REVIEW: Panasonic Lumix G9
4 January 2018 | Category: Stills
Although the G9 is primarily designed as a stills camera it has the same 20.3Mp Four Thirds type sensor and Venus 10 processing engine as the GH5 - albeit differently tuned. Also like the GH5, the G9 has 5-axis Dual Image Stabilisation (IS) built-in but the new camera is claimed to allow shutter speed to be extended by up to 6.5EV at all focal lengths.
Panasonic has also harnessed the sensor-shifting element of the Dual IS to enable a ‘High Resolution Mode’ in the G9. When this is selected the camera captures 8 images in succession with the sensor moving between each. The files are then merged to create one larger image with greater detail.
Not surprisingly, the G9 has the same 225-point contrast detection system as the GH5, however, the focus acquisition time has been cut to just 0.04sec, making it the World’s fastest. Panasonic has also given the G9 a Custom AF mode that allows the response of the AF system to be set to suit the subject.
One of the most exciting things about the G9 is that when the electronic shutter is activated it can shoot at up to 20fps (frames per second) with continuous autofocusing. The only other mirrorless system camera to manage that is the Sony A9, which costs a heck of a lot more! Furthermore, if you don’t need continuous focusing, the G9 can shoot at up to 60fps for up to 50 raw files.
As you’d expect from Panasonic, 4K and 6K Photo mode is available and the G9 can shoot in 6K Photo mode for up to 10 minutes at 30fps. While the G9 is aimed at stills photographers, especially wildlife photographers, it can also record 4K (3820x2160) video at 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60fps but the bit-depth maxes out at 8-bit and there’s 4:2:0 colour.
Build and Handling
Although it has a DSLR shape like the GH5, the G9 has a slightly different design, being a bit thinner with a deeper, wider grip to make it more suited to use with long lenses. When you pick-up the G9 you become aware of its premium build and magnesium alloy body. It’s also weather-sealed and can operate down to -10C.
The presence of a status screen on the top of the G9 necessitates a shift in the controls in comparison with the GH5 and the mode dial is on the left above the drive mode dial. Towards the top-right corner as you hold the camera, there’s a command dial that’s easy to reach and use whether you’re shooting with the camera to your eye or at low-level.
There’s also a mini-joystick on the back of the camera which is useful for selecting the AF point. One slight disappointment is that this control doesn’t fall naturally under your thumb, you need to reach a bit further than you might expect to get beyond the AF/AE Lock button and focus switch.
Panasonic says that the viewfinder in the G9 is the best electronic finder it has produced to date and it gives a nice detailed view, with the image matching the captured results. The touch-sensitive screen also gives a clear view, even in bright conditions, and is responsive.
Although the G9 produces respectable results at its top sensitivity setting of ISO 25,600, it’s worth sticking to ISO 6400 or lower if you can. These images have much more detail and noise is kept under control better. Drop down to the lower sensitivity settings and you’ll be rewarded with detail-rich images that look natural even at 100% on-screen.
As the electronic viewfinder can display the image as it will be captured, it’s unlikely that you’ll capture a badly under or overexposed image, but on the whole we found the G9’s metering system reliable with a slight tendency towards over exposure. Colours are also good, being more natural than we’ve seen from Panasonic cameras in the past.
Furthermore, the autofocus system is the best that Panasonic has produced to date. It’s sensitive and able to get subjects sharp even in low light. It’s also capable of locking onto and following fast-moving subjects, making sports photography feasible.
If landscape photography is more your thing, however, the ‘High Resolution Mode’ delivers great results provided that you factor in any subject movement.
Thanks to its Four Thirds type sensor, the Panasonic G9 is a compact and relatively lightweight camera that’s capable of delivering high quality images. The focusing is fast and accurate while the images have lots of detail and natural colour. Paired with the new Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power OIS lens, it becomes a very attractive option for shooting sport and wildlife with an incredible shooting rate of 20fps.
You can see Panasonic's introductory video below:
The Panasonic Lumix G9 is due to be available in January 2018 and will be available for hire, HERE