Panasonic 4K and 6K Photo Mode explained

29 June 2017 | Category: Stills

Panasonic 4K and 6K Photo Mode explained


These days most photographers are familiar with the concept of 4K video, and some may have heard of 6K video, but Panasonic’s 4K Photo Mode is a little less well known.
Essentially, 4K Photo Mode draws on a camera’s 4K video system to enable it to produce 8Mp still images at 30fps (frames per second) or even 60fps with the GH5. When 4K Photo Mode is selected the camera actually shoots video in MP4 format but it’s possible to extract the 8Mp jpegs in-camera in playback mode. 6K Photo Mode, introduced with the Panasonic GH5 is the same, but instead of 8MP, the stills are 18MP in size. Both are smaller than the GH5’s 20Mp full resolution images but you have the advantage of being able to shoot at frame rates much higher than is possible in standard continuous shooting mode.
Being able to shoot at 30fps or 60fps makes 4K and 6K Photo Mode ideal for capturing those fleeting moments that would be difficult to capture at more normal shooting speeds.
With the GH4 you need to turn the mode dial to video and set 4K Photo mode via the menu, but the GH5 has a dedicated 6K/4K Photo Mode option on the drive mode dial and you choose between 6K or 4K mode via the menu. You can shoot in any of the exposure modes and use exposure settings that work for the scene. 

It’s worth bearing mind that the GH5’s AF system may struggle to keep up with subjects moving very quickly towards or away from it, but 6K/4K Photo Mode is ideal for capturing tricky subjects like water splashes or momentary facial expressions.


4K and 6K Photo Mode options

There are three modes available for shooting in 4K and 6K Photo Mode; Burst, Burst (S/S) and Pre-Burst, they’re designed to ensure that you get the shots you want without recording an excessive number of frames that could fill up a memory card quickly.

Burst mode: In this mode, the camera records 6K/4K for as long as the shutter release button is pressed down.

Burst (Start/Stop): This mode requires two presses of the shutter release button, one to start recording and a second to stop. Like Burst mode, this mode is useful when you don’t know how long your target action will continue, but it brings the freedom of being able to leave the camera running on a tripod. The downside is that you can end up with lots of images to sort through.

Pre-Burst: As soon as this mode is selected the camera starts scanning images at 30 or 60fps. Pressing the shutter release triggers the camera to save 2 seconds of footage with 1 before the button was pressed and the second after, giving a total of 60 images in total. Pre-Burst mode makes a good choice for very short bursts of action that are relatively predictable. All you need to do is press the shutter release as you see the action and you should capture it, having 60 frames to choose between.

In Burst and Burst (Start/Stop) mode the number of frames recorded is only limited by the capacity of the memory card. However, a new video file is created when the file size exceeds 4GB with SDHC cards or 3 hours and 4 minutes (or 96GB) with SDXC cards. 

Extracting stills from 6K/4K Photo Mode footage
It’s easy to extract 18Mp stills from the GH5’s 6K/4K Photo Mode footage. Just find the clip you want in playback mode and then use the on-screen controls to scroll through to find the best stills. If you have lots of footage it’s possible to play the movie until you get to the action you want and then switch to scrolling through frame by frame. Once you’ve found a frame you want to save, tap the Menu/Set Button or tap the Menu/Set button or the 6K/4K icon to save the images a jpeg.