Panasonic Lumix G9 Mirrorless Camera Review

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After the release of the Panasonic Lumix GH5 digital camera in early 2017, there was a quiet period during which nobody knew what path Panasonic might take with its Lumix G-series cameras. In early November, the silence was broken with the news that the manufacturer was on the cusp of launching its most advanced stills-focused camera to date: one that would sit high above the two-year-old Lumix G7 and enthusiast-oriented Lumix G80. The Panasonic Lumix G9 appearance coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the Lumix G system, which is being celebrated in 2018.

Panasonic Lumix G9

Unlike the Lumix GH5, which is highly regarded by videographers for its broadcast-standard video capabilities, the Panasonic Lumix G9 is out to fulfil the demands of serious stills photographers. It positions itself beside the GH5 as Panasonic’s fl flagship stills camera in the G series and is competitively priced against its close rivals. On paper, the specification looks remarkably impressive, boasting a long list of functionality never seen before on a Lumix G model, which is bound to whet the appetite of existing G-series users and those after a well-specified, sub-$2,077 camera. Before revealing if it’s an all-around success or not, let’s looks at the G9’s core features.

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Panasonic Lumix G9 Core Features

  • 20.3 Mega Pixel Micro Four Thirds Live Sensor
  • 80 Mega Pixel High-Resolution mode.
  • 4K video capture & 6K Image option.
  • 60 frames per second constant shooting.
  • Electronic Viewfinder.
  • 225 Area Autofocus System with DFD technology.
  • Highly Developed Body I.S. & Dual I.S.
  • Dual SDHC/SDXC Memory Card slots.
  • Illuminated top-plate LCD Monitor.
  • Dustproof, Splash-proof, & Freezeproof
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE.
  • Extended battery life.

Panasonic Lumix G9 Review

The Panasonic Lumix G9 comes into the same 20.3MP Live MOS sensor from the Lumix GH5, which drops an anti-aliasing filter in order to maximize resolution. To generate what is claimed to be the maximum ever image quality created from a Lumix G-Series digital camera, some changes have been made to the processing algorithms to enhance resolution and deliver a 25% progress in dynamic range. As with the GH5, the ISO range spans from ISO 200 to 25,600, with an extended lower setting of ISO 100, while shutter speeds range from 60 seconds to 1/8,000sec using the mechanical focal-plane shutter, or 60 seconds to 1/32,000sec using the electronic shutter. The benefit of using the electronic shutter is that the camera works totally silently – however, there is the risk of seeing some distortion when shooting moving subjects because of the rolling shutter effect.

By pairing the G9’s sensor with a new Venus image processor, the Panasonic Lumix G9 reaches further heights in terms of speed. When shooting constantly in its AF-S mode, it can throw out a burst at 12 frame rate per second for as many as 60 frames in raw, or by triggering the cameras electronic shutter, 50 frames at 60fps. Maintaining the camera over to its nonstop autofocus system observes the burst rate drop, but to a very reputable 20 frames with the electronic shutter or 9 frames with the mechanical shutter.

Once more, Panasonic has relied on its method of contrast detection and DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology for focusing. The Panasonic Lumix G9 is able of getting focus as fast as 0.04 seconds, which is 0.01 second faster than the Lumix GH5. The working range of the Auto Focus system spans -4EV to 18EV, and in addition to the above, there are 3 new AF modes. The autofocus spot scope is planned to make better the subject temporarily to confirm the focus location, while focus changing clearly specifies the autofocus region on the setting screen. The additional new Auto Focus mode – loop movement – permits the AF point to be moved from one side of the frame to the other more simply. As if this wasn’t enough, the Panasonic Lumix G9 presents 4 AF case settings to select from, which can be fire turned to adjust Autofocus tracking activities depending on the type of topic you’re shooting.

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Exposure modes contain the standard PASM quartet, backed up by Panasonic’s Smart Auto Mode for point-and-shoot duties. There are 22 creative digital filters plus three Custom settings. Surprisingly, though, there’s no in-camera panoramic mode as seen on other Panasonic cameras.

One of the key features yet to be stated is the G9’s new 5-axis Dual IS II image stabilizer, which offers 6.5 stops of compensation to offset camera shake when shooting stills or videos. It works just like the GH5 in the way it combines two-axis stabilization from the lens with 5-axis stabilization in the camera, but it should be pointed out that not every Leica DG and Lumix G lens is supported by this new IS system, and some will require a firmware update. The G9’s latest IS structure has a second reason in that it permits the camera to present a new 80MP high-resolution mode, whereby the sensor is shifted exactly between 8 shots to make a single image with much finer detail. We will touch on how useful it is in utilize later, but because of the short delay between frames, it’ll be most successful when used to shoot stationary subjects.

As is to be expected, the G9 presents an excellent video specification. It can record 4K video (3,840×2,160) at up to 60 fps, with bit-rate of 150Mbps and 4:2:0 8-bit color output. Slow-motion footage can be shot at up to 180fps at full HD quality and Panasonic 6K Photo and4K Photo modes filter down from the GH5, allowing users to extract 8MP stills from 4K footage at 60fps or 18MP stills from the 6K video at 30fps.

Above the G9’s USB3.0 Micro-B and HDMI Type-A interfaces, you’ll find a 3.5mm microphone port and 3.5mm headphone socket behind their own rubberized flaps. The latest power-saving IVF shooting mode of Panasonic’s promises up to 890 shots per charge from the same DMW-BLF19E battery the GH5 uses. With this economy mode switched off, average battery life is expected to be around 380 shots. Both card-slots are UHS-II compatible to handle the high data rates required, and there are WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity opportunities to simply pair and transmit images to mobile devices running Panasonic’s complicated Image app.

Build & Handling

The Panasonic Lumix G9 has a larger footprint than both the Lumix G7 and the G80 while appearing less stocky than the GH5. Making a camera too small can be impractical and have a detrimental effect on handling, so Panasonic has avoided this by making the G9 around the same size as an enthusiast-grade DSLR. With G9’s deep, ergonomic handgrip, there’s enough space for those with large fingers, exit the index finger to rest contentedly on the slanted shutter button, which is combined with the on/off switch rather than being offset from the mode dial. The way the rubberized skin wraps right around the handgrip prevents it from slipping when your hands are wet. Also though the number of weather seals is unknown, I’m Told Sections Of The body are tightly sealed to ensure it can survive extreme conditions and provide protection against minimal moisture, water or dust. Anyone planning on shooting in cold climates will be fine, provided it’s not used below -10°C. The G9 is built approximately a strong magnesium-alloy framework, which is different to the G80’s magnesium alloy front plate and plastic top plate design.

The superior build quality not only means the camera feels less plastic, but also the buttons and dials are better made, with the latter protruding from the body rather than sitting flush. All the dials rotate positively, with the rear dial combining well with the exposure compensation, ISO and white balance button on the top plate. It also works well for scrolling through shots quickly in playback mode.

The Panasonic Lumix G9 shares a likeness to enthusiast DSLRs, both in terms of its size and the design of its top plate. On the left is a lockable mode dial with a drive mode switch beneath. There’s the option of allocating two burst settings to drive model or II, and if you go beyond self-timer mode, you’ll find Options to Create Time-lapse stop-motion animation in-camera. One more outstanding addition is the G9’s large top-plate monitor, which is useful for glancing at key settings and saves being totally reliant on the rear display or EVF. Studying the body from the front, you’ll notice two function buttons (Fn4 and Fn5) beside the lens mount. In total, the G9 offers 10 customizable function buttons – 5 of which are issued to the touch screen, the other three being located at the rear. Another useful feature is the Fn lever, which is located beneath the lens-release button. This can be set-up to modify the camera for special shooting situations, and from the menu, you’ve specified the option to change Autofocus mode, photo style, and image quality, and self-timer, shutter type and focus peaking.

Other noteworthy controls include the joystick at the back, to the right of the EVF, which is used to control the active AF point(s). As good as it is to be able to intuitively nudge the AF point(s) around the frame; it feels fractional too far positioned to the left. We would have quite liked it to change position with the combined AF/AE lock button and AFS/AFC switch.

The G9’s in-camera menu has also been brought up to date, with the addition of a Menu tab that allows you to set it up for quick access to commonly used settings. Viewfinder and monitor the excellence of electronic viewfinders is improving all the time and the G9’s EVF is an example of one of the best there is right now. Not only does it offer an impressive 3,680k-dot resolution, it also has a 0.83x magnification, which is larger than you get on many full-frame DSLRs, and many of its rivals, at a similar price. A big rubber eyepiece reduces it comfortably against your eye and the disc. The button can be used to view key shooting information, including an electronic level and histogram. The resolution of the EVF is so good, we often found myself using it to inspect images in sunlight, where reflections made it hard to review shots clearly on the screen. The display speed of the electronic viewfinder is set to 60fps as default, presumably to preserve battery consumption. However, 120fps is available with a refresh rate of fewer than 0.005 seconds. Importantly, there’s no viewfinder blackout beyond the first frame during a continuous high-speed burst, making it easier to track subjects. Interestingly, the magnification of the EVF can also be switched to 0.77x or 0.7x – useful for wearers of glasses who’d like to view the corners of the frame easily, which are depicted by a white border. The G9’s 3in, 1,040k-dot vari-angle screen is different from the 3.2 inch, 1.62m-dot vari-angle screen on the GH5. However, its functionality is much the same and offers an alternative way of navigating the menu, setting the focus point and fi ring the shutter. It pulls out effortlessly, rotates freely and can be flipped in on itself to prevent it getting scratched when not in use. If you find the display feeds fade away suddenly, it’s most likely because the EVF eye sensor has been triggered. To prevent abrupt screen interruptions, some users may wish to turn the LVF/ MON Auto setting off, which is easily done using the Fn3 button.

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Autofocus

Panasonic Lumix G9 AutofocusWith other high-end mirrorless cameras now putting in blisteringly fast AF performances, the Panasonic Lumix G9 has a lot to live up to. The good news is that its autofocus is very sprightly indeed, to the point where it’s capable of acquiring focus in 0.04 seconds, although in real-world use we couldn’t really tell that it’s 0.01 seconds faster than the GH5. In bright lighting conditions with ample contrast, users can rest assured that the G9 will acquire focus in a split second with very little fuss. It was only when we pushed the system to extremes in very poor lighting conditions that it showed any hesitancy. In one such situation, where the subject was too far away to be illuminated by the G9’s orange AF-assist beam, we opted to manually focus and was greeted by an array of focus aids. The basic focus-distance scale and peaking displays are good options to have, but we found the magnified view that lets you inspect focus at up to 10x magnification to be most useful.

The way in which the magnified area can be shifted around the frame with the AF toggle makes it incredibly intuitive to use and it’ll benefit macro specialists in particular, whose priority is always to be extremely precise with manual focusing. As with previous G-series models, the AF mode is changed between single (AFS/AFF) and continuous (AFC) using the switch that encircles the AF/AE lock button, with the Fn1 button loading the G9’s plethora of six AF modes. There’s pinpoint AF for super-precise focusing, face/eye detection, tracking and 225-area AF for those who’d like the camera to automatically detect the best AF points to use within a selectable grid. The Panasonic Lumix G9’s one-area Autofocus system lets user’s define the location of the AF spot in up to 8 sizes, while custom-multi is great to utilize for fast subjects in combination with AFC system. It’s much like zone AF in the way you can specify the number of grouped AF points, with the option to change a central pattern for a horizontal or vertical pattern and save up to three regularly used areas.

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Panasonic Lumix G9 Specification

Image Sensor20.3MP Live MOS sensor
Resolution20.3 Mega Pixel
Max Image Resolution8256 X 6192 Pixels.
Native ISO200-12800
Extended ISO100 - 25,600
Mechanical Shutter1/8000 - 60 Seconds
Electric Shutter Speed1/32000 - 60 Seconds
Frame Rate20 FPS
StorageDual SDHC/SDXC
Size137 x 97 x 92 mm
Weight658 gm Includes Batteries

Performance

To give the Panasonic Lumix G9 the test it deserved, we took it to South Africa, where we used it to shoot everything from Animals in the wild to landscapes and local portraits. The camera’s hasty shooting speeds, effective stabilization, and rapid focusing united remarkably well. However, we did Notice A Couple of Minor bugs. Having the opportunity of flicking between 2 burst modes from the drive-mode dial is a brilliant thought, but the camera fails to confirm how many fps the camera shoots at in each mode –something we hope will be treated with a firmware update. Other early remarks included the shutter button need the lightest of touches beyond a Halfway press to make a shot, and the battery indicator only showing four bars and not displaying remaining power as a percentage.

Minor point’s aside, we found the Panasonic Lumix G9 to be extremely enjoyable to use, offering all the buttons and dials you need at your finger tips to set it up as want, without feeling too challenging or difficult to navigate. There’s a lot on the menu to get your head around, but it’s well laid out and color coded. The quick menu joins excellently with the touchscreen to present instant control of commonly used settings, while the LCD display on the top plate is as informative as any you’d find on enthusiast and Pro DSLRs. The only thing we felt it needed was a small icon to show when the camera is set to continuous shooting and the Speed it’s shooting at.

Having the choice to fix the shutter speed up to 1/32,000 seconds, while at the same time firing the shutter without noise, verified invaluable for photographing nature with fast lenses in bright conditions. The battery grip(BMW-BGG9E) and second media slot allowed me to shoot all day without interruption, though in hindsight we feel the grip could have been made slightly better by accepting a pair of batteries, not just one, and supporting plug-in charging in the Way that Fujifilm’s excellent Power Booster for the X-T2 does.

It’s not only the continuous Speeds at which the G9 shoots that Make a serious impression; the way it handles and processes such high volumes of data so quickly must be commended, too. This is no better experience than when using its high-resolution mode, where you can create a 40MP or 80.5MP file while simultaneously recording a normal image in the raw or JPEG format. It goes without saying that the camera needs to be locked off on a tripod to achieve the best results, but to minimize blur caused by pushing the camera there’s a helpful selection to delay the recording process from nine different settings (1/8 seconds to 30 seconds). With a fast shutter speed, it takes less than 5 seconds for the camera to capture the eight consecutive shots and process the data into one high-resolution image, which is astonishingly quick. As when you Use the 4K/6K Photo modes, an icon appears on the image in playback to show that it was taken in high-res mode and if you opt to simultaneously record a normal shot, you’ll find it’s the next shot after the high-res image.

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Panasonic has implemented its high-res mode extremely well, making it both effectively quick and simple to use. The Panasonic Lumix G9 does a very good work of exposing for different views, though we did reach for the exposure-compensation button Now and again to dial in around -1EV to ensure the highlights were protected in high-contrast scenes.

Provided you shoot in raw, you can pull back detail from shadowed regions without introducing too much unfavorable noise. Panasonic’s Rendition of Color Hats always swayed towards the cool, So it was refreshing to see that this has been resolved on the G9. The result is a never so slightly warmer feel to shots captured in its Auto White Balance (AWB) Mode, with the option to set it to A AWB setting if a cooler result is preferred. The normal image style is usually faithful, but those who think adding a bit more punch to color directly out of the DSLR will want to enhance the contrast and color to sliders touch. It should also be mentioned that color is well matched between the display and electronic viewfinder, sense you acquire an accurate impression of the finishing image with whichever you’re likely to use most.

First Look

PROS

  • 80 Mega Pixel High-Resolution Mode
  • Excellent Photo Stabilization System
  • Comfortable Design
  • Perfect Focus
  • High-Resolution Electronic Viewfinder

CONS

  • High Price
  • Big Size
  • Noise issue when ISO more than 6400