Hands on: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6

Besides a chunkier build, the GF6 sports a higher-res tilting screen, mode dial, and wireless connectivity.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 pictured with the 14-42mm pancake zoom kit lens. Shawn Low/CNET Asia
Editors' note: The GF6 has not yet been announced in the U.S. This hands-on preview is courtesy of our sister site CNET Asia. The camera was subsequently announced in the US at a price of $599.99 for the 14-42mm standard zoom kit, and is expected to ship in June.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 comes as an update to the DMC-GF5. The new camera features a chunkier build and a sleek metallic design. With this iteration, Panasonic has added a few notable improvements such as wireless connectivity, a 180-degree tilting screen and a mode dial. This 16-megapixel interchangeable lens camera (ILC) is capable of recording 3.7 frames per second (fps) and recording 1080/60p full-HD movies.

What's new?
Wireless connectivity: Besides wireless transfers, the GF6 is equipped with near-field communication (NFC) capabilities, which makes it easier for users to share files, as pairing is activated by contact.

Improved autofocus system: The shooter will utilize a contrast-based autofocus system that promises better focus accuracy in dim light and maintains AF tracking even during burst-mode shooting at 3.7fps.

16-megapixel Live MOS sensor: An improved sensor similar to the one in the Lumix DMC-GX1, coupled with a new image processor that Panasonic claims will improve noise performance in low-light conditions.

180-degree tilting screen: Unlike the GF5, which used a fixed screen, the GF6 comes with a new tilting touch screen that can be flipped up at a 180-degree angle.

New mode dial: A mode dial now sits on the camera's top panel, allowing faster access to frequently used settings.

Hands-on
Panasonic has steered away from the usual svelte camera body design in favor of a chunkier build on the GF6 -- much like the first iteration, the GF1. The new shooter has a sleek, glossy metal top plate instead of the usual matte finish that its predecessor has. Although the GF6 is thicker and has a boxier build, I found that the camera's front grip and substantial thumb rest provides a more secure grip and better ergonomics than its predecessor.

The Lumix DMC-GF6 (right) is thicker and slightly wider in length than its GF5 predecessor. Shawn Low/CNET Asia

Panasonic has added a new mode dial to its latest entry-level mirrorless ILC, which seems to suggest that the company is trying to target more-advanced photography enthusiasts with the GF6. The mode dial is knurled and easy to operate with just your thumb.

Besides the usual modes, the Lumix offers options for programming two sets of customized settings on the mode dial. Shawn Low/CNET Asia

Four function buttons -- two physical buttons and two touch-enabled options onscreen -- allow shutterbugs to quickly access frequently used settings to toggle shooting modes, change AF settings, and manually set white balance, to name a few.

A lever located around the shutter button lets you assign it to either control zooming for Panasonic lenses with the Power Zoom feature or exposure compensation.

The shooter gains a new lever that's situated around the shutter button. Shawn Low/CNET Asia

Compared with the GF5's 920k-dot resolution fixed panel, the GF6 gains a higher-resolution 1,040k-dot tiling LCD that can be flipped to a 180-degree angle. I could easily tilt the screen up and down, and the metallic frame supporting the panel felt quite sturdy.

The shooter's touch interface seems to be more responsive compared with the GF5's. I enjoyed using the touch screen to pinpoint focus on any part of a scene, along with the ability to touch to shoot.

The GF6 sports a higher-res tilting screen. Shawn Low/CNET Asia

Although the key feature here is undoubtedly the GF6's wireless capability with NFC function, I shall reserve judgement since the GF6 I have in hand is still a prototype. I'll test out the various key features once I receive a retail unit for review.

Accessories
The new camera will be bundled with the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II Asph kit zoom lens. Compared with typical Panasonic M43 kit lenses, the new lens is much smaller and weighs less. It also features built-in image stabilization, which can help if you're shooting in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Pricing and availability
Pricing and availability in Asia have yet to be confirmed at this time, but I will update this story when I get more information from the manufacturer. The GF6 will be available in black, white, pink, and brown.

 

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