First look: Panasonic G9
Panasonic have announced their newest evolution of their G-series range of mirrorless cameras, with today's announcement of the G9.
A stills camera through-and-through, the G9 is aimed at photographers who might have found current Panasonic flagship the GH5 too video-focussed for their needs.
Offering 20fps shooting with no blackout, 6.5 stops of built-in stabilisation, an 80MP high resolution mode, 6K/4K photo and the same 20MP sensor from the GH5, all with a similar build quality, the G9 is probably best suited to photographers who want to shoot moving subjects like wildlife and sports.
We had a brief hands-on with the camera today. Here's our initial thoughts.
The standout feature of the G9 is clearly its speed - offering 20fps in tracking AF (AF-S) and 60fps in fixed AF (AF-C), along with no EVF blackout, the G9 is at least as fast as Sony's groundbreaking A9. In use, it's like shooting video, and unless you have the electronic shutter volume on, you won't even know you're taking stills.
Panasonic have also introduced a new pre-burst shooting mode on the G9, so the camera starts shooting 0.4 seconds prior to shutter release, including when shooting RAW. It's worth noting that to take advantage of the fast drive speeds you'll need one of the new generation fast UHS-II SD cards, of which the G9 has two slots for.
If you don't have these, you can use the 6K and 4K photo feature, which let's you record a burst of 18MP stills continuously at 30fps with no buffer limit, and if 18MP is too big, you can also shoot at a ridiculous 60fps and still extract 8MP stills. Whatever you choose, and if it's moving subjects you're shooting, the G9 should be fast enough to keep up with them.
New for the G9, Panasonic have included 5-axis image stabilisation when used with lenses with image stabilisation built in. What this means is you can shoot static subjects handheld at much lower shutter speeds and ISO values. At the launch presentation we were shown a sharp handheld one second exposure of a seascape: pretty impressive. Panasonic say the IS will also work with ultra-telephoto focal lengths handheld at up to 800mm.
High resolution mode
The G9's new High Resolution mode gives you medium format imagery on a budget. For use on static subjects and when you have a tripod handy, it produces an 80 megapixel equivalent RAW or JPEG (10368 x 7776 pixels) by automatically taking eight consecutive images in camera.
The resulting images retain more colour information and detail, which is particularly impressive when you consider 80MP is nudging medium format size. For landscapes, architecture and product photography, it's a very useful feature.
The G9 marks Panasonic's first step away from the indie-filmmaker and run-and-gun videographer crowd that so fell in love with the 4K shooting GH4 and 5. But it doesn't sacrifice all that much in the video space - you get the same ability to shoot 4K at 60fps with a maximum bitrate of 150Mbps.
Better still, it samples the full width of the sensor regardless of your chosen resolution, which means no crop and higher quality. You can also shoot 180 fps at Full HD, and there's built-in mic and headphone jacks.
Like the GH5, the G9 inherits a weatherproof, splashproof, freezeproof and all-together rugged 'field-ready' design. But where it differs is the weight, coming in at just 579 grams, compared to the 725g GH5. In a first, you also get a new top-facing LCD to allow settings to be checked at a glance and inside, there's bluetooth and WIFI, along with USB charging.
The G9 is, from our quick look, an impressive camera with an even more impressive feature-set. Like Sony with their A7s and A7R, Panasonic have wisely split their audience - now serving videographers with the GH5 and photography purists with the G9.
The difference here is that both the GH5 and G9 are incredibly versatile - you get pretty much all of the features in both, but with a slightly more video or stills friendly bent to each. It's a more balanced offering than Sony's very specific A-series cameras, and the G9 comes in at a very reasonable price-point too.
Prices and availability
The G9 is priced at body only $2,499 AUD, or with a 12-35mm f2.8 or 12-60mm f2.8-f4 kit for $3,499. It should be out in January.