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Panasonic Lumix G9 review

Meet the photographer-focused Lumix GH5

Performance

  • 20fps burst shooting with full AF
  • 4K and 6K Photo modes
  • 400-shot battery life

The Lumix G9 is capable of shooting at a blisteringly quick 20fps with full continuous AF, while this can be stretched a staggering 60fps if you don't need to track your subject. That's quite a jump from the GH5's 12fps (9fps with AF-C), while it's also possible to use the 4K and 6K Photo modes to extract still images. These modes might have less appeal with the G9 capable of shooting at such fast speeds, but it's possible to extract single 8MP and 18MP images from 4K 60fps and 6K 30fps footage respectively.

Just like the GH5 and a selection of other Panasonic mirrorless cameras, the Lumix G9 uses a 1,728-zone metering system to determine exposure. As we've experienced in the past, it's a very dependable system, and there were very few occasions when we needed to intervene and dial in exposure compensation.

We also found that the Lumix G9's auto white balance performed very well, with the camera delivering natural-looking results under a range of lighting conditions and light sources.

Using the 200mm f/2.8 (equivalent to 400mm don't forget) meant it was still possible to get pin-sharp shots even at modest shutter speeds

The Lumix G9's image stabilization system really impresses. The 6.5-stop compensation means it's possible to shoot at incredibly slow shutter speeds with wide lenses, while using the 200mm f/2.8 (equivalent to 400mm don't forget) meant it was still possible to get pin-sharp shots even at modest shutter speeds. This is certainly helped by the comparatively compact proportions of the lens making it a breeze to shoot handheld, while even with a 1.4x teleconverter attached it worked very well. 

The electronic viewfinder is one of the largest to be built into a camera, and the display and shooting experience are excellent. It's large and bright and the use of OLED technology delivers good levels of contrast, while the refresh rate delivers a very smooth feed.  

Battery life is rated at 400 shots – that's 10 shots less than the GH5, but it's fairly typical for a mirrorless camera of this class. You'll definitely want to invest in an additional battery or two to keep handy in your bag. One little annoyance is that the battery level isn't shown as a percentage - just four bars, so it's not always clear how much charge is left.

Image quality

  • ISO100-25,600
  • No optical low pass filter
  • Good dynamic range

Image quality from the Lumix G9 is very good indeed, and it's certainly the best performance we've seen from a Micro Four Thirds-based camera. 

Unencumbered by an optical low pass filter, the 20.3MP chip delivers really fine detail at lower sensitivities; you'd certainly struggle to tell the difference between results from the G9 and a comparable APS-C rival. 

Panasonic has also worked hard to improve color rendition, and the G9 produces much more natural-looking and faithful colors in JPEG files than we've seen from other Lumix cameras in the past. 

Results throughout the ISO range also look very good, with only a slight hint of luminance (grain-like) noise in the mid-range sensitivities when looking at raw files – you'll have to be looking really closely to notice it. 

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Even with a 1.4x converter, the Lumix G9 can produce very finely detailed images. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 200mm f/2.8 and 1/4x converter, 1/640 sec at f/4, ISO640

Even with a 1.4x converter, the Lumix G9 can produce very finely detailed images. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 200mm f/2.8 and 1/4x converter, 1/640 sec at f/4, ISO640

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Images can deliver nice colors and contrast. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/1000 sec at f/5, ISO2000

Images can deliver nice colors and contrast. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/1000 sec at f/5, ISO2000

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Raw file processed in Lightroom. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 200mm f/2.8, 1/800 sec at f/2.8, ISO200

Raw file processed in Lightroom. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 200mm f/2.8, 1/800 sec at f/2.8, ISO200

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The dynamic range available in this raw file is very good – we've recovered a good amount of both shadow and highlight detail in this shot. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 7-14mm f/4, 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO200

The dynamic range available in this raw file is very good – we've recovered a good amount of both shadow and highlight detail in this shot. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 7-14mm f/4, 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO200

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Unprocessed raw file. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/250 sec at f/9, ISO200

Unprocessed raw file. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/250 sec at f/9, ISO200

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Raw file processed to taste in Lightroom. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/250 sec at f/9, ISO200

Raw file processed to taste in Lightroom. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/250 sec at f/9, ISO200

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JPEG file at ISO10,100. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/50 sec at f/4, ISO10,000

JPEG file at ISO10,100. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/50 sec at f/4, ISO10,000

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Processed raw file at ISO10,000. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/50 sec at f/4, ISO10,000

Processed raw file at ISO10,000. Panasonic Lumix G9 with 12-60mm f/2.8-4 , 1/50 sec at f/4, ISO10,000

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The G9 handles noise very well up to ISO3200 when shooting raw. At this sensitivity, as well as luminance noise being that bit more noticeable in shots, chroma (color) noise is also becoming more apparent. At ISO6400 the chroma noise is quite pronounced, but detail in raw files is very good considering. For JPEGs, the G9's noise reduction does a good job, controlling noise pretty well without sacrificing too much detail.

The G9 also delivers solid dynamic range performance. We found it possible to recover a decent amount of both highlight and shadow detail in JPEG files, while raw files offer even more latitude and flexibility.