Lumix GF6, Six weeks (and a bit) later

I’ve now had over six weeks get used to the Lumix GF6. So, how do I feel about it?

Not too happy I’m afraid. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found nothing to fault the picture quality and build, but, there are just too many ergonomic disasters to make this a genuinely pleasant camera to use. Here’s a list of the issues:

* Touch screen. Smartphones have a lot to answer for. On the marketing blurb, touchscreen looks sexy. In practice, it’s a disaster. The problem is that cameras tend to dangle around our necks, loosely cradled in our hands. The touchscreen is a liability. So many times I lifted the camera to take a photo, only to find the settings changed or a menu on screen because I’d accidentally touched the screen. I disabled the touch screen completely after a couple of days. I can see that, if I were a studio or landscape photographer with my camera permanently mounted on a tripod, there might be a use case for the touchscreen. But in that situation, I probably would be using a more professional camera.

* WiFi and NFC. I envisaged WiFi working this way: I connect to my WiFi router and the camera immediately shares the contents of the SD card so that I can copy the files onto my computer. After multiple attempts, the camera totally failed to connect to a network. I did get it working once with the Android app, which might be useful in a studio situation, but not for me. Haven’t tried to use WiFi since the first couple of days. The USB cable works just fine. As for NFC, it worked, once. Sadly you need a second tap to confirm the connection. Fail.

* Dual function Zoom lever. The zoom lever round the shutter button only works with power zoom lenses. If no power zoom is attached, it defaults to exposure compensation. I initially liked this feature, but thought that it would be much better controlling the priority adjustment. e.g. in Aperture Priority, use it to control aperture, in Shutter Priority, control shutter speed and in Program, control exposure compensation or ISO. However, much like the touch screen, I found that in too many cases, this little lever was being nudged and applying unwanted exposure compensation. Disabled.

* iAuto (intelligent Auto). I’ve tried iAuto a couple of times, but it seems to over use the ISO setting to compensate for poor lighting conditions. So, you end up with too many unacceptably noisy ISO3200 images. Now I just use Program or Aperture Priority and I control the ISO.

* Shutter sound. Jeez, this little camera is noisy. I’m sure it’s as noisy as some of the DSLRs that I’ve owned. A real solid clunk with every photo. Mirrorless yes, quiet no.

I made a deliberate decision when buying this camera. My ideal camera would probably have been the GX-7 but I chose the cheaper GF6 because I’m new to M43 and I thought it better to save a chunk of cash on the body so that I can invest in some reasonable lenses sooner rather than later.

That might have been a mistake. However, six weeks on, after disabling most of the ‘problem’ features, I’m getting a reasonable feel for this little machine.

I really do appreciate the tilting display. It’s so much better to hold a camera firmly at chest level than precariously in front of your face while you peer into the screen. Of course, a viewfinder or EVF would be nice, but I’m happy to use the screen; it’s bright and viewable in most conditions.

Manual focus is remarkably easy. No focus peaking (shame) but the zoomed area and the high resolution screen make focusing pretty easy. Much easier than any screen/EVF that I’ve tried before. I do wish that the manual focus scale would show the current distance and a depth of field range, but, perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Ricoh GRD3’s display.

So, overall view, slightly disappointing, but all of the disappointments can be disabled or worked around. I’ll be sticking with it for a while. 3/5

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