When I’m out filming, I’m often asked: “Why do you use small format cameras, and what’s so special about the Panasonic Lumix GH6?” The truth is that I could talk for hours about why I love my camera. But that would probably get a little boring to read. So, I went ahead and pulled together the top reasons why INNOVATIVE made the switch to small format cameras—and never looked back.
Small format DSLR cameras allow us to operate easier in tight spaces.
Over the years, our agency has worked for many clients where space can be an issue. The one that stands out to me the most is Riley Children’s Foundation. For their videos, we often need to shoot inside the hospital, surrounded by busy professionals, emotional families, and sensitive medical equipment. Larger format cameras quickly became problematic and difficult to maneuver.
So, as small format cameras became more popular, INNOVATIVE decided to explore our options. We quickly realized that small format cameras allowed us to be more discreet, take up less space, and capture authentic stories easier.
But before we dive in, let me state the obvious: this list wouldn’t matter if the GH6 couldn’t compete on image quality. The most important factor in choosing a camera should always be the performance and quality of its output. But the reality is that the GH6 stands up against cameras that cost six times more.
Frankly, there are a lot of things we can do with our small format Panasonics that their more expensive rivals can’t even dream of doing. That’s why INNOVATIVE has been loyal to Panasonic ever since the GH4 model came out nearly a decade ago.
INNOVATIVE also spends a good amount of time shooting on board cruise ships, and while the ships themselves are huge, the spaces we shoot in usually aren’t. Shooting with the GH6 allows us to quickly and safely move around the ships—without disturbing the guest experience or the crew operation. This switch to small format cameras made us a better partner for many of our clients, while still providing exceptional image quality.
Panasonic changed the game with 5-axis stabilization.
Even back when the GH4 was first released, it boasted 5-axis stabilization. Now, with the GH6, that revolutionary feature has only gotten better. Whether you’re in high winds or rough seas, you can shoot static shots that look like they’re on a tripod. I traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in a hurricane and laughed when I reviewed the footage! Everyone looked drunk because of the motion, but the pictures were rock solid.
And I know that I already talked about how the GH6 makes it easier to work in small spaces, but the stabilization helps with that, too. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve shot handheld for hours, only to put together a final product where the motion still feels super smooth for the viewer.
The GH6 brought a huge upgrade to Panasonic’s battery and storage technology.
Before the GH6 release, Panasonic’s battery and storage situation was good but nothing to write home about. That all changed with the GH6. With their latest battery and storage technology, the GH6 can record uninterrupted for over 4 hours!
I did some more testing, and the results were great. If you use a battery add-on while recording to an external SSD, the camera can record over 22 hours continuously without having to change cards. And did I mention these stats aren’t just for standard HD? These numbers hold up even if you’re filming 4K footage at 60 frames per second.
Let’s talk a little more about technology and camera build.
While we’re talking about tech, I have a few more notes to share. I won’t run through all the camera’s attributes, but we’ve really put the GH6 through its paces here at INNOVATIVE, testing its strengths and limitations.
For starters, the GH6 has XLR audio inputs with 4-channel monitoring and timecode sync for multiple cameras. The camera works great in low light and can record at several high-definition settings, including: 6K 60FPS, 4K 120FPS, 6K 60FPS at 50%, and 6K Anamorphic. It can even record Open Gate for all your vertical video needs on social media.
On another note, many after-market companies have embraced the GH6, as well. So, it’s easy to add on all the accessories your wallet will allow—from lens adaptors to camera cages and rigs. I like to keep my rig small and simple so I can stay nimble, but to each their own on that front. Pimp your camera how you see fit!
It’s easy to find fast and beautiful lenses for the Lumix GH6.
Another advantage of the GH6 is the availability of other lenses. Lumix, Voigtländer, and Olympus lenses are all fast and beautiful—with options that come standard for a micro-four-thirds camera like the GH6.
The Fastest F-Stops range from 1.2 to .95 (and yes, you read that correctly.) If you aren’t a camera nerd like me, that might mean nothing to you. But essentially, these lenses allow you to achieve a razor thin depth of field. You can EASILY focus on your subject’s eyes and make the entire background blur into mashed potatoes. You just have to be careful because at .95, there’s a good chance the nose may not be in focus if the eyes are. The depth of field can get that shallow.
Just a few more closing thoughts and a story.
Here at INNOVATIVE, we committed to the GH6 because it does the job—and it does it well. If the list alone isn’t enough to convince you, then let me tell you one last story.
I was recently asked to capture the funeral service of a fallen police officer, filling in for Sergeant Ron Shelnutt who was injured. (If you have a chance to see Ron’s work, you will understand the technique and care he brings to projects like these, especially for families and fellow officers.)
Imagine the scene. You’re standing in the middle of the service, witness the grace of the color guard and the solemnity of the flag folding. The 21-gun salute is fired. The crowds are enormous. The service lasts for hours, and the light changes as the day passes.
Hidden in the middle of that sea of heartbreak, there was a crew. A small team with GH6 cameras, doing their best to be invisible in this moment of grief. Once everything is said and done, that footage will create a lasting memory for those families. Because with their heads down and eyes filled with tears, they couldn’t see how many people stood alongside them.
And finally, to end with a little bit of humor, the GH6 is lightweight—and my shoulders aren’t getting any younger! Our other videographer Chad recently graduated college, so he may not appreciate this feature as much as me. But his body will thank me in 20 years!