Panasonic G9 Review

Panasonic G9 Review

Fast Panasonic Lumix DC-G9: photo flagship as sister model to the photo video hybrid GH5

With the new Lumix DC-G9 mirrorless system camera, Panasonic is not presenting the successor model to the DMC-G81, but a high-end sister model to the Lumix DC-GH5, which is aimed at photo enthusiasts but is also not stingy with video functions. Panasonic has several superlatives at its disposal: the largest viewfinder, the fastest continuous shooting speed with and without AF-C, the most effective image stabilizer, the largest status LC display and much more.

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Solidly manufactured and robust housing
  • Excellent, large and high-resolution viewfinder
  • Very good ergonomics and operation
  • High image quality up to ISO 1,600 and conditionally up to ISO 3,200
  • Very fast autofocus

Cons

  • For a Micro-Four-Thirds camera very large and heavy housing
  • “Strange” image processing provides relatively low effective resolution
  • Trigger too smooth-running

 

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is not the successor of the G81, but a sister model of the hybrid camera GH5 specialized in photography and thus the new photo flagship of Panasonic. The high-quality metal housing of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is extremely robust, neither dust nor splash water can penetrate and even frost up to -10 °C can easily be absorbed by the camera.[Photo: Panasonic]

With the Lumix DC-G9, Panasonic is making the most of what is technically possible. Small housing dimensions did not play a role. The G9 has a robust magnesium housing with a large handle. With 137 x 97 x 92 mm and an operational weight of just under 660 grams, it makes an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II look almost puny and is only slightly smaller and lighter than the GH5. On the other hand, the case is well protected against dust and splash water and frost-proof up to -10 degrees Celsius, as we noticed in a first hands-on test. The handle is very well contoured and the controls are wonderfully accessible. We can only criticize the fact that the battery/portrait handle has a slightly different, not quite so ergonomic shape and that the triggers (on the case as well as on the handle) react very easily and nervously. Maybe Panasonic will change the latter until series production, because other journalists and even some Panasonic employees found the trigger too easy. You can get used to it, though.

The new housing now has a joystick for autofocus, three multifunction wheels and 19 individually assignable function keys, four of which are on the touchscreen. This may allow a very good adaptability of the camera, but it doesn’t make it any easier to use, because you have to know exactly which function you have assigned to which key. The G9 is just a camera for enthusiasts who take a lot of pictures with it, so that the operation goes into the blood. On the top is a large status LCD display (the largest of the mirrorless system cameras according to Panasonic, which we can’t check because we don’t capture the sizes of the status displays) that displays all the necessary recording information and is only active when the camera is on. To be able to read it in the dark, it can be illuminated. Accordingly, there was no more room for two selector wheels, so that the setting of the continuous-advance functions was shifted to a switch under the lockable mode selector wheel on the left of the viewfinder.

Another highlight is the electronic viewfinder. Its OLED has a resolution of 3.7 million pixels and is extremely fluid with a refresh rate of 60 or 120 frames per second. Panasonic was also able to reduce the display delay, which is now less than 0.005 seconds. With the exception of the Fujifilm GFX 50S mirror-less medium-format camera, the 0.83x magnification (in 35mm equivalent) surpasses all other mirror-less system cameras and even all SLR cameras up to full format. The viewfinder is really fantastic, for eyeglass wearers however not manageable into the corners. However, its magnification can be reduced (purely electronically) to 0.77 or even 0.7 times, which improves the overview with glasses. A larger, softer DMW-EC4 viewfinder shell is also available as an option, which shields side light even better. In Lisbon, Portugal, where we were invited by Panasonic to try out a near-series pre-series version of the new G9 for two days, we had wished for this larger eyecup in some situations due to the intense sunshine.

As usual, the rear touchscreen measures 7.5 centimeters in the diagonal, resolves almost a million pixels and can be swivelled to the side and rotated 270 degrees.

 

On the back of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 there is a rotating and swivelling touch screen, a focus joystick and a very large viewfinder with 0.83x magnification and an extremely fine resolution of 3.7 million pixels. While the electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is phenomenally large and has an extremely high resolution of 3.7 million pixels, the touchscreen has a standard cost of only 7.5 centimeters with 1.04 million pixels and moderate brightness

This allows you to shoot from perspectives where using the viewfinder is uncomfortable or impossible. However, the 3:2 format of the monitor provides black edges (the sensor has a 4:3 aspect ratio). Nevertheless, it is a good compromise, as the black edges in the 16:9 format shrink compared to a 4:3 monitor. In addition, the touchscreen can be used as an AF touchpad while looking through the viewfinder. But this works almost as comfortably with the new focus joystick.

On the top side, the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 has a large, illuminated status LC display. The pop-up flash has fallen victim to the big viewfinder and the new design. An illuminated LC display showing the most important recording settings. It doesn’t have an integrated flash, but the TTL system flash shoe is obligatory.[Photo: Panasonic]

Speaking of focus: DFD autofocus has become even faster and now focuses within 0.04 seconds, which is currently the world record according to Panasonic. This is a contrast autofocus with special technology. It works with 480 frames per second sensor reading and 240 fps focus adjustment in the lens. The DFD-AF takes two slightly differently focused images at lightning speed and uses the lens characteristics to calculate the approximate distance in order to adjust the focus to them at lightning speed and fine-tune it using the classic contrast autofocus. So the system works almost like a phase autofocus. It works on the entire sensor, so the 225 focus points, which can be controlled individually or in groups, extend almost to the edge of the image. Panasonic has also improved facial recognition with eye autofocus. A new feature is the recognition of the human form, so that people whose faces are hidden by hair, for example, can also be focused on. The autofocus continues to work down to -4 EV, even in extremely dark environments.

The AF-C has also become significantly faster. In addition, it is possible to control how this is to react to different motifs. There are four additional presets for this. The accelerated autofocus is made possible by the advanced 20 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor. Compared to the GH5, it not only has an improved data interface, but also a coating of the microlenses to minimize reflections between sensor and lens as well as a dynamic range improved by half an aperture in the lights. Thanks to the new sensor, 20 continuous shots per second with autofocus tracking are possible. If you turn it off, the G9 even shoots 60 continuous shots per second, both without viewfinder blackout. Panasonic had already drastically improved the rolling shutter effect that occurs with the electronic shutter with the GH5 sensor. The effect is practically non-existent. Thus short exposure times of up to 1/32,000 second are possible silently. If you still want to use the up to 1/8,000 fast mechanical shutter (which, by the way, is also extremely robust with a rated lifetime of 200,000 releases), the continuous shooting rate drops to nine frames per second with AF-C and 12 frames per second without. The Panasonic Lumix G9 together with the Sony Alpha 9 thus offers the fastest continuous shooting rate with AF-C at present. With AF-S, the Panasonic G9 shares the podium with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, while the Lumix, like the Olympus, offers a pre-capture function to save the shots before pressing the shutter button so as not to miss the right moment. By the way, the buffer of the G9 holds a good 600 JPEG or, depending on the serial frame rate, 50-60 raw images.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 captures 20 frames per second at full 20 megapixel resolution including autofocus tracking, without even 60 fps. The electronic shutter is used for this purpose, while the mechanical one reduces the serial frame rates. [Photo: Panasonic]

However, these are not all new products that directly or indirectly affect the sensor. Panasonic was also able to improve the mechanical 5-axis sensor shift image stabilizer. When used with a compatible Panasonic lens, it operates as a Dual IS 2, allowing up to 6.5 f-stops longer exposure times without blurring. According to Panasonic, this applies to focal lengths up to 280 mm 35mm equivalent, above which the effectiveness decreases with increasing focal length. At focal lengths of up to 120 mm, the sensor shift image stabilizer even achieves 6.5 f-stops without the support of the optical lens image stabilizer. This is made possible by the addition of an acceleration sensor to the gyro sensor and information provided by the image sensor. In addition, the stabilizer is used with the help of a pixel shift function to increase the resolution of a photo from 20 to a good 80 megapixels. Eight photos with electronic shutter are taken and charged. It only works from a tripod. In our Hands-On the effect could be seen very clearly, not readable, because too small, labels were clearly visible, for example.

Although Panasonic is positioning the Lumix DC-G9 as its photo flagship, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer good video functionality. It is hardly inferior to the GH5, with the exception of very special requirements (e.g. unlimited video recording, V LogL, Hybrid Log Gamma (4K HDR) and 10-bit HDMI output). 4K videos can be stored on the memory card at up to 60 frames per second, and Full HD videos can also be recorded smoothly. For slow motion, even 180 frames per second in Full HD are available. The full sensor width is used for videos. It is stored in MP4 format with a data rate of 150 Mbps at 4K and 100 Mbps at Full HD. The AVCDH format is also available, but it only works at Full HD resolution with a maximum of 28 Mbps. Autofocus tracking is available for video recordings as well as exposure control, filter effects, the image stabilizer (optionally with electronic support), the Zebra function, focus peaking or the built-in stereo microphone. In addition, both an external microphone and headphones can be connected.

 

The advanced sensor shift image stabilizer of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 compensates for wide-angle camera shake for up to 6.5 f-stops longer exposure times, up to 280 mm (KB) it needs to support the lens image stabilizer. [Photo: Panasonic]

Speaking of connections: Although the G9 offers a USB-3 port, unlike the GH5 it is an extended micro-USB port and not a USB Type C port. Nevertheless, the G9 can not only be charged via USB (an external charger is still included in the scope of delivery), but with a correspondingly strong power supply unit or power bank, which supports voltages higher than 5 volts, a continuous power supply is possible. Nevertheless, the G9 still offers a power supply connection via battery dummy. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery allows up to 400 CIPA-standard shots. The memory card slot offers two SD slots compatible with SDHC and SDXC that support the fast UHS II. This is particularly useful for continuous shooting, while a UHS-I card with the speed class U 3 is sufficient for 4K video recording. Another new interface is Bluetooth, which joins the WLAN. This enables a power-saving continuous data connection, which accelerates the WLAN connection setup for image transmission or camera remote control. It can also be used for permanent geotagging. In addition, the camera settings can be copied wirelessly and transferred to another G9. By the way, the WLAN now not only works at the frequency of 2.4 GHz, but also at 5 GHz, which enables faster image transmission.

By the way, the integrated on-board flash unfortunately fell victim to the beautiful, newly designed housing and larger viewfinder. But there is an ISO-compatible TTL system flash shoe and a flash sync socket. Other functions on board include post-focus and focus stacking as well as 4K and 6K continuous shooting at 60/30 frames per second.

While Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5 was previously only a flagship video specialist, the Lumix DC-G9 is now the latest addition to the Panasonic range. The G9 focuses more on a high continuous shooting speed and a fast autofocus for action shots, but doesn’t lose sight of its video capabilities, as the 4K video function with 60 frames per second, which is extremely rare in photo cameras, shows up.

Ergonomics and workmanship

Although the Lumix DC-G9 is a Micro-Four-Thirds camera, Micro is at most the image sensor on the camera. The G9 is not only almost 1,700 euros expensive, it is also an official toilet: almost 14 centimetres wide, ten centimetres high and nine centimetres deep. It even surpasses the full-frame cameras Sony Alpha 7R III and Alpha 9 with their four times larger image sensor by a whole centimetre in width, the weight of around 660 grams without lens is almost the same. The Panasonic can only gain ground in terms of compactness as soon as a lens is attached, because due to the half focal length for the same image section, these are of course much more compact than with a full format camera.

But the Panasonic G9 lies full in the hand and makes an absolutely robust impression. The housing consists almost completely of metal and is sealed against the penetration of dust and splash water. It’s even better sealed than the Sony Alpha cameras, but that’s no trick due to the rather poor sealing of the Sony models. Even heavy rain showers are no problem for the Panasonic, nor frost to minus ten degrees Celsius. The prerequisite is of course an appropriately sealed lens, which is available with the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 1:2.8-4.0/12-60 mm Asph. Power O.I.S. as a set with the camera for a total price of almost 2,300 euros. It was also used in our test and is an excellent standard lens for the G9, because it is in no way inferior to the perfect workmanship and modern design of the camera. This combination, including memory cards, weighs a good kilogram on the scale.

The handle of the G9 is well formed and fits perfectly into the hand. It is, like the camera, pretty big. The generous and extremely non-slip rubber cover improves the grip enormously, also the clear notch at the upper end contributes its part to it, so that the camera lies firmly on the middle finger. The G9 is a real hand cuddler, even the little finger still finds room. The left side of the case is also covered with the grained rubber, even if the left hand should rest better under the lens.

This size comparison of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 (right) with the Sony Alpha 7R III full-frame camera (left) shows that Micro Four Thirds doesn’t necessarily mean a small camera. Only the lenses remain smaller with Micro Four Thirds.

The enormously large and high-resolution electronic viewfinder is a real source of enthusiasm. It offers 0.83x magnification in 35mm equivalent – neither a full-frame DSLR nor a mirrorless full-frame system camera from Sony can keep up. Despite its size, the viewfinder offers a very fine resolution of 3.7 million pixels. The refresh rate is either 60 or 120 frames per second, the latter of course consuming more of the battery. The viewfinder is also equipped with an opulent eyecup, which covers the lateral incident light well. The large viewfinder can only be completely overlooked with the eye. If, on the other hand, you look through the viewfinder with your glasses on, the picture is no longer completely visible. But Panasonic also has a clever solution for this: a small button on the side of the viewfinder switches the used area in three steps. At the lowest level, the viewfinder image can also be seen completely with the glasses on, but of course the overall resolution is correspondingly smaller and logically also lower. The compromise may nevertheless be the most useful for spectacle wearers if the diopter compensation is not sufficient.

The rear monitor, on the other hand, with its diagonal of 7.5 centimeters and a resolution of 1.04 million pixels, only offers standard fare. The 3:2 aspect ratio is a good compromise between the 4:3 sensor image for photos and 16:9 for videos. The fact that the brightness of less than 700 cd/m² is not exactly luxurious, so that you better fall back on the brilliant viewfinder when the sun is shining, the camera is forgiven. Practically it is a touch screen. As usual with Panasonic, the screen can be tilted sideways and then rotated 270 degrees, allowing shots from all possible perspectives. If you like, you can fold the screen upside down to protect the camera, as the viewfinder also functions as a menu and playback display. Thanks to the LC status display on the top, this also works wonderfully, because even if you are not looking through the viewfinder, you can read and adjust the most important parameters such as exposure, sensitivity, white balance etc..

 

On the back of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 there is a rotating and swivelling touch screen, a focus joystick and a very large viewfinder with 0.83x magnification and an extremely fine resolution of 3.7 million pixels. While the electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is phenomenally large and has an extremely high resolution of 3.7 million pixels, the touchscreen has a standard cost of only 7.5 centimeters with 1.04 million pixels and moderate brightness

The only thing you lose with the screen flipped upside down is the additional function keys that fade in on it. The possibility of placing the autofocus on a subject detail using a fingertip, which also works when looking through the viewfinder, is of course no longer possible with the screen flipped upside down. But the G9 offers a joystick on the back of the camera. There is also a four-way selector with a non-slip rotating function ring, two function wheels on the top of the camera, one for the thumb and one for the index finger, as well as several other switches and buttons, some of which can be freely assigned functions. Very practical is also the function lever on the camera front, next to the bayonet easily accessible for the left hand. Here a function can be activated by switching, for example the night mode with red screen and viewfinder picture, the self-timer, the mute, the bracketing function and much more.

However, the menu that can be used to set these and many other functions has not exactly become clearer due to the variety of functions. Panasonic tries to find a reasonable grouping, but many functions and configuration possibilities make many menu items necessary. The menus are divided into several categories and pages that can be scrolled through. The new “My Menu” helps a bit to call up preferred menu items faster, as they can be saved here.

Various information can be displayed on the monitor and in the viewfinder. These are not only the recording settings, but also an electronic 3D spirit level, various grid line patterns and a live histogram. While the exposure preview in the live image reacts directly to the exposure correction in modes P, A and S, the shutter release button in M must be pressed halfway. (In an earlier version it was stated at this point that the G9 didn’t have a reasonable exposure preview in M, but this was obviously due to the not quite final firmware version of our test device, because with another G9, which we could try out in the meantime, the exposure preview worked as described with the shutter release pressed halfway)

The G9 is extremely lavishly equipped with interfaces. On the left side there is a microphone and a headphone connection, the HDMI interface is even designed in the A standard with full size. Why Panasonic, on the other hand, does without the USB-C standard for the USB 3.1 interface and instead uses the extended Micro-USB socket, is not apparent to us. The older GH5 shows that Panasonic does know USB-C. After all, you can also use normal micro-USB plugs, for example to recharge the battery or to supply the camera with power.

The lithium-ion battery is removed from the underside of the camera, where the compartment is far enough away from the tripod thread on the optical axis. With its 14 watt hours, it provides energy for 400 shots according to the CIPA standard, while using the viewfinder instead of the screen means five percent less. The battery actually lasts longer and the battery indicator is sufficiently accurate, even if percentages instead of four bars would be more practical. An external charger is included with the G9, which also uses a micro-USB connector for power supply. This allows the battery to be recharged even externally without a socket, for example from a USB power bank. The supplied USB power supply has 1.8 ampere.

The memory card compartment is located on the handle side of the camera, as is the remote release connection. The compartment offers space for two SD cards and is compatible with SDHC and SDXC as well as UHS I and UHS II, whereby the maximum write speed of 106 MByte/s hardly exceeds that of UHS I. The SDXC and SDXC are compatible with the UHS I and UHS II. In any case, UHS II is far from being exhausted, there is still plenty of air up here. By the way, the G9 also allows the connection of a portrait handle including battery. This doubles the running time of the camera and also improves handling for portrait shots. Due to the already large handle and high weight of the camera, the handle in landscape format offers no advantages apart from the extended running time.

Equipment

Even though the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is aimed at photo enthusiasts, Panasonic neither dispenses with the intelligent automatic control with limited influence possibilities by the photographer, nor with various filter effects. This means that even a photo enthusiast who likes to influence aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity can simply take a snap without worries or hand the camera to someone who is not familiar with it. What the G9 lacks, however, is a pan panorama function. However, the classic creative programs P, A, S and M as well as the three individually assignable user programs occupy the largest space on the program selector wheel. By the way, the ISO automatic works including exposure correction if desired also with manual exposure.

The continuous shooting function of the Lumix G9 is a bit confusing. It is activated via the small lever below the program selector wheel, whereby Roman “I” and “II” are two modes that can be selected for quick activation. However, the continuous-advance speeds and whether they operate with electronic or mechanical shutter and with or without autofocus are set in the menu. However, it is not clear how fast the series pictures are actually taken, because SH1, SH2, H, L and M are explained wordy, but completely without numbers in the camera menu. SH1 and SH2 operate with electronic shutter, optionally with or without pre-burst mode. In pre-burst mode, shots are conveniently stored before the shutter release button is pressed, which increases the hit rate. While SH1 operates at 20 frames per second and AF-C, SH2 achieves 60 frames per second, but the focus and exposure are frozen with the first shot. However, both modes only store 50 images, so they only run for 2.5 and 0.8 seconds respectively.

In H, M and L, on the other hand, the camera works as in normal photos with either a mechanical shutter, electronic first and mechanical second shutter curtains to reduce vibrations, or a fully electronic shutter. M takes seven consecutive shots per second, L only two. Both work with Live View and autofocus tracking. In H, the continuous advance speed depends on whether AF-S or AF-C is activated. With AF-S, there are twelve continuous shots per second, but no live view. With AF-C, there are only nine continuous shots per second, but there is an autofocus tracking and also a live image.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 costs just under 1,700 Euro UVP. With the illustrated and recommended set lens Leica DG Vario 12-60 mm 2.8-4 even nearly 2,300 Euros are due.

In contrast to SH, the number of serial images in H, M and L is not limited, but only depends on the memory card capacity. The buffer is large enough for long, fast series, in JPEG a fast memory card can usually even be written completely at full continuous shooting speed. In Raw, with a fast memory card, it’s enough for about 90 frames at high speed (12 fps) before the continuous shooting rate drops due to a full buffer. The write speed with full buffers is about 106 MByte per second, which is not very fast for a UHS-II interface. The memory card would have enabled 250 MB/s. For comparison: The fastest camera still is the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with 170 MB/s. The buffer of the G9 is emptied again within a few seconds as soon as the series is finished. The camera remains ready to take pictures at all times.

If you like to take serial shots, you can not only vary the exposure, but also the white balance, the focus and much more. Exposure bracketing comprises up to seven images with an exposure distance of up to one aperture step between each other, which is already suitable for decent HDR series. A combination with the self-timer is no problem. If you like, you can also use the camera’s own HDR mode, which aligns and merges the images directly. You can either adjust the exposure distance manually or leave the choice to the camera.

The autofocus works contrast-based with DFD technology. This provides an extremely fast autofocus with a trick: Two differently sharp images are taken in a short sequence and the camera can determine and control the focus point fairly precisely on the basis of the comparison and the lens characteristics, the contrast autofocus only needs to be used for fine adjustment if necessary. Specifically, the G9 only takes 0.11 to 0.13 seconds from pressing the shutter release button to taking the actual picture. This already includes the 0.05 to 0.06 second shutter release delay, which occurs even without autofocus. However, the all too smooth trigger is shown here. Although the first pressure point is quite noticeable, there is almost no resistance until then and even beyond that it is very small. So it’s too easy to trigger instead of holding the focus.

The tripod thread of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 sits exemplary in the optical axis, but for the balance a bit far back. In addition, an optional portrait handle can be screwed on here.

The autofocus can also follow moving subjects well. For this purpose, a point autofocus, which can be placed anywhere, a tracking function and a multi-field control with 221 autofocus points are available, whereby the active area can be adjusted in the number and location of the focus points used. Manual focusing can be supported not only by a focus loupe, but also by a focus peaking function.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 doesn’t have an integrated flash, nor is there a small flash included, but there is not only an obligatory TTL system flash shoe, but also a flash sync socket. So studio flashes and large system flashes can be operated without any problems, even in wireless mode with the corresponding control unit on the camera. The flash sync time is 1/250 seconds, whereby corresponding system flashes also allow high-speed synchronization. Without flash, the mechanical shutter is up to 1/8,000 second fast, the electronic shutter even up to 1/16,000.

As with the GH5, the video function operates at 4K resolution at an extremely smooth 60 frames per second. With up to 150 Mbps, high video quality is also possible. With Full HD resolution, the frame rate can even be increased to 180 frames per second. The sound can be transmitted to the video either via the integrated stereo microphone or via an externally connected microphone. A level indicator, modulation and a wind filter are also available. Videos can be exposed manually if desired and also some of the filter effects are available. The files are stored in either AVCHD or MP4 format, each with H.264 compression. The G9 also adjusts the autofocus on request.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is equipped with a highly effective sensor shift image stabilizer that runs in dual mode with the lens’ optical image stabilizer, further enhancing its effectiveness. This should allow up to 6.5 f-stops longer exposure times without blurring. In fact, four f-stops are no problem at all, at 1/8 second exposure time with 120 millimeters focal length (35mm equivalent) we got reliably sharp pictures. At five f-stops (1/4 second exposure time) most shots were sharp, at six f-stops (1/2 second exposure time) sharp shots were possible, but the rejects were large. Of course, this is always very individual and depends on numerous parameters such as the own “trembling”, the recording distance etc.. With a short focal length, it is also possible to take sharp pictures in the seconds range. For video recordings, a third, purely electronic image stabilizer is also available on request.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 also offers a USB 3.1 port in addition to a microphone input and a headphone output as well as an HDMI A socket. However, this does not use a USB-C, but an extended Micro-USB socket with charging function.

Another interesting function is 4K- or 6K-photo. Here, video sequences with H.265 compression are recorded at 60 or 30 frames per second, from which still images with 8.3 or 18 megapixels can be extracted directly in the camera afterwards. However, the quality is not quite as good as for photos with the same number of megapixels. While with 4K-Photo you have the free aspect ratio choice of 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9, with 6K-Photo only 3:2 and 4:3 are available, for the other aspect ratios the sensor resolution is simply not sufficient. Post-focus shots are particularly exciting. Here, the camera moves through the focus area of the subject with a 4K or 6K photo, so that you can still select the sharpness afterwards. Even focus stacking is possible directly in the camera, which can be useful for macro and product photography.

In playback mode, raw images can be developed into JPEGs, and some basic editing options such as image cropping are also available. You can also split and merge videos. The slideshow function even works with effects and background music, which can be useful when connecting to a TV. Thanks to WLAN, images can also be transmitted wirelessly to televisions, computers, tablets or smartphones. A corresponding app even allows remote control of the camera via WLAN, including the setting of recording parameters and live image transmission. Details can be found in our photo tip in the further links. In addition, the G9 offers a Bluetooth function for an energy-saving permanent connection. This allows the position data of the smartphone to be tapped and transferred directly into the captured images.

Picture quality

The Panasonic G9 had to prove its image quality in our test laboratory with the set lens Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 1:2.8-4.0/12-60 mm Asph. Power O.I.S. in our test laboratory. The fivefold zoom covers a focal length range of 24 to 120 millimeters equivalent to a small picture and, with its short focusing distance of 20 centimeters, offers a maximum magnification of 1:3.3, which corresponds to a 35mm equivalent of 1:1.65 and thus allows beautiful close-up or macro shots.

 

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9’s 17.3 x 13 mm Micro Four Thirds sensor offers a good signal-to-noise ratio and high dynamic range. However, the effective resolution is surprisingly low, which is probably due to the low resharpening.

The G9’s Micro Four Thirds sensor achieves a physical resolution of a good 20 megapixels, which means a pixel pitch of 3.3 µm on the small CMOS sensor. Nevertheless, the G9 has an amazingly high signal-to-noise ratio. It ranges from ISO 100 to 800 in the good range of over 40 dB and only falls just below the critical 35 dB mark at ISO 6,400. Color noise and brightness noise remain at a low level. Only at the two highest ISO sensitivities of 12,800 and 25,600 does the brightness noise become slightly visible, although it remains fine-grained. A slight improvement of the measured values at ISO 3.200 compared to ISO 1.600 leads to the assumption that noise suppression is higher at this sensitivity.

The texture sharpness moves up to ISO 800 at the highest level before it slowly begins to sink. However, only beyond ISO 1.600 does a slight loss of the finest details become visible (which confirms the stronger noise suppression assumed above this sensitivity), but even at ISO 6.400 there are just enough details left. With ISO 3.200 you are on the safe side and still get a good picture quality with many details and almost no noise. The input dynamics are at a level of over eleven f-stops up to ISO 3,200 and do not drop below ten f-stops even at even higher sensitivities, which is an excellent value. So the Lumix G9 can capture details from the brightest to the darkest areas.

The measurement of the tonal value curve shows a very strong division of the contrasts for a crisp reproduction. The output tonal range is very good up to ISO 800 with over 224 of 256 possible brightness gradations and good up to ISO 3,200 with well over 160 levels. The actual color depth is also at an extremely high level, up to ISO 800 a good eight million colors are reproduced, even at ISO 3,200 it is still over four million and at ISO 12,800 still over two million. The white balance accuracy is high and the color fidelity very good. There are larger deviations only in the purple and red range, where above all the saturation is raised for bright colors.

The offensive, but extremely good image processing in terms of colours and contrasts is countered by a strong reluctance to sharpen and detail. There are almost no sharpness artifacts, which however leads to a relatively low effective resolution for a 20 megapixel sensor resolution. Even at the maximum it is only 47 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) in 35mm equivalent, actually it could well be 20 percent more. This highest resolution is achieved in wide angle on F4 dimmed in the center of the image. No matter which focal length you choose, the resolution in the center of the image is always more than 40 lp/mm, as long as you don’t dim further than F8. Then the diffraction starts and reduces the resolution.

On the handle side of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 a 2.5mm jack socket allows the connection of a remote release cable.

The edge resolution is highest at medium focal length (50 mm 35 mm equivalent) and ranges from 34 to 38 lp/mm from the open aperture F3.5 to F8. In wide-angle, on the other hand, you have to dim down to F4 to scratch the 30 lp/mm, which is hardly exceeded. Beyond F8 the resolution drops again. At the long end of the focal length you also have to fade out by one step, then there is a resolution of up to 32 lp/mm. Thus the edge loss of the resolution amounts to up to 40 percent, which is already quite strong, but can be reduced to less than ten percent by the right choice of aperture and focal length.

Colour fringes in the form of chromatic aberrations are generally small, but at most they are easily visible in the corners of the image when the lens is wide open. There is also only visible distortion in the wide angle, but it remains below two percent and is therefore only moderate or even somewhat lower than usual for a wide angle. At medium and long focal lengths there is practically no distortion in JPEG. Also the edge darkening is generally small. At the extreme focal lengths, this occurs in the outermost corners of the image when the aperture is open. From F5.6, however, it no longer plays a significant role here either.

Why Panasonic is so ambivalent in its image processing remains a mystery. While the camera in JPEG is quite brash when it comes to tonal value processing and noise suppression, it is enormously reserved when it comes to resolution processing. This won’t bother the photo enthusiast, who already works intensively on his pictures, because the raw data format is optimal for him anyway. But if you don’t want to edit your photos and prefer JPEG, you won’t get an optimal result.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 also offers a high-resolution recording function. From the tripod, four images are combined to form a photo with a resolution of up to 80 megapixels. This works directly in the camera and leads to a visibly higher resolution, which we could confirm in the laboratory measurement. This is, so to speak, a premiere, because so far no camera manufacturer has been able to convince us of the effectiveness of such a function and confirm it in the laboratory. Although the effective resolution is clearly below that possible with this number of pixels, it achieves values such as with a full-frame camera with a resolution of more than 40 megapixels – and that with the 12-60mm zoom lens. We measured about 80 line pairs per millimeter in the center of the image, which is well above the maximum 47 lp/mm possible with a simple shot. For static motifs this is an excellent way to increase the resolution significantly.

Both SD memory card slots of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 are compatible with SDHC and SDXC and support UHS II. But the write speed of 106 MB/s is not too high.

In a direct visual comparison, the Panasonic in high-resolution mode at 12 mm and F4 is roughly on a par with the Sony Alpha 7R III with 42 megapixel resolution and the 24-105 mm at 24 mm and F4. The quality of the 46 megapixel Nikon D850 with the 24-70 mm F2.8 at 24 mm and F5.6 is also achieved by the Panasonic in the center of the picture, at the edge of the picture the Nikon even stands out by a large margin. Only the Canon EOS 5DS R can outperform all the others here, but it had a trump card with the 35 mm F1.4 fixed focal length, which was dimmed down to F4, and didn’t have to compete with a zoom lens. It’s just a pity that the high-resolution recording only works with static motifs from a tripod.

Bottom line

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is a fantastic camera in many ways, but this is also reflected in the high price. The housing processing is at the highest level, the camera is very robust and offers excellent ergonomics. However, the case is large and heavy. The range of functions is huge and the adaptability of the user interface leaves nothing to be desired. With some detailed solutions, however, there is still some room for improvement. In addition, the G9 shines with its high performance at top level, even though it doesn’t set any records for the continuous shooting rate and memory speed.

In addition, the Lumix impresses with its above-average video capabilities. The image quality, on the other hand, is ambivalent. While the Panasonic is in top form with the dynamic range, the signal-to-noise ratio and the low noise at a high detail rate, the achieved resolution is far behind the possibilities of the sensor, which is mainly due to the much too restrained image processing in this area. Particularly impressive is the high-resolution mode, which is only suitable for static motifs, but leads to breathtaking picture results for the Panasonic that can compete with the best full-frame cars.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Lumix DC-G9
Sensor CMOS 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)21.8 megapixels (physical)
20.3 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 3,3 µm
Resolution (max.) 5.184 x 3.888 (4:3)
Video (max.) 3.840 x 2.160 60p
Lens Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 mm F2.8-4 Asph Power OIS (Zoom Lens)
Video viewfinder EVF, 100 % field coverage, 3,680,000 pixels resolution, 1.66x magnification (sensor-related), 0.83x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-4.0 to 3.0 dpt), -4.0 to 3.0 dpt)
Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm)
Disbandment 1.040.000 pixels
tiltable
rotatable yes
swivelling yes
Touchscreen yes
AV connector HDMI output (Type A)
Fully automatic yes
Automatic motif control yes
Program automation yes
Program shift yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
Manual yes
Bulb long time exposure yes
HDR function yes
Panorama function no
Exposure metering Matrix/multi-field measurement (1,728 fields), center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement
fastest shutter speed 1/8.000 s
LFlash
Synchronous time 1/250 s
Flash connection Flash shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
WLAN yes
NFC
GPS external, permanent smartphone connection
Remote release yes, cable release, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
Interval shooting yes
Storage medium
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
Slot 2
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
Sensitivity
automatic ISO 200-25.600
manually ISO 100-25.600
White balance
automatic yes
manual measurement yes
Kelvin input yes
Fine correction yes
Autofocus yes
Number of measuring fields 225
Speed 0.11 s to 0.13 s
AF auxiliary light LED
Dimensions (mm) 137 x 97 x 92 mm
Weight (ready for operation) 658 g (housing only
)980 g (with lens)
Tripod socket in optical axis
Zoom
Zoom adjustment manual on lens
Battery life 400 images (according to CIPA standard)
– = “not applicable” or “not available”

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Solidly manufactured and robust housing
  • Excellent, large and high-resolution viewfinder
  • Very good ergonomics and operation
  • High image quality up to ISO 1,600 and conditionally up to ISO 3,200
  • Very fast autofocus

Cons

  • For a Micro-Four-Thirds camera very large and heavy housing
  • “Strange” image processing provides relatively low effective resolution
  • Trigger too smooth-running

Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)21.8 megapixels (physical) and 20.3 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 3,3 µm
Photo resolution
5.184 x 3.888 pixels (4:3)
5.184 x 3.456 pixels (3:2)
5.184 x 2.920 pixels (16:9)
4.992 x 3.744 pixels (4:3)
3.888 x 3.888 pixels (1:1)
3.840 x 2.160 pixels (16:9)
3.712 x 2.784 pixels (4:3)
3.712 x 2.480 pixels (3:2)
3.504 x 2.336 pixels (3:2)
3.328 x 2.496 pixels (4:3)
2.880 x 2.880 pixels (1:1)
2.784 x 2.784 pixels (1:1)
2.624 x 1.968 pixels (4:3)
2.624 x 1.968 pixels (4:3)
1.968 x 1.968 pixels (1:1)
1.920 x 1.080 Pixel (16:9)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Colour depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.31), DCF standard
Video resolution
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 60 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 50 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 30 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 25 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 25 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 24 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 24 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 i
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
Video format
MP4 (Codec H.264)
AVCHD (Codec H.264)

Lens

Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds

Focusing

Autofocus mode Autofocus working range from -4 EV to 18 EV, contrast autofocus
Autofocus Functions Single autofocus, Continuous autofocus, Tracking autofocus, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (6x)
Focus control Depth of field control, dimming button, Live View

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,040,000 pixels, anti-reflective, brightness adjustable, colour adjustable, swivels 180°, rotates 270°, with touch screen
Info display additional info display (top) with illumination
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 3,680,000 pixels, 1.66-times magnification factor, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 3.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 1,728 fields, spot measurement, AF-AE coupling
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 60 sec (Auto
)1/8,000 to 60 sec (Manual)
1/32,000 to 1 sec (Electronic Shutter)
Bulb with maximum 1,800 sec Exposure Time
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with maximum 7 shots, step size from 1/3 to 1 EV, HDR function
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 200 to ISO 25.600 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (manual)
Remote access Remote release, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
Picture effects Bleach Bypass, Cross Development, HDR Effect, High Key, High Contrast Monochrome, Low Key, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Retro, Selective Color, Sepia, Toy Camera, Star Grid, Vivid, Blur, 7 more Image Effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, White balance bracket, Fine-tune, Shadow, Flash, Incandescent, from 2,500 to 10,000 K, Manual 4 memories
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous-advance function max. 60.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 50 stored photos
Self-timer Self-timer 10 or 2 s apart, special features: Triple release
Timer Timer/interval recording with max. 9,999 recordings, start time adjustable
Shooting functions Mirror lock-up, AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash no built-in flash availableFlash shoe
: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contactFlash connection socket
: F-plug
Flash range Flash sync time 1/250 s
Flash functions Auto, Fill-in flash, Flash on, Flash off, High speed sync, Long time sync, Flash on second shutter curtain, Red-eye reduction, Flash exposure compensation from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV

Equipment

Image stabilizer electronic image stabilizer and sensor shift (optical)
Memory
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
second memory card slot
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
GPS function GPS external (permanent smartphone connection)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply Power supply unit connectionUSB continuous power supplyUSB charging function
Power supply 1 x Panasonic DMW-BLF19E400
images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Video editing, crop images, rotate images, protect images, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 16.0x magnification, image index, slide show function with music and fade effects, zoom out
Face recognition Face recognition
Picture parameters Sharpness, contrast, color saturation
Special functions Electronic spirit level, Grid can be displayed, Zebra function, Orientation sensor, Live View, User profiles with 3 user profiles
Ports Data interfaces: Bluetooth, USBUSB type
:USB 3.1 SuperSpeedPlusWLAN
: available
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output (Type A
)Audio input: yes (3.5 mm jack (stereo, 3-pin))
Audio output: yes (3.5 mm stereo microphone jack)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″ in optical axis
Case Splash-proof, frost-proof up to -10 °C
Features and Miscellaneous 5-axis image stabilizer (Dual IS compatible
)High resolution mode 10,368 x 7,776 pixels120
fps viewfinder modeTouch
AF2
.5 mm jack for cable release6K
and 4K photo function with 30 fps or 60 fps exposure correction
Video +/- 3 EVPost focus
and focus stacking

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 137 x 97 x 92 mm
Weight 658 g (ready for operation)

Other

included accessories Battery, charger, USB cable, flash shoe cover, carrying strap, housing cover, eyecup
optional accessory Olympus FL-700WR Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorPanasonic
DMW-BGG9 Battery handlePanasonic
DMW-BTC13 Charger for special batteriesPanasonic
DMW-EC4 (eyecup)
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm 1.7 (H-X1025) Zoom lens

Firmware updates for the Panasonic S1, S1R, GH5, GH5S, G81/91/9, GX9: Function improvements and extensions

Panasonic announces the release of firmware updates for eight cameras of the Lumix-S and Lumix-G series on July 9, 2019. For example, the S-Series has an improved image stabilizer and autofocus, while the G-Series is compatible with the new 10-25mm lens. Affected are the cameras Panasonic Lumix S1, S1R, G81, G91, G9, GX9, GH5 and GH5S.

With the firmware update 1.2, Panasonic improves the image stabilizers of the Lumix S1 and S1R by half an f-stop. The housing stabilizer then achieves up to six f-stops compensation, the Dual IS2 with corresponding lens even up to 6.5 f-stops. Panasonic also enhances autofocus performance with two new modes that allow you to choose between closer and more distant subjects. For video recordings, the tracking AF is improved and the live image should be more visible during focusing after the update. In addition, operational reliability is improved when using XQD cards. In addition, the software key for the Lumix S1 can finally be purchased after the update, which unlocks further special video functions for professional users such as 10-bit data storage, V-Log, LUT, a WFM display function, 10-bit-compliant luminance settings and high-resolution sound recordings via an XLR microphone adapter.

The GH5 will receive the firmware update 2.5, the GH5S, G9, G81, G91 and GX9 on the other hand the version 1.3. They all have new functions in common for better support of the new lens Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm F1.7 Asph. So after the update a stepless aperture adjustment is possible for video recordings, optionally also via the lens ring. The older models GH5, GH5S, G81 and G9 also have improved compatibility with the remote release DMW-RS2, where the video button of the remote release can be deactivated in the menu. The G91 and GX9 already master this. The G91 also has the option of configuring the Fn button on the optional DMW-BGG1 battery handle via the menu.

 

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Peter Dench
I am Peter Dench. Digital Photographer, born in London 1972, currently living in Deerfield, near Chicago. I have numerous photography expositions and also working in model photography. In this website, PhotoPoint, I usually review cameras provided by local dealers in Illinois and by the manufacturers. Sometimes I, Peter Dench, review lenses too, but only when I have a suitable camera for them. Please let me know in the comments if I can improve any of these articles.