Review: the 2018 Panasonic Lumix G9

When it comes to Micro Four Thirds, Panasonic is well respected for their expertise in video while Olympus for photography. This is especially true for the flagship cameras such as Panasonic GH5 and Olympus E-M1 Mark II. Therefore, when Panasonic launched their new Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 recently, it seemed like they were targeting the photography crowd, considering the very similar photography specific features the G9 has in comparison to the E-M1 Mark II.  In this article, I explore the stills shooting capabilities of the Panasonic G9.

As always, this is an independent review and neither Ming Thein nor I are associated with Panasonic Malaysia. The Panasonic G9 and several Panasonic lenses were on loan and have been returned at the time of writing this review. This is a user experience review, and my opinion may be subjective. I was not able to test all features of the camera and shall only focus on the highlights of the G9. I am not adequately equipped to do a video review for this camera. All images shown here were shot in RAW,  except the sequential burst shots which were shot in JPEG (for my sanity). The RAW files were converted to DNG directly via Adobe DNG Converter and post-processed in Capture One Pro.

You may find all the primary images (and a few extra samples) online on Google Photos here. 

The Panasonic G9 is an ambitious camera, sporting some of the best features for Micro Four Thirds.

In terms of AF and shooting speed, the G9 is able to do 20fps with full continuous autofocus using the Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology. The 20fps is only possible via the electronic shutter – you’re limited to 9fps with the mechnical shutter. Panasonic claimed that the G9 features a similar 20MP image sensor as the flagship GH5, but has a new and improved image processing engine. Further, the G9 has Dual IS 2, combining the built in body 5-Axis IS and lens IS. When used with compatible lenses the Dual IS 2 can achieve a claimed 6.5 stops (CIPA rated) of shake compensation. Like the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, the G9 is equipped with a high res shot capability. By taking 8 separate images in quick succession and by moving the image sensor by half a pixel between each shot and finally, combining these images, the G9 can output a full 80MP composite image. The electronic viewfinder has 3.68M dot resolution and 0.83x equivalent magnification. The G9 is fully weather sealed, and its body made of magnesium alloy. The G9 stands out – visually – from its other mirrorless brethren thanks to the addition of a top plate LCD panel, which shows primary camera settings and information. For a full specifications list, you can visit Panasonic’s official product page here.

I only had a few days with the Panasonic G9 and shot insect macro, street and also a live band performance – giving me diverse enough shooting experience for a review. Special thanks to Christine Hia for allowing me to shoot the super adorable Rocky. You are a life-saver.

Olympus 60mm Macro, F11, 1/100, ISO200, Flash Used

Olympus 60mm Macro, F10, 1/60, ISO200, Flash Used

Olympus 60mm Macro, F9, 1/60, ISO200, Flash Used

Olympus 60mm Macro, F5, 1/50, ISO200

There is a reason why I always try to shoot insect macro when I am reviewing a camera. The critters don’t show themselves in the best locations and in most cases you have to contort your body into uncomfortable positions to get a decent composition. Hand-holding the camera in this scenario is the ultimate test for camera comfort and handling.

The Panasonic G9 is about the same size as the GH5, slightly larger than the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, and looks just like a DSLR. In fact, it handles and feels like a DSLR in hand. If you dislike the bulk then there are smaller mirrorless camera options out there. I welcome the (relatively) beefy grip of the camera which adds much-needed comfort and stability while shooting insects. Over 3 hours of shooting along a hiking trail, I never felt discomfort and had a confident grip every time I took my shot. I did, however, wish that the camera was a tiny bit lighter, but I’m sure I will get used to this over a week more or two.

Shooting through that super large, 0.83x magnified and 3.68M dot electronic viewfinder was a new experience for me. The EVF was so bright and detailed that I can tell directly if my subject was slightly out of focus. The EVF did drop in resolution significantly when the camera was acquiring AF (half-press of shutter button), but that was brief and should not impact the overall shooting process. It was just noticeable and can be annoying when I was trying so hard to make sure my spider was in focus.

Pincushion effect on the EVF

On another hand, the EVF exhibited obvious pincushion distortion with the edges being curved into the frame. I did not find this to affect my shooting at all, but those who rely heavily on the EVF for wide angle shooting may find the curved edges frustrating. I guess that is one compromise that happened when a super large magnification was applied to an EVF. If you can somehow overlook the pincushion distorted EVF, this was easily the best EVF available in the market now.

An interesting observation about using the G9 with an Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens. The Panasonic G9 is faster and locks focus (using Single-AF) more efficiently than the Olympus E-M1 Mark II. This was a surprise, and I was pleased to be able to use autofocus for most of my macro shots – instead of my usual manual focus.

Panasonic 15mm, F3.2, 1/160, ISO400

Panasonic 42.5mm, F1.7, 1/80, ISO200

Panasonic 42.5mm, F2.8, 1/50, ISO400

Panasonic 42.5mm, F1.7, 1/320, ISO200

Panasonic 42.5mm, F4, 1/200, ISO200

The next test arena was the streets. This has been my default test for all cameras. To me, it is most important that a camera is able to respond quickly. What is the point of having a super high resolution camera, which can produce clean 1 million ISO images if you can’t rely on it to successfully nail the shot in the first place?

The Panasonic G9 was quick – reacting to my AF adjustments and the shutter button instantaneously. The camera was extremely fast and I managed to nail several critical moments confidently. As expected, the autofocus is almost fail proof in good light.

However, when the light drops, autofocus behaviour changes. I brought the G9 to a dimly lit bar/cafe with a stage (Merdekarya, PJ), one that I frequent for local singer-songwriters performances. The G9 managed to do quite well, but I did have some misses which were troubling. There were moments when the AF failed to lock focus, and then the EVF/LCD screen went completely black for a couple seconds, before returning to normal. I’m not sure what caused this temporary black-out, but I have not observed this with any other camera, not even with the other Panaosnic cameras I have used (LX100, GH4 and GM1). The EVF black-out happened only when the camera struggled to acquire focus repeatedly. I’m guessing the camera resorts to some kind of back-up focusing mechanism when the primary method fails. To remedy this, I changed the focus point and targeted parts of the frame that had more contrast.

Panasonic 12-60mm, F4, 1/4000, ISO200

Panasonic 12-60mm, F4, ISO200 (shutter speed varies). 20fps C-AF test. See the full set of 48 images captured by C-AF on 20fps electronic shutter burst here. 

Panasonic 12-60mm, F4, ISO200 (shutter speed varies). 9fps C-AF test. See full set of 58 images captured by S-AF on 9fps mechanical shutter burst here.

Panasonic 12-60mm, F4, 1/1250, ISO200, 4K Photo 60fps test

See full set of 109 images shot by 4K Photo 60fps here. 

I am not a sports photographer and I rarely shoot fast action subjects. I don’t use continuous AF during my usual shooting. Therefore, shooting a harmless, cute little dog is the best I can offer. If you want flying birds, human somersaults or exploding spaceships, there are other reviews which may sate your appetite.

The first test was with the full 20fps electronic shutter sequential shooting. I set the focusing area to “Custom Multi”, and clustered the group points right in the middle of the frame. The focusing mode was set to C-AF. I could only manage about 50 shots before the camera stopped. It’s important to note that I was shooting RAW + JPEG on a UHS-1 card. The lens used for this test was the Panasonic Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4 IS.

The G9 did a fantastic job in tracking Rocky from one end of the pool as he swam towards me in a straight line. Out of the 48 shots in the series, I counted only 4 images which were out of focus, but the camera was so quick to reacquire focus that within the next frame or two, the focusing was back on track. I repeated a similar test at least 8 times, and have achieved similar success each time.

Next, I tried the 9fps burst with mechanical shutter to follow the dog with lateral movements. Standing at the side of the pool, I followed Rocky from left to right, and then back to where he started. Again, the G9 did a superb job following Rocky with only a few, frames slightly out of focus. I’m thoroughly impressed by what Panasonic has achieved with the Depth From Defocus (DFD) for continuous AF.

There is a 6K Photo mode that allows bursts up to 30fps, or 4K photo mode at 60fps. While this sounds impressve, the photos were all in JPEG at appropriately reduced resolution (18MP for 6k and 8MP for 4K). The Olympus E-M1 Mark II is capable of 60fps and you get to keep RAW + JPEG files in full resolution.

Panasonic 42.5mm, F3.5, 1/160, ISO200

Crop from previous image

Panasonic 42.5mm, F2.8, 1/100, ISO400

Panasonic 12-60mm, F4, 1/125, ISO400

Panasonic 7-14mm, F6.3, 1/500, ISO200, High Res Shot

High Res Shot 80MP vs Normal Shot 20MP

Beware of moving subjects, creating articfacts in high res shots.

The Panasonic G9 is capable of excellent image quality. In terms of resolution, images are sharp and very detailed – thanks to the absence of an anti-alias filter. The latest 20MP sensor also means that this is one of the best options available for Micro Four Thirds right now.

For the 80MP high res shot, the camera must rest on a steady surface ( ideally it should be mounted on a sturdy tripod), and the subject must be completely still. Any movement, either the camera or the subject, will render weird artifacts in the final result. If you can control these variables, then you can get a whopping 80MP image output.

There is no easy way of saying this, but I dislike the color profile of the G9. The default JPEG color and the white balance engine don’t work for me. I find the reds unnatural with strong hints of magenta and the green channel is off as well. Skin tones don’t look close to real life and the overall balance is not pleasing. Perhaps the problem is not with the camera, but my own preference.

Therefore, for this particular review, I have painstakingly converted the files from RAW to DNG and processed the images individually in Capture One Pro. I have never tweaked color extensively for any of my reviews before and this was my first time changing the color profile. I did this because I believe the images from the Panasonic G9 deserve better color treatment than what is produced straight out of the camera.

Panasonic 12-60mm, F20, 1/5, ISO200, hand-held

Panasonic 12-60mm, F8, 4 seconds, ISO100, hand-held

Panasonic 12-60mm, F10, 5 seconds, ISO200, hand-held

Crop from previous image

Lets talk about that dual IS 6.5 stops Image Stabilization. At first I was skeptical about the claims from Panasonic, especially having tried the GX8 and GH5 which were nowhere near the Olympus’ capabilities. Quite frankly, I had low expectations when testing the IS.

But… boy oh boy, was I wrong.

I can confidently hand-hold the Panasonic G9 with the 12-60mm F2.8-4 IS lens down to about 5 seconds, with a 50% hit rate. Yes, you heard that right – 5 seconds! I thought I could only do that with the Olympus E-M1 Mark II. However, my coffee intake has also increased significantly over the past few months and the shakes were actively working against me when I tested the G9. I was blown away by the stabilization capabilities of this camera.

Of course, I’m not saying there is no need for a tripod, and for any serious slow shutter, long exposure photography, a sturdy and reliable tripod is mandatory. The image stabilization is a life-saver in situations when a tripod is absent, and allows you to get the shot in less than ideal conditions.

I had no chance to test the dual IS with longer lenses, as the longest Panasonic lens I had was the 12-60mm F2.8-4 lens.

Panasonic 12-60mm, F4, 1/320, ISO6400

ISO6400, RAW processed (left) vs SOOC JPEG (right). Pay attention to the yellow color patches on the eye-brows on the JPEG image.

Panasonic 42.5mm, F1.7, 1/640, ISO800

Panasonic 12-60mm, F3.9, 1/160, ISO3200

Panasonic 12-60mm, F4, 1/100, ISO3200

The final test was shooting in low light. Shooting live performances on stage is a big challenge, and I often find myself using ISO to 3200 and 6400 to obtain a fast enough shutter speed to freeze movements.

The default JPEG engine does a poor job at managing the high ISO noise and details balance. There are noticeable traces of over-sharpening and artificial blurring of details at ISO3200 and higher. I also observed random, stray color fringes in shadow areas that look ugly. I tried various noise reduction settings in camera and they all produced undesirable results. In summary, at high ISO, shoot RAW.

By applying just a hint of noise reduction, I can get away with very usable images even up to ISO6400. I don’t mind the presence of some luminance noise, as long as the image does not look like water-color in the end. I’d rather keep some luminance noise and protect the structural integrity of the image and have it look more natural. The high ISO performance of the G9 sits right at the top of Micro Four Thirds system, alongside Panasonic GH5 and Olympus E-M1 Mark II.

In terms of battery life, I didn’t exhaust the batteries on day-long shoots where I shot about 500-600 shots per day. Since I had one battery to work with, I had to keep it charged for the following day and wasn’t able to deplete it completely for testing purposes.

I did enjoy using the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 tremendously. It is a high-performing camera, filled with impressive features that just work. The image quality is excellent. The continuous AF is one of the best I have seen on a Micro Four Thirds camera, and the Dual IS 2 surprised me while shooting dangerously slow shutter speeds hand-held. The bright and high resolution EVF was so pleasing to use and the camera confidently nails images one after another.

I do, however, dislike the default color profile of the G9 and found the JPEG to be poor in handling high ISO images. This is a minor problem considering I mostly shoot RAW and post-process images to my liking. The AF suffers a minor hiccup in extremely low light conditions (which the LX100, GH4 and GM1 never had any issue) but this happens so rarely that it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is highly recommended for Micro Four Thirds shooters who want the best for all photography needs. And for those looking to venture into mirrorless from the DSLR camp, the G9 should sit high on your list of considerations.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is available from B&H

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Comments

  1. Wonderful review Robin, demonstrating just how far m4/3 has come, but can I make a request that you post a public health warning before showing food pics? ;D)

    • Terry, are you referring to the E-PL9 review instead? I don’t recall shooting food with the G9!

      • Robin, reading and switching between the two reviews likely caused me to append the comment to the wrong review. At least it shows you are paying attention. :D)

        • Robin Wong says:

          I was very cautious of picking my photography subjects to shoot for reviews. I specifically shoot food for LX10 and E-PL9 reviews, because many people will buy these entry level cameras as an upgrade from their smartphone cameras to get better output. I also made sure I used kit lens when I used the E-PL9.

          The G9 however… is more suited for something more serious and challenging. I was hoping for sports events/stage action but could not find anything happening during my review period!

  2. Excellent review and wonderful images Robin! However, the G9 makes me wonder, with that kind of size and weight (not to mention the price as well), MFT cameras are losing its size and weight advantage over bigger sensor bodies (Sony A7RIII’s weight and size is pretty much the same). I guess the remaining advantage would be the longer reach due to its smaller sensor and also some of the lenses are still pretty small in size. But I guess if absolute IQ is the goal, I’d say it’d be better off to invest in bigger sensor bodies.

    • I think you are partially right about size/weight and it doesn’t seem that m4/3rd has delivered the anticipated reductions that the format promised. But, to counter this argument, it isn’t sufficient, IMO, to compare what Sony has done by seemingly to shoe-horn a FF sensor into a body more or less on a par with this G9. The volume that all the electronics must take up can’t be that much different between the two, and we mustn’t overlook that there must be an optimal size for any body below which it becomes uncomfortable to handle. Ask anyone with large hands and I’d bet this is a consideration for most.

      Of course, m4/3 will never compare to FF, but the IQ we now seem to be seeing from this smaller sensor is quite remarkable and whilst I have no stats and it is thus only a gut reaction, the IQ is more than enough for the vast majority including pros (as long as they don’t kid themselves that they need FF) and it will only be those who print large or are always cropping, who will really need FF.

      And why must it be cheaper because it’s smaller? It’s what goes into it that matters, but I guess there is an argument that if FF camera A costs the same or not much more than m4/3 camera B, then why not go for camera A? That’s buyer’s choice, but we shouln’t always assume it will prove to be the best choice in the end.

      • Yep, fully agree with you on your last point. For me, if I were given the choice (assuming total system price is similar), I would definitely go with an FF because of some advantages it provides, like cropping and flexibility in post processing due to a more robust file.

      • you seem to forget the big advantage of much lighter prime- and zoomlenses

        • Christian. I hadn’t forgotten. These points get raised ad finitum and I couldn’t have added anything meaningful to the argument. With the thousands of comments on the internet, isn’t this already well known? I was basically aiming my comments at the size of the bodies.

  3. Robin great review as always. I read or saw that the G9 has a timer limiter .How did you take 5 second shots? Via bulb or other means. Also would my Olympus lenses work well on the G9. I also have the Oly pro 12-100 would i loose the IS on this. Whats missing is the Live Composite mode that is great with the Oly’s.
    Thanks

    • Robin Wong says:

      I used Shutter Priority, set the shutter speed to 5 seconds, and took the image with the camera hand-held. I did not use self timer. Yes, your Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses will have full compatibility with the Panasonic G9. If you use the Olympus 12-100mm PRO lens, you will then need to choose either to use the lens IS or the body IS.

  4. This camera will replace my omd-5 mkii when it will come back for the second time from repair services, the well-know deficiency but never talk about by reviewers : Burn evf using high diopter… ( an Evf made by Epson by-the-way).

    • Olympus cameras have been suffering from all kinds of defects for years. also the EM 1 Mk I. But Olympus never bothered to correct it

      • Robin Wong says:

        Christian, first of all, no cameras are perfect. In fact, there are no perfect, defect-free products. Nikon has the oil stain on sensor issue. Sony suffers serious shutter shock and light leaks in their earlier A7 series. Fuji’s lens will creep in on itself when shooting angled up. When the product has been released, there really is nothing that can be done to “FIX” the problem. T

        o say that Olympus or any other company “never bothered” was a ridiculous statement. Olympus released a firmware to fix the shutter shock issue by allowing First Curtain Electronic Shutter in their E-M1. Ming Thein gave his direct feedback to us and I worked exhaustively with the R&D team to rectify this. It took slightly more than 2 months but it was successfully mitigated. You can dig up the old articles in this site if you wish.

        So, have you found your defect free product yet? Good luck with that.

        • Hi Robin, I was referring to the burn-in effect on the Olympuses. which had been a problem with the EM-1 Mk 1 already. no question that Olympus is very active in high quality fw-updates, and they are excellent cameras from a photographic point of view. particularly some of their lenses (I own and love their 1,8/75). But I owned an EM-1 Mk 1 which had to go for repair 3 times in 10 months. with its competitor’s cameras I had no need for repair yet. So I may have succeeded in finding a defect-free camera. Thanks.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Michel, so you expect early reviewers to be able to pick up every single thing that is wrong with the camera and talk about the issues like they have used the only camera for one year? By the way, I have E-M1, E-M10 Mark II, and the old E-M5. All having EVF which you have mentioned, and they all work fine until today. None of them were having any issues and I do not have perfect vision and I have adjusted the diopter compensation… soooo….

      • I don’t use my glasses with a few diopter increase so I adjust the diopter near the limit and that’s what make a magnifying glass and sun rays can burn the EVF, the burning can occurs even with the camera power-off! I made a little plastic angle to protect it until it will be repaired. If Epson had corrected their problem the Olympus where certainly returning from service with an updated EVF but it is not the case. Service guarantee is very good by Olympus and I am just OK in the limit for a free second repair. When coming back I will sale it directly, I buy the G9…
        Regards,

  5. isrlgx@gmail.com says:

    hi,
    can you test the performance of the Panasonic 100-400 auto focus speed and dual IS on the G9 vs Olympus E-M1 II ?
    Tx

  6. John Pangilinan says:

    Just wanted to mention I thoroughly enjoyed the shots you took in this Robin, especially the macro shots, and your KL wide angle shot makes me want to go back to KL and take a shot of my own!

    Out of curiousity, how does G9 compared to the Sony mirrorless cameras if you’ve shot with them? The IQ looks great on the G9 in this review.

  7. Hmmmm, I guess you didn’t check out the Lumix L Monochrome mode?
    I am wondering if you could answer some question.
    1) Does the G9 have a focus limiter like in E-M1 ii? I think that is extremely useful when shooting event.
    2) Does the 12-60mm f/2.8 – 4.0 makes any ‘jiggling’ noise? Mine seems to do so.
    Thanks for the review again. I am loving this camera but it’s actually a little too powerful for my current need.

    • from my experience, mainly in artifial lighting, skintones of Europeans are absolutely fine and definitely better than – for example – sony. the magenta cast of previous Lumix cameras isn’t there anymore.

  8. John Wong says:

    Hi there. Great review. I have a quick question. Do u find that the shutter release is very light ie almost like a hair trigger? Thanks

  9. Hi Ming,
    The big question for me about to ‘upgrade’ my camera, an original EM10, to one of the two following choices, EM1 mark II and the G9. Is the G9 a better all-round camera then the EM1 mark II in your opinion ? I value your reviews and the amazing images you’ve shown us via your blog and as I can only just afford to buy one camera I’d like your ‘expert’ thoughts on this.
    The one factor that might influence you, if you were me, is that I have mostly Olympus lenses, including the 12-40 and 12-100 PRO lenses. I’m waiting for the G9 to be more widely available here in the UK so I can personally try one out prior to my expensive purchase.
    Thanks in anticipation of your thoughts.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Hey Ian,
      I was the one who reviewed the Panasonic G9, if you allow me to share some thoughts.
      I think you won’t go wrong with either choice, E-M1 Mark II or the G9, both are very capable cameras. It will be a huge step up from the E-M10, and if you own mostly Olympus lenses, you won’t be getting the benefits of Panasonic specific features such as Dual IS or DFD (for C-AF shooting).
      And you were right about getting your hands on the G9 first before making a decision.

      • Thanks for your wise words , however economics also creep into the equation as currently the G9 ‘kit’ ( std. 12-60mm lens, Not the Lumix Leica version ) is nearly £200.00 Less than the EM1 mark II body only here in the UK, or the G9 with the Leica 12-60mm is only £1500.00 more than the EM1 mark II body, currently around £1849.00.

  10. Half a year ago a friend wanted a new camera and I advised him to go for Micro Four Thirds. After some research he bought the lovely GX85. But then he had the same problems with OOC red tones that you mention Robin. He is an architect and I am a designer and we both use the camera a lot for inspiration and as notebook. Of course we go for the easy JPEG solution cause we don’t want to turn every click into a piece of art. But these reds are problematic.
    With Panasonic gear you get a punchier image. Also their lenses seem to have a higher contrast. Dyed black and white almost. With Panasonic you draw with shadows, with Olympus you draw with light. Everybody is free to choose, but this puts me in the Olympus camp.

    • With Panasonic you draw with shadows, with Olympus you draw with light.

      That’s so poetic and quote-worthy!

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks for the feedback Kruit, and for those that really do care about original color representation (or at least as close as what our vision recorded in the first place), something was definitely off with Panasonic color balance. I am not saying the colors are bad, just unusual and not to my liking.

  11. David Bateman says:

    Great review Robin.
    Did you have a chance to test out the focus bracketing or aperture bracketing? Based on your jpeg comments I would not be surprised if you skipped the 6k post focus stack feature, as that is jpeg only. But I am curious about focus bracketing, especially for macro with the 60mm. Olympus has it but seems to be limited to only specific lenses. From what I can make out from the Panasonic manual these features should work for any AF lens.
    Thanks, David

    • Olympus has it [focus bracketing] but seems to be limited to only specific lenses.

      Might be some confusion of terms, here.

      My understanding is that any µ4/3rds auto-focus lens is capable of “focus bracketing” on Olympus, where it takes a bunch of pictures with slightly different focus in each one. What you might be thinking of is what Olympus called “focus stacking,” which is when a camera takes a stack of pictures and composites them in camera to produce a single deep-focus image. This is the mode that only works on certain lenses.

      The focus bracketing will not work with 4/3rds lenses, and probably not with other adapted auto-focus lenses.

      • David Bateman says:

        Thank you Jan,
        Odd that focus bracketing will not work with 43rds lenses. I guess before I go down the choice of either a G9 or Em1 mk2 I may have to rent and test. I have mostly Panasonic m43rds lenses and I know the aperture rings only work on Panasonic cameras. But I also have the full line of 43rds lenses as I started out with an E3.
        Thank you again,
        David

    • Robin Wong says:

      No I did test the focus bracketing, since that requires a tripod and I, being a genius, destroyed one of my tripod’s legs. As Jan Steinman has pointed out, Olympus allows focus bracketing to work for all micro four thirds lenses, but not focus stacking. Focus stacking is only available for selected lenses.

  12. After looking through your other reviews, these are the best quality pics I’ve seen you do yet. And, prior to this, I thought the pics in your other reviews actually had the best quality of any review site I’ve seen. The color quality, contrast, and clarity in these is really phenomenal to my eye.

    Maybe it’s just me.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Mike. The main reason for the images to look better was me having spent a significant amount of time and effort to correct the colors and process the images in capture one pro.

  13. Everyone is waiting for a proper Nikon D850 review =)

    • Robin Wong says:

      Was told that I was in the waiting list for Nikon D850… not sure what happened to that waiting list. Of all their priorities probably we are not that important to them.

      • Unfortunately, that’s Nikon Malaysia. We are not important at all; it’s only conventional print media and Japanese/ Caucasian ‘celebrity’ photographers (at least that’s what I was told in the past). It’s probably also indicative of corporate culture as a whole, which in turn has something to do with the current state of affairs there. A pity, as they still make probably the best DSLR hardware.

  14. Hi Robin, as a stage photographer I have been shooting in extremely dark lighting conditions (pitch dark, I would say) and never experienced your problems even once. i am using a refresh rate of 120 fps though. Also, I particularly like the G9 skin tones. However, I am always shooting RAW!

    • Robin Wong says:

      I have now at least 2 people (one in this comment thread) and another in a photography forum confirming that the black-out on EVF and LCD when the camera could not focus in low light indeed did happen.

      Well, shooting RAW changes things, and yes I am VERY happy with the RAW files from the G9.

      • Hi Robin, I believe you should contact Pnasonix regarding the backout. It is either a Bug or hardware-problem. re the magenta cast in the JPG profil I also haven’t detected that. yes, of course. I found that on my GX8 and less so on the GH5 but not the G9. Obviously, the G9 allows you to change the colours for JPG easily, which I have done for the GH5

        • Robin Wong says:

          Christian,
          It is not a bug, that I can be sure. All feedback has been provided to relevant parties.
          The magenta cast has been observed by a few other people as well. It is not about changing the color profile, I would expect such a high grade camera to be able to get something as simple as general skin tone right, without any tweaking. If I were to tweak the colors from the JPEG in camera, I would rather just post-process the RAW files to get the colors that I like as I have done for this review.

          • Hi, Robin. I don’t believe that “to get something as simple as general skin tone right” is actually that simple at all. Facial skin tone is something that we, as humans, are very susceptible to and readily spot if something isn’t quite right. And which skin tone is to be used as the reference point for the camera to adjust for all other types? And who is to say which interpretation is the right one? I can answer this as it is the easiest: it’s entirely down to each individual viewer.

            As an aside, when colour televison first started to make an appearance in the UK, in the late 1960’s, viewers had no idea about colour profiling. We only had saturation, hue or tint, brightness and contrast to play with. Odd as it may seem today, the best advice then was to tune into a live BBC news broadcast and play around with the settings for the most natural rendition of the newscaster’s (usually white Caucasion) face. But then what happened? Viewers tended not to be too happy with other broadcast material, especially films. Then when visiting homes of friends one would often be faced with strangely red faces on TV’s adjusted for film!

  15. Seems like a great camera but for the price you can get an XT20 + 18 55mm f2.8-f4 + 55 200mm f3.5 f4.8.
    The Fuji seems better in low light also.

    Would you choose this camera over the choice I mentionned before?
    Is it worth the money?

    • Robin Wong says:

      I have not used Fuji extensively to comment. But XT-20 is barely at the same level as G9.

      • In terms of image quality it is superior.
        In terms of AF it is not far since it does have PDAF.
        In terms of Value it indefinitely better 🙂

        Do a review on a Fuji Robin there is plenty ( from Xt20 to XE3 etc..)

    • David Bateman says:

      If your looking at the XT20, then the Panasonic equivalent would be the G80 or G85 (if in USA). That has similar features and is similarly priced. The G80/G85 even had a US sale that included both the 12-60mm and the 45-200mm lenses for $1000.

      • I was talking of Image quality an High Iso performance.
        For the AF the Fuji is quite competent, even though it doesn’t have those crazy electronic shutter speed.

        • Robin Wong says:

          Why is image quality only about ISO performance? How about low and optimum ISO performance? How about per pixel level detail and how about the color rendering? I for one am not a fan of Fuji colors.

          Nonetheless, I have not used the newer Fuji cameras. I will not comment. Have you compared the Fuji to the G9? If not, how can you conclude it is superior?

    • The Fuji cannot be compared to the G9. Not close in AF speed, not close in video, not weathersealing, no IBIS (let alone 6,5 stops IBIS), smaller battery, EVF is far smaller and has far lower resolution, no Hires mode, no dual card slots (let alone two very fast ones). It is not that the Fuji is bad or anything, it is just in a completely different category.

      • The category that interest me is Image quality and High Iso, and I guaranty you in those category the G9 is left behind.
        Otherwise it seems like a good camera if you stay under ISO3200.

        • Well I have used the Em1.2 and the D800e and I can say that there is a 1,5 stop difference between these two when it comes to noise. At most. I do not know about the G9 and how good its sensor is, but we can see they won’t be too far apart. In the high ISO department the best APS-c sensor will be 2/3 of a stop better. How anyone perceives it, is up to the person. To me that is not a very significant difference which in cases IBIS will easily deal with if there is no movement. In other cases, Hires mode will actually get you much better HighISO but it is limited in its use in much the same way IBIS is. A fast lens can overcome 2/3 of a stop differences as well. So there are situations in which the G9 will get you clearly better IQ, in fact visibly better than my D800e (if myt Em1.2 is a good proxy for the G9) and there will be other cases where it will be 2/3 stop behind max. But if mirrorlesscomparisons (good rviews) are right there will also be cases in lower ISO department where the G9 will trump the XT2 and XT20. That is in de Dynamic range departemnt as they clearly show…Personally if it is all about high ISO quality, just that and not much else, why not buy an A7R for 1000 euro/dollar and be done with it? It will have better lowlight performance than any APS-c sensored cam…

          • Robin Wong says:

            Why not buy an A7R? Because Micro Four Thirds have: better lenses (options, prices, sizes), MUCH better handling/ergonomics, better image stabilization, more reliable AF (yes the A9 is great but honestly how many people can afford that). Oh don’t even get me started on the Sony color. Not only the JPEG files, but their RAW files are problematic.

            My point is, high ISO is just one factor in consideration when buying a camera. A camera is a lot more than just how it can shoot at high ISO.

            • A camera is a lot more than just how it can shoot at high ISO.

              The camera you take with you, because it is small, light, and more easily used, takes a better picture than the super-low-noise, big, heavy camera you leave home. 🙂

  16. Hi Robin, I do not see your point concerning fps, 4K and 6k Photo mode. The G9 achieves with the electronic shutter speeds of up to 20fps with C-AF or 60fps with S-AF with no finder-blackouts in RAW (according the manual). The E-M1 II is capable of less, offering live view with short blackouts up to 18fps. At 60fps it shows the last image taken instead. Additionally the G9 offers 4K and 6k Photo mode – great for unlimited frames untill your sd-card is full, but in jpg only. Am I missing a point?

  17. Odd comment vs. image –citing patches at eyebrows, i.e.– for shooting iso6400 :: IMO, the JPEG looks MUCH better than the RAW, both in smoothness & color, and e.g. sharpness of the left (viewer’s right) ear ring (also mic), teeth & shadows on them, and tiny blemish (beauty mark) at lower left (near) lip !?

    • Robin Wong says:

      Smoothness = you mean the skin looks like watercolor? If you are happy with painting look on your image, go for it. I appreciate more details and clarity in my shots.

      Sharpness = Did you expand the image to larger view? The JPEG has traces of oversharpening, which looks unnatural.

      Color = The JPEG has stray colors, especially on the eyebrow, to attain the “smooth” look.

      About that mark at the bottom lip, I did a quick check on my other images I have shot of that singer, he did not have any mark there. The JPEG introduced a weird artifact that placed it there.

  18. Did you find the top LCD useful at all?

    I must admit that it seems like a total waste of resource and body space, since it looks like the stuff in the LCD isn’t much different than what Olympus gives you in the SCP — without having to take your eye away from the viewfinder. I would have rather they used that space for a few programmable buttons and/or knobs.

    • Robin Wong says:

      To me, I have gone away from the DSLR for so many years, the top LCD is not useful for me. However, I can understand those migrating from DSLR to instinctively glance through that top plate for important settings.

  19. Good review and great photos, as always. And good that you took the time to play with the raws. Panasonic’s JPEG colour has improved a lot, over time, but still lags behind Olympus, Fuji and Canon (Panasonic does great black and white JPEGs though).

  20. Albert Jan says:

    Hi Robin, Thanks for the elaborate review, accompanied by your beautiful images as always. For the macro’s did you use your flash method as published before? I presume you did not use the Olympus flash system !

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks for the compliments. I wanted to use the wireless flash technique, but was not provided the add on tiny flash unit. So I mounted my Olympus flash on the Panasonic camera, but I did use a proper tiny square studio like softbox to achieve that soft, even lighting.

  21. Stefan Schulthess says:

    Hi Robin. I went from a Canon 6d to Olympus OMD EM-5 Mk2. Know I’m looking for a more sirious camera for landscapes again. So I’m interested in a Nikon D750 but also in a G9, because I’ve several M43-lenses now… The pics you made with ISO6400 are looking promising. Would I be happy with the G9 in terms of dynamic range and high-ISO-Performance (Milky Way, Northern Lights…) or is a full frame Body the one and only choice for my needs? What do you think? I’m not a Pro…
    Thnx
    Stefan

    • Robin Wong says:

      I have not shot the Northern Lights, so no comments on that. Milky Way, you should be ok with E-M1 Mark II or G9, but make sure you are using the F2.8 wide angle lens!

  22. Hi robin. Nice balanced review as always. Just a quickie. I have recently acquired a G9 and wanted to know how you got on with the mechanical burst shooting? Specifically the claimed 9 fps. I only managed to get around 5 to 6fps when in afc. How was your experience? I was using an olympus 25mm 1.8 and like you a uhs 1 card. Also did you notice any delay when pressing playback button. On my sandisk cards (various class and speeds) I have experienced review delays of up to 2 seconds.

    Thanks

    Andy

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks. I used the default setting H1 on the ring dial at the top left of the camera. That defaults to 9 fps. I have no delays previews for normal shots, but when I did 4k photos, or post-focus mode, I did get significant delay in review.

      • Thanks for the reply Robin. Yes I was using the same settings as you; then subsequent tests with a loaned PanLeica 12-60 and lo and behold i get the 9fps. Presumably this is a dfd thing and am tempted to switch my olympus lenses to their panasonic counterparts…but I just love those olympus lenses. Keep up the good work Robin. Love your photos. They always make me want to grab my camera and shoot!

  23. Thanks for the review (and the brilliant photos)! Now I’m really stuck between the EM-1 II and the G9 🙂 One question please: Do you think, the little issues with the EVF and the autofocus could be solved via software-update or is it the hardware? Greetings, Philipp

    • Robin Wong says:

      EVF, no, because it is an optical problem, the lenses in front of the EVF panel suffers the pincushion due to large magnification (not very good control). AF, maybe, and hopefully can be improved in the future.

  24. Robin, thanks for that review. I’m glad you’ve joined Ming as a second voice on his blog.

  25. Ørjan Laxaa says:

    Robin, have you tried the G85? I am curious to see how it compares against the G9. The G9 is obviously more advanced, but the G85 packs a lot of features for a lot less money (in a similar form factor)

    • Robin Wong says:

      Nope. I have not had a chance to have my hands on one. Will surely share my thoughts when I have that opportunity.

      • Cool. I’ve been contemplating getting a GX85 for a while, but I’m thinking about saving for the G85 instead. It’s a bit larger, but it ads better video features (Cine D, Cine V) as well as weather sealing.

  26. Great review Robin … stellar macros, as always. The one question I have (knowing that you avoid comparisons 😉 did the G9 leave you with a burning desire to switch form the E-M1II?

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks! Considering that I have many Olympus lenses, it only makes sense to stick with Olympus. However, if available lenses was not a factor, starting over fresh, Panasonic G9 sits very high in that list.

      • Robin, what drawbacks could someone expect with Olympus lenses on a G9? I’m planning to upgrade from a e-m10.2 to either a G9 or e-m1.2 soon and I only got Olympus lenses. The most important factor for me is image quality. I’m doing macro, my kids and a bit of landscape. Thanks for all of your work! Your subjective reviews are (much) more reliable and interesting for me than all those lab result tests.

        • Robin Wong says:

          Using Olympus lenses, you will not have the benefit of DFD for the S-AF and C-AF capability of the G9. Also, G9 has Dual IS 2 which is compatible with only selected pana lenses, none from Olympus. I do love Olympus colors more, and overall the E-M1 Mark II is still my go to camera, mainly because I use mainly Olympus lenses.

  27. Great, informative review. 🙂

  28. A great review, Robin. These images look wonderful. In your opinion, has m4/3rds closed the gap on APS-C as regards IQ, or have developments in APS-C sensors maintained the disparity? 5 seconds hand held! Wow!

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Terry. I have not tried that many APS-C cameras recently to give a well-rounded answer. The latest APS-C camera I tried was Canon M6 (which should be the same as Canon 80D) and the gap is diminishing in comparison to latest generation Micro Four Thirds. However I have not extensively used anything from Fuji and Sony.

  29. Jan Herrstedt says:

    I love your macro-work Robin – I have a question : in DSLRs the lenses stops down first when you press the shutter full down and not when half pressing . In Sony and Fuji the lenses stops down to working aperture when you half press and in relatively poor light the evf get noisy, and the depth of field get greater, making it hard to know precisely where the sharpness plane is. How about Olympus and Panasonic ? –

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks for the kind words. For Olympus (I am most experienced using their system), when half-pressing the shutter button to lock focus/exposure, the aperture is not stopped down to the exact aperture value. I believe it is somewhere F2.8 to F4 for preview purposes. You can have full depth of field preview when you engage DOF preview instead.
      However, for Panasonic, I am still unsure with this, as I have only used the Panasonic G9 once for macro shooting, and never really did much with their previous cameras that I had the chance to use.

  30. Hmm. I was not charmed with my old Panasonic G2 and GF3 – the colour can sometimes be acceptable depending on the scene or just weird. I think it’s almost like old Agfa slide film – that magenta. Now, I also have a Sony A7, and I can tell you, I don’t like the colour profiles as well. People who don’t shoot Olympus SOOC JPEG may not understand our preference. I also find Olympus Auto AWB to be more consistent, frame to frame.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Well, to be fair the G2 and GF3 were many years ago, and every camera manufacturer has improved ever since, especially when it comes to JPEG processing and color rendering. But yes, Olympus JPEGs are already so good they rarely require much tweaking if needed to be used on the go.

  31. RetiredFromLife says:

    Thank you for a very good review. I always like your reviews they cover a very good range of subjects and have excellent photos to back the findings up.

    As for that issue you saw “your comment below”
    “There were moments when the AF failed to lock focus, and then the EVF/LCD screen went completely black for a couple seconds, before returning to normal. ”

    I have had a similar experience in a bad lighting situation with my G85. In a way I am glad you mentioned it as I thought I must have been seeing things that did not really happen.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks for the kind words! I did not know that the issue on low light AF happened in other Panasonic bodies as well. Seems like it is a new problem for recent Panasonic releases. I never encountered this on GH4, GM1 and LX100.

  32. Hi Robin, In lower light did you change the FPS refresh rate of the EVF to 120fps (default camera sets to 60fps for some silly reason). I found the low light focus speed performs noticeably better for me (also using af assist lamp) when switching to 120fps. As for the color profile, my wife and I feel that Panasonic is going for a Canon-esque look with default AWB and color profile with a bias towards magenta.

    • Robin Wong says:

      No I did not use the 120fps. I was not complaining about the focusing speed. I was complaining about the inability of the G9 to acquire focus and gave up repeatedly in a dim light condition, and suddenly blacked out the EVF/LCD and gave up. This was not observed with any other older Panasonic cameras at exact same location and same lighting condition. AF assist light was a no no in certain locations.

    • Adrian Schmidt says:

      Hi Robin, did you get to the bottom of this issue or reached out to Panasonic on this perhaps? It could be the lens perhaps. Have you investigated this issue using the 12-40 as well?

  33. Augusto Poot says:

    Hi Robin. Thanks a lot for your informative review and your beautiful images… as always! About the color profile, I shoot with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 mark II (thanks to you, by the way) and recently I have the chance to sell my wife’s camera and buy her a Lumix G85. I love this new camera, especially I believe that the autofocus is better than the E-M10, and the videos are gorgeous, however, that red color!!!! ha ha ha I believed that was only my imagination.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks for the kind words! And yes, especially the reds on latest Panasonic JPEGs. Not really sure what they are doing!

      • Emil Georgiev says:

        I think because of better skin representation for Caucasians like most of the people in Europe…

        • hi,

          My looking to Portraits in this review , I really found that they are what looks like LUMIX does and also admit that they aren’t looks like the ordinary Robin’s with OM-D slitely (!).

          I’m surprised with your impression about LUMIX color representation of JPEG.
          As for Japanese, and an long user of both Lumix and OM-D , LUMIX skin color is most my favorite because of its authenticity (for Japanese)
          And this is not only my own opinion…

          Anyway, your review is very informative for me always. This time, again, I enjoyed your insects and night city pictures!

          I hope LUMIX would be improved more to read this review.

Trackbacks

  1. […] yet used (and that includes the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, and a brief experience with the Panasonic G9, reviewed here recently by Robin. It will track moving objects quite well, too – with much more certainty and accuracy than […]

  2. […] returning the Lumix G9 to Panasonic Malaysia, I caught, out of the corner of my eye, the LX10 lying on a table. I picked […]

  3. […] returning the Lumix G9 to Panasonic Malaysia, I caught, out of the corner of my eye, the LX10 lying on a table. I picked […]

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