The Panasonic Lumix G9 Review by Josh Bellingham
The summer of 2018 got a whole lot better when Panasonic Canada sent me the Lumix G9 for testing. I put the G9 through its paces at several weddings and some lengthy hikes along the Niagara Escarpment and Welland Canal, and I’d love to share my experiences with you.
I’ve been capturing weddings professionally with Lumix mirrorless cameras since 2015, and I rely on the compactness and responsiveness of the Lumix system. The Lumix G9 is an extremely agile, feature packed camera that is built to handle any condition.
In this review, I will be highlighting the Panasonic Lumix G9’s build quality and handling, image quality, features, best lens pairings for weddings, and my overall impressions. I will also include sample images at the end of the review.
While photographing weddings professionally in Canada, it is particularly important to have a camera that is engineered to handle any climate. The G9 held up even in the most adverse conditions.
I often capture Niagara Falls weddings and elopements near the brink of the Falls, and many times, shooting within the mist. Even after a good soaking under the waterfall, the weather sealing on the G9 didn’t let any liquid through. I always use Lumix weather sealed lenses when shooting in extreme conditions, the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 paired perfectly with the G9, and I also enjoyed using the sealed Lumix Leica 12mm f1.4 and Lumix Leica 8-18mm f2.8-4.
The contoured grip of the G9 is very comfortable in the hand, and makes long days of wedding photography much easier, especially while using the larger professional Lumix lenses. I spent a full day hiking with the brilliant Panasonic Leica 200mm f2.8 attached to the G9 and never once had to put the camera down. The build of the G9 feels premium and it delivers reliability similar to other dependable cameras like the Lumix GH5.
I like the location of the new on/off switch located in front of the shutter release button, that also doubles up as the light switch for the new top plate LCD panel. The LCD panel is a nice addition that lets me see my settings without having to turn on the EVF or rear LCD screen, which helps conserve battery life. Another fabulous addition was the dual SD card slot, allowing for back up of sensitive information or extra storage.
The G9 has plenty of physical buttons and customizable options, and the ability to assign additional function buttons on the touch screen. The touch screen is a pleasure to use, displaying incredible sharpness and clarity, but more impressive is the 3.68 million dot electronic viewfinder with its massive 0.83x equivalent magnification. The scale of the image in the electronic viewfinder can also be adjusted with three different size options. The EVF on the G9 is truly a pleasure to use and I’ve never seen anything perform quite like it.
The Panasonic Lumix G9 – Image Quality and Features
The Lumix G9 has a powerful 20 megapixel micro four thirds CMOS sensor that delivers extremely sharp and detailed images. The G9 seriously impressed me with the amount of detail it was able to produce when cropping into 100%. While using professional lenses like the Lumix 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron you would be hard pressed to notice any difference between the G9’s images vs. a camera with a much larger sensor. Up to 1600 ISO, the RAW files from the G9 look very clean with minimal noise or loss in detail. Reaching 3200 ISO you get very usable images, but going beyond that starts to compromise the fine details in the image. Unless your exposure is perfect, and you don’t adjust too much in post processing, you can get away with 6400 ISO, but you will notice the loss of fine details when cropping into your images and some color noise. It is extremely rare that I ever need to go over 1600 ISO during a wedding day, and in most cases I will incorporate flash if I’m forced to bump my ISO past the 1600 ISO threshold.
I was very fortunate that Lumix also sent me the Panasonic Leica 200mm f2.8 to pair with the Lumix G9. I was blown away with the outstanding image quality, but even more so, how effective the Dual Image Stabilization was shooting handheld with such a long focal length. During weddings, I usually pair the G9 with the Leica 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron, because they work incredibly well together, especially with Dual Image Stabilization, and they create some of the most stunning images, even at speeds slower than 1/50 sec.
The next two photos show off the potential of the Panasonic G9’s new high-resolution mode with image quality that rivals even modern digital medium format cameras. I took the photos using the G9’s new high-resolution mode, where the camera takes 8 separate photos and stiches them together to create an 80-megapixel raw image.
This high-resolution feature is usable with static subjects and must be used on a tripod or stable surface. The results are fantastic and it allows for a lot of flexibility as far as extreme cropping and blowing up images for large scale printing.
The Lumix G9 also boasts serious features like 6K photo mode, 4K video at 60 frames per second and 180 frames per second in Full HD. It also has an auto focus joystick, silent shutter (mechanical shutter turned off), electronic shutter speed of 1/32000, and the list keeps growing… wifi, USB charge, and 20 frames per second burst with continuous auto focus.
The Panasonic Lumix G9 – Best Lenses
There is a vast universe of lenses to choose from to use on the Lumix G9. It is possible to purchase affordable lens adapters that allow you to revive old film lenses, and with the live view and focus assist features on the G9, using manual focus lenses has never been easier.
While photographing for clients, I prefer to use my professional Lumix lenses, that pair perfectly with professional cameras like the Lumix G9. At weddings, I like to have a wide selection of lenses with me to be able to adapt to any situation and capture a good variety of images. The following is my list of the best lenses to use with the Panasonic Lumix G9:
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. Lens:
This was my favorite lens to use with the G9 for shooting in low light conditions and attaining beautiful smooth bokeh. The Nocticron’s auto focus speed is lightening quick and very accurate, especially on the G9. The Leica badge of approval guarantee exceptional image quality.
Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 POWER O.I.S. Lens
I am so happy Lumix Canada lent me this lens. It truly demonstrates the exceptional image quality that can be attained with Lumix cameras and lenses. Paired with the Lumix G9 it was such a pleasure adventuring into the wilderness and photographing wildlife animals. The sharpness of this lens is hard to match.
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH. Lens
An ultra-lightweight pancake lens that gives you a nice wide angle look with a bright aperture of f1.7. This lens is a savior in low light conditions and paired with the G9 it makes for a super sharp, stealthy combo, perfect for street photography and candid wedding photos.
The Panasonic Lumix G9 performs remarkably well, and is suited for all types of professional photography. No matter your skill level, the G9 is an exceptionally easy camera to use straight out of the box. The way Lumix has designed its menu screens, makes exploring through your camera’s menus a fun and thrilling experience.
Please enjoy the following images taken with the Panasonic Lumix G9: