Panasonic Lumix DC-G9: in-depth review of features and sample pictures

 

Speed

This new model brings high speed shooting to the range with a top frame rate of 60fps in Raw and JPEG formats, and 20fps with continuous focusing when electronic shutter mode is engaged – which is quite something. At these top speeds the camera can deliver these bursts with no viewfinder blackout – so we can keep an eye on the subject and how it is tracking in the frame all the while. In mechanical shutter mode the maximum frame rates are 12fps with AF-S and MF, and 9fps with AF-F and AF-C when we want to record full sized JPEG and RAW files.

The new drive mode access ring sits below the main exposure mode dial on the left of the top plate

Panasonic has included the 4K Photo and 6K Photo modes we saw in the DC-GH5, so we can also record bursts of 8MP JPEG files at a rate of 30 or 60fps, and 18MP JPEGs at 30fps – all with continuous focusing.

To keep up with these high speed shooting modes we have dual SD card slots that are both UHS-ll/V90 compatible.

And to help with freezing that action – and with working with wide apertures in bright conditions – the new top electronic shutter speed is an amazing 1/32,000sec.

 

Even with pretty confusing subjects taking flight in low light conditions the camera was able to react quickly and track the action

AF improvements

With some tweaks Panasonic has managed to reduce the reaction time of the AF system to just 0.04 seconds, and the company claims this makes this is the fastest AF on the market. The quoted time refers to the delay between pressing the shutter release, or AF-on button, and the system kicking into life. The speed of reaction is combined with a new 480fps operating system that dramatically speeds up the process of the DFD focusing system allowing it to find and track a subject much more effectively.

The camera allows users to customise the AF reactions according to the type of subject in the frame. There are four presets, but they can be altered at will.

Users now have control of the way the AF system behaves and can create four custom set-ups that govern AF Sensitivity, AF Area Switching Sensitivity and Moving Object Prediction. Four scenarios are already programmed in to the camera that deal with situations from a subject coming directly towards the camera in a straight line to an erratic motion subject that is flying all over the place. These modes can be customised by the photographer to suit the characteristics of the situation.

Zone AF allows us to create specific sized AF areas to fit the subject in the frame and its position

 

The camera uses a 225-area AF system and introduces the Zone AF mode from the GH5 that allows users to shift groups of AF points around the screen to track a subject. The group size can be customised between 5 points and 97 points easily to suit the size of the subject. Users can now also maintain an AF area when switching between horizontal and vertical orientations, and the camera is compatible with the new lens-based function button that assigns camera functions to be controlled directly from the barrel of the new 200mm f/2.8 lens. Scope AF also allows the AF area to be magnified in the screen by between 3-10x to assist with difficult situations and to ensure absolute accuracy, while those who like to use the joystick to control the position of the AF area can now have the area shift from one side of the screen to the other by dropping off one edge and appearing on the other side. Panasonic calls this ‘looping’ – you keep pushing the AF area out of the frame on the right hand side and it reappears on the left of the screen. It saves time.

 

Enlarged area of a picture taken at 1/5sec with a 25mm lens while travelling on a small boat

 

Image stabilisation

The new version of Dual IS ll gives the Lumix DC-G9 up to 6.5 stops of image stabilisation when paired with a lens equipped with the new system (see the list here). The in-body 5-axis system shifts the sensor to combine with the work being done in the lens, with the 6.5 stop claim being good for marked focal lengths of up to 280mm.

The in-body system also lends IS to lenses that don’t have it, such as legacy glass and older Panasonic models – and any of the many manual focus lenses made for the Micro Four Thirds system.

When mounted with a lens that features Dual IS ll the view through the viewfinder is almost as steady as it would be if the camera was mounted on a monopod – so finding and tracking your subject before shooting, and even getting the subject framed, is dramatically easier. It really is quite amazing, and makes the longer lenses so much more usable without having to use a tripod.

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