When it comes to video features in Micro Four Thirds cameras the two leading brands are Panasonic and Blackmagic. Both have been trading blows with each subsequent release though they have managed to keep their cameras somewhat distinct.
Well, most recently, the Panasonic GH6 was released and it’s worth checking it out alongside the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to see how these two similar, but very different, offerings stack up against one another.
Putting these two cameras to the test is filmmaker Arber Baqaj who has a long history of using both Panasonic and Blackmagic cameras for his work. Now, these cameras aren’t perfectly comparable so this should be interesting.
A few things right at the top:
- GH6 has autofocus and the Pocket 4K doesn’t
- Pocket 4K has internal Blackmagic RAW, GH6 has external raw coming soon
- GH6 has better weather sealing
- GH6 has in-body image stabilization, Pocket 4K does not
- GH6 should have better battery life
Getting into more involved specs we can start with slow motion recording. The GH6 has the option to record 4K using the full sensor at up to 120 fps. The Pocket 4K can also do 120 fps but it is limited to a cropped Full HD mode.
Price is going to be a big differentiator. The new GH6 runs $2,200 while the Pocket 4K is significantly less at just $1,300. That alone could push you one way or another. Plus, the Pocket 4K is older and can likely be found used very easily for a deal. The only thing to consider is that the Pocket cameras generally need a decent amount of accessories to get rolling.
Image quality is a tough comparison to make. The Pocket 4K is a big older and uses a slightly different sensor style that happens to be a little wider. In the best conditions it’ll be a tougher call, especially when you compare Blackmagic RAW of the Pocket 4K to the compressed internal recording of the GH6.
However, the newer sensor and tech of the GH6 likely means it’ll produce a better image. Plus, the high-resolution recording options on the GH6, including 5.7K in ProRes, mean that you’ll be able to squeeze out more detail. Potentially a draw, if you know what you are getting into with each.
Audio is interesting. The Pocket 4K has better native options with a mini-XLR input with phantom power that will work with high-quality mics. On the other hand, the GH6 will work with the DMW-XLR1 XLR Adapter to add two full-size XLR inputs and the ability to record four channels of audio.
For user interface, it is more subjective but I think many will agree that Blackmagic has done a great job in developing a menu and control scheme that is much better for videographers. Panasonic’s isn’t bad, though it is still being held back slightly by its mirrorless legacy.
In the studio, Arber is putting the win in the Pocket 4K’s corner. That is because it generally has a more cinematic look straight out of camera and its shortcomings are not an issue when in a controlled environment. Things like the battery life and weather sealing don’t matter as much.
If you are working on location or shooting yourself then the GH6 pulls ahead easily. The flip-out screen and autofocus will be a huge benefit. With manual lenses or only for working behind the camera, the Pocket 4K is fine.
Where the Pocket 4K struggles hard is with monitoring. The only way to monitor by default is the fixed rear screen. It’s not even that bright so when outside you will likely struggle to see anything. The GH6 has both a decent, albeit smaller screen and an EVF for monitoring. Realistically though most people are going to add an external display to their rig.
With an overview of some performance aspects of the camera, Arber laws out that the GH6 wins in terms of dynamic range and low-light shooting. The Pocket 4K, in his opinion, wins on color rendering with its more cinematic look.
After everything, it looks like the GH6 comes out on top. Still, the Pocket 4K has some compelling benefits and all you need is one of those and it could be the better option for you.
Considering all the factors, which would you opt for today?
[source: Arber Baqaj]
- Panasonic GH6 Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR Microphone Adapter (B&H, Amazon)
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (B&H, Amazon)
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