Gear Reviews

GH6 v OM-1; Battle of the Micro Four-Thirds Marvels

OM System and Panasonic’s new flagship MFT mirrorless cameras go head-to-head, but which one is right for your photography?

Photographers using the Micro Four-Thirds mount have been made to wait for new gear options, but just like that,two flagship models have come to market within weeks of each other. First up is the OM-1 – the first camera from the new OM System brand that took over from Olympus. The other is the GH6; Panasonic’s replacement for the GH5, which was launched five long years ago. 

Although both cameras use the MFT mount, there’s some big difference so which model is right for your photography? We dive deep into the specifications to help you make the right choice…

One – Resolution:

Despite both cameras featuring sensor’s that are physically the same size (17x13mm), the resolution returned by each sensor is actually different. While the OM1 serves up 20-megapixels, the Panasonic goes further, offering 25-megapixels, which is 25% more resolution than its rival and enables a maximum pixel size of 5776×4336 pixels (compared to the OM1‘s 5184×3888 pixels). Of course, these figures don’t tell the whole story as both cameras offer a High Resolution feature that shoots multiple images and merges them together to create one single high-res file.

Two – Burst rate:

One of the big attractions to those buying into the Micro Four Thirds system is the rapid burst rates these cameras can offer, which are an obvious advantage to sports and wildlife photographers. Both these cameras offer a mechanical and electronic shutter and this enables some lightning fast burst rates; for example, the Panasonic GH6 tops out at 75 frames per second or 14 FPS from the mechanical shutter. However, this is bested by the OM1, which can fire off a maximum of 120 frames per second using the mechanical shutter. Such speeds open new creative doors and allow for split second moments to be captured.

Three – Focus mode:

Fast burst rates are nothing without advanced autofocus systems and the good news is that both cameras have plenty to offer. The GH6 includes Panasonoci’s DFD technology and also offers Human, Face Eye and Animal detection modes. The OM1 meanwhile cranks things up even further, offering a whopping 1053 selectable AF points – all of which are the more sensitive cross type. What’s more, the OM1delivers advanced Face Detection modes, along with Focus Peaking and special AF tracking modes for Aircraft, birds, and motorbikes. All this will come as excellent news for sports and wildlife photographers.

Four – Weight:

Another advantage of the Micro Four-Thirds system is that it offers huge weight savings, not only compared to big bulky DSLRs, but also compared to other mirrorless rivals too. The GH6 weighs in at 739g (body only) and measures 138.4 x 100.3 x 99.6 mm while in comparison, the OM1 is noticeably lighter at 511g (body only) while offering a similar footprint (138.8×91.6×72.7mm). Even the heavier GH6 is well below the payload of a DSLR camera and it should be pointed out that despite the compact dimensions, both cameras offer weather sealing to protect against dust and moisture.

Five – Storage options:

Cameras that feature dual card slots offer users the ability to either choose to write video to one card and stills to the other (keeping media types separate) or to make an instant backup of content by recording to both cards simultaneously. The good news is that both the OM1 and the GH6 offer dual card slots, but there is a pretty big difference too. While the OM1 features two SD card slots (SD cards are typically the most affordable sort of media), the GH6 sports one SD card slot and one CFExpress card slot. CFExpress cards are expensive, but they are able to write huge amounts of data quickly, which is needed when recording ultra high-quality video footage. 

Six –  ISO Range:

A high ISO range will allow photographers to keep shooting when light levels drop and both the OM1 and GH6 come up with the goods in this department. The GH6 offers an expandable ISO range of 50-25600 while the OM1 has a much higher ISO ceiling of 102400 (native 25600) and this will allow the OM1 to operate in lower light conditions. It’s also worth pointing out that in darker conditions, both cameras can rely on their 5-axis IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation) technology with the OM1 offering up to 8-tops of compensation while the GH6 is good for 7.5-stops.

Seven – Video features:

The Panasonic GH5 became well known for offering excellent video features and the new GH6 takes things to a whole new level. The GH6 is the first Lumix camera to offer Apple ProRes video codec and can capture insanely high resolution 5.7K footage along with additional options such as 4K at 60p and a special 300fps mode in Full HD to capture epic slow motion sequences. While video is front and centre for the GH6, the OM1 isn’t too far behind, serving up the ability to capture Cinema 4K at 60p in 10-bit or Full HD up too240p. Of course, both cameras are equipped not only with ports for microphone and headphones so enhanced audio can be both recorded and monitored, but also the ability to pair up with pro video accessories such as external devices like an Atomos monitor/recorder.

Eight – Battery life: 

Yes, it is typical for mirrorless cameras to offer shorter battery capacities than their DSLR rivals, but this has improved hugely in recent years. Although real-life battery figures often outpace official CIPA ratings, the GH6 returns a figure of 360 shots on a single charge while the OM1 fares better, with a CIPA rating of 520 shots on a single charge. It should be pointed out however, that both cameras can be charged via USB connection.

Nine – Other features:

Both the GH6 and OM1 are packed to bursting with impressive features. For example, the OM1 includes built-in ND filter technology that will enable photographers to artificially extend their shutter speeds while keeping the exposure balanced to shoot a long exposure and introduce movement into the frame. The GH6 meanwhile offers Panasonic’s V-Log video profile technology which will enabler users more tolerance in post processing to make more from the Shadows and Highlights in their movie footage.