Panasonic G9: the ultimate photographer’s tool?

Video capture is present, UHD 4K, and with everything else most users will need, but with the G9, Panasonic is looking at photographers, offering them a mirrorless that looks more and more like a DSLR.

Panasonic G9: is it the the ultimate photographer’s tool?

Evolving from the GH5, the Panasonic G9 offers a 20.3 megapixel Digital Live MOS Sensor without a low-pass filter and is presented as the best mirrorless camera for capturing moving subjects in sharp focus.

According to the press-release from Panasonic, this new model has a few “world firsts” for its class, something that may well become less relevant when you’re out in the field using it. The numbers may be important, but it’s the sum of all parts that, apparently, makes this a “must buy” model for those using the Micro Four Thirds format. The G9 continues to be mostly a camera for stills, although its video section reflects the investment Panasonic has made in the area, and so may well suit the needs of many users.

Video is UHD 4K at up to 60fps, using the full width of the sensor, and slow-motion video can go all the way up to 180fps in Full HD, with the camera allowing users to capture both 6K and 4K stills.  Headphone and microphone ports are present, and the 5-axis Dual I.S. 2.0 present works for both photo and motion picture recording, including 4K video. Panasonic adds that the new High Sensitivity MOS Sensor helps to suppress the rolling shutter effect.

Still, it’s photography it is all about. Panasonic claims this is the “The Ultimate Photo Shooting Camera” and points to the sensor, which allows the G9, to achieve the highest image quality in the history of all the Lumix G Digital Single Lens Mirrorless cameras. The 20.3-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor comes without low-pass filter, to completely explore the performance of the lens attached to the camera and the Venus Engine 10 rendering high-precision yet natural images with its Multipixel Luminance Generation and Intelligent Detail Processing.

Panasonic G9: is it the the ultimate photographer’s tool?

Panasonic says that “an optimum gradation setting according to the characteristics of the sensor provides a wider dynamic range for smoother gradation”, while an AR coating on the sensor minimizes ghosts and flaring even in backlighting. This is not all, as Tuned Three-dimensional Color Control detects not only hue and saturation but also brightness, and applies optimal control according to the value of each factor. This achieves rich color reproduction from dark to bright parts of the image, which especially improves the expression of skies or human skin. A Tuned High Precision Multi Process NR boasts high noise identification accuracy and preserves details even after the noise reduction process, which results in natural textures and precise detail especially in middle to high sensitivity image recording.

If you need more resolution out of the sensor, it is there, in the new High Resolution mode, which produces an 80-megapixel equivalent (10368 x 7776) image by synthesizing 8 consecutively shot images while shifting the sensor. Not only JPEG but also RAW can be produced in the camera, without the need for software processing. This impressive high resolution photo is ideal for landscape and product photography using a tripod.

Image stabilization is another area where Panasonic invested when developing the G9. To achieve stable handheld shooting even in slower shutter speed, the Body I.S. (Image Stabilizer) in the LUMIX G9 engineers adopted a newly developed algorithm that precisely calculates shake information acquired not only from a gyro sensor, but also from the image sensor and accelerometer sensor. This enables more accurate shake detection and compensation, making it possible to use a 6.5-stop slower shutter speeds. Notably, movement with characteristically low-frequency is suppressed more effectively to use slower shutter speeds. With its high mobility achieved by the compact, lightweight design and powerful Body I.S., this LUMIX G Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera makes previously impossible shooting, such as handheld 800mm (35mm camera equivalent) ultra-telephoto shooting possible, says Panasonic.

There is more, though. Combining  B.I.S.(Body Image Stabilizer, 5-axis) and O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer, 2-axis), the 5-axis Dual I.S. (Image Stabilizer) – which can be used with some lenses – in the LUMIX G9 compensates for larger movements that were conventionally uncontrollable. Maximizing both O.I.S and B.I.S. is highly beneficial in telephoto shots and in adverse situations, such as at night or with one-handed shooting with a 6.5-stop slower shutter speed. One important aspect relevant to cinematographers it that the B.I.S. compensates for camera movement even when a lens without O.I.S. (e.g. a cine lens) is used.

Panasonic G9: is it the the ultimate photographer’s tool?

The auto focus speed is another point where the G9 moves ahead of previous Panasonic models, to offer, what the company claims is “outstanding tracking performance and high-speed, high-precision AF”. To achieve those results, the DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating two images with different sharpness levels while instantly consulting the optical characteristics data of the current lens. Panasonic’s combination of the Contrast AF with DFD technology was further advanced in the LUMIX G9 together with the speed of the sensor drive during auto focusing in photo shooting, which achieves 480 fps. Consequently, the LUMIX G9 realizes an ultra-high-speed AF of approximately 0.04 sec and 60 (AFS) / 20(AFC) fps high-speed burst shooting using an electronic shutter at full resolution.

Thanks to the high processing performance of the Venus Engine 10, the LUMIX G9 incorporates Deep Learning technology that detects a human body in addition to the conventional face and eye detection. The AF Point Scope function is also new on the LUMIX G9. It magnifies subjects that are far away to capture them in clear focus.

For more precise focusing, the focus areas are increased from 49 to 225-areas in addition to the conventional Face/Eye Recognition, Tracking AF, 1-area AF and Pinpoint AF. Users can make a group of 225 focus areas and move or change the size of it as they like according to the composition. All focusing operations are easily controlled with the newly adopted joystick located on the thumb position without taking the eyes off of the subject even when using an LVF or releasing the finger from the shutter button. The LUMIX G9 is equipped with AF Custom Settings with which users can set AF Sensitivity, AF Area Switching Sensitivity and Moving Object Prediction Level. Four patterns of presets are also available for frequently used situations.

Able to shoot at 20 fps (AFC) / 60 fps (AFS) at the sensor’s full resolution, the G9 is the fastest in its class, allowing Panasonic to claim that it is the best mirrorless camera for capturing moving subjects in sharp focus. With its high tracking performance to the subject, the LUMIX G9 doesn’t lose the target subject. Pre-burst shooting is also new on LUMIX G9, which starts shooting 0.4 sec in advance to releasing the shutter.

For more continuous burst shooting, the 6K PHOTO makes it possible to capture the unmissable moments at 30 fps by extracting the frame with the best timing out of a 6K burst file (in 4:3 or 3:2 aspect) to save as an approx. 18-megapixel equivalent high resolution photo. The 4K PHOTO is also upgraded to enable 60 fps high-speed capture in approx.8-megapixel equivalent resolution. In 6K PHOTO /4K PHOTO, three exclusive modes can be chosen from depending on the situation; 6K Burst / 4K Burst, 6K Burst (Start/Stop) / 4K Burst (Start/Stop) and 6K Pre-burst / 4K Pre-burst. Users can choose the most suitable burst shooting mode in addition to the regular consecutive shooting mode in full resolution depending on the situation.

Panasonic G9: is it the the ultimate photographer’s tool?

The Live ViewFinder is one of the innovations of the G9. Featuring the largest-in-class Live ViewFinder (LVF) with a high magnification ratio of approx.1.66x / 0.83x (35mm camera equivalent) which can be switched among 0.7x, 0.77x and 0.83x according to the shooting situation, the high-precision, high-speed OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display features 3,680K-dot high resolution and 100% field of view.

Adoption of OLED for the LVF achieves smooth display at 120 fps and high speed response with minimum time lag of less than 0.005 sec as well as 10,000:1 high contrast for exceptional visibility. No blackout occurs even in high speed burst shooting, so as not to lose sight of the subject. With an eye point of approximately 21 mm, it offers high visibility with comfort for users wearing glasses. It is always sharp and clear from the center all the way to the corners. The LUMIX G9 incorporates Night mode which provides mild backlighting. It lets the user watch the subject comfortably immediately after viewing the monitor while in a dark situation for a long period of time.

Externally there are some changes, with the appearance of a largest-in-class Status LCD on the top, allowing users to check the settings at a glance. The Fn lever makes it possible to change the setting quickly once frequently-used settings are assigned. The LUMIX G9 also comes with a joystick at the optimal position to achieve intuitive focus area control without taking the eyes off of the viewfinder, together with a focus lever and AF mode button. Dials on the grip and Fn buttons are also located in the best position to operate unseen.

Panasonic G9: is it the the ultimate photographer’s tool?

Designed for heavy field use, the G9’s main structure is composed of a magnesium alloy full die-cast front/rear frame. Secure construction and a sealing for every joint, dial, and button make the LUMIX G9 not only splash proof and dustproof but also freeze proof down to 14°F (-10 degrees Celsius).

The LUMIX G9 is equipped with a double SD Memory Card slot compatible with high-speed, high capacity UHS-II. Users can flexibly choose the recording method from Relay Recording, Backup Recording or Allocation Recording. In Relay Recording, the data will be written on the SD Memory Card in the second slot when the SD Memory Card in the first slot is full. The content will be written in both SD Memory Cards in the first and second slot simultaneously in Backup Recording. In Allocation Recording, data is automatically allocated to the SD Memory Card in the designated slot by the type of content – RAW, JPEG, 6K PHOTO / 4K PHOTO, or 4K video data. For example, users can store only photos on the SD Memory Card in slot 1 and videos in slot 2. Moreover, both slots are equipped with access lamps so users can tell which SD Memory Card is under writing and which can be ejected at a glance.
The LUMIX G9 enables not only power charging but also power feeding via USB, which enhances extended shooting time.

The LUMIX G9 integrates Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to offer a more flexible shooting experience and instant image sharing with easy operation, as usual these days. For the Wi-Fi, 5GHz (IEEE802.11ac) is effective in addition to the conventional 2.4GHz (IEEE802.11b/g/n. This provides even secure and stable connection not only with a smartphone/tablet but also with other devices on location for smooth remote control. Transmission speed of photo/video data is also increased up by using the 5GHz-band, which is not available in some countries, but is a welcome addition to be used when available.

The new G9 and all accessories – Panasonic announced a list, including a battery grip which some users will appreciate –  will be available in early January 2018. The G9 (body only) suggested price will be $1699.99 and the Battery Grip $349.99.


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Jose Antunes

I am a writer and photographer living on the West Coast of Portugal, a place I tend to call the Atlantic Realm. An area of rugged cliffs and sandy beaches overlooking the sea, a coastal area sitting between the Atlantic Ocean waves and hills and forests with some of the most magical palaces, castles and prehistorical sites for you to visit and photograph. Little hamlets, vast fields, inviting you to a contemplative state of mind. That’s where I live, and the landscape surely makes you what you are.

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