Panasonic Lumix G9 review: The finest mirrorless camera that money can purchase

Panasonic Lumix G9 review
Panasonic Lumix G9 review

Panasonic Lumix G9 review: The finest mirrorless camera that money can purchase

With mighty impressive image stabilisation, an ultra-sensitive shutter, super-fast burst mode, achieved continuous autofocus and burst capturing, plus a viewfinder that is unrivalled by any mirrorless mannequin, the G9 actually is the finest mirrorless camera that money can purchase.

The road between DSLR and mirrorless cameras continues to blur, with the Panasonic Lumix G9 gunning to be the primary alternative for pro Photoers. In lots of respects, that is the camera to stop the disparity between the codecs; it is virtually like a “mirrorless DSLR”.

The G9 gives oodles of enchantment by slicing out the standard irks that many mirrorless cameras can current: it is obtained an enormous viewfinder with near-instant startup; a super-fast 20fps continuous autofocus mode at full decision; it provides a light-up status LCD screen (which you will discover nowhere else besides on a mirrorless Leica); and gives improved battery longevity with as much as 920 Photos per cost.

Having used the Lumix G9 with quite a lot of lenses for 2 weeks – in each South Africa on safari and Vietnam whereas travelling – we have come to assume that it is maybe the finest mirrorless cameras that money can purchase. Certainly, it is so good that we would lean away from the Fujifilm X-T2 and Panasonic’s personal GH5 in its favour.

How does it differ from the GH5?

  • All-new status LCD screen atop camera
  • Dual IS 2 gives 6.5-stop image stabilisation
  • Redesigned physique with further deep grip and textured leather-like coating
  • 4K at 60fps video recording furtherly attainable

There isn’t any skirting across the presence of the Lumix GH5 – a camera that is already largely achieved on this sector, but which is probably extra extensively seen as a videographers’ camera. That is the place the G9 matches into the equation in another way: the image processing has been tuned particularly for stills images, whereas the Dual IS 2 image stabilisation system is improved, too (to six.5 stops).

Our largest take-away from the G9, but, is its design. It is a larger, blockier camera that is loads nearer in seems to be to a traditional DSLR than every other mirrorless camera we have seen. The grip is ultra-deep to make for a really perfect deal with on the camera – though, relying on the lens you are utilizing, it is perhaps too deep for comfy dealing with of smaller lenses, equivalent to pancake primes. The textured leather-like end can also be deeper than every other camera we have seen, too, which aids gloved use. And the shutter button is ultra-sensitive – identical to you will discover on a pro DSLR (and which could take some getting used to).

The opposite important characteristic to make the G9 stand aside from the GH5 is the inclusion of a status LCD screen atop the camera. This light-up window shows present settings and it is the primary time we have seen it in a mirrorless camera at this scale (okay, the Leica SL has a status screen too, but that camera is an entire other proposition).

You is perhaps considering that the G9 would more-or-less get rid of its video features to give attention to stills, leaving that for the GH5 to rule. but no, Panasonic has ensured the G9 comes with as much as 4K seize at 60fps (albeit with 4:2:Zero 8-bit output and with out HLG attainable, placing it a peg behind). So you will not precisely be quick modified there both.

The very finest electronic viewfinder, ever

  • 3,680k-dot 120fps 0.83x magnification electronic viewfinder
  • 1,040k-dot vari-angle LCD touchscreen

The electronic viewfinder is a long-established and sometimes maligned characteristic on the planet of electronic cameras. When such digitised screens first appeared, they had been a great distance behind what’s on supply in the present day. And the Lumix G9 is not shy to capitalise on what’s accessible, providing one of the finest electronic viewfinder we have utilized in a camera up to now.

It isn’t simply right down to the decision – but, okay, the three.68 million dots is aplenty – but extra the magnification (which pertains to the bodily measurement of the panel you will see to your eye). The G9’s 0.83x equal magazine makes for an enormous image – we won’t assume of a bigger equal in any camera, come to consider it, as even the Fujifilm X-T2 has 0.77x, the Canon 1D X II has 0.76x, the Nikon D850 has 0.75x – that nearly extends to the purpose of peripheral imaginative and prescient. Which may very well be thought of a weak point, ought to you end up “wanting round” the preview making an attempt to get issues lined up completely – but Panasonic has included a V.Mode button to step down the magnification (along with full 0.83x there are two extra steps).

The opposite massively essential issue is that the panel used has a 120fps refresh charge, doubling what you will discover from the competitors. This excessive frame-rate is essential as a result of it reduces ghosting and tearing, making for an excellent clean image to the attention that screens the true world. Begin-up of the finder is ultra-quick too, with not one of the ready round we have present in other mirrorless cameras being a difficulty.

The one downside we have had with the finder, but, is because of the detachable viewfinder cup. It isn’t the tightest of matches, and will it slide even a minute means out of place it blocks the sensor and computerized startup can turn out to be a difficulty. This looser-than-usual match furtherly noticed our finder cup fall off and vanish fully over the course of our two weeks of use. Whoops.

It isn’t simply concerning the viewfinder, in fact, as a mirrorless camera can shoot simply as proficiently when utilizing its rear screen as it will probably by way of the finder. And the Lumix G9 comes with a 3.0-inch touchscreen panel, sat on a vari-angle bracket to permit the screen to be manipulated by way of varied angles as you please. That is more and more customary in such cameras in the present day, but that is precisely why we see it as essential characteristic in the finest way we now work. Oddly, but, the screen is smaller than discovered within the GH5 – and it is not as if the G9 lacks bodily house for a bigger one.

Performance to rival a pro DSLR?

  • “World’s fastest autofocus” with 0.04s second acquisition
  • electronic shutter maximum: 20fps continuous autofocus; 60fps single autofocus
  • Mechanical shutter maximum: 9fps continuous autofocus; 12fps single autofocus
  • 125-area autofocus system
  • Splash, mud and freeze-proof construction

The Lumix G9 is not mucking about in relation to other high-end features. The autofocus is ultra-fast, to the purpose that Panasonic describes it as its fastest but. Which is useful if you’re within the South African bush making an attempt to seize Photos of kudu. That stated, the G9 does not exactly really feel faster than the GH5 by way of autofocus, even whether it is 0.0-something quicker in technical terms.

We have lengthy praised Panasonic’s autofocus setup for its proficiency. For us it is the one to beat within the mirrorless market – though it is not all the time felt on par with a DSLR’s section detection system in relation to shifting topics. The G9 appears to repair that difficulty, but, as we have discovered when capturing passing moped riders in Vietnam carrying an array of more and more large cargo. Get the shutter velocity proper, panning on level and the speedy continuous autofocus – which might have the variety of energetic factors restricted and repositioned as you please, plus varied velocity customisation changes – and the G9 is very capable.

Plus it is one helluva quick camera. Quick enough to maintain even sports Photoers glad. Its headline 60fps burst capturing must be thought of on steadiness, but, as that requires electronic shutter use (which isn’t nice for all lighting eventualities, as a consequence of flicker/banding) and a single level of focus. That stated, a 20fps burst with continuous autofocus is feasible, placing it up there as one of many fastest cameras in the marketplace.

If electronic shutter isn’t any good for you – we find it irresistible as a result of it is silent, subsequently discreet, whether or not you are capturing golfers earlier than the tee or wildlife that in any other case would possibly scupper – then the mechanical shutter furtherly snaps away shortly, at 12fps in single autofocus or 9fps in continuous autofocus. That usurps the X-T2 from prime spot, nevertheless it’s a peg behind the Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII’s 18fps continuous autofocus.

Along with a major 125 autofocus areas, the Lumix system furtherly features Pinpoint AF for crosshair accuracy, which is what we use steadily for but topics. The way in which it zooms in to 100 per cent scale on screen can help with guaranteeing excellent focus. That stated, ought to a topic transfer even barely it will probably value the ultimate image – and we would like to see a Canon EOS 5D MkIV-style “tremendous uncooked” format to permit for minute focus adjustment after capturing (certain, Panasonic gives Put up Focus capturing, but that is to be used on a tripod and would not clear up the state of affairs we’re speaking about).

Customisable to outsmart other mirrorless cameras

  • Perform lever for 2 user-defined presets
  • Dual user-defined drive modes
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • Battery saving mode to 920 Photos per cost
  • Non-obligatory battery grip accessible for elevated longevity

The opposite space the Lumix G9 is clearly proficient is in its stage of customisation. Panasonic has lengthy supplied the flexibility to assign capabilities to the assorted “Fn” (perform) buttons which are positioned across the camera, but within the G9 it goes one step further with the introduction of a Perform lever.

This lever, discovered to the lower left of the camera (when raised to eye), has a easy two positions to toggle between, making it attainable to setup the camera in two quick-to-launch varieties. No have to go endlessly digging into menus, because the flick of a swap might present all of the customisations you want. That stated, we have not discovered we have used it that a lot, whereas the same “2×2 dial” discovered on some Olympus mirrorless cameras’ rears feels higher positioned.

The identical may be stated of drive mode: there are I and II burst capturing choices on the drive mode ring, which may be setup for various capturing eventualities. Certain, might cameras have quick/medium/gradual burst capturing choices in the same place, but on the G9 you’ll be able to select what every mode is about to with higher precision. Whether or not that is electronic shutter at 20fps continuous autofocus on II and mechanical shutter at 12fps single autofocus on I, or one thing totally other to fit your preferences. There are some bugs right here, but, with the II choice usually persevering with to shoot past the shutter being pressed – and requiring a battery pull to stop operation. Teething points forward of the ultimate launch, we’re certain.

Dual setup, Dual burst capturing, and a Dual SD card slot proceed to entertain the G9’s “Dual” theme. Each slots are UHS-II appropriate for optimum switch velocity, which will definitely turn out to be useful when you determine to whirr off 60 frames in a second at full decision, or need to seize 4K video.

Even battery modes are customisable, which is an effective job given how poor mirrorless cameras’ battery lives are typically. We have discovered the Lumix G9 to final effectively in context to its competitors, but that is within the area of 400 frames per cost – and it is tough to gauge battery stage, as there is no proportion monitor.

Nevertheless, there’s a battery saving mode, which greater than doubles the battery life for as much as 920 Photos per cost. The mode will put the camera to sleep at each alternative, but, which does decelerate the capturing course of – so we have avoiding utilizing it. Carrying spare batteries has been out desire. Or purchase the elective battery grip (free for individuals who pre-order the G9, £309 for individuals who choose it up after the actual fact), nevertheless it’s a disgrace this will solely host one further battery moderately than two.

What’s image quality like?

  • 20-megapixel Live MOS sensor
  • 80-megapixel Excessive-Res mode
  • 6K Photo mode
  • Micro 4 Thirds lens mount
  • New Leica 200mm f/2.Eight lens accessible (£2,700)

Being a camera aimed toward stills Photoers over videographers, the Lumix G9 is not wildly totally other to the GH5 in its like-for-like image quality to our eyes, as each cameras utilise the identical 20-megapixel sensor. Nevertheless, the engineers behind the scenes have tailored default processing to be somewhat sharper, dynamic vary expanded and colors somewhat extra pure general.

We’re moderately spoiled, actually, given how good image quality has turn out to be. Which is an effective job general, because the Live MOS sensor on the coronary heart of the G9, regardless of being barely smaller than some rivals, does not undergo by way of sharpness or image noise processing in consequence. Even the G9’s ISO 6400 Photos look nice.

The true take-away from our shoot in South Africa, but, is how vital lens choice is. The brand new 200mm f/2.Eight Leica being a chief instance of simply how sharply resolved Photos may be – notably noticeable with animal fur and other subtleties. Certain, it is not an inexpensive lens, at £2,700, but with a 400mm equal focal size out of the field and a 1.4x magnifier included (for a 560mm f/4.Zero equal), it is really world class in its skills. And it’s miles, far smaller than the same quality lens could be on a DSLR with a bigger sensor.

Being spoiled with such lens quality does go to spotlight the distinction you will discover with some much less capable glass, but. Sure, the Micro 4 Thirds vary has a heap of lenses accessible – together with these from Olympus, that are cross-compatible – but choose what you employ properly when you’re seeking to the G9 as a really pro-grade camera. It’s going to be this that defines the camera past a few of its rivals, and what we have discovered has made it an further particular mirrorless mannequin.

image straight from camera seems to be nice, by and huge holding image noise at bay, though the default color profile is considerably muted. We ended up capturing in Vivid the vast majority of the time to elevate the color palette somewhat. As ever, there is no baseline ISO 100 setting both – issues kick off at ISO 200. but small gripes, actually, given the impressive outcomes we have been capable of shoot with little publish.

Along with the 20MP Photos, the G9 is the primary Lumix camera to introduce Excessive-Res mode, which is able to capturing 80-megapixels. It does this through the use of the image stabilisation system to offset the sensor a pixel at a time in 4 instructions after which gathers the extra information for a massively resolute shot – a lot in the identical means as Olympus gives in its newest OM-D cameras.

After all, given the finest way Excessive-Res mode mode capabilities, it will probably’t be used handheld – you will want whole stillness from a camera help, equivalent to a tripod, and wish a very but topic too. But when but life is your factor then medium format decision isn’t any dangerous factor. At current, it is a bit too fussy to pick out throughout the menu system and we predict must be extra simply accessible.

General, the Lumix G9 gives not solely nice image quality straight from camera, but an ideal vary of features – together with exceptionally sturdy in-camera image stabilisation – to realize the proper footage within the first occasion. When you’re unfussed about having an enormous sensor for enhanced depth of discipline management, then the velocity and quality from the G9 is correct up there.

Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix G9 does not solely step up what mirrorless cameras can do – surpassing even the Fujifilm X-T2 in lots of areas – it efficiently locations itself in among the many DSLR elite. It is a very impressive little bit of package certainly.

Nevertheless, having already described it as a “mirrorless DSLR”, that does imply the G9 is on a big scale in comparison with maximum mirrorless cameras. In lots of respects that is to benefit – the massive grip, for instance, makes it a deal with to deal with with longer lenses – but when you’re anticipating a small and light-weight chuck-it-in-a-bag expertise then, effectively, that is not the purpose of this camera.

At first we weren’t certain the G9 outlined itself enough from the GH5, but after weeks of use we’re now sure it does. With mighty impressive image stabilisation, an ultra-sensitive shutter, super-fast burst mode, achieved continuous autofocus and burst capturing, plus a viewfinder that is unrivalled by any mirrorless mannequin, the G9 actually is the finest mirrorless camera that money can purchase.

The Panasonic Lumix G9 is offered from 1 January 2018, priced £1500 body-only, £2020 with the Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-Four lens, and £1670 with the Panasonic 12-16mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The Leica 200mm f/2.Eight lens might be priced £2700. The elective battery grip will value £309 (but is free for pre-order clients).

Fujifilm X-T2

The mirrorless camera to set the benchmark again in 2016, particularly when paired with the elective battery grip, the X-T2 continues to be a stellar camera. but Panasonic’s wider lens vary, further features and video capabilities supply but wider enchantment.