GH6 Development Story
Mikio Sakurai (Image Stabilization Control)
Yujiro Kitagawa (Exterior Design)
Yoshiaki Sugino (Image Stabilization Mechanism)
The obstacles standing in the way of downsizing
As the GH series, mobility cannot be compromised
The GH6 pursues image quality and performance approaching that of a full-frame camera, but as a Micro Four Thirds camera, it is impossible to compromise on mobility due to its small size. In particular, we were concerned about the apparent size of the GH series from the front, and the main obstacles to this were the heat dissipation structure, the image stabilization mechanism and the tilt and free-angle rear monitor.
A Micro Four Thirds camera equipped with a fan?
The GH series has become synonymous with unlimited recording time, but in fact, our goal was not so much to record for long periods of time, but rather to allow users to use the camera with peace of mind, without having to worry about interrupting a shot due to heat and missing a moment they want to capture. High-load video can easily overheat, and with its high-spec video mode, the GH6 requires an even more powerful heat-dissipating structure.
And that is where the fan came in. Many people were surprised to see a fan on a Micro Four Thirds camera, even though LUMIX has one on the full-frame flagship S1H. We also initially ran simulations using the GH6 without a fan but found that if we tried to dissipate the heat of the GH6 by natural air cooling as before, we would need a surface area larger than the S1H. So, we steered toward installing a forced-air cooling fan, and through repeated thermal analysis simulations, we were able to achieve both heat dissipation and a compact design.
High-level sensors produce high-level heat!
The moving parts of the image stabilization mechanism, where the sensor is mounted, must also have a heat-dissipating structure, but with a sensor as advanced as this one, the heat emitted is also at a high level, and it can get extremely hot. In order to dissipate the heat efficiently, we determined the optimum point of thermal conductivity and movement of the mechanism. To improve the performance of image stabilization, it is important for the mechanism to move smoothly. Based on our many years of experience, our strength in image stabilization is that we are well versed in the technical know-how required to match the devices, mechanisms, and controls necessary for this purpose. It was very challenging, but in the end, we were able to achieve our initial development goal of 7.5 stops of image stabilization for both in-body image stabilization and Dual I.S.2, the highest in the history of LUMIX, while also achieving a compact body.
A tilt and free-angle mechanism — Unexpected obstacles to downsizing
The monitor that allows both tilt and free-angle was well received with the S1H, so we wanted to include it again in the GH6. However, incorporating the same mechanism would naturally make the body of the camera larger. To reduce the size, we could have chosen to use only a free angle, but considering the ease of use for our customers, we could not compromise, so we decided to rebuild the mechanism from scratch.
The S1H had a click mechanism at the top of the monitor that created a click feeling when tilted, but this was quite large and hindered the downsizing. In fact, there was a slight dead space between the LCD and the body, so we decided to put a mechanism to generate a load there to create a click feeling. We believe that we were able to successfully place the mechanism in the space without adversely affecting the thickness of the camera.
The free-angle part inherits the well-received S1H monitor and opens 180° cleanly when facing the subject. In the past, the design of the product has been slightly inward-facing, which has been a concern when photographing face-to-face, so this time, we were very particular about it and made it open 180° completely. The monitor can be also opened without interference even when HDMI or USB cables are connected to the side.
GH6 Development Story