonic Lumix GF-6
Photographs: panasonic.net

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Interface

The interface is easy to navigate by virtue of the display being a touch-screen. Slowdown is virtually non-existent and there are a variety of options available for adjusting shot settings such as MF Assist which helps provide competent focus. You also have options for Wi-Fi which can be used to either transfer images via the Panasonic Image app to your smartphone or for remote shooting using your mobile device. Along with the usual scene modes and white balance settings for Daylight, Cloudy, Shade and Colour Temperature, you also have the ability to remove unwanted objects using a cloning feature. It could have been something great -- an instant Photoshop solution -- but the images come off looking unrealistic and modified, no thanks to a lack of smooth edges.

At least there are enough options when taking self-portraits. When you swivel the touchscreen by 180 degrees to face you from the lens side, you’ll have options for how many pictures you want to take, skin tone and the ability to activate the shutter using the touch-screen. This menu option can be disabled if you’re looking to take difficult shots rather than self-portraits when swivelling the display.

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Image: Panasonic Lumix GF-6
Photographs: panasonic.net

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Specs and image quality

The Panasonic Lumix GF-6 has a Live MOS sensor with an optical resolution of 16 megapixels and image stabilisation. Focal length is f/14-42 mm with a contrast autofocus system for 23-area focus, AF tracking, pinpoint focus adjustment and more. It has shutter speed that ranges from 1/4000th of a second to 60 seconds.

ISO range is pretty strong with options for both auto and intelligent ISO from 160 to 25600. The camera supports full HD video recording at 30 frames per second and features a Venus image processing engine. For add-ons, you have support for a USB cable and HDMI along with the aforementioned Wi-Fi and NFC.

The quality of images captured by the GF-6 in normal daylight settings is remarkable with the right amount of contrast, sharpness and colour. Even at high ISO settings, you can be assured of a strong amount of detail with minimal noise. As is usually the case, higher ISO settings tend to lead to loss of details as noise compensation comes in between.

The Lumix GF-6 can handle this up to ISO 1600, after which image quality tends to deteriorate. Nonetheless, it makes for excellent low-light photography. The autofocus system isn’t as fast as we’d like. Granted, we weren’t expecting anything on the level of the Canon EOS 70D but it’s still not as rapid as Panasonic claims. It should suit the majority of most photographers’ needs however.

The Lumix GF-6 fares rather strongly, with the microphone doing a good job of reducing ambient noise. Higher ISO settings tend to increase the noise level, but video quality and autofocus speed is up to the mark.

The GF-6 has support for a variety of shooting modes and can even capture interlaced video at 50 frames per second. 

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Photographs: panasonic.net

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Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix GF-6 retails for Rs 49,990 and features a 14-42 mm lens kit.

Though image and video quality are exceedingly good, we’re a bit sceptical about the pricing since you can obtain higher resolution sensors in DSLRs for the same price (that too with a wider range of features). However, for a camera that does everything so well, we’d say the GF-6 is worth the price.

With Wi-Fi, good full HD recording, an entire range of self-shot features and a tilting display for the same, fast auto-focus and strong low-light photography, it comes highly recommended.

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Image: Panasonic Lumix GF-6
Photographs: panasonic.net

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