First impressions of the NEW Panasonic Lumx G9

November 08, 2017  •  1 Comment

The past two days I have been in Cascais, just outside Lisbon in Portugal supporting the product launch at the Panasonic Digital Imaging Seminar of the new Lumix G9.

(iPhone snap of the event)

As with all product launches there is an embargo, but as this embargo is lifted as of 09:00 on 8/11/2017, I can now start to give my first impressions of the camera. 

Panasonic LUMIX G9Panasonic LUMIX G9Panasonic LUMIX G9 (PRNewsfoto/Panasonic Consumer Electronics)

G9 - form factor: a camera built for serious stills photography without compromising the compact heritage of mirrorless cameras.

Let me start with some of the highlight features before giving my first impressions having shot with the camera:

  • The G9 is marketed as having the "highest-ever" picture quality in a Lumix camera, 20.3MP with no low pass filter on the sensor 
  • The G9 has increased processing power with a New Venus Engine at its core
  • Increased in body stabilisation with 6.5 stops, 5 axis and dual I.S.
  • A high resolution shooting mode which produces 80MP images
  • Increased AF speeds of 0.04 seconds
  • Increased burst shooting speeds, in AFS mode the camera shoots at 60 fps, and in continuous auto focus the camera shoots at 20 fps
  • A large 0.83K 2680K OLED LVF
  • Splash/Dust/Cold proof with a magnesium alloy body
  • 200,000 shutter count life
  • A double SD recording slot which can be customised for recording configurations and back up
  • 6K photo feature
  • Video
    • AVCHD Progressing MP4
    • 4K 60/50p (4:2:0 8bit) 150Mbps

    • 4K 30/25/24p (4:2:0 8Bit) 100Mpbs

    • 4:2:2 8Bit output & 4:2:0 8Bit internal recording (except 4K 60/50p)

    • 4:2:0 8Bit output & 4:2:0 8Bit internal recording (4K 60p/50p)

  • The camera includes a status LCD on the top of the camera
  • Increased customisation with a front located custom function lever
  • USB connection allowing direct charging of the camera with a power bank.

(iPhone snap of the event)

In addition to the G9, Panasonic announced a new lens, the Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f2.8 power O.I.S. The lens comes as a kit with a 1.4X teleconverter. This lens represents a 400mm focal length equivalent in a full frame camera, and with the 1.4X teleconverter a 560mm focal range equivalent in a full frame camera. The lens has Image Stabilisation and is weather proof.

Both the camera and lens have been clearly been positioned in the wildlife, nature and outdoor photography segments. At the launch Panasonic executives acknowledged the role of the ambassadors in providing feedback during the camera design phase and I am very product to have been part of this process of the last year. Given that wildlife photography is my main focus, it was an incredible opportunity to share my shooting experience in the field with a major brand and to have that brand listen and take action in developing the final product. 

 

(iPhone snap of the event - showing the Ambassador program)

So what are my first impressions? 

Given I was supporting the launch and guiding different media groups through the project launch, I had limited time to get to grips with the camera. Panasonic organised a shooting tour with different stations to allow visitors to try out some of the new features. This included both indoor, model and still life shooting, and outdoor nature and sports shooting. Of all the shooting possibilities on offer during the launch I was drawn to the outdoors and the natural light. Portugal has the most amazing light, and coming from Belgium I just had to take advantage of this. I was also keen to see how the camera could hold up shooting directly into the sun, or with the sun as a back lighting source, and even looking at possibilities for contra-jour silhouettes and rim lighting subjects. These are all creative skills I use in wildlife photography. 

 

G9 Panorama shot pre event on the Sunday (5/11/2017) of the shooting location near Cascais.

The main camera I shoot with is the GH5 and I have the GX8 as a "B cam" which I have really been enjoying due to its smaller form factor. The G9 sits in between these two cameras in terms of size and with the 200mm f2.8 lens feels very well balanced in hand. Panasonic now has two lenses that are really suited to wildlife photography, with the 100-400mm f4.0-6.3 being the other lens. Both lenses feel balanced and comfortable on the G9 in hand. The camera is still a true mirrorless in terms of size and form factor. The design has a number of key features which places the camera much more in the stills photography segment, and these features are ones that professionals will be very familiar with; a new dedicated on/off switch, and intelligent design of shooting mode, and shooting drive dials integrated on top of one another, and a dedicated top camera space for the LCD display. 

G9 with 200mm f2.8 lens - the camera did a great job with harsh contrast light.

G9 with 200mm f2.8 lens

Another very smart feature is the addition of a custom function lever at the front of the camera. This differs slightly from the Custom Shooting Modes; C1, C2, C3. The custom function lever can be completely set up with shutter speed, aperture, iso, and in addition, picture profile, auto focus mode and so on. This can effectively mean you can "program" these custom settings to have almost two completely different cameras. As a wildlife photographer that shoots with two bodies (often one for stills and one for video) this means at the flip of a switch I can change my camera from a stills shooting camera set up to a video shooting camera set up. Or I could have a colour shooting mode set up, with a black and white mode set up. Or I could have the camera set up on one mode to pinpoint focus with slow shutter speeds for creative shooting and the other mode to AF tracking mode and fast shutter speed for action or sports. These modes accessible instantaneously by the flip of a lever. This is seriously impressive. 

G9 with 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens

 

G9 with 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens

G9 with 200mm f2.8 lens

During the outdoor shooting session what stood out for me is the improved speed and accuracy of the auto focus system. The camera now has 4 dedicated autofocus modes when in continuous autofocus mode. This is really on a par with many professional end cameras. What Panasonic brings to the table is a more intuitive was of setting up the modes both in the menus and via the rear screen or viewfinder, and the fact that in AFC mode the burst speed is now an impressive 20 frames per second. As a wildlife photographer I am really keen to put this through its paces for bird photographer, with birds in flight which are notoriously difficult to photography. In the outdoor shooting session I had a play with the Autofocus tracking with a surfer and it performed well, locking on and tracking the subject as he surfed along the wave. 

G9 with 200mm f2.8 lens

G9 with 200mm f2.8 lens

G9 with 200mm f2.8 lens

G9 with 200mm f2.8 lens

One area I am really excited is to try the high resolution mode out for Landscape Photography. However there may be a slight wait before Lightroom will play catch up in order to import and develop these RAW files. The high resolution mode requires a tripod and is best suited to static shots. I'm really keen to put this mode through it's paces and also using my Lee foundation filter kit and try to understand how far I can push the resulting image all the way through to print. 

The dual image stabilisation is now at a level which I believe will start to push the creative boundaries for both wildlife and landscape photography. With 6.5 stops of image stabilisation, this means that a shot at 1/400 shutter speed can effectively be shot at 1/4th of a second hand held (in theory). I am keen to put this into practice. I have already seen incredible impressive results shooting vervet monkeys in South Africa in low light with the GH5 at 1/15 and getting everything sharp. Having this level of image stabilisation is a great asset with a small sensor camera for low light shooting. It allows us to have confidence in slowing our shutter speed in certain situations and with static subjects and get a well exposed shot. 

For such a short time shooting my first impressions are very positive. There are all the characteristics there in the camera which made me move to a mirrorless, micro four thirds format, but with a feeling that this is a much more serious and powerful offering. There is clearly much more processing power in the camera and I can only imagine, but yet have to test thoroughly, that this will positively impact overall image quality. It is an exciting time and I am hoping to get out and about with the camera, pending the weather to shoot some local landscapes very soon.

Stay tuned to this blog as I will be developing my thoughts further on this camera as I shoot more with it in the field.  

Until next time...

Jon 

 


Comments

Andy(non-registered)
Hi Jon
Thanks for sharing your first impressions, very positive. Lovely images too.

I currently use a GX8 with the 100-40mm pl, and was considering getting a G80 as it appears to be better suited to wildlife use, particularly birds in flight. I really struggle to use the GX8 for that.

Maybe I should wait for the GX9 or perhaps get a G80 for now and more if up to G9 if necessary.

How you had anymore time with the G9 now? If so any further thoughts particularly around image quality?

Regards
Andy
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