Since Panasonic launched the world’s first mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera in 2007, a lot has changed in the imaging industry. Both Sony and Fujifilm took to mirrorless and have succeeded; Sony with its full frame sensors and Fujifilm with APS-C sensors. Meanwhile, Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds partner, Olympus was caught up in all sorts of trouble of its own doing. Marketing of the Micro Four Thirds brands has also not been aggressive enough with the exception of a few countries.
Panasonic started with the G series, which are, in effect, smaller and lighter DSLRs without the mirror. The GM series ( viz. the GM1 and GM5) had miniaturized bodies. The GX series adopted the classic rangefinder look. Panasonic, however, put in maximum effort with the GH series which boasted top class video. The GH5, launched in 2016, focused on excellence in video capture and delivers superb video quality. In fact, it almost appeared that Panasonic was only interested in the video aspect of photography. Late 2017, however, changed it all with the launch of the G9 (there is no G8). Panasonic’s top end stills cum video camera with an emphasis on still photography. The G9 was launched in the world market in February 2018 but is still to be launched in India. The G9L version comes bundled with the 12-60mm f 2.8/4 Leica Elmarit lens.
Design & Build Quality
At 658 gms, the G9 is heavier than any camera in the G series. The G7 weighed only 542 gms. It is, however, lighter than the GH5 (725 gms). Also lighter than the G9 is the Olympus E-M1 Mk 11 at 574 gms. The bigger dimensions of the camera ( 137x97x92 mm) make it much easier to hold and with the battery grip, the G9 does feel like a pro camera.
The chassis is die cast magnesium alloy and the body is weather sealed. This includes all joints, dials and buttons. The design of the camera makes the grip deeper which is positive as far as handling is concerned.
Here we will look at what is special about the G9.
- The G9 is the first camera in the G series to come with a 20MP CMOS sensor. The sensor produces a maximum resolution of 5184nx 3888 and the image ratio can vary from 1:1 to 4:3 to 3:2 and to 16:9. ISO speeds range from 100 to 25600 plus auto.
- The G9 flaunts 225 focus points and autofocus can be achieved in 10 different modes.
- The TFT LCD viewfinder both tilts and swivels and has a screen size of 3inches and 1.04 million dots. Viewfinder coverage is 100% and magnification 1.66 times. The viewfinder can be operated by a touchscreen.
- Shutter speeds vary from 60 sec to 1/8000 sec and further to 1/32000 seconds in electronic mode.
- Exposure modes include:-
- Intelligent Auto
- Aperture priority
- Shutter priority
- Drive modes include:-
- 6K photo
- Post focus
- Self timer
- Time lapse
Continuous drive can be achieved at a speed of 20 frames per second.
- Slick High Resolution mode where the camera combines upto 8 images into an 80 MP file.
- The G9 offers a CIPA rated 6.5 stops of image stabilization which is the highest available in the market to date.
- On the video front, the G9 can shoot 4K/60p video. All focus modes can be used during video shooting.
We liked the G9’s contrast detection AF system and the Depth from Defocus technology. The G9’s autofocus tracking mode and Face Detection mode also were very effective. Panasonic’s 5 axis image stabilization combined with lens based stabilization is a notable plus point.
The G9, unlike the G7, does not have a built in flash.
The slightly larger size of the G9 makes it easier to grip. Also, the Micro Four Thirds system produces the smallest and lightest lenses in their class. Therefore, there is little risk of the lens weighing the camera down. The G9L comes as a bundle packaged with the 12-60mm (24-120mm) f2.8/4 Leica Elmarit lens. The lens pares very well with the body.
The large number of dials help on the handling front; so does the top LCD plate. We did feel that there were too many function buttons. The touchscreen function also worked well. Two SD card slots and a high speed USB 3.0 port are other useful features.
Let us start by saying that the G9 delivered the best performance ever from a Panasonic mirrorless stills camera. Contributing to this overall performance is the excellent Contrast Detection autofocus system aided by Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus technology. The 225 AF points are a clear plus point enabling the camera to track subjects accurately at an impressive speed. Also impressive is the burst continuous shooting speed at 20fps.
Using both the camera and compatible lenses, the G9’s 5 axis image stabilization system gives a 6.5 stop advantage. The High Res mode is particularly useful for landscape photography where there is no movement in the picture.
The G9’s exposure and white balance system worked reliably.
Overall, the G9 produced still images of high quality at both low and medium settings and these results are more than a match for any other DSLRs. At very high ISO speeds, the limitations of the smaller sensor start to appear, but do you ever use these high speeds? On the video front, the G9 captures high quality 4K and Full HD video at up to 180fps and video performance comes close to the GH5.
Clearly, this is Panasonic’s best camera in the G series. It is also a good video performer.
If you want a mirrorless camera system where both the body and the lens are smaller and lighter, and your image taking does not involve high ISOs, the G9 would make an excellent choice. At its international price of 1800 pound sterling, you will also save a lot of money that can be utilized in buying more lenses or accessories.