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STILL THE ONE
The Lumix GH5 has been quite rightly widely lauded for its video capabilities – essentially a pro-level camcorder packed into a very compact camera body – but as we concluded in our road-test, “…it’s an equally fine stills camera”.
However, it is still the video stuff that’s made the headlines with the result that many photographers have got the idea that they could be paying for a lot of features they don’t need or want. The reality is that the hardware fundamentals – sensor, processor, autofocusing, image stabilisation, bigger buffer memory and dual memory card slots – are still the same irrespective of how you use the camera, but the perceptions can be persuasive… so Panasonic has come up with the Lumix G9, which it’s touting as “the ultimate photography camera”.
Under the skin, the G9 is pretty much the same as the GH5, but the ‘packaging’ is very different and the feature set has undoubtedly been tweaked to appeal to photographers over video-makers. That said, the G9 still ranks among the top mirrorless cameras for videography, but here this is more a bonus than the main game.
The bodyshell is an all-new design and makes the G9 look more like a D-SLR than ever before, especially as there’s now a large LCD info panel on the top deck which is a first for a Lumix G series mirrorless camera.
There’s also a much beefier handgrip and a more pronounced cover over the EVF… looking for all the world like a pentaprism housing. No prizes for guessing who Panasonic is trying to appeal to here.
The body panels are magnesium alloy over a diecast chassis and with full weather sealing plus, as with the GH5, insulation to enable shooting in sub-zero temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius. Perhaps intentionally, the G9 looks and feels a lot more like its direct rival in the Micro Four Thirds format, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
The EVF – or “Live View Finder” as Panasonic calls it – uses the same 3.686 megadots OLED panel as the GH5, but with an increased magnification of 0.83x (35mm equivalent) and the option of switching to 0.77x or 0.7x settings. Additionally, the refresh rate is switchable between 60 and 120 fps, the latter eliminating black-out when shooting at faster frame rates… which is another plus for the electronic finder over an optical one. This is all-important because the viewfinder experience is a key difference between D-SLRs and mirrorless cameras, and Panasonic is working hard to make its EVFs better and better.
The G9’s monitor screen is a 7.62 cm TFT LCD panel with a resolution of 1.036 megadots and adjustable for both tilt and swing. It provides full touchscreen controls including for autofocusing, metering and shutter release in live view; and is also adjustable for brightness, contrast, colour saturation and colour balance (red tint or blue tint).
The control layout is based on a main mode dial with front and rear input wheels. As on many D-SLRs, the main dial has a selector located at its base for the drive modes (which includes the self-timer options) and the G9 also has a joystick-type control, another common feature on the higher-end reflexes. The joystick’s main role is to enable faster and more efficient selection of the focusing points, but it’s multi-functional so it serves as a navigator too.
There are dual memory card slots for the SD format and both support UHS-II speed devices which deserves a round of applause because limiting one slot to UHS-I really harms productivity by compromising, in particular, the overflow and back-up file management modes. As on the GH5, the G9’s options here include the facility, while using the overflow or Relay (as Panasonic calls it) set-up to replace the full memory card while the camera is still recording to the second one.
As noted in the introduction, the G9 shares all the GH5’s key imaging components, starting with the 21.77 megapixels ‘Live MOS’ sensor which has an effective pixel count of 20.3 million and goes without an optical low-pass filter to optimise the resolution and dynamic range.
Panasonic continues to squeeze yet more performance out of its M43 sensors to the point where size really doesn’t matter anymore (as is the case with the latest ‘APS-C’ format imagers). Much of this is down to the latest-generation ‘Venus Engine 10’ image processor which not only delivers more speed, but employs a number of powerful algorithms to enhance various aspects of image quality. ‘Multipixel Luminance Generation’ and ‘Intelligent Detail Processing’ work on the brightness and contrast, while ‘Three-Dimensional Colour Control’ – the third dimension being brightness, in addition to saturation and hue – is designed to give more accurate colour reproduction across a wider range of shades. Finally, ‘High-Precision Multi Process NR’ is a more intelligent method of noise reduction, primarily to better preserve definition and detailing at higher ISO settings. Additionally, there have been further tweaks over the GH5, specifically to boost JPEG performance, again concentrating on the colour reproduction and noise reduction.
JPEGs can be recorded in one of three sizes – the largest being 5184×3888 pixels – with two compression levels and the option of 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios (although the latter three are all crops). RAW files are captured in one size only with 12-bit RGB colour. There are two RAW+JPEG settings, giving a choice of fine or standard compression on a large JPEG. A few more options for RAW capture – such as Nikon offers on its higher-end D-SLRs – may be an opportunity missed here.
In terms of shooting speed, the G9 can fire at 12.0 fps with the AF/AE locked to the first frame or 9.0 fps with continuous adjustment which is quite respectable, but… this is with the camera’s conventional focal plane shutter. Switch to using the sensor-based shutter (a.k.a. the confusingly titled “electronic shutter”) and things speed up very dramatically… as fast as 60 fps with AF/AE locked to the first frame and 20 fps with continuous adjustment (which matches Sony’s A9). So, we’re gunna need a bigger buffer which, fortunately, Panasonic has installed, giving a burst length of up to 600 maximum-quality JPEGs or 60 RAW frames. This means you can actually use 20 fps (or even 60 fps) for more than a second or two of action.
Like the A9 – it’s probably just a coincidence that the two fastest mirrorless cameras share the same model number – the G9 really is all about speed, with Panasonic also targeting both high-end enthusiasts and professionals, particularly in the fields of sports, action and wildlife… all traditionally D-SLR territory. Not surprisingly, the G9 can record 4K UHD video at 50 fps (PAL standard) with this faster frame rate enabling the better reproduction of subject movement and smoother slow-motion effects. Full HD video can be recorded at up to 150 fps for 6x super slow-mo footage (see ‘Making Movies’ below to get the rest of the video story).
In The Moment
The processor’s capacity to handle this much data has useful spin-offs for still photographers beyond just the faster continuous shooting speeds. Panasonic has been promoting its video-derived ‘4K Photo’ modes for a number of years now and which have utilised still capture at 30 fps with various burst options.
A 4K video frame is worth 8.3 megapixels so these high-speed shooting modes have proved to be useful for a variety of applications (and not just sports or action). Like the GH5, the G9 steps up to ‘6K Photo’ capture which delivers 18 megapixels frames and that’s more than enough resolution for a whole lot of uses. Additionally, the ‘4K Photo’ modes are now available at 60 fps which effectively doubles your chances of grabbing the decisive moment. Of course, shooting at 60 fps you’re going to end up with a huge number of frames in a very short time which presents some logistical challenges so Panasonic is also refining the handling options for ‘4K/6K Photo’ capture, including bulk saving in five-second batches, touchscreen browsing and batch processing for automatic noise reduction or correction of any rolling shutter distortion.
At these very fast shooting speeds, obviously the camera’s sensor shutter is being used.
There’s a choice of capture modes called Pre-Burst, Burst and Burst Start/Stop which run at either 30 or 60 fps in ‘4K Photo’ and 30 fps in ‘6K Photo’. Pre-Burst is interesting because it starts recording prior to shutter release which means it’s ahead you as far as anticipating the action… by either 30 or 60 frames depending on the selected mode. While Pre-Burst is timed at two seconds, the Burst mode allows for unlimited shooting while the Burst S/S mode eliminates the need to keep the shutter button depressed… one press starts the sequence and a second stops it. A Pre-Burst option is now also available for these latter two modes and also when shooting normally at the 20 fps and 60 fps speeds, again recording a second’s worth of images prior to shutter release. There’s also the option of setting a loop function which divides the Burst S/S recording into two minute segments and then starts automatically deleting anything older than between ten to 12 minutes… should you need to wait this long for something to happen (and by which time you could already have 36,000 frames!).
Continuous autofocus is automatically activated with the ‘4K/6K Photo’ modes and they can be used with any of the standard ‘PASM’ exposure control modes (albeit with a few restrictions). All four frame aspect ratios are available with 4K capture, but only 4:2 or 3:2 at 6K. However, the 8.3 MP or 18.0 MP image sizes are essentially maintained in each instance so, for example, the 6K frames are 4992×3744 pixels at 4:3 and 5184×3456 pixels at 3:2.
Also derived from 4K or 6K video recording are the ‘Post Focus’ and ‘Focus Stacking’ modes. ‘Post Focus’ captures a high-speed burst at either the 6K (30 fps) or 4K (30 or 60 fps) resolutions, changing the focus point in each frame… which, in this case, represents a burst of 225 frames. Subsequently, by simply tapping on any part of the displayed image (except for at the very edges), you can select the frame which used that particular focusing point. Alternatively, all or a selection of images can be merged in-camera via the ‘Focus Stacking’ option with the potential to greatly extend the depth-of-field irrespective of the lens aperture used.
Not surprisingly, the G9 is endowed with Panasonic’s full suite of JPEG processing functions, including seven ‘Photo Style’ presets, 22 ‘Creative Filter’ effects, lens corrections (for vignetting and diffraction), resolution enhancement, long exposure noise reduction and dynamic range expansion. There’s also a ‘Highlight/Shadow’ control which works in a similar way to Photoshop’s Curves, with adjustments applied to a tone curve displayed in the monitor screen.
You can also tick the boxes for an intervalometer (up to 9999 frames), a multiple exposure facility, multi-shot HDR capture and something new on a Lumix G camera, a pixel-shifting ‘High Resolution’ mode. This is a feature we’ve already seen on the high-end Olympus OM-D models and certain Pentax D-SLRs, but Panasonic’s version is different again and captures four images to record full RGBG colour at each pixel point and then another four to boost the resolution to 80.6 megapixels for both JPEGs and RAW files. The result is discernible improvements in both the colour reproduction (especially in the highlights) and the definition. The camera needs to be on a tripod, of course, as the eight frames are captured in sequence which will take a while if you’re using slower shutter speeds. For the same reason, the best results are achieved with largely static subjects.
Pixel-shifting (the G9 actually uses half-pixel shifts between each exposure) is derived from the sensor-shift method of image stabilisation which can now be exceptionally finely-controlled. Compared to the High Res mode, Panasonic is encouraging you to leave the tripod at home more often with its latest development of the five-axis ‘Dual I.S.’ stabilisation which extends the correction for camera shake up to 6.5 stops. Dual I.S. 2 employs a combination of a gyro, accelerometer and data from the image sensor to work to more accurately determine the direction of movement. It can also operate in conjunction with compatible ‘Power OIS’ lenses, primarily to provide enhanced stabilisation with longer focal lengths. The extended correction range effectively enables hand-held shooting with shutter speeds as slow as one second and effective focal lengths up to 280mm. You need a steady hand, but we did indeed shoot at one second (albeit only at an effective focal length of 120mm) and anything static in the frame
was sharply rendered.
This means you can start playing around with the effects of slow shutter speeds – on moving water, for example – without needing a tripod. Cool!
Forming A Pattern
Autofocusing performance is currently the major reflex-versus-mirrorless battleground with Sony, in particular, making significant advances with the A9 and A7R III. Panasonic has upped the ante too, with its latest ‘Advanced DFD’ system which, although using only contrast detection, is as fast as any D-SLR system.
The ‘Depth From Defocus’ methodology works by comparing the depth-of-field in a continuously rolling pair of images – now captured at 480 fps – and using the difference to determine the lens’s out-of-focus characteristics and hence the subject distance. Panasonic claims an AF speed of just 0.04 seconds which may not mean much by itself so be reminded that the G9 can shoot at 20 fps with continuous AF adjustment between the frames.
Like the GH5, the G9’s autofocusing system has 225 measuring points arranged in a 15×15 pattern which gives pretty good frame coverage. You can choose between automatic or manual point selection, the latter with the option of an even more selective ‘Pinpoint’ area mode or, alternatively, a ‘Custom Multi’ mode which enables the number of points and their pattern to be quite precisely tailored to the subject. There’s the choice of central, horizontal or vertical preset patterns which are adjustable for both size and position. Additionally, up to three custom-made patterns can be stored and these are created by simply navigating around the full 225-points grid – the joystick really comes into its own here – and selecting which points you want to be active… it’s that flexible. Alternatively, the AF area can be set to one of seven sizes from a single point up to a cluster of 156 arranged in a 13×12 pattern.
Switching between single-shot and continuous AF operation can be done manually or left to the camera (based on the detection of subject movement), and subsequently both the face detection and subject tracking functions can be fine-tuned.
Face detection can be programmed for recognition and to, more specifically, find the left or right eye, while the tracking is adjustable for three parameters – AF Sensitivity, AF Area Switching Sensitivity and Moving Object Prediction. These are contained in four scenario-based defaults which cover various characteristics of subject movement (speed, direction, etc.), but can be modified to better match a particular set of circumstances.
Manual focusing is assisted by a magnified image, a simple distance scale or a focus peaking display which is available in a choice of five colours, each with two intensity levels. The magnified image is shown either full-screen or as a picture-in-picture inset panel and it’s also available for focus confirmation with autofocusing. The G9 also has a new feature called ‘AF Point Scope’ which brings up a magnified view – at either 3.0x or 10.0x – centred on the active focus point(s) and is easily toggled on and off. Finally, AF+MF operation provides a full-time manual override along with whatever assistance method has been preselected.
Working The Light
The G9 has the same 1728-points TTL multi-zone metering as the rest of its Lumix G siblings, the alternative measurement methods being either centre-weighted average or spot. The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 200 to 25,600 with a one-stop ‘pull’ to ISO 100, and the Auto ISO range can be programmed for both maximum and minimum speeds (with Auto options for both).
There are no manually-selected subject/scene modes, but in the ‘iA’ fully-automatic mode the G9 performs scene recognition (plus a whole host of other processes) which covers the staples such as portraits, landscapes, close-ups and sports action. The main auto exposure modes are supplemented with program shift, an AE lock, up to +/-5.0 EV compensation and auto bracketing which can be applied over sequences of three, five or seven frames with up to +/-1.0 EV adjustment per frame. There are also auto bracketing modes for white balance, focus and apertures (i.e. depth-of-field).
The focus bracketing can be programmed for sequences of up to 999 frames with the focus shifted in each using one of ten preselected step sizes. Additionally, you can vary the sequencing order. The aperture bracketing function can be set to a sequence length of three or five frames, but there’s also an ‘All’ setting which captures a shot at every one of the attached lens’s full-stop apertures.
The G9’s focal plane shutter has a speed range of 60-1/8000 second with flash sync up to 1/250 second and a ‘B’ setting with timed limit of 30 minutes. To further emphasise the camera’s pro-level credentials, Panasonic says this shutter unit is rated for 200,000 cycles. As mentioned a couple of times previously, there is also the option of using a sensor-based shutter which has a speed range of 1-1/32,000 second and, of course, is completely silent and vibration-free. There’s also a hybrid ‘Electronic First Curtain’ which uses both shutter types, starting the exposure electronically and finishing it with the FP shutter’s second curtain (which is actually a set of blades). This reduces both noise and vibration compared to when using only the FP shutter, but still permits the use of electronic flash. Incidentally, to eliminate vibrations when using the FP shutter with very long lenses or when doing macro work, there’s a delay timer which can be set to one, two, four or eight seconds.
Automatic white balance correction is supplemented by a set of five presets, provisions for creating up to four custom measurements, the just-mentioned auto bracketing and manual colour temperature settings. Additionally, up to four colour temperatures can be stored for immediate recall, fine-tuning is available for all settings (over amber-to-blue and/or green-to-magenta) and the auto correction can be switched to a ‘keep warmer tones’ option to preserve the ambience when shooting under certain types of interior lighting.
In The Hand
There’s always been quite difference in the design philosophies of the two Micro Four Thirds protagonists, especially with Olympus’s emphasis on more classical styling, but with the G9’s more photography-orientated emphasis, it’s a lot closer in spirit to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II… which could make for some interesting buying dilemmas.
Externally, the G9 is a whole lot more traditional than anything Panasonic has done before (at least since the original L1 back in 2006), but its ergonomics are excellent and the handgrip is certainly the most comfortable yet on a G series camera body. As noted earlier, the D-SLR disguise is deliberate and the G9 doesn’t just look like one, it handles just like one too, especially in terms of the control layout. And it’s the biggest Lumix G body to date, closer in size to a mid-range D-SLR. Match it with the more classically-styled Leica-branded lenses – such as the DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 zoom that’s one of the kit options – and the G9 is as old-school as the E-M1 II, if not more so.
While including the top panel info display has required some changes to the control layout – most notably moving the main mode dial to the other side of the EVF housing – it’s fundamentally the same as that of the GH5, but unquestionably much improved ergonomically.
The rear input wheel is now a proper dial and so more comfortably thumb-operated while the main short-cut buttons – such as for white balance, ISO and exposure compensation – are more rounded and so easier to find and use by feel alone. However, similar to the GH5, there’s seemingly endless scope for customisation, available across 20 controls which include a trio of dedicated multi-functional ‘Fn’ buttons, the navigator, the joystick and a set of touchscreen tabs… all doubling up for the record or replay modes. Additionally, there’s a new ‘Fn Lever’ with two positions so you can switch between settings within the assigned function (for example, the ‘Picture Style’ presets). In the case of the various Fn buttons and tabs there are no fewer than 16 menu pages of assignable settings (17 in some instances), but it’s actually not as daunting to set up as it might seem. As ever, Panasonic’s menu system is logically arranged and easy to navigate so even the deepest settings aren’t difficult to access and apply. The various redesigns introduced with the GH5 are here too, namely an increase to eight items per page, the provision of a scroll bar which tracks your progress through each chapter and the addition of a customisable My Menu which can be loaded with up to 23 items culled from a total of 173 (i.e. the total menu system). Navigation can be via the joystick, rear controller, the input wheels or, of course, the touchscreen. Likewise for the ‘Quick Menu’ control screen in live view (which is also customisable) and the monitor-based information display (which also serves as a control screen). New on the G9 is a Night Mode setting for both the EVF and the monitor which essentially puts a red filter over everything so your night vision isn’t compromised by the brighter normal displays.
The live view screen can be configured with a real-time histogram (which can be moved around the frame as desired), a dual-axis level indicator, a highlight warning or zebra patterns (which don’t obscure the image so much), one of three guide grids and a centre marker.
As on the GH5, the review/replay screens include a split screen with a thumbnail and basic capture info on one side and a scrollable set of five additional info screens on the other.
These show, in sequence, more capture data, a set of RGB and brightness histograms, the
‘Photo Style’ parameters plus the Highlight/Shadow control settings, the white balance mode with any fine-tuning; and the lens details, including the in-camera corrections.
The playback functions include thumbnail pages of 12 or 30 images, zooming at up to 16x, a calendar thumbnail display and a slide show with a choice of transition effects and background music. The in-camera editing functions include resizing, cropping, image titling, RAW-to-JPEG conversion and the ‘4K/6K Photo’ mode processing functions mentioned earlier.
Of course, the G9 has built-in WiFi – with QR code connectivity – but it also has Bluetooth LE for an always-on, low-energy connection, enabling remote camera control via smartphone and then subsequent data transfer via WiFi.
Here’s what 20 fps continuous shooting gets you… it’s hard to miss a shot at this speed.
Speed And Performance
Loaded with our reference 128 GB Lexar Professional SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) ‘2000x’ memory card, the G9 captured 115 JPEG/large/fine frames in 9.621 seconds, giving a shooting speed 11.95 fps which pretty well nails the 12 fps quoted speed. The test files averaged 8.1 MB in size, and there was no delay emptying the buffer.
This first time trial was with the focal plane shutter and the G9 moved up a gear in Super High Speed mode with the sensor-based shutter… 50 best-quality JPEGs in a lightning-fast 2.492 seconds which represents a speed of 20.06 fps. With this test, the average file size was 9.06 MB. As with Sony’s A9, the top speed with the FP shutter easily matches the fastest D-SLRs, and then blows them into the weeds when using the sensor shutter. The G9’s autofocusing isn’t quite as gob-smackingly impressive as the A9’s – which needs to be experienced to be believed – but it’s still exceptionally fast and unerringly accurate so in the contest that really matters – against the best D-SLRs – it’s easily up for the fight. Given the responsiveness and speed, it’s hard to believe that it’s still exclusively a contrast-detection system.
In terms of the imaging performance, Panasonic again demonstrates that sensor size doesn’t really matter that much anymore, and a lot depends on the sophistication of the data processing, particularly the noise reduction. The G9’s best-quality JPEGs look glorious with lots of well-defined details, seamlessly smooth tonal gradations and accurate colour reproduction. Even without tweaking the colour and contrast via a ‘Photo Style’ preset, the JPEGs have a pleasing clarity and crispness with a nice balance of real-world and memorised colour (that little extra saturation that we all instinctively respond to).
Noise is well managed up to ISO 3200 so the colour saturation, sharpness and dynamic range are all still very good indeed. And the G9 seems to perform better than its GH5 cousin at the two higher settings so, at ISO 6400 in particular, the level of detailing is still quite high and is barely affected by the noise reduction processing. Nevertheless, as with the GH5, the RAW files provide plenty of scope for adjusting exposures post-camera so it’s possible to shoot at lower ISO settings and then brighten the shadows without increasing noise in these areas, and retaining good detailing in the brighter highlights. Given it’s going to be duelling with both ‘APS-C’ and full-35mm format D-SLRs, the G9 needs to deliver a strong high ISO performance and it certainly does enough here to well and truly be in the game.
TEST IMAGES, above & below: taken with Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH Power OIS zoom and Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f2.8 Power OIS telephoto. JPEG/large/fine capture with shutter-priority auto exposure control, auto white balance and the Standard ‘Picture Style’ preset. Definition and detailing are excellent, as are the contrast, colour reproduction and dynamic range. Low light performance is very good up to ISO 3200 and the image quality still holds up reasonably well at the two higher native sensitivity settings.
While the Lumix G9 is being touted as more of a photographer’s camera, it’s certainly not lacking in the video department and is better featured here than most D-SLRs and many of its mirrorless rivals. While it’s nowhere near as capable as the GH5, it still has pretty well everything the more serious video-maker is likely to want, starting with 4K recording.
Like the GH5, the G9 uses the entire area of the M43 sensor when recording 4K video and then downsamples the footage in-camera so there’s no focal length magnification factor. Using the MP4 format, 4K video is recorded in the UHD resolution of 3840×2160 pixels with the choice of 50 or 25 fps speeds (PAL) and the cinematic 24 fps. Internally, it records 8-bit 4:2:0 colour with Long GOP compression ((Long Group Of Pictures which is IPB interframe coding), giving a maximum bit rate of 150 Mbps. There’s a full-sized, Type A HDMI connector with a uncompressed (8-bit 4:2:2 colour) output in the 4K and 2K resolutions (except at 4K/50p when it’s back to 4:2:0 colour). Full HD resolution clips can be recorded in either the MP4 or AVCHD formats, with a maximum bit rate of 28 Mbps. In addition to the standard choice of frame rates (both PAL and NTSC standards), 180 and 150 fps settings are available for recording slow-motion clips. The variable frame rates for 4K are 48, 50 and 60 fps.
The G9 has built-in stereo microphones with manual level control from -12 dB to +6.0 dB in 19 steps. There’s also a wind-cut filter and an automatic level limiter (attenuator) plus a stereo audio input and output are provided via 3.5 mm minijacks. UHD recording at 50 fps (or 60 fps) is with higher-quality LPCM audio.
The camera’s video-centric features include zebra patterns (two options, each with adjustable thresholds), time stamp recording, a centre marker, two ‘Cinelike’ gamma profiles with adjustable parameters (D and V, both essentially flatter than the photo presets), and ‘4K Live Cropping’ (for automatic zooms and pans with 2K recording). The full capabilities of the ‘Dual I.S.’ five-axis image stabilisation are also available. Of course, this is really just the basics compared to the GH5, but it’s still more than enough for even the more dedicated video-maker.
Video functionality includes continuous autofocusing with subject tracking, the full set of ‘PASM’ exposure modes, adjustable sensitivity and exposure compensation, lens corrections, dynamic range and resolution processing, many of the ‘Creative Control’ effects, and the rest of the ‘Photo Style’ picture presets.
All this is topped off with excellent image quality, both at 4K and 2K so the Lumix G9 is certainly capable enough as a video camera.
If Panasonic feels that it hasn’t quite been getting through to enthusiast-level shooters in the same way Olympus has – and specifically those still wedded to their D-SLRs – the Lumix G9 is the camera to do it. On the outside it’s the most traditionally-styled Lumix G model to date while, on the inside, it’s the most advanced at least as far as its photographic capabilities are concerned. This makes for a pretty enticing combination and brings the G9 into play not just if you’re also considering the OM-D E-M1 II, but also if you’re considering the Fujifilm X-T2 or the Sony A7 II. Elite company indeed, but the G9 outperforms them all in one way or another.
It also needs to be remembered that the G9 is significantly more affordable than the Sony A9, but still delivers 20 fps shooting (with AF adjustment), a no-black-out EVF, a pretty snappy AF system, full weather protection, five-axis image stabilisation and a battery grip option. Then there are the ergonomics (possibly the best in the business, either mirrorless or D-SLR), the ‘6K Photo’ modes (now much more useful at 18 MP per frame), the ‘High Res’ mode (if you want 80 MP), the 6.5 stops of stabilisation and the attention to the little details for which Panasonic has become known. This all adds up to something pretty special and another compelling reason why your next camera should be mirrorless.
Appropriately, it’s ten years since the launch of Panasonic’s first mirrorless camera, the Lumix G1 (and, incidentally, Panasonic’s 100th anniversary too), and 27 models later, the G9 is undoubtedly the crowning glory. In comparison to the camera makers with a photography heritage, Panasonic is still a relative newbie, but with the Lumix G9, it undoubtedly comes of age.
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
Price: $2499 body only. $3499 with Lumix Vario G X 12-35mm f2.8 ASPH Power OIS image stabiliser zoom lens. $3499 with Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH Power OIS image stabiliser zoom lens.
Type: Professional/enthusiast level digital camera with Micro Four Thirds bayonet lens mount.
Dimensions (WxHxD): body only = 137.5×97.31×91.6 mm.
Weight: body only = 579 grams (without battery or memory card).