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Categorized | Articles, Gear, Jason DiMichele

Gear – Panasonic Lumix G9 (full review)

Reviewed by Jason DiMichele

Panasonic has recently released the Lumix G9, which is full of wonderful technology. In such a competitive industry, it’s becoming more difficult for manufacturers to make products that stand out from the crowd. Has Panasonic done their magic with the Lumix G9? Drum roll …. 

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It’s easy to look up technical specifications online, so I’ll just mention the key and ‘wow’ features and focus more on the usability and results from the camera, since ultimately that’s what’s important.

The Panasonic Lumix G9 ($2,299.99 CAD), includes a 20.3 megapixel live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor without optical low-pass, an enhanced Venus Engine for improved dynamic range and high-ISO performance, 5-axis dual I.S. (image stabilizer) v2 for up to 6.5 stops of compensation, multiple exposure, a high-resolution mode, 6K Photo, DFD (depth from defocus) autofocus enhancements and up to 20 frames per second RAW shooting.

I found the Lumix G9 to be a very pleasant camera to use. The button and control placements are intuitive, and many photographers will be able to operate most camera settings with one hand. The camera grip has a nice depth, allowing for a great hand-holding experience. The G9 has a number of dedicated dials and knobs for making changes quickly, and the electronic viewfinder is awesome, with 3.68-million dot resolution and .83x equivalent magnification, which is the largest Micro Four Thirds EVF to date.

While the majority of the G9 is beautiful ergonomically, one thing that you’ll have to get used to is the shutter button. I found it to be sensitive. This isn’t a significant problem, but until you become familiar with using the correct amount of pressure you’ll most likely be deleting a bunch of accidental shots.

With the upgrades to the Venus Engine, the dynamic range and high-ISO quality really helps deliver rich, detailed images. I was able to consistently capture images with good shadow and highlight detail in situations with high-contrast light. Although I was happy with image quality at the higher-ISOs, I typically stick with lower ISOs when photographing with smaller sensor cameras and leave ISOs of 3200 or higher to larger sensor cameras.

I use a tripod whenever I can, especially when I know that I’ll be requiring slow shutter speeds. I was curious though to see how well the second version of Panasonic’s 5-axis image stabilization worked on the G9. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to capture excellent shots with shutter speeds at least 4-5 times slower than the generally accepted minimum speed of 1/effective focal length. I still suggest using a tripod when possible, but the Lumix G9 can be relied on for hand-holding in demanding situations.

Two features that excited me about the Lumix G9 are multiple exposures and the high-resolution mode. The multiple exposure feature enables you to take many exposures, which will end up in one image, allowing you to create various in-camera composites and effects.

The high-resolution mode quickly takes a series of images, and stitches them together in the camera to create a final image with more resolution. There are a couple of things to note with the high-resolution mode. The first is that moving subjects might be an issue in some situations. The second is that although the resulting stitched photo is 80 megapixels (pixel height x width dimension), it doesn’t contain the same level of detail that a true 80-megapixel sensor would provide. The sensor shifting technique Panasonic is using definitely improves the image resolution, with an added benefit of reduced noise, and is a real bonus, especially if you print your images.

Aside from their practical usefulness and how well they are implemented, one of the best things about the high-resolution mode and multiple exposure features is that you can choose to have the resulting photo(s) saved in RAW format, and not just a JPG. I generally shy away from in-camera features that only create JPGs, so this RAW option is very welcome.

The Lumix G9 is a speed demon with its upgraded autofocus system, and the ability to shoot up to 60 frames per second (in 4K Photo). While on the topic of burst rate, you can shoot up to 20 RAW frames per second, and the 6K Photo feature allows you to shoot 18-megapixel images at 30 frames per second. Although the 6K Photo images are JPG images, when it’s critical you don’t miss the moment, the Lumix G9 has you covered.

Panasonic has been very consistent with releasing high-quality cameras that are not only enjoyable to use but that also produce great image quality. The Lumix G9 is no different, and it has many features that will inspire you to go out and photograph. A camera that has lots of features can be a burden if not designed properly, however Panasonic has implemented the Lumix G9 features and ergonomics very well, making this a camera you’ll be happy to take and use everywhere you go.

To read more of this not-to-miss issue please pick up the Summer 2018 issue today online or at your local newsstand. To never miss an issue you can subscribe here

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