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Panasonic G6 Camera Review

This is an ongoing review on my continuing experience using the Panasonic Lumix G6 compact system camera. I am not a professional photographer, photography for me is a hobby and a continual learning curve.

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 Last Updated  - 16th March 2017


 INDEX
Introduction  The Camera Body - Build Quality
 Electronic Viewfinder  About the Camera & Accessories
 Main Controls & Shooting Images  Panasonic 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS Zoom Lens
 Panasonic 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS Zoom Lens  Panasonic 20mm f1.7 ASPH Prime Lens
Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S Prime Lens Landscape - 4 Camera Comparisons
Night Images - Camera Hand Held - No Flash Conclusions


 

 Introduction

March 2017 - Please Note: The G6 was replaced with the Panasonic G7 Micro Four Thirds Camera which is still available and the latest variant, the Panasonic G80 Micro Four Thirds Camera. I have not upgraded from the G6 as I am using the G6 for street 'stills' photography. The Panasonic G6 sensor, for image quality, more than holds it's own against the G7 and the new G80 (G80 image on the right).

This is an ongoing review of the Micro 4/3rds Panasonic G6 camera which I will be using during the course of 2014 for social and casual photography, including street, portraits and wildlife.

The lenses that I will be using are the
Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH prime and the Panasonic Lumix 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS zoom lens. For my casual and social use at the zoo and when visiting nature reserves and around my home, I will be using the Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS zoom lens.

I first purchased a Micro 4/3rds camera in 2009 and the Panasonic GF1 with it's 'rangefinder style' body served me well but with the Lumix 100-300mm lens it lacked the image quality at ISO:1600 to completely fulfill my casual wildlife photography. Another problem was the 'clip on' electronic viewfinder
which had a restricted viewing screen and low resolution.

Prior to purchasing the Panasonic G6 camera body, I also researched the Micro 4/3rds Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Panasonic GX7 cameras and concluded that at ISO:1600 rating, the image quality vs noise was very similar. This was not apparent in the camera produced jpegs as the Olympus had the lead. However, as I intended to shoot 'RAW' image files with the GF1 replacement and develop them using
Adobe Lightroom 5.3 Software, I downloaded 'RAW' sample images for all 3 cameras from the internet and concluded there was no discernable image quality differences with A3 size prints.
 


I was left with the electronic viewfinder technology to take into account. From the 'feedback' from gear forums and professional review sites, I expected the electronic viewfinder (4:3 ratio viewing) to show an advantage to the E-M1 with the G6 OLED version a shade behind it and the GX7 coming last. My shooting style is old school, aperture priority mode, manual controls and using the viewfinder for 90% of my shots. This works well with my Lumix 100-300mm zoom lens (200mm-600mm field of view) and either the Olympus OM-D E-M1 or the Panasonic G6 camera would prove ideal.

Purchase Costs
Once I established that either camera was fit for my purpose, well
the G6 body costing 399.00 was a no brainer over the E-M1 at 1,299.00 so I purchased the G6 on the 7th January 2013 and started this article. I followed the purchase up with a spare battery, a SanDisk 16Gb 95M/bits sec SDHC memory card and a Joby Black Wrist Strap costing 128.98 which totals at 527.98 for the camera body and the accessories.


Shooting 'RAW' Image Files + Print/Digital Sizes
With the Lumix G6,
I intend to shoot 'RAW' image files, develop them using Adobe Lightroom 5.3 software and convert to tiff and jpeg formats. Print for framing at 16" in width (around A3 size) and for a digital display on my website re-size and re-sharpen to around a 1650 pixel width a converted jpeg image.

More information regarding the Panasonic G6 Compact System Camera on the Panasonic Website and more information regarding the Panasonic Lumix Lenses

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 Electronic Viewfinder

The G6 electronic viewfinder or the 'live view' finder because it is a reflection of the LCD screen is a massive improvement over my 'clip on' electronic viewfinder for my current Micro 4/3rds Panasonic GF1 camera.

The G6 is a joy to use with my Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS zoom lens and the electronic viewfinder with it's 4:3 very wide viewing area is fantastic. Thankfully whether I use aspect ratio 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 the viewing width remains constant and the resolution is terrific without any tearing during panning.

I like the G6's slightly larger camera body and the combo is now more in proportion, offering a better balance and control. When you are working with a zoom lens that offers a 200mm-600mm field of view, the electronic viewfinder is a must and the programmable control buttons on the G6 allow me to shoot with the EVF up at my eye all the time.

The electronic viewfinder is
well built and the dioptre control is an absolute pain to adjust as it is small and very tight. However, on the plus side, once it is set, it is unlikely to ever accidently move and change it's setting - I like that a lot.


I don't have any complaints regarding it's use - it just does what it is supposed to do!

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 About the Camera & Accessories

Coming from a Point & Shoot Camera
For any photographer who is coming from a point and shoot compact camera the Panasonic G6 camera offers an excellent step-up to a compact system camera and interchangeable lenses which are reasonably priced. The camera can still be used in fully automatic point & shoot mode but the technology is there for any photographer who wishes to manually operate the camera and become more creative with their photography.

The Effect of the Digital Sensor on the Lenses
The Micro 4/3rds Panasonic G6 compact system camera employs a 16MPixel digital sensor which has a 2x crop effect on the focal length of a lens. This means that a 20mm lens remains a 20mm focal length (in true terms) but the sensor crops into it, narrowing the view to produce (double the focal range) a 40mm field of view. Therefore my 100-300mm zoom lens is actually delivering a 200mm-600mm field of view BUT the final image remains at 16MPixel resolution even at the 600mm field of view.

My Shooting Methodology
The Lumix G6 has a menu control structure that lets you set it up for how you shoot images. Many photographers will elect to use the camera touch screen as they may be familiar with touch screen mobile phones and others may expand on this by using the Wi-Fi controls to upload images to their personal computer, tablet and the internet. Unfortunately, I am 'old school' from the 1960's so I will be using the camera in 'retro' style with the emphasis on the electronic viewfinder and the manual button controls.

Electronic Viewfinder
I will use the electronic viewfinder (with the LCD screen folded into the body) for 90% of my photography. It is set-up in the menu to be always on when the LCD the screen is turned in against the body. The electronic viewfinder will remain on when the camera is powered up and even when I remove my eye from it.

 


LCD Screen
I will have my LCD screen facing inwards, locked against the camera back and the EVF/LCD eye switch set to off in the menu which allows me to set the electronic viewfinder up for use without the LCD coming on when I remove my eye. To use the LCD screen, I can then unlock it, pull it out to reveal the screen for viewing (see image below) and it switches on automatically whilst switching the electronic viewfinder off. I can turn the LCD screen over backward 180% and then forward 180% to the original position before locking it back into it's recess with the LCD screen again facing inwards against the camera back. As I plan to use mine, with the screen turned in against the body for 90% of my shots, I will not be purchasing a protective glass shield for it.

I plan to use the LCD Screen for low/high shooting (over fences, low on the ground) and for certain types of action shots or when using a tripod. I prefer to use the shutter button, so I do not intend to use the touch screen.

 


Camera Shake/Blurred Image and Image Stabilisation
The G6 compact system employs (in some lenses) image stabilisation which simply means that it allows you to hold the camera and OIS lens at a lower shutter speed than normal.
In lower light conditions this will allow you to lower the ISO rating whereby the image quality is raised vs the noise in the final image. However, there is a camera shake/blurred image slow shutter speed threshold for every lens, even with image stabilisation and the photographer will eventually determine that threshold. A lower ISO rating and a slower shutter speed for night time photography will not prevent the blur in the movement of people walking in the street. Image stabilisation does not prevent the blur in fast moving wildlife or sports, only a faster shutter speed will accomplish that - although by lowering the shutter speed and panning the camera sideways with a fast moving subject whilst pressing the shutter button, can sometimes produce a 'speed atmosphere' in the image as most of the subject is in focus but speed blur is added to the background.

Memory Card + Spare Battery + Wrist Strap
I
purchased a SanDisk 16Gb Extreme Pro 95MB/s SDHC UHS-I memory card to use with my G6 and it offers a very fast write speed for my 'RAW' image files and full HD video. So far, I have not experienced any problems with the card and when in use, the camera menu system informs me that it is good for 800 shots. I formatted the memory card using the camera menu system (FORMAT) before using it.

The battery that comes with the camera is smaller than the one that I used with my GF1 and it does not appear to offer me the same number of shots per charge. In any case because I will be
using the 100-300mm zoom lens for a larger number of shots and probably some video, I decided to purchase a spare Panasonic BLC12E battery.

I purchased a Joby wrist strap so that I could carry the camera without fear of it falling to the ground. Wrist straps are not as easy to work with as a neck strap because you always have your right hand rendered useless thanks to the camera being attached to it.

However, the wrist strap makes the camera more discreet as I carry mine down by my side using the grip to hold it. The Joby is one of those wrist straps that is not going to accidently loosen and slip of your wrist. It automatically draws tight when you put it on and pick the camera up but it can be a real pest to get off your wrist when you are finished shooting.

Shoulder Bag for the Panasonic G6 Camera
I like the 200mm-600mm field of view from the Lumix 100-300mm OIS zoom and when mounted on the G6 the combo offers great value for money, especially as the lens is equipped with image stabilisation. In relation to other zoom lenses of a similar focal range, especially DSLR lenses, the 100-300mm is compact and lightweight and when fitted to the G6 camera body the combo is measuring out at 7.5" in length (front cap to rear of viewfinder) and that includes a UV filter and lens cap fitted.

I live in Scotland so I am exposed to many different weather patterns in a single day, this is a country that can start of in the morning with beautiful sunshine, change to hail by lunchtime, sunshine again and then rain.

Finding a shoulder bag for the Panasonic G6 fitted with a Lumix 100-300mm zoom can prove quite difficult, especially if you
wish to keep the combo assembled and top load it into the bag for easy retrieval.  It is even more difficult if you also want to carry around a general zoom and a prime lens as well. There has to be certain pre-requisites in the design AND for recommendation purposes, it has to be still available.

I already own such a bag which matches my pre-requisites -

  • A shoulder bag which is relatively compact in size

  • A flap and inner hard lid zip access (inner lid can be zipped under the flap for extra security)

  • Weatherproof with proper waterproof built in 'pull out' slip cover (part of the bag)

  • Takes the G6 body, Lumix 100-300mm zoom, Lumix 20mm prime and Lumix 14-45mm zoom lenses + accessories

  • The bag will accept the Panasonic G6 with any lens fitted (holster section)

  • The bag weighs only .58g

  • Still available for sale

Most shoulder bags are black but my Lowepro Nova 170 AW shoulder bag is brown/green (black is an option) in colour. It is deep enough to take the G6 camera with the Lumix 100-300mm zoom lens fitted (in the holster section) with enough room in the side section to accommodate my 14-45mm and 20mm lenses.

The front pocket is large enough to take all the necessary spares, like filters, spare battery, cleaning kit and even the Lumix 20mm lens. The front flap has a zip slot and there is a zip slot in the rear of the bag for holding large papers. Inside the main lid are pouches and a zip section for memory cards and other small accessories.

The Lowepro Nova 170 AW is weatherproof but like other bags it could eventually take in 'heavy rain' and surround the camera gear in dampness. However, the Nova also has a pull out 'waterproof' plastic cover that is permanently stitched to the front inside base. All you do is open the tab and pull out the shaped plastic sheet from it's slot which then covers the entire bag and prevents heavy rain seeping through into the gear.

If the bag is exposed to
heavy rain, I always dry out the entire kit when I get home, I remove the camera and lenses and along with the bag fully opened (including the hanging plastic cover) I dry the lot in a warm room - I always separate the gear, well away from the bag to ensure that any dampness cannot creep into the gear whilst it is drying.

Another tip is to always keep a sizeable
silica-gel pack with your gear in the bag at all times so that any dampness is drawn to the silica-gel pack and not to the glass of your lenses or the camera body. These silica-gel packs can invariable be found in the original manufacturers' delivery boxes.

The Lowepro Nova 170 AW shoulder bag holds a great deal of kit but the external dimensions measure out at 24.2 x 18 x 24.5 cm (9.53 x 7.09 x 9.65 in) which makes it around medium size and of course it only weighs in at .58g which compliments the already lightweight Panasonic Micro 4/3rds gear.

Digital 'RAW' Image Files + Software Development
As I have mentioned before,
I intend to shoot 'RAW' image files, develop them using Adobe Lightroom 5.3 Software and convert to tiff and jpeg formats. Print for framing at 16" in width (around A3 size) and for a digital display on my website re-size and re-sharpen to around a 1650 pixel width a converted jpeg image.

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 Main Controls & Shooting Images

I will use the camera's 'electronic live view finder' for 90% of the time and the LCD screen for high and low shots as well as for shooting using a tripod.

The camera will be set in
Aperture Priority Mode - Top Wheel dial set to A

CAMERA MENU CHANGES
The camera menu defaults have been left with the exception of these menu settings -

Rec Menu
Aspect Ratio = 4:3
(this is a default setting)
Quality = RAW (no jpeg)
Focus Mode = AFS (this is a default setting)

Custom Menu
AF/AE Lock = AE Lock
(this is a default setting - exposure lock only)
AF/AE Lock Hold = ON (this enables the AF/AE button to lock only the exposure - toggle ON/OFF)
Shutter AF = ON (this enables a half/press/hold of the shutter button to lock the autofocus)
Eye Sensor AF = OFF
MF Assist = Peaking Aid
Peaking = ON
Highlight = ON (warns of blown highlights in the image by blinking the blown area in auto review or playback)
Auto Review = 4 sec (holds the captured image in the viewfinder or LCD screen after the shot)

Fn Button Set -

 

Fn 1 ISO Button (doubles as the rear paddle top key)
Fn 2 AE Lock Button (exposure toggle ON/OFF lock
Fn 3  Exposure Metering Mode (Multi Metering/Center Weighted/Spot)
Fn 4 Wi-Fi
Fn 5 Focus Mode (AFS single shot/AFF flexible shot/AFC continuous shot/MF manual focus)


Eye Sensor/LVF/Monitor Auto = OFF
Shoot W/O Lens = ON (this is for using with my adapted Nikon AI-S manual focus lenses)



CAMERA CONTROLS - Using Live View Finder

Brief Summary of Controls - See Menu Settings Above

  1. Aperture Priority - Top large control dial - set to A for aperture priority

  2. White Balance AWB - Press right WB of rear set control pad - calls up a menu - use top/rear wheel to highlight selection OR use the set control pad to scroll the menu and set to AWB - press set button in the centre or tap shutter button to set

  3. Metering Mode Multi Pattern -  Press Fn3 Button - calls up a menu - use top/rear wheel to highlight selection OR use the set control pad to scroll the menu and set to multi pattern exposure metering - press set button in the centre or tap shutter button to set

  4. Shutter Drive Mode Single Frame Shot - Press base of rear set control pad - calls up a menu - use top/rear wheel to highlight selection OR use the set control pad to scroll the menu and set to single - press set button in the centre or tap shutter button to set

  5. Focus Mode AF-S Single - Press Fn5 Button - calls up a menu - use top/rear wheel to highlight selection OR use the set control pad to scroll the menu and set to AF-S - press set button in the centre or tap shutter button to set

  6. AF Mode 1-Area (Centre Spot Focus) - Press left of rear set control pad - calls up a menu - use top/rear wheel to highlight selection OR use the set control pad to scroll the menu and set to 1-Area - press set button in the centre or tap shutter button to set

  7. Aperture Setting Control - Rear top/right of camera recessed knurled wheel - For setting up the aperture f# stop which is shown in the viewfinder and/or the LCD Screen

  8. ISO - Fn1 Button on top rear/centre of camera - calls a menu - use continual presses of Fn1 button to toggle through all the ISO ratings - or use top/rear wheel to highlight selection - or use set control pad to scroll the menu - press set button in the centre or tap shutter button to set

  9. Exposure Compensation Meter - Flip Lever on top of camera behind shutter button - calls a menu - use flip lever to adjust + is right - is left - adjust as necessary

  10. Exposure Lock - AF/AE - Fn2 button - set to 'toggle' auto exposure lock on and off when pressed

  11. Locking Autofocus Point - Half press of shutter holds focus point locked until pressed full down or released

  12. Capture Instant Playback - After the shot is taken the image is played back in the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen for 4 seconds and any blown areas are blink highlighted - a tap of the shutter button instantly clears

  13. Playback - Green arrow button on the rear/right of the camera - for previewing captured images


 

 


Expanded Detail of Camera Manual Controls


(Aperture Priority) Top Control Dial - Set to A
(large round wheel on top of camera)
I
will be shooting in Aperture Priority Mode which means (very simply) that I will select my aperture of choice to suit the style of image (wide open e.g. f1.7 for a very shallow focus area in the scene or stopped down e.g. f8 for a deeper focus area), select my ISO setting (e.g. ISO:200 for a slower shutter speed or e.g. ISO:1600 for a faster shutter speed) and the camera will automatically select the shutter speed pertaining to the aperture and ISO settings. I can increase the shutter speed by raising the ISO rating (e.g. 200 to 400) or lower the shutter speed by decreasing the ISO rating (e.g. 400 to 200) but the higher the ISO rating the more noise (speckle) will start to appear in the final captured image.

Aperture priority mode has one weakness, once you have set up the menu system in the camera and start to use aperture priority mode - if you you then change a setting (e.g. the ISO: rating) the menu system will retain that setting in aperture priority mode until you again change it. This means that you are in total control of the camera but you must check your settings and relate to them at all times as you may use the wrong setting and ruin your captured image. Aperture priority puts the photographer into 'Creative Mode' and I even use it as opposed to 'Shutter Priority Mode' as my emphasis is on the control of my aperture for the area in focus pertaining to the subject and the scene.

White Balance - Rear Pad Dial - Right Tilt/Flap
Because I normally shoot 'RAW' image files, I never adjust the white balance - If I have to make any changes, due to different lightening set-up (e.g. florescent lights, etc) I make them during post processing in software. Any RAW images I capture are therefore captured using the AWB (auto white balance) setting. However jpeg users may wish to use this WB button to change the scene colouring to suit the environment they are shooting in, which is reflected in the viewfinder and the LCD screen. If you are shooting jpegs only, you have to make sure this WB setting is correct for the scene lighting.
 Warning  - If you are shooting only camera jpeg images and rely on your white balance settings, be careful that you do not change them by accident whilst shooting.

Exposure Metering - Fn3 Button then Menu Change (button on top/left of camera back)
Virtually all my photography is shot in exposure multi-pattern metering mode, but
the choices
are multi-pattern, centre weighted and spot. I use spot metering on the odd occasion, for example a shot of the moon where I would take a spot reading of the centre. If I used multi-pattern metering, the moon would be blown out against the very dark sky and lose it's clarity and resolution.

Shutter Drive Mode - Single Shot - Burst Shots - Timer - Bracketing - Rear Pad Dial - Base Tilt/Flap
I use this mainly for single frame shot photography although there are times where I will use the 10 second timer for when the camera is fixed on a tripod to assist in avoiding any movement when the shutter button is pressed. I am unlikely to use burst mode although with close up wildlife action shots there might be the odd occasion where it could come in handy.


Focus Mode - Fn5 Button then Menu Change (button on camera back)
Virtually all my photography is shot in AF-S mode, autofocus single shot. The setting choices are AF-S single-shot, AFF still/moving subject, AF-C continuous focusing and MF manual focus.

AF Mode -
Rear Pad Dial - Left Tilt/Flap
Virtually all my photography is shot in 1-Area (centre spot) autofocus.
The choices are Face Detection, AF Tracking, 23-Area (pattern), 1-Area (spot) and Pinpoint.

Aperture Setting Control - Rear Control Wheel (semi recessed large ridged wheel on rear of camera)
After I have set the top control dial to aperture priority A - I can then rotate the ridged control wheel on the top/rear of the camera which allows me to set the aperture f# of my choice which appears in the viewfinder and/or the LCD screen -
I will select my aperture to suit the style of image (wide open e.g. f1.7 for a very shallow focus area in the scene or stopped down e.g. f8 for a deeper focus area), select my ISO setting (e.g. ISO:200 for a slower shutter speed or e.g. ISO:1600 for a faster shutter speed) and the camera will automatically select the shutter speed pertaining to the aperture and ISO settings. I can increase the shutter speed by raising the ISO rating (e.g. 200 to 400) or lower the shutter speed by decreasing the ISO rating (e.g. 400 to 200) but the higher the ISO rating the more noise (speckle) will start to appear in the final captured image.

ISO Button - Fn1 Button
then Menu Change (button on camera back)
This is similar to the old film days where you select the ISO for the speed of the film - ISO:100 for slower film to ISO:3200 for faster film. In the film days the slower the film the less the grain on the image and the image quality was optimum. The faster the film the more grain and the image quality was not as good. Faster film tended to be used for low light shots and faster moving subjects. It is the same today with the modern digital sensor but grain or digital speckle is now known as 'noise'. The ISO setting of my choice, using the ISO button and menu, plays an important part as ISO:160 will match a slower shutter to my choice of aperture whilst ISO:200-3200 will select faster shutter speeds.


Exposure Compensation - Flip Lever +/- Button  (button on top of camera behind the shutter button)
Once I have set-up my aperture setting (then perhaps ISO/shutter adjustment) I might find that my scene in the viewfinder or LCD screen is too bright in the sky or perhaps too dark in the foreground.
The flip lever when moved (right = + and left = -) will bring up a (-.....0.....+) dotted line and using the flip lever, I can alter the cameras exposure metering by increasing the exposure + or decreasing - it. I also may choose to use the AF/AE Fn2 button instead for speed (see below).
The exposure compensation 'flip lever' on the top of the camera is lightning fast and along with the electronic viewfinder, provides the best exposure compensation controls that I have ever used.

AF/AE Fn2 Button
(button on camera back)

I have this button programmed to 'lock ONLY the exposure'. After I have set-up the camera for the shot, I may find that the scene requires less or more exposure and I may want to lock that exposure so that I can focus on a part of the scene only. I have two choices, I can use the +/- exposure compensation flip lever and adjust the metering and then press the Fn2 button to lock the exposure (press again unlocks it) or I can just raise or lower the camera and lock an exposure as the metering of the camera automatically changes as it sees more light or less light. This then allows me to focus on my given subject and even re-arrange my scene in the viewfinder or LCD screen - see the shutter button part below.

Manual Focus + Focus Peaking Magnification
Manual focus is selected by pressing Fn5 button, on the rear of the camera, which raises a menu and using the Fn5 button continually, or the rear control pad cursor flaps, or the rear top knurled wheel, I can toggle between the choices and use the menu set button or a tap of the shutter button to set the MF (manual focus) highlighted choice. This puts the lens and the camera into manual focus mode, whereby the AF lens can be manually focused using the focus ring on the barrel. Whether I use the viewfinder or the LCD screen, both will display sugar coating frosting on the edges of the subject when it comes into focus. (Peaking must be set to ON in the camera Custom Menu) IMPORTANT: When using a dedicated (third party) manual focus lens that has been adapted (using an lens adapter with camera menu set to Shoot W/O Lens = ON) my setup of the Fn5 button focus selection ceases to function as the camera automatically adjusts to manual focus mode for a third party adapted lens.

Shutter (Half Press AF Focus) Button - Top at the Front Right

Using the shutter button, I can half press it to autofocus on the part of the scene that I want in focus (using the AF centre spot in the viewfinder) and by still holding the half press, I can re-arrange my scene in the viewfinder or LCD screen and then fully press down the button to take the shot. This is ideal for 'isolating the focus' of subjects in an overall scene.
 

Image Inspection on Playback - Full Preview Display with Histogram, Data and Highlight Blink Mode
I have my initial capture 'delay' viewing time set to 4 seconds - which applies to the viewfinder and the LCD screen. It is set for a full image display and minimum data. In the case where I want to properly preview an image for more than 4 seconds (right after the shot is taken) then I will press the PLAYBACK green arrow button on the rear of the camera, use the viewfinder (or LCD screen) press the DISP button on the rear control pad and toggle it to select one of my displays to suit the preview which include colour histograms, highlight warnings and full image capture settings.
 

Low/High Shots using the LCD Screen
The LCD screen is ideal for using the camera held over fences or low down on the ground. I prefer to use the shutter button rather than the touch screen.  The LCD screen is ideal for certain types of action shots and tripod work.

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 Panasonic 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS Zoom Lens

Introduction
The Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS zoom is terrific for general and casual use photography. It is one of those great compact and lightweight zoom lenses that when mounted on a Panasonic G6 Micro 4/3rds camera can be carried around in one hand, all day long, without any strain on the arm, neck or shoulders.

The lens is at home on well lit days and I envy those photographers in sunny countries that get months of good light, morning to night. At the native 300mm the lens has a maximum aperture capability of f5.6 which in Scotland with it's ever changing weather can pose a problem in keeping the ISO rating down, especially if you are seeking a fast shutter speed of around 1/1250secs. However you get used to it and you look forward to those days when you can really get the best out of the lens and work at ISO:160. The winter months are the worst but in the summer the lens provides more buzz than the bees.

This is a lens that delivers a great deal of fun photography and so many subjects that are usually out of reach with a general zoom lens or a prime are suddenly considered as a suitable subject. It's that 200mm - 600mm field of view that makes all the difference, especially in a lens that when fitted to the G6 camera with it's UV filter and lens cap on measures out at 7.5" in length and that is from the front of the lens cap to the back of the viewfinder.
With the zoom fully extended to 300mm (without the lens cap fitted) it measures out at 9.75" in length. Its not a lens for fitting to a tripod or monopod to shoot serious wildlife photography - you have to recognise it's limitations and enjoy what it can produce.

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

It is a lens that can be used for all types of photography even street photography and because it has such a long reach with a 600mm field of view you can pull in subjects, especially boats which appear to be far away to the eye but are large in the viewfinder when the lens is fully extended.

 


The inner barrel does not creep even when the combo is being carried with the lens facing down and I usually carry the camera by the grip in my right hand at my side with a wrist strap as backup. The only criticism I have is that the zoom mechanism is a little bit tight (in colder weather) which unfortunately means that any video shooting is not steady when zooming in or out on a subject.

The following 600 Pixel image was shot using the Panasonic G6 and the Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH prime lens AND from the same position I also used the G6 and the Lumix 100-300mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS zoom lens to pull in distant subjects. The images of the train in the centre and the road bridge pillar to the far left were zoomed into and the rest of the zooms were shot out of the image frame. If you check out the centre image of the crane at Port Edgar, you can see two flocks of geese high in the sky. These images were shot down at South Queensferry, Scotland and feature the Forth Rail and Road Bridges, the Port Edgar facility, the blue crane at the Rosyth Dockyard facility where the new aircraft carriers are under construction and the yellow crane in the middle of the firth is working on the pillar foundations for the new road bridge.

Please click on each image to open up to a 1650 Pixel variant -

 

 

   

 

     

 

   


Image Stabilisation
The Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS zoom lens employs image stabilisation which simply means that it allows you to hold the camera and OIS lens at a lower shutter speed than normal. In lower light conditions this will allow you to lower the ISO rating whereby the image quality is raised vs the noise in the final image. However, there is a camera shake/blurred image slow shutter speed threshold for every lens, even with image stabilisation and the photographer will eventually determine that threshold. A lower ISO rating and a slower shutter speed for night time photography will not prevent the blur in the movement of people walking in the street. Image stabilisation does not prevent the blur in fast moving wildlife or sports, only a faster shutter speed will accomplish that - although by lowering the shutter speed and panning the camera sideways with a fast moving subject whilst pressing the shutter button, can sometimes produce a 'speed atmosphere' in the image as most of the subject is in focus but speed blur is added to the background.

You can get 'way down' the shutter speed range when shooting (hand held camera) a very stationery subject. However, the keeper rate might not be high as I experienced with this image which was captured indoors at 300mm on the zoom (600mm field of view) at ISO:1600, aperture f5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/40secs. It was the only image which was decent in the three that I ran off at the same time. However, when the zoom range is reduced to 200mm to 100mm and the subject remains large in the view of the viewfinder (as shown in the image below) the keeper rate should increase.

 

 

Optimum Image Quality
To gain the optimum image quality. the lens has to be treated with respect so it is essential that it's distance to a subject is not over stretched, especially in outdoors low light when the ISO rating is around ISO:1600/3200. It is advisable that the primary subject takes up around 1/3rd at least or more of the view in the viewfinder and shutter speeds, especially at the 300mm focal length (600mm field of view) are kept high when hand holding the combo. Small 'flighty' birds and very fast moving subjects (e.g. a running dog) are best captured at around 1/1250secs or more but the shutter speed can be reduced if you are fast panning the subject to achieve background blur, whilst pressing the shutter button. It is important to remember that a 300mm lens is actually reaching a 600mm field of view because it is projecting the image onto a 2x crop digital sensor so the photographer does have to spend time to determine their own shutter speed threshold for hand holding the rig - there is a great deal of movement in the viewfinder at 600mm but the larger the subject in the viewfinder the lesser the movement.

With a stationary subject, it is possible to set the chosen aperture to a low ISO rating (e.g. 160/200) and obtain a decent image with a shutter speed below the focal range used in the zoom (e.g. 1/200secs for native 300mm) but you will suffer a lower rate of keepers. Image blur is often not seen in digital images displayed at 1,000 pixel width size but can be seen in the 1650 to full size range and this is more obvious in images that contain a bird's feather or dog hair outlines. I have outlined more on this in the section above on image stabilisation.

This image of Brad my dog was shot 'hand held' at 300mm (600mm field of view) at ISO:200, aperture f5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/200secs.

 

1000 Pixel Size

1300 Pixel Size

 

1650 Pixel Size

 

When using the lens at 300mm (600mm field of view) I found it almost impossible to keep a seagull within the viewfinder. They appear to glide but what a speed they travel at and I guess you would have to be dedicated to that type of photography 'birds in flight' to achieve the proper skills. The best I achieved was at 100mm (200mm field of view) and some cropping of the image in post processing to pull the bird closer in the final image. The trade off is that the final print or digital size cannot be enlarged to their normal limits as noise starts to creep in and the image quality suffers.

 

1000 Pixel Size

1300 Pixel Size

 

1650 Pixel Size

 

The Panasonic G6 camera and the 100-300mm zoom lens is ideal for head shots, in fact all sorts of street photography and can even be used indoors at the 300mm end of the zoom but shooting with a 600mm field of view and at f5.6 pushes the ISO rating way up to around ISO:3200. At that ISO rating noise is bound to creep in and even although the image is not cropped, the eventual print and digital display size can be limited. The following image was captured indoors in a local restaurant at ISO:3200 and the woman was moving her head around whilst she was talking to a friend who was sitting in front of her - she did give me a smile at one point but that was the one shot that turned out to be blurred.

 

1000 Pixel Size

1300 Pixel Size

 

1650 Pixel Size


Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS Zoom Lens  vs  Canon 300mm f2.8 IS L USM MK I Prime Lens
The Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5/6 OIS zoom lens like all lenses does have image quality limitations in relation to subject distance vs ISO rating vs final print size. Also, the Lumix 100-300mm zoom lens image quality weakens at the longer end (300mm) of the zoom so as the print size increases the resolution decreases. This can been seen in the following images which were the best ones taken from a series of 10 each.

The following images were shot 'hand held' using the Panasonic G6 camera with the Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 zoom lens and a Canon 5D MK I DSLR 'full frame' camera and a very expensive (3.5K) Canon 300mm f2.8 IS L USM MK I prime lens. They were post processed in Adobe Lightroom 5.3 with minimum saturation applied, NO noise reduction and hard sharpened for effect.

Note:
The G6 aspect ratio is 4:3 whilst the Canon 5D is 3:2 - Click on the smaller images to open up the larger pixel sizes to compare -

2000 Pixel Image Samples -

 

Panasonic G6 + Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS Lens Canon 5D MK I + Canon 300mm f2.8 IS L Lens
150mm (300mm field of view) 150mm (300mm field of view)

 

2000 Pixel Image Samples -
 

Panasonic G6 + Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS Lens Canon 5D MK I + Canon 300mm f2.8 IS L Lens
300mm (600mm field of view) 300mm (Cropped in Software - 600mm field of view)

 

The 300mm images on the bottom row show that the Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS zoom lens at the full 300mm extent of it's zoom (600mm field of view) has been stretched beyond it's resolution limits for a 'hand held' shot at that distance. You can see this in the detail of the rocks and the walls of the castle which are starting to blend and lose their fine detail. It is not so apparent in the section of the image where there is writing on buildings such as the NOVOTEL writing near the bottom of the images. However, in fairness the Lumix shot could have been improved using a tripod and remote or timed shutter activation to steady the rig and using the f8 aperture which has the edge on f5.6.

All in all, the Lumix lens is terrific value for money as long as you keep the subject large in the viewfinder and don't over stretch the subject distance at 300mm (600mm field of view).

Image Quality Table

I have put a table together below of my aperture image quality findings. Please note that these findings were based on the combo being 'hand held' with decent shutter speeds and low ISO ratings. I have used a 1-5 marking system with 5 being the best possible image quality.
 

100mm f4 f5.6 f8 f11
  5 5 4 3
200mm f4.9 f5.6 f8 f11
  4 4 5 4
300mm --- f5.6 f8 f11
  --- 4 5 4


With subjects that are prone to some movement and the centre spot (area spot focus) is moving around in the viewfinder on the 'primary' subject of focus, I try and steady my arm on a tree, fence or any other object. If this helps but the focus spot is still not 'dead' and I mean DEAD steady, I will raise the shutter speed above the minimums, I have specified below.

I tend to now operate at the following minimum shutter speeds to maintain my image 'keeper' rate -

  1. 'Hand Held' at 100mm  (200mm Field of View) - Minimum 1/200secs

  2. 'Hand Held' at 200mm  (400mm Field of View) - Minimum 1/400secs

  3. 'Hand Held' at 300mm  (600mm Field of View) - Minimum 1/650secs

For subjects that are fast moving, small birds, animals running, I tend to shoot at 1/1250 sec or above for all focal ranges within the 100-300mm zoom, although I often have relapses. I know that the G6 and the 100-300mm lens can operate at lower shutter speeds on certain stationery subjects as the image stabilisation is excellent, especially when shooting LARGE in the viewfinder.


Some images captured using the Panasonic G6 and the Lumix 100-300mm zoom lens at my home at Hermiston -

 

     

 

  


These images were captured at Yellowcraigs Beach (Broad Sands Bay) near North Berwick, Scotland using the G6 and the Lumix 100-300mm OIS zoom lens. The image of the lighthouse is over stretched for distance and the resolution at 300mm (600mm field of view) has lost it's fine detail in the grass, walls and the rocks. You can see the true distance of the lighthouse in the images (Plate 83) captured at the same time in the Lumix 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS zoom lens section  -

 

 

     

 
These images were captured at the Craiglockhart Pond in Edinburgh
using the G6 and the Lumix 100-300mm OIS zoom lens -

 

 

  

 

  

 


The Panasonic G6 and the Lumix 100-300mm zoom lens is an excellent combo to leave lying around the house, ready to pick up when I go out for a walk with the dogs. The 200mm to 600mm field of view zoom is terrific for capturing those long distance scenes that you would normally miss with a shorter lens. These are images captured at Hermiston where I live and the cute dog in most of the images is 'Jazz' who I am looking after for 4 months whilst her owners are abroad. My own dog 'Brad' displays his usual cool pose whilst 'Lady' my horse has seen something in the fields  -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Panasonic 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS Zoom Lens

Introduction
The
Panasonic Lumix 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS zoom is a compact and lightweight zoom lens which when mounted on a Micro 4/3rds Panasonic G6 camera can be carried around in one hand, all day long, without any strain on the arm, neck or shoulders.

The lens when fitted to the Panasonic G6 camera's 2x crop digital sensor delivers a 28mm-90mm field of view which covers a broad spectrum of photography and is ideal as a zoom lens that is used for general and casual use. It has built in image stabilisation which is great for 'hand holding' the combo even in low light conditions.

My
Panasonic Lumix 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS zoom is a relatively old lens which dates back to 2009 and it is a larger size than most of the newer general zoom lenses from Panasonic. However, I like the size because it is easy to work with and I feel that anything smaller would be more difficult to operate. The zoom does not creep when the lens is carried facing down and it is relatively smooth.

The lens when fitted to the G6 camera with it's UV filter and lens cap on measures out at 5" in length and that is from the front of the lens cap to the back of the viewfinder. With the zoom fully extended to 45mm (without the lens cap fitted) it measures out at 5.75" in length.

The Panasonic G6 camera has terrific manual controls and the 'flip lever' on the top of the camera is the best exposure compensation control I have ever used.

When I first used the combo it was on a very wet rainy day which is not unusual for Scotland during winter. The images reflect the rain, the dampness, the clouds and the camera and lens held up very well. It was matter of stepping out the car, taking a quick shot and back inside again; although for the shots of the cars, I was walking around in the rain.

 

 

   

 

   

 

   


Image Stabilisation
The Panasonic Lumix 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS zoom lens employs image stabilisation which simply means that it allows you to hold the camera and OIS lens at a lower shutter speed than normal. In lower light conditions this will allow you to lower the ISO rating whereby the image quality is raised vs the noise in the final image. However, there is a camera shake/blurred image slow shutter speed threshold for every lens, even with image stabilisation and the photographer will eventually determine that threshold. A lower ISO rating and a slower shutter speed for night time photography will not prevent the blur in the movement of people walking in the street. Image stabilisation does not prevent the blur in fast moving wildlife or sports, only a faster shutter speed will accomplish that - although by lowering the shutter speed and panning the camera sideways with a fast moving subject whilst pressing the shutter button, can sometimes produce a 'speed atmosphere' in the image as most of the subject is in focus but speed blur is added to the background.

You can get 'way down' the shutter speed range when shooting (hand held camera) a very stationery subject but
shooting indoors with at 45mm (90mm field of view) and at a maximum wide aperture of f5.6 pushes the ISO rating way up to around ISO:3200. At that ISO rating noise is bound to creep in and even although the image is not cropped, the eventual print and digital display size can be limited. The following image was captured indoors in a local restaurant at ISO:3200 -

 

1000 Pixel Size

1300 Pixel Size

 

1650 Pixel Size


An example of ISO:800, aperture f5.6 and shutter speed 1/15sec with image stabilisation -

 

1650 Pixel Size


It is turning out to be a very rain filled winter with extensive flooding in England and (February 2014) it is still raining in Scotland. I shot these images with the G6 and the Lumix 14-45mm f3.5/f5.6 OIS zoom lens in South Queensferry whilst it was raining and heavy with damp mist, some have been softened and colour boosted - click on an image to open a 1650 Pixel variant -

 

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

An image captured at Gullane Beach - Scotland where the sand was being whipped up around the subjects feet. The first variant has been softened, click on an image to open up a 1650 Pixel variant  -

 

 

  


These are images of the Mossmorran Oil Refinery near Lochgelly in Fife, Scotland taken with the G6 and the Lumix 14-45mm OIS zoom lens. I found that I could not sharpen the wider focal length images as high as the longer focal length images because the blue sky developed small aberrations in certain areas if I pushed the sharpness.

 

 

     


This landscape image was captured at Yellowcraigs Beach (Broad Sands Bay) near North Berwick, Scotland using the
G6 and the Lumix 14-45mm OIS zoom lens. Every lens has it's limitations for resolution vs distance and the Lumix is no different but even at the full 45mm (90mm field of view) stretch of the zoom the Lumix 14-45mm lens still manages to produce a reasonable result and the combo was hand held. The 600 pixel image has been softened and the saturation boosted, please click images to open up to 1650 pixel variants -

 

 

More images -

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

I have put a table together below of my aperture image quality findings. Please note that these findings were based on the combo being 'hand held' with decent shutter speeds and low ISO ratings. I have used a 1-6 marking system with 6 being the best possible image quality.
 

14mm f3.5 f5.6 f8 f11
  6 5 4 3
25mm f4.9 f5.6 f8 f11
  5 5 4 3
45mm --- f5.6 f8 f11
  --- 5 4 3


The camera and the 14-45mm zoom lens combo is straight forward to use and I did not experience any problems using it 'hand held' at any of the zoom ranges.



More Images to Follow!

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 Panasonic 20mm f1.7 ASPH Prime Lens

Introduction
The
Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH Prime Lens
is a compact and lightweight pancake lens which when mounted on a Micro 4/3rds Panasonic G6 camera can be carried around in one hand, all day long, without any strain on the arm, neck or shoulders.

The lens when fitted to the Panasonic G6 camera's 2x crop digital sensor delivers a 40mm field of view which covers a broad spectrum of photography and is ideal as a prime lens that is used for general and casual use. It has no image stabilisation but because the native focal range of the lens is 20mm, it is more than ideal for 'hand holding' the combo, especially in low light and for night photography under street lamps.

My
Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH Prime Lens is a relatively old lens which dates back to 2009 and a newer Mark II model has been released.
My lens is still available and when fitted to the G6 camera with it's UV filter and lens cap on measures out at 3.5"" in length and that is from the front of the lens cap to the back of the viewfinder.

During one of the few brighter winter days in Scotland, I had the chance to use the combo at South Queensferry, Blackness Castle and at Cammo Park when out walking with Brad (my dog) and I had forgotten just how good the image quality was with the 20mm lens -

 

 

   

 

   

 

Weather changes fast in Scotland and this image of highland cattle was shot using the combo on a very wet and rainy day. To add to this I was standing on the verge of the road with heavy lorries passing feet from me and throwing up even more spray. The Panasonic G6 camera and the Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH prime lens held up well despite all this and I was able to grab this image before the cattle moved off on seeing me.

The 'RAW' image file was post processed and converted to various styles of jpeg for the web using Adobe Lightroom 5.3 software and I have softened the (larger image) PA version.

Please click on the images to open up 1300 pixel variants -

 

 

   

 

The Panasonic G6 and the Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH lens produce an extremely sharp image in low light and the noise vs image quality ratio holds up very well even in larger print sizes. This image was shot with the aperture wide open at f1.7 -

 


Spring brings with it lots of baby rabbits and a fox that will come out in all weathers, even pouring rain to get his share. Capturing an image of a very fast moving fox in your back garden with the
Panasonic G6 and the Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH lens and shot through thick glass at aperture f2.8 and a relatively high ISO of 1600 can prove daunting but by focusing on the part of the garden you expect him to emerge onto from the bushes sure helps to get the shot and the image quality is reasonable. I slightly panned the G6 with the fox which is probably why the animal is more in focus than the background. This 'CROPPED' jpeg image was converted from a 'RAW' file, which was post processed using Adobe Lightroom 5.3 Software  -

 


I have put a table together below of my aperture image quality findings. Please note that these findings were based on the combo being 'hand held' with decent shutter speeds and low ISO ratings. I have used a 1-6 marking system with 6 being the best possible image quality.
 

20mm f1.7 f2 f2.8 f4 f5.6 f8
  4 5 6 5 4 3


The camera and the 20mm lens combo is straight forward to use and I did not experience any problems using it 'hand held'.



More Images to Follow!

 

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 Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S Prime Lens (Adapted)

Introduction
The Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S prime is a manual focus lens and it can be used with the Panasonic G6 camera by mounting it using a Voigtlander Micro Four Thirds to Nikon F Adapter. The 2x crop digital sensor of the Panasonic G6 camera with the Voigtlander adapter and Nikon 135mm lens mounted, delivers a 270mm field of view.

The Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S lens is solidly made (metal) with a nice wide ribbed manual focus ring and aperture click stops on the barrel. There is also a field of view scale on the top of the lens barrel against the aperture stops but this is a lens that produces a very fine depth of field and the majority of shots are taken with the manual focus on the primary subject as opposed to using the DOF scale. This AI-S lens in mint condition can still be purchased (second hand) from most good Nikon second hand suppliers (Grays of Westminster) in the UK and costs around 345.00 vat inclusive.

Panasonic G6 Camera Menu Settings
The combo has a good balance for manual focusing and the camera menu has to be set to -

MF Assist = Peaking Aid
Peaking = ON

Shoot W/O Lens = ON (this is for using with my adapted Nikon AI-S manual focus lenses)

I have these settings on all the time so I can just switch my Nikon lens with my Micro Four Thirds lenses without any other setting change. The combo has no image stabilisation so a relatively high shutter speed has to be adopted otherwise you MAY experience camera shake when the combo is hand held, although with a subject that is very steady and large in the viewfinder you can get the shutter speed down; so far I have used the lens at 1/200sec (see image of Brad my dog).

Click on image to open up a larger variant -

 


Basic Operation of Combo
The camera works beautifully with the Nikon 135mm lens and delivers a 270mm field of view and my basic 'manual' operation is fairly straight forward -

* Camera set to aperture priority mode
* Exposure meter set to multi-pattern
* White balance set to AWB (camera jpeg users might want to change this depending on the scene)
* The Fn5 button ceases to function and the camera is automatically setup for manual focus (see note below)
* Select chosen aperture on the lens barrel for depth of field effect to primary subject
* The camera exposure metering displays a corresponding shutter speed
* Select ISO rating to bring up or lower the shutter speed
for 'hand held' use
* Check the overall scene exposure and lock using the AEL button (toggles on/off)
* Manually focus the lens and focus peaking automatically kicks in with a sugar frosting on the primary subject outline
* To enlarge the focus area on the primary subject for fine manual focus - press the rear/right aperture setting ring
* When focusing is accurate, tap the shutter button (or press the aperture setting ring again) to return to full scene
* This allows you to also re-align the overall scene as the focus is held always on the primary subject
* Press the shutter button to take the shot

IMPORTANT: When using a dedicated (third party) manual focus lens that has been adapted (using an lens adapter with camera menu set to Shoot W/O Lens = ON) my setup of the Fn5 button focus selection ceases to function as the camera automatically adjusts to manual focus mode for a third party adapted lens.

Shallow Depth of Field + Loss of Aperture Record in Exif Data + Infinity Stop
You have to be careful in the f2.8 to f5.6 aperture range (even at f8 to f32 depending on the closeness of the subject) as the depth of field is very shallow. The image sample of the flowers is a good example of a very shallow depth of field and from memory, I think it was shot at f4. The downside to the Nikon adapted lens is that the camera does not record the aperture setting in the Exif so if you want that data, you are obliged to record the aperture for each shot either using a notepad or perhaps record it on a dictaphone. I will eventually post some accurate image samples per aperture setting but to date I have not recorded any aperture settings on the image samples but I have maintained my shots in the f2.8 to f8 range. Although the Nikon 135mm lens on the Voigtlander adapter should hard stop at infinity, I always manually focus the lens for infinity and cross check with the focus peaking aid as in the past I have found that due to tolerance differences in the adapter, the lens focuses at infinity just a shade short of the hard stop on the lens barrel.

Dimensions
The length from the back of the camera viewfinder to the front of the lens (fully retracted) with the B+W 52mm UV filter and lens cap fitted, is 7" and with the lens barrel focused/extended for the closest subject (approx 3 feet) with it's hood slid out the length is 8".  The combo remains relatively light and can be easily carried around in one hand with a wrist strap for backup. The lens hood is terrific because it is fixed to the lens and slides out on the barrel for use.

Bokeh - Background Out of Focus Areas
With most 135mm lenses the background bokeh tends to be excellent, especially with closer subject shots. The Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S prime lens is no exception and it even manages a glow effect around the subject edges at aperture f2.8 which I like a lot for an artistic look, especially if you soften the image in post processing.

Types of Photography
The
Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S prime manual focus lens is ideal for all types of photography even street photography where you may want to pull in a head shot rather than mingle with the crowd. Distant landscapes can be cropped into to pull out an 'old world' cottage on a distant hill. The lens is ideal for portrait shots although you will have to stand back to achieve more than a head shot but the bokeh is worth it and even within reason you can shoot 'close up' images of flowers, birds and animals starting at about 3 feet away. With it's relatively fast f2.8 aperture the lens is fast enough for sports and wildlife photography in the 270mm field of view range.


Ease of Use + Fast Moving Sports/Wildlife
The Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S prime manual focus lens with the Panasonic G6 camera is straightforward to use and delivers purism to your photography. However, if you intend to use the
lens for fast moving sports or wildlife, especially closer shots, it would be best to set the aperture to at least f5.6 for a larger depth of field to allow for slight focus error, whilst maintaining a corresponding shutter speed of around 1/1250sec to freeze the action with the lowest ISO rating possible. It is best to err towards the worse lower light changes (overcast/shadows) in the scene and set the the ISO rating accordingly and with the G6 camera, I prefer to work in the ISO 160-1600 range BUT always remembering that the camera shutter speed tops out at 1/4000sec. This image sample of the water fowl with the red beak is a classic example of where I screwed up and shot at a lower shutter speed of 1/400sec whereby you can see a slight blur in the image which is due to the shutter speed being too slow to freeze the movement of the bird and/or because it was too slow to avoid camera shake when using the combo 'hand held'. The blur is not so apparent in a smaller digital image size.

Image Quality + Manual Focus Accuracy
Prime lenses invariably have the edge over zooms and the Nikon 135mm f2.8 AI-S manual focus lens with the Panasonic G6 camera is displaying excellent image quality at it's 270mm field of view BUT as the distance from the lens to subject increases the image quality will deteriorate. Even at f8 there is a shallow depth of field for 'head shot' portrait work and the accuracy of the manual focus is critical and the best method of focus is achieved when you have a still subject and using the magnified manual focus method as described above in the 'Basic Operation of Combo' section.

Some Other
Image Samples - Click to open up 1650 pixel size -

 

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

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 Landscape - 4 Camera Comparison

The following were all captured within minutes of each other (5 shots each - best used) and the 'RAW' image files from each camera were post processed using Adobe Lightroom 5.3 Software and re-sized and re-sharpened using Canon DPP Software. Click on each image to open up a 1650 Pixel variant which is approximately A3 print size.

The Cameras + Lenses
Used -


* Panasonic G6 Lumix Camera + Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH MK I Prime Lens (No image stabilisation)
* Sony Alpha A57 SLT Camera + Sony DT 18-55mm f3.5/f5.6 SAM MK I Zoom Lens (Camera image stabilised)
* Fujifilm X100s Compact Camera with 23mm f2 Fixed Prime Lens (No image stabilisation)
* Canon 5D MK I DSLR Camera + Canon 24-105L f4 IS Zoom Lens (Lens image stabilised)


The Panasonic G6 camera has a Micro Four Thirds (2x crop) 16 Mega Pixel digital sensor, the Sony Alpha A57 SLT has an APS-C (1.5x crop) 16 Mega Pixel digital sensor, the Fujifilm X100s has an APS-C (1.53x crop) 16 Mega Pixel digital sensor and the Canon 5D has a '35mm Full Frame' 12 Mega Pixel digital sensor.

The cameras were all 'hand held' and set in the menus for maximum 'RAW' image file size. The 'RAW' images were all post processed in a similar fashion with minimum saturation and contrast applied. The white balance temperature and tint were matched for all the images. The shadows were slightly lifted in each image and they all had equal sharpening applied during re-sizing for the web.

 

Panasonic G6 + Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH Lens

Sony A57 + Sony DT 18-55mm MK I Zoom Lens

 

Fujifilm X100s Compact Camera

Canon 5D MK I DSLR + Canon 24-105L IS Lens

  

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 Night Photography - Camera Hand Held - No Flash

The following images were shot using the Panasonic G6 Camera and the Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH prime lens in street photography mode, walking around, without using a tripod and no flash used. The idea of the test shots was to establish the image noise levels when the camera was set manually to those higher ISO:800/1600 ranges.

I was working in the f1.7 and f2.8 aperture range to achieve a reasonable shutter speed for most of my shots.
In these image conditions (see samples) I found the Panasonic G6 very difficult to focus using the area-1 centre point autofocus. It was not impossible but very slow, sometimes it was instant but for about 90% of the time almost impossible. I found that by switching to area-23 focus it proved almost instantaneous and with the lens at f1.7, absolutely flawless and very fast. Of course area-23 focus proved ideal for general shots but for anything that required an out of focus background with a primary subject in focus meant that I had to go back to area-1 centre point autofocus.

Shooting a very dark background with very bright lights in the foreground can prove daunting, especially if you want to achieve some dynamic range with some reasonable brightness in the distant shadows and the lights not blown out. Again area-23 autofocus and multi-metering exposure mode delivered the best results with a little to a lot of (-stop) tweaking using the exposure compensation flip lever on the top right/front of the camera. I found that in some cases I was compensating by as much as -3 stops under exposure to make sure the brightest lights were not completely blown out and to deliver some texture to the brighter objects in a scene which unfortunately traded of the DR range in the shadows. Any attempt to lift the shadows in post processing using Adobe Lightroom 5.3 software, revealed that the pixels were damaged and beyond recovery so dynamic range was limited - note this is using the camera at ISO:1600. The image below is a good example of where I have made no attempt to lift the shadows and they remain just below the threshold that would start to reveal the brown areas (instead of black) and the damaged pixel effect -

 

 
For street photography, I prefer to use area-1 centre point autofocus and during the daylight hours this is not a problem with the Panasonic G6 but these images were my first attempt using the G6 for night photography and in the beginning, I found it very difficult to achieve any decent focus and proper exposure results. It was a bit of a wrestling match and I have to admit, I was ready to call it quits until I switched to area-23 autofocus which made the experience much more enjoyable. I know that if I was using the G6 on a regular basis instead of during a protracted and broken review, I would see an improvement in my handling of the camera and the images.

The resolution of the G6 digital sensor (with a decent lens) is superb, even in these very dark conditions. There is so much resolution that you can apply a great deal of noise reduction and still achieve a reasonable image print up to A3 in size and even sharper with less noise at smaller print sizes - please click on 1,000 and 1,250 Pixel Sizes below. This image of Princes Street with part of the Christmas Fair in the foreground, the Scottish National Art Gallery and then Edinburgh Castle up on the hill was pushing the camera to the limits (hand held - no flash) and a landscape photographer would have used a tripod, a timed shutter and kept the ISO range down at around ISO:160 with an aperture of around f5.6 to achieve a clearer, sharper and larger image. Any movement in the scene would have been blurred using the (ISO:160/Aperture f5.6) very slow (forced) shutter speed but the resolution and dynamic range would have been much better with less noise in the sky -

 

 

1,000 Pixels Size            1,250 Pixel Size

 

The Panasonic G6 camera with the Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH prime lens is probably at it's limits at ISO:800 for image quality vs noise when shooting very dark and especially unevenly balanced light in foreground to background scenes at night. As the image print size stretches towards A3 (approximately 1,650 pixel image size for the web) the noise becomes harder to conceal without reducing the overall image quality. In daylight conditions, even nearing dusk the G6 will operate at ISO:1600 and in even better light at ISO:3200 with excellent noise reduction vs image quality but overall, I would prefer to stick to a maximum of ISO:800. Check out the 3 image sizes in the next sample -    

 

 

1,000 Pixels Size            1,250 Pixel Size

 

These images were also post processed using Adobe Lightroom 5.3 software and finally re-sharpened for the web using Canon's DPP software -

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

     
 

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 Conclusions

The Panasonic G6 Micro Four Thirds camera remains true to the original concept of a compact system whereby the camera body is relatively compact and lightweight and the lenses compliment the body. Even my Lumix 100-300mm f4/f5.6 OIS zoom lens is relatively compact and lightweight compared to it's DSLR counterparts.

The manual controls of the camera are superb, especially the
exposure compensation 'flip lever' on the top of the camera which is lightning fast and along with the electronic viewfinder, provides the best exposure compensation controls that I have ever used. The camera body is probably the right size for average hands to operate without fumbling from time to time and even photographers' with larger hands will appreciate that it is easier to operate than some of the more compact Micro Four Thirds camera bodies.

I could repeat my excellent findings as outlined in the review BUT I will only outline the main limitations of the camera which to be frank are not serious for the majority of enthusiast photographers. The
Panasonic G6 Micro Four Thirds digital sensor, hits the wall at ISO:3200 in excellent light where the photographer is seeking a print size up to A3 which displays the minimum of noise vs excellent image quality. In low light conditions in half decent light, that wall is ISO:1600. In very dark conditions where there are very bright lights with a black night sky the wall is ISO:800. These findings are a non issue for a photographer who uses a tripod with a remote or timed slow shutter release using ISO:160. However, the ISO:3200 limit could be an issue for a wildlife or sports photographer who in low light conditions (half decent light) is using a Lumix zoom lens with a f5.6 (maximum wide aperture) at 300mm (600mm field of view) because to achieve a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the subject the ISO rating may rise to ISO:3200 whereby it breaches the ISO:1600 limit - even if the camera and lens are sitting on a tripod. Remember I am discussing A3 print sizes, so as the print size decreases (especially normal wallet print size) these ISO limitations are no longer as limited.

The second limitation pertains to photographers (like me) who like to use the area-1 centre spot autofocus point for their photography, especially street photography where subjects are often framed with the background out of focus. During those occasions when the light is decent, even low light before dark, there is not a problem and the camera functions very well but for night shots under street lights the
area-1 centre spot autofocus is horrific (Lumix 20mm f1.7 ASPH MK 1 lens) and in most cases impossible to use. The area-23 autofocus is a different story and works very well in night conditions but of course has it's own limitations when attempting to place a background out of focus as it can prove difficult to latch it only on a primary subject in the foreground, although not impossible.

In decent everyday light conditions,
for those photographers seeking to make prints up to A3 in size, the Panasonic G6 digital sensor image quality (with top end lenses) is as good as you will ever get from a Micro Four Thirds camera with a 16MPixel digital sensor. When you compare it to other Micro Four Third digital sensor cameras, even those which are the most expensive and including some DSLRs, you would find it difficult with their A3 prints to claim which one displays an advantage.

What makes the Panasonic G6 camera so appealing is of course the price and this is a camera that for once Panasonic built right - the size, weight, handling, manual controls, electronic viewfinder and the image quality are in perfect balance and on a par, even exceeding, some more expensive Micro Four Thirds cameras.

 

   

 



 

 

If this article has assisted you in any way - please donate to my Charity of Choice   -   The Sick Kids

 

Richard Lawrence
Scotland
United Kingdom

 

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