Panasonic Lumix G6 vs G5 vs GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Comparison

April 24, 2013

Panasonic Lumix G6 camea and shark swimming in the background

In this article I will compare the newly announced Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 vs the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M5, all Compact System Cameras in the Micro Four Thirds standard. I am really excited about the release of the G6, which replaces the G5, and eager to know how this camera compares to Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds flagship, the GH3 and Olympus Micro 4/3 flagship, the E-M5. So Let’s get started and see which should be your next camera. I will also talk about the differences between the older model, G5 and the newer model, G6.

I will start with a short introduction about the G6 and continue to the comparison itself, where you can understand how the three cameras differ from each other, know each one cons and pros, and hopefully be able to make a decision which one to buy.

Panasonic Lumix G6

Announced on April 24th, 2013 — the Panasonic Lumix G6 replaces the G5 which was announced on July 18, 2012. That’s only 280 days since the launch of the G5. The G6 is a mid-range Compact System Camera and sits behind the Panasonic Lumix GH3 in Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds camera’s lineup both in terms of price and features. The DMC-G6 costs approximately $750 (with 14-42mm Kit lens), while the GH3 costs around $1300 (checked via Amazon and B&H on 4/24/2013), almost twice the price of the GH3.


Sensor and Newly Developed Venus Engine

The G6 is equipped with a 16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor and Panasonics also utilizes its pixel mix technology to improve S/N ratio and result in excellent high ISO performance. It’s not official, but I assume that its the same sensor used on the GH2.

Panasonic also used a newly developed Venus Engine image processor, with advanced and optimized noise reduction algorithms that suppose to be superior to previous models, helping the camera detect large block of noise patterns that was hard to detect with previous image processors.

Other technologies used are: “Detail Reproduction Filter Process” that helps improve the resolution of the image and also the “Intelligent D-range” that helps bring up those details in blow highlights and dark shadow areas — what you get is a true-to-life image that looks beautiful and full of details.

G5: 16.05 megapixels (effective) Live MOS, Micro Four Thirds sensor (17.3 x 13.0 mm), newly developed Venus Engine, more advanced noise reduction system

G6: 16.05 megapixels (effective) Live MOS, Micro Four Thirds sensor (17.3 x 13.0 mm)


Light Speed AF & Low Light AF, Light Metering Sensor

Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras are well known for their speedy auto focus, and the G6 is no exception. The Lumix G6 features Panasonic’s Light Speed AF and Low Light AF that helps the camera focus very fast where there is weak light source, that without even using an AF assist lamp. The G6 also supports Full-area Touch AF, which means that by a single touch, you can focus on any subjects in the frame when using the back LCD touch-sensitive display.

Furthermore, DMC-G6 also utilizes “Focus Peaking” function that shows in real-time the areas that are in focus (available in both MF and AF+MF modes). This is very useful for macro shooting, where you want to know precisely where the camera focus on your subject, especially when shooting with very shallow depth of field.

The G6 can also shoot at 7 fps in full resolution and up to 40 fps using an electronic shutter. The camera utilizes AF tracking in burst mode when the camera is set to 1-area-focusing AF mode, but that’s limited to 5 fps.

The G6 also features a better 1,728-zone multi-pattern light metering system compare to 144-zone multi-pattern light metering system on the G5.

Panasonic Lumix G6 uses a contrast-detect AF system.

G6: Light Speed AF and Low Light AF, very fast contrast-detect AF system. EV 0 – 18 (ISO100 equivalent) AF detective range, 1,728-zone light metering system, AF assist lamp, Eye-sensor AF (focuses automatically when you put your eye against the viewfinder)

G5: Light Speed AF, very fast contrast-detect AF system. EV -3 – 18 (ISO100 equivalent) AF detective range, 144-zone light metering system, AF assist lamp, Eye-sensor AF (focuses automatically when you put your eye against the viewfinder)

Both support the following AF modes: Quick AF, Continuous AF (during motion image recording), AF+MF, Eye Sensor AF, Touch AF, Touch Pad AF, Touch shutter, Touch MF Assist


1,440K-dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder

Lumix G6 EVFAt the back of the G6 you can find a 1,440K-dot OLED Liew View Finder (Electronic Viewfinder) with 100% field of view. It’s not the highest resolution out there, but certainly a great EVF to have on a mid-range camera. It features 10,000:1 high contrast and have much improved time lag compare to its predecessor, the Lumix G5.  The G6 also incoporates a eye sensor to shut the LCD off when you compose your shot via the viewfinder. Panasonic’s added three settings to the eye sensor: high, low and off, so you can either turns it off completely or use different sensitivities to prevent unwanted shut downs of the display. It’s a very useful feature. For example, the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 has a eye sensor, but many photographers and reviewers reported that its way too sensitive. So it’s nice that we have control over the sensor.

G5: 1440K-dot LCD, 100% coverage,  1.4x / 0.7x magnification (35 mm camera equivalent), Eye sensor with adjustment function
G6: 1440K-dot OLED, 100% coverage,  1.4x / 0.7x magnification (35 mm camera equivalent), Eye sensor with adjustment function


3-inch 1,036K-dot 3:2 Wide-angle LCD

Panasonic G6 free-angle LCD

Panasonic G6 free-angle 3-inch LCD

At the back you’ll find a 3-inch 1036K-dots wide-screen Fully articulating (180° side, 270° up and down, same as the G5) touch-sensitive display.  The screen is attached to an arm on the left side and can even rotate to face the front for sell portraits. Of course the most obvious use of such display is to shoot photos from above your head or at low angles. This is useful for both stills and videos and it’s nice to see that the G6 has it all (resolution, size, flexibility). Being a 3:2 aspect ration wide display, this means that you can view videos without viewing the top and bottom black borders. Videographers will certainly appreciate this feature.

G6: 3-inch 1036K-dots 3:2 Free-angle touch LCD. Panasonic claims 20% improved color reproduction and 25% more power saving

G5: 3-inch 920K-dots 3:2 Free-angle touch LCD


1080p Video Recording in AVCHD and MP4

Panasonic Lumix G6 can record Full HD videos in either MP4 1080p60,30p, AVCHD Progressive 1080p60 or AVCHD 1080i60, 24p. 1080p60/MP4 is the preferred method if you are after the best image quality, each frame retains the full frame details, compare to 1080i60 (interlaced) where the scene is actually shot in 30p and each frame holds either the odd or even lines. Just note that 1080p60 takes more space on your memory card (1080p60 = 28Mbps vs 1080i60 = 17Mbps, *NTSC). The video is recorded with stereo sound using the built-in stereo mic and supports 19 levels of adjustment, and wind-cut function to reduce wind noice (Auto, High, Standard, Low and Off). The G6 has monaural speaker (don’t confuse with the built-in stereo mic that records the sound).

The G6 also comes with a φ3.5mm terminal  for an external stereo microphone. The G5 doesn’t have a 3.5mm neither 2.5mm microphone input jack.

Take a looks at the next sample video shot with the Lumix G6

Brilliant, wow! — colors, exposure, sharpness, low light performance, I’m impressed!

G5: MP4 – 1080p30, 720p30, 480p30 | AVCHD Progressive – 1080p60 | AVCHD – 1080i60 (sensor output 60p), 1080p30, 720p60

G6: MP4 – 1080p60, 1080p30, 720p30, 480p30 | AVCHD Progressive – 1080p60 | AVCHD – 1080i60 (sensor output 60p), 1080i60 (sensor output 30p), 1080p24, 720p60. 3.5mm mic socket


Notice that the G6 now has 1080p24 and has a second option for 1080i60 using 30p sensor output, both don’t exists on the G5.


Wi-Fi & NFC Wireless Connectivity

Finally! – The Panasonic Lumix G6 comes with Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n and NFC (Near Field Communication) connectivity.  NFC enables the camera to establish a wireless radio communication with other NFC-enabled devices to exchange data.  This wireless technology enabled the G6 to automatically (or manually) transfer images to other NFC-enabled devices like mobile phone or tablet devices when you press the shutter button.

Just know that you need to install Panasonic’s “Image App” on your mobile device. This app is available for both Android via Google Play or for iOS via iTunes. This app can do a lot of things and even allows you to control your camera using your mobile device. It supports direct image uploading to social networks like Facebook, but of course the most useful feature for photographers is the ability to easily and effortlessly transfer images from the G6 to their mobile phone.

You first need to establish a connection between the two devices so they will recognize each other. This is done easily by putting the devices in a way that they touch each other, and that’s enough for the two devices to initialize the connectivity.

Here’s an video that explains about Panasonic’s Wi-Fi solution, take a look..

So what NFC / Wi-Fi gives you:

  • Remote Shooting for both stills and videos (inc. release shutter, settings shutter speed and aperture)
  • Remote View
  • Instant Transfer of photo to a mobile device when the shutter button is pressed (*need Image App)
  • Easily share your photos (instant upload) on a SNS like Facebook, Picasa or Flickr using the Image App
  • Utilize the phone’s GPS for automatically geo-tag image
  • Wireless TV Playback using the Wi-Fi Direct™ function with DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)
  • Wirelessly print your photos using PicBridge-compatible wireless printer
  • Use Cloud Dync service from Panasonic to sync data among devices

G5 doesn’t offer any Wi-Fi nor NFC wireless connectivity.
As you can see, the Panasonic Lumix G6 is a VERY impressive Micro Four Thirds compact system camera, with some nice improvements over the previous model, and it brings an excellent value for the price conscious buyer. It seems that with the G6, many amateur photographers won’t feel that they are making a big compromise not going with a more expensive model.

Panasonic G6 and G5 cameras side by side

G6 vs G5 - Size comparison (via - click to enlarge

Let’s sum up the G6 improvements over the G5:

  • Improved EVF, same resolution but now using OLED technology and three settings for sensitivity (Off/High/Low)
  • Higher resolution (1036K-dots vs 920K-dots) LCD + Improved touch sensitivity, Color reproduction and power saving
  • New body design with improved handling, Still plastic construction but feels very solid in the hands
  • G6 utilizes a newly developed Venus Engine with improved S/N ratio performance
  • 1728-zone light metering system compare to 144-zone
  • Better AF sensitivity range (down to -3EV) for better AF performance in low light
  • Different sensor, the G6 inherits the GH2 sensor
  • G6 has 1080p24 and additional 1080i60 (30p output) mode for video recording
  • G6 has Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity
  • Faster burst (7 fps vs 6 fps, 40 fps vs 20 fps in SH mode)
  • The G6 comes with a 3.5mm mic socket for connecting an external high quality stereo microphone + 5 settings for the wind-cut vs two (auto/off) on the G5
  • Better battery life (approx. 350 shots vs the G5’s 320 shots – CIPA) – both use a 1200mAh battery
  • A tiny bit bigger, I mean by a 1mm-2mm – not significant at all. G6 looks bigger because its has a higher volume, more filled at the top area
  • ISO 25,600 (Extended)
  • New Creative Panorama function for horizontal and vertical panoramic images
  • Clear retouch to erase unwanted objects from the image without destroying it using gestures
  • Wi-Fi activation button (lower right rear side)
  • 7 customized function buttons (Fn; there are many options to apply to the Fn buttons, including Wi-Fi, Quality, Picture size, Aspect ratio, HDR, Electronic Shutter, ISO, Picture mode and much more)
Plenty of nice updated that will certainly appeal to both amateurs and enthusiast alike and those who might consider upgrading from the G5 to this newer model.
I am really impressed with the camera’s specs and features, Panasonic has done a great job, equipping this camera with new features and improvements, which I am sure that Panasonic fans will love for sure.
It’s time to see how the Lumix G6 stands up against other two cameras, the Panasonic GH3 (flagship model, the more expensive one too) and the Olympus OM-D E-M5, my personal favorite Micro Four Thirds camera.
In the next section you’ll find a comparison table with side notes that will give you a good understanding of the differences between the three cameras.

Panasonic G6 vs GH3 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

As for the time of writing this comparison review, the:
  • G6 costs $750 with 14-42mm kit lens
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 costs $1100 with a 14-42mm lens
  • G5 costs $400 with a 14-42mm Kit lens.
  • GH3 costs $1500 (Body) + $424 for the 14-42mm lens
* Approx. price, based on prices on Amazon and B&H for 4/24/2013
Both the E-M5 and GH3 are much more expensive as you can see. The question is whether the G6 can be a good alternative to the GH3 and E-M5 or you might figure out that you better off investing in a more expensive model? — Let’s find out
The next comparison table compare the three camera’s specs side by side. I’ve added some side notes to better explain the differences where needed.
Panasonic GH3, G6 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 size comparison

Panasonic GH3, G6 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 size comparison (click the image to view this comparison on camera size)

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You can see that each camera has its cons and pros.. Many photographers will love the Olympus OM-D E-M5′ 5-axis image stabilization system, smaller size, more AF points, magnesium alloy weather-sealed body and its fast 9fps burst. Others will love the GH3 excellent video features (ie. ALL-Intra, headpohone socket), OLED LCD, magnesium alloy weather-sealed body, excellent OLED EVF, In-camera HDR and excellent battery life and others might favor the G6 for its more affordable price tag, good ergonomics, fully articulated display, high quality EVF, iits 4 fps burst and Creative Panorama function.
Each camera fits different photographers. You need to ask yourself which features are most important to you, and whether or not you are willing to pay extra (for the GH3 / OM-D E-M5) to enjoy them. Serious video shooters will definitely pick up the GH3, it’s just the better camera for this type of task. The GH3 comes with many video functions, including: Slow motion and fast motion (40%, 48%, 80%, 160%, 200% and 300% speed in full HD!), 12MP stills while recording videos, many creative functions (effects), Extra tele conversion function which extends the zoom when you are not shooting in full resolution for both photos and videos, easily divide a lengthy video into parts inside the camera and much more.
After viewing and comparing the E-M5 versus G6, I’ve found the G6 having much better value overall and I personally, as I mentioned earlier, very impressed with all the features that Panasonic embedded in the Lumix G6.

But all that leads us to a question that anyone wants to know the answer for it, how good is the image quality of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 compare to other cameras, in our case, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Panasonic Lumix GH3.


GH3 vs G6 vs E-M5 – Image Quality Comparison (High ISO Performance)

magnifying glass on image, inspecting qualityIf the G6 image quality doesn’t satisfy, all those features will worth nothing.. OK, maybe exaggerated it a bit 🙂 but those who buy this camera want it to perform better than the G5, at least. I also assume that people don’t mind the G6 having 1 stop less in low light performance compare to the E-M5 and GH3, after all, they are two flagship cameras and are much more expensive.  From many online sources, we also know that the G6 utilizes the GH2 senor. For some people that might pose a problem, they want a new sensor, not a camera with a sensor of  an ‘old’ camera. Nevertheless, what’s important is the final image quality. From what we know, Panasonic improved the noise reduction system on the image processing chip so we expect some kind of improvement. OK, enough chitchat..

I used dpreview’s IQ comparison tool to compare the two in various high ISO sensitivity settings (JPEG). Here’s a summary of my observation. Oh, before I continue further, let’s take a look at some DxOMark scores:

Olympus E-M5:
– Color depth: 22.8 bits
– Dynamic range: 12.3 Evs
– Low-light ISO: 826 ISO

Panasonic GH3:
– Color depth: 22.7 bits
– Dynamic range: 12.3 Evs
–  Low-light ISO: 812 ISO

So the two cameras are very similar and there’s not a big difference between the two, the E-M5 is a bit better in terms of its high ISO , but color depth is virtually the same.


  • E-M5 takes sharper images and seems like better dynamic range (I assume that dpreview used the same lens considering both use micro four thirds lenses)
  • E-M5 was able to resolve more details, you need to look at 100% crops to notice the difference, but it is there, and the E-M5 is detail resolve power is very impressive!
  • Up to ISO 800 both are exceptionally clean with very little noise
  • Noise kicks in hard at ISO 1600, but here we can see that the E-M5 clearly out performs the GH3, the GH3 ISO1600 image start to loose those small details. E-M5 ISO1600.. well.. JUST WOW!
  • At ISO 3200 the GH3 certainly performs worse, lots of noise, while the E-M5 high ISO performance is astonishing, very little noise!
  • At ISO  6400 things are getting much worse for the E-M5 as well, and both images have lots of noise with the E-M5 a bit better
  • At ISO > 12800, I wouldn’t bother using it, but you might get out with a good small print or if you just want to post some photos for the web in low res

You can view the comparison on dpreview here. Just make sure you choose the cameras from the drop down list and set the ISO the same for both.

I can clearly say that the E-M5 has a roughly 1EV to 1.5EV stops low-light advantage. The GH3 just can’t match its low light performance, and you don’t need to be a pro to know that, just look at the photos on dpreview and see for yourself.

As for the time of writing this review, there aren’t G6 sample images on dpreview to compare against, so we won’t have a definitive final conclusion. Nevertheless, their are plenty of Lumix G6 sample images on the web that can give us a good impression how good the image quality really is.

From my observation, the image quality of the G6 is just SUPERB! – you can also see that the light metering sensor works extremely well and all the photos I’ve seen (And videos) are very well exposed. Still I’ve noticed some color noise pattern in dark areas at ISO800, but nothing to be concerned about.  I did find the noise pattern at ISO1600 and ISO3200 to be very similar to the GH2 sample images that I’ve inspected on dpreview, like tiny dots, which I prefer because it’s easier to remove using noise reduction software. Overall the high ISO performance won’t disappoint you, I’ve seen ISO3200 images that look very usable.

My impressions are very good so far with the G6. It might perform around  1EV stops less than the E-M5, but still a very satisfying image quality.  The G6 doesn’t get an excellent score in all its features, but a very good score in most of the categories. And for the price you pay for it, it’s really a bargain in my opinion (almost).

Until dpreview uploads its G6 test images to its comparison app, I think that it’s obvious that the E-M5 is the leader, and I think that the GH3 and G6 will have roughly the same high ISO performance.

Let’s take a look at three sample videos, each one taken with each model

Panasonic G6 first (video by ePhotozine via YouTube)

Panasonic GH3 (video by ePhotozone via YouTube)

Olympus E-M5


I am not a video expert so I will leave this to you to comment about – which video looks better in your opinion?



That’s was a long ride, and I must admit that the more I inspected those three cameras, the more I admire what Panasonic has done with the DMC-G6.  The E-M5 is really a great camera, I love the overall package, the 5-axis image stabilization, high-res viewfinder, relatively small size but mostly I was impressed with the image quality. The GH3 on the other hand is the best pick for videographers who intend to take advantage of its advanced video functions. It comes with a much higher price tag, but for those who are into video recording it will definitely worth it.

The Panasonic G6 might be the perfects camera for you, and in my opinion it offers the best value. You’ll appreciate its image quality (videos look awesome in my opinion), articulating high-res display, OLED EVF, 1080p60 video recording, 3.5mm mic jack, 7 fps burst, in-camera HDR,  Creative Panorama and let’s not forget Wi-Fi and NFC! – What more can you ask for that price.

Maybe it’s not fair in the first place to put the Lumix G6 against flagship models, but I have to admit that for people like me, the G6 is even a better camera than the E-M5.  It really depends on your specific needs, especially when comparing those three cameras that have different features, built quality and price. The G6 will fit perfectly into the hands of the amateur or enthusiast photographer. Don’t forget that in order to take full advantage of this camera you’ll have to couple it with a good lens. The Kit lens is probably the best way to start, but don’t forget that all are Micro Four Thirds cameras. That means that you can buy an Olympus, Panasonic or even a Sigma micro four thirds lens and use it with this body.

I hope that this article helped you better understand the differences between those three amazing cameras.  If you like this comparison, please, share it with your friends. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to visit soon for more interesting comparisons.

Buy & Check latest prices:

Panasonic Lumix G6:  B&H Photo, Adorama

Olympus OM-D E-M5: B&H Photo, Adorama

Panasonic Lumix GH3: B&H PHoto, Adorama


If you have experienced with one of those cameras, this is a good place to share your experience and thoughts. You can do so  by commenting below. Thanks.

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