Panasonic’s Lumix G9 is a high-end mirrorless camera aimed at enthusiasts, delivering the best photo quality and fastest shooting from a Lumix G body to date. Announced in November 2017, it becomes a joint flagship with the Lumix GH5 and while both are very capable at photo and video, Panasonic describes the newer G9 as its ultimate stills camera. Like all Lumix G bodies to date, the G9 is based on the Micro Four Thirds standard co-developed by Panasonic and Olympus, allowing it to access the largest selection of native mirrorless lenses on the market.
The Lumix G9 inherits the 20 Megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor of the GH5 that dispenses with the low pass filter for crisper results. Panasonic’s tuned the output though with improved JPEG processing for more natural skin tones, greater detail and better noise reduction, and has also improved the built-in 5-axis stabilisation from 5.5 to 6.5 stops. This has also allowed Panasonic to implement a tripod-based composite High Resolution mode that captures and combines eight images to boost detail and eliminate false colour and moire artefacts; the output file can be set to generate 40 or 80 Megapixels in JPEG or RAW, takes around 0.3 seconds to capture and four seconds to process.
The newly-designed weatherproof body (with a red ring between the mode and drive dials to indicate the flagship status) features a fully articulated touchscreen, AF joystick, twin SD card slots (both exploiting UHS-II speed), a USB-3 port exploited by supplied tethering software (the port can also be used for charging as well as providing power, the latter something only Sony has offered so far), a full-size HDMI port (4:2:2 8 bit for 4k up to 30p), along with microphone, headphone and PC Sync ports. In a first for a Lumix G body there’s a backlit LCD status screen on the top surface and a front-mounted custom function lever (for switching between banks of settings), and the G9 also boasts the largest viewfinder to date with 3680k dots and 0.83x magnification; the view’s so large you can switch to lower 0.77x or 0.7x magnifications if preferred.
The Lumix G9 is also about speed, boasting 20fps with continuous autofocus and a 50-frame RAW buffer using the electronic shutter or 60fps with single AF; switch to the mechanical shutter and you’ll get 9fps with continuous AF and a 60-frame RAW buffer or 12fps with single AF. Alternatively you can extract 18 or 8 Megapixel JPEG stills from the 6k or 4k photo modes at 30fps or 60fps respectively. Focus remains contrast-based only, but Panasonic’s Advanced DFD system works down to -4EV and now calculates at 480fps, offers four custom presets and, with a 0.04 second response, claims to be faster than the GH5 not to mention several rivals with PDAF. While the G9 is Panasonic’s ultimate stills camera, it’s no slouch for video, sporting 4k at up to 60p, 1080 at 180fps, relay-recording by swapping SD cards, and 4:2:0 / 8 bit internal recording.
Expect the Lumix G9 in January 2018 at a body price of $1699 / 1499 GBP / 1729 EUR. I went hands-on with the new Lumix G9 for my first-looks video review below!
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