GH6 Development Story
Hiroaki Kanto (Sensor Development)
Akihiro Okamoto (Image Quality Design)
Kyosuke Osuka (Software Design)
Entering the full-frame realm while still staying a Micro Four Thirds camera
Image quality is the GH6's main points of interest
In the development of LUMIX, we have always been thoroughly committed about image quality, and we worked on the development of the GH6 with the goal of achieving image quality that approaches that of a full-frame camera, even though it is a Micro Four Thirds camera. Taking on the challenge of a full-frame sensor with about four times the sensor area was impossible to achieve with a conventional extension, so we developed a new image sensor and image processing engine that changed the configuration of the device itself from scratch. We also reviewed the software architecture to maximize the performance of this new device. It was a difficult path that took five years, but we were able to improve basic performance such as sensitivity, saturation, and noise while significantly increasing the speed of the device.
Now that the foundation has been laid in terms of both hardware and software, we are able to take on challenges that were not possible with the conventional Micro Four Thirds system.
Approaching the dynamic range of a full-frame camera
Since the G9 PRO, LUMIX has been working on a clear philosophy of “Capturing it all" with a unified approach to picture-making across all LUMIX models. We consider the realm of subjectivity that comes from sensitivity as picture-making and place a great emphasis on it, and as one of our efforts, our engineers accompany the creators on their shoots to gauge their intended expressions through the five senses and to get a sense of what they are feeling.
During the development of the full-frame model, we accompanied them on grueling photo shoots in extremely cold regions such as Hokkaido and Hakkoda, where we stayed overnight in cars. In light of the sensibilities that we gained at the sites, we incorporated into the image quality design, for example, whether the white color and texture of snow could express the coldness that stings the skin. In the photo shoots, the emphasis was on the gradation of white within white, so we repeatedly made fine adjustments to ensure that the subtle gradation within monochromatic colors such as white and black was well represented. As a result, it became possible to express very rich tones, coupled with the full-frame potential of the camera.
The know-how accumulated through these experiences has enabled the GH6 to realize a wide dynamic range of up to 13+ stops, even though it is a Micro Four Thirds camera. LUMIX aims to produce the same picture quality in video as in photographs, so we do not simply brighten areas where there is a risk of blacking out, but rather process the image so that gradations remain even in dark areas. We hope you will enjoy the expression of manipulating light and shadow with this full-frame-like rich and beautiful gradation.
The image definition is also full-frame level!
When closely analyzing the photos that photographers state, "This can only be expressed with full-frame cameras," they were characterized by a rich amount of information not only in gradation but also in details. Micro Four Thirds tends to have more noise than full-frame, so applying NR tends to lose detail. Therefore, the GH6 has evolved its image processing technology with a new engine to ensure that all details are captured in high definition in both still and moving images.
We have also improved the high-sensitivity image quality of video, which is often pointed out as a weak point of the Micro Four Thirds system. In the development of NR for video, we are also concerned with the texture of noise, so that even if some noise remains, the viewer will find it pleasant. The software processing was an arduous task that involved many layers of very complex processes, but the final decision was made not only by numerical evaluation based on image analysis, but also by the consensus of the picture-making team members, and we believe that the result was satisfactory.
In this way, the GH6 was finally completed, and the image quality design that maximized the performance of the advanced sensor and engine was right on target, and we think it can be said that we have reached a realm that was thought to be expressed only by full-frame cameras.
GH6 Development Story