Panasonic have just announced the Panasonic Lumix G9, a high-end Micro Four Thirds camera that is photography focused. Similar in size and spec to the video feature rich GH5, Panasonic describe the G9 as their ultimate stills offering.
It uses the same 20.3-megapixel sensor as the GH5 but improves processing using an enhanced Venus Engine processor for improved skin tones, extra detail, and better noise control. Continuous shooting rates now bring it up to speed with the Olympus Micro Four Thirds flagship stills camera, the E-M1 Mark II, with continuous shooting rates of up to 60 fps with AF-S, and 20 fps with AF-C when using the G9's electronic shutter, or 12 fps for AF-S and 9 fps for AF-C using the mechanical shutter.
Panasonic claim to get an extra stop out of the 5-axis dual I.S. system than the GH5, from 5.5 stops, to 6.5 stops. The G9 body is splash, dust, and freeze-proof to perform in challenging conditions, and has two SD UHS-II U3 card slots. It still only uses a contrast-based focus system instead of a phase detection system, but claims to beat competitors in tracking subjects using its DFD system, something that we’ll keep a close eye in initial testing.
The most significant physical change to the GH5, and every other mirrorless camera on the market, is the LCD status screen on the top of the body. With their recent release of their tethering app, Panasonic genuinely believe they have a camera system that a professional photographer can feel comfortable using in almost all situations.
Other new features for a Panasonic camera include a high resolution mode, similar to the one seen in the E-M1 Mark II. using sensor-shift stabilization technology the G9 can use a High Resolution Mode to capture and compile eight separate images to create a single 80-megapixel raw file. The camera needs to stay stationary for this to work.
6K and 4K photo modes also feature in the G9 in Burst and Pre-Burst modes, enabling to extract 8-megapixel stills at a 60 or 30 fps shooting rate, or 18-megapixel stills at a 30 fps shooting rate.
It features Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC and Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, and the camera can be powered using the USB port.
Certain features from the GH5 will not be found in the G9, like internal 400 Mbps 10-bit color depth or V-log, but it still packs an impressive punch. Apart from the GH5, the G9 will be one of the only mirrorless consumer cameras that includes UHD 4K video recording at 60p at 150 Mbps. Full HD can be shot at up to 180 fps, matching the GH5 in this regard. There is a HDMI output included to send an 8-bit 4:2:2 up to 4K 30p. A headphone jack and 3.5mm microphone input is also included, making it an incredibly capable video camera, and trumping the EM-1 Mark II.
Who’s It For?
This camera will sit in tandem with the GH5 as Panasonic’s high-end offering, with the GH5 for videographers who want an enabled stills shooter, and the G9 being the opposite. This could also be useful as a B-camera to compliment the GH5, albeit and expensive option when the Lumix G85 is a cheaper alternative for a B-camera.
I’ve been shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for almost a year, and it is superior stills shooter compared to the GH5. The G9 brings matches almost every feature in the E-M1 Mark II bar phase detection, but improves significantly on video offerings, and undercuts the price by around $100.
It’s one of the largest flagship mirrorless cameras, and some will say that surely the point of mirrorless technology is to reduce your camera size. And that $1,697.99 is way too much for a Micro Four Thirds camera. But I’ve been shooting professionally with Micro Four Thirds cameras pretty much since the release of the E-M1, and found the system wholly efficient, and capable for professional stills work. I’m very much looking forward to getting my hands on this and putting it through its paces. If testing proves as impressive as the spec sheet, then unless you’re invested in Olympus lenses, I’m unsure why the E-M1 Mark II would be considered over the G9.