Panasonic Lumix G9 47,000 Pictures Over 10 Months

Posted Nov. 12th, 2018 (4 weeks ago) by Daniel J. Cox

Panasonic’s Lumix G9

It’s been a little less than ten months since I first had the opportunity to shoot a pre-production model of the Lumix G9. Six months have passed since receiving a regular production model. Along the way, I’ve shot just shy of 47,000 pictures including geese and ducks, cranes and dogs, swans and elk, bald eagles, coyotes, red fox, lemurs, chameleons, and bison. I’ve shot these two cameras in pouring rain, desert sands, frigid cold, and under the glorious blue skies of a warm Montana summer. They’ve been banged, dropped, splashed and rolled, accumulating blemishes that make them look old. You get the idea. As I tell our Natural Exposures Explorers, if your camera looks brand new, you’re not having enough fun. And so far, I’m enjoying the G9 like no other Lumix I’ve used to date. For a quick introduction on how durable Panasonic gear is, take a look at the video below discussing how one of my Lumix cameras rolled 100 yards down a mountainside and survived with no issues.

If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve most likely been to other websites highlighting the Lumix G9. There’s no shortage of technically advanced, in-depth reviews—my guess would be dozens, many with the backing of a sophisticated lab that can spew results only serious pixel peepers look for. With that bit of reality in mind, this review, like my others, will not reinvent the wheel when it comes to the analyzing this newish camera. This is going to be more like a list of Pros and Cons with some added commentary thrown in for interest. Here’s a list of a few of the most in-depth reviews on this camera to date.

Other Reviews

DpReview

Camera Labs

Imaging Resource

Tech Radar

Digital Trends

Photo District News

The list above will give you ample opportunities to examine the G9 based on a more scientific approach. My take will be personal, from in the field on authentic shoots. So let’s get started.

The Basics

Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds
Camera Format Micro Four Thirds (2x Crop Factor)
Pixels Actual: 21.77 Megapixel
Effective: 20.3 Megapixel
Max Resolution 20 MP: 5184 x 3888
Aspect Ratio 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9
Sensor Type / Size MOS, 17.3 x 13 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: AVCHD 2.0,
Audio: AAC, Dolby Digital 2ch, Linear PCM
Dust Reduction System Yes
Memory Card Type SD
SDHC
SDXC
Image Stabilization Sensor-Shift, 5-Way

Size Matters

I’m a huge fan of the Lumix system, much of it due to Panasonic’s understanding that cameras can be too small. My feeling is that Panasonic builds them just right, and the G9 is the most advanced example. I have relatively large hands and having something moderately sized is a big advantage. 

Dan compares the Nikon 400mm F/2.8 and the new Leica 200mm F/2.8 at Bozeman Camera. The Nikkor weighs 8.3 pounds and costs just short of $12,000 new. The Leica weighs 2.75 pounds and costs just short of $3,000.

Many of you know I’m constantly talking about how small the Lumix cameras are, but what I’m really referring to is the system overall. When it comes to downsizing, I accomplished that by replacing my monster traditional DSLR and the even more ginormous lenses. Smaller lenses are the most positive aspect of the MFT system, even though the camera bodies may be similar in size to other systems. For example, the Lumix G9 body is slightly larger than the newest Sony A7 body. But the well thought out ergonomics make the G9 much easier to navigate.

The new Sony 400mm F/2.8 on the Sony A9 body.

Though the body is moderate in size, I repeat, it’s the lenses that make all the difference. Keep this in mind if you’re like many who’ve recently decided to finally try mirrorless. Sony’s hot on the mirrorless list, but Sony is full-frame, and a full-frame system requires full-frame lenses. Therefore, downsizing won’t be as effective if you decide to go full-frame. Same goes for the two new kids on the full-frame mirrorless block, Nikon and Canon. You can buy their cameras, and they will be smaller than their traditional DSLR’s, but the lenses are going to be the same size and weight. That’s what so many people just don’t understand, for whatever reason.

Freddy is just way too confident with his baby Lumix system, and Peter’s most interested in the bird he just saw. Oh, by the way, Freddy is shooting 840mm and Peter 600mm. Cuiaba River, Pantanal, Brazil

I’m going to say it again, the lenses for mirrorless cameras from Sony, Nikon, and Canon ARE GOING TO BE JUST AS BIG AS THE LENSES ON THE FULL-FRAME DSLR’S THAT YOU MAY BE MOVING AWAY FROM. If it’s a full-frame DSLR from Nikon, Canon, or Sony, your system will not get much lighter due to the fact full-frame cameras require the big, heavy, full-frame lenses.

Micro Four Thirds lenses are much, much smaller, and less expensive. Sorry to beat this dead horse, but I’m regularly dumbfounded how many people come up to me and say, “Well Dan you convinced me, I’ve finally bit the bullet and downsized to mirrorless and bought a Sony.” What? You’ve not downsized your system if you bought a Sony. It’s that simple.

Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8 which is equal to a 400mm F/2.8 on a full-frame camera.

Case in point is the new Sony G series 400mm F/2.8 that weighs just a tad over six pounds and costs $12,000. Compare that to the new Lumix/Leica 200mm F/2.8 (400mm equivalent) that weighs 2.7 pounds and costs $3000—just about 1/3 the price, size, and weight of the new Sony lens. An even more common comparison might be the Lumix 12-35mm compared to the Sony G-Series 24-70mm F/2.8. The Sony weighs in at 1.95 pounds (886 grams) and costs $2200. The Lumix is a feathery 10.76 oz (305 grams) and costs $999. Weight and size issues aside, I just can’t see paying the prices for full-frame lenses anymore. Forgive my digression, let’s get back to the Lumix.

Top Side Dedicated Buttons 

Ever since the GH3, I’ve been extremely impressed with the layout of the dedicated top side buttons. Specifically the WB, +/- EV, and ISO. Some manufacturers are very proud of the fact they mark almost no buttons. The theory is you can customize these buttons any which way you want, so why label them? That’s great in theory, but in practice, it can be a nightmare. Especially for anyone not shooting their cameras on a daily basis. The G9 has the ability to customize buttons every which way to Sunday, but having these three buttons labeled helps eliminate confusion for people who use their cameras less often than they would like.

I know the issue of forgetting all too well from lots of experience during our Invitational Photo Tours. Most people, including our Explorers, don’t shoot every day, and most of them are very lucky to take 1-3 trips per year. Even if they did three trips each year, that’s still four months on average between trips. A lot can be forgotten in a four-month time frame. And believe me, I hear about it when we get back together. So dedicated, marked buttons are a very good thing.

Electronic Viewfinder

Viewfinder Type Electronic
Viewfinder Pixel Count 3,680,000
Viewfinder Eye Point 21.00 mm
Viewfinder Coverage 100%
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.83x
Diopter Adjustment -4 to +3 m
Display Screen 3″ Rear Touchscreen Swivel Touchscreen LCD (1,040,000)
Screen Coverage 100%

It’s big, bright, and very easy to look through. It has three options for making the field of view narrow to extra wide. I’ve not seen this on any other Lumix camera or any other camera for that matter. Is it as good as glass? In bright light, no. In dark light, it’s much better than glass.

Change your ability to see more or less of the EVF by using this little button.

An additional feature that only this EVF can offer is the G9’s complete settings info with the camera to your eye, the exact same information you see on the rear LCD. That means the histogram is always right where you want it, in the viewfinder or on the rear LCD, alerting you to necessary adjustments needed BEFORE you take the picture. When shooting traditional DSLR’s you have to shoot the picture first and then check the histogram, adjust, and continue shooting.

Lots of information on the back LCD. All of it, except the far right tabs, you will also see in your EVF. Notice the histogram. It’s in the EVF and constantly on, if you choose, to help you nail your exposures. No need for bracketing anymore unless you’re doing an intentional HDR.

There is no feature on Lumix cameras, or any other cameras for that matter, that I feel is more important than the histogram. It’s completely changed the way I shoot; I never wonder if the exposure is perfectly set or slightly off.  The histogram along with the front dial for adjusting the +/- Exposure Compensation has made my exposures incredibly consistent.

I almost never have to adjust my exposure using software, saving lots of time in post-processing, all because I can make my exposure changes in the camera based on an accurate visual of the histogram, before the image is captured. This is just one of the many benefits that mirrorless cameras have over traditional DSLRs. Once you experience the ability to adjust your exposure via the histogram BEFORE you push the button, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Back of Camera Button Layout and Eyepiece

For a perfect eyepiece, we have to look at the Lumix G85 in the picture below. Unfortunately, the G9’s eyepiece is very disappointing. Why? Because like the GH5, GH4, and GH3, the G9’s outer rubber eyepiece falls off way too easily. It doesn’t fall off as easily as the GH5, but it falls off easy enough that I’ve lost two in nine months and finally quit buying new ones. Like my GH4 and GH5’s, I’ve started using black gaffers tape to hold the diopter wheel while leaving the eyepiece off. You’ll notice this technique in the picture showing my GH5 below. Hey, it works.

The G85’s eyepiece is so solid you can’t knock it off with a hammer. I really wish we had something similar on the G9. I’ve never once lost a rubber eye piece on a G85. I have no idea why it’s so dificlut to design something similar for the GH models.

Panasonic changed things up considerably with the layout of the buttons on the back of the G9. Gone are all buttons to the extreme right of the back of the camera body, most notably the Display button which has been an ongoing issue with all the GH series cameras since the GH3. I shoot with many folks who are now using GH4’s and GH5’s, and both cameras have the Display button on the far right side where the palm of your hand can easily change it.

Note the missing eyepiece on my GH5. I’ve replaced five eyepieces between two GH5’s and two GH4’s. I use gaffers tape is to lock diopter ring and keep it from moving.

Confusion reigns when you accidentally hit that button and have no idea why the back LCD has changed, and worse yet, how to change it back. If you know your camera inside out it’s not a big deal.

The Display button has been nicely repositioned. Now if we could get the eyepiece to stay on. Admittedly, it took several months to lose my G9’s eyepiece where it only took days with the GH5. So that’s an improvement, but eyepieces going rogue is still a problem I wished Lumix engineers would solve.

But for those who shoot a few times a year, moving the Display button much further in and down, as we see on the above image of the G9, is a big improvement. 

AFS/AFC Switch with AEL/AFL Lock and Back Button AF

Panasonic’s AFS/AFC switch on the top-right backside of the camera is the best placement of this kind of switch on ANY camera being produced. Nikon puts this same lever on the front of the camera, lower left side, and to the left of the lens mount. Describing Nikon’s version is every bit as difficult as it is to quickly make a change with that same switch. The G9, like the GH3, GH4, GH5, and even their second tier cameras like the G85 and others, have this switch front and center, comfortably close to where your right thumb will normally rest. Access to it is easy, fast, and simple.

In the middle of the AFS/AFC switch is the AEL/AFL button that I program to activate AF on all my Lumix cameras. If you’ve never used Back Button AF, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a powerhouse tool for photographers who understand and thrive on perfect composition. If you don’t typically feel composition is an important element of your work, you won’t connect the dots on why Back Button AF is so important. If  composition is important to you, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without Back Button AF.

Front Right Hand Grip

The Lumix G9 is easy to hold with a larger, more robust hand grip. The other cameras in the Lumix line are not bad, but there is just something more reassuring about the larger grip of the G9. It protrudes further forward, has a nice rubbery texture, and fits the hand nicely. I can easily reach down and pick it up using just my right four fingers due to the sticky nature of the rubber.

Dual SD Cards

For many photographers, a camera with the option of two SD card slots is an absolute must. It’s one of the biggest complaints of the new Nikon Z and Canon R mirrorless cameras. For those who need two cards, you’ll be happy to know the Lumix G9 has them. Frankly, I’ve never used more than one card on any of my Lumix cameras, so having two is nice but not a need for me. But for others, based on the hand-wringing I’ve seen regarding the new Nikon and Canon cameras, two high-speed SDXC card slots are extremely important.

Extra Battery Grip

For the times I’m shooting a long telephoto lens, I’ll often use the extra battery grip. It really gives more support for the heavier zooms and teles. Yes, it does make the camera bigger and bulkier, but when you’re holding a lens that is a full-frame equivalent to a 400mm F/2.8, it’s nice to have a little extra purchase. 

Equally beneficial is the ability to easily hold the camera in a vertical position with all buttons, WB, +/- EV, and ISO, seen on the top deck of the camera, replicated on the top of the vertical grip. The one downside is the Back Button AF is far to the right side of the vertical grip. It would be very helpful for that button to be an inch or so in from the edge of current placement.

Dual IS (In-camera/In-lens Combined Image Stabilization)

This is one of the most amazing features I’ve ever experienced. There are others doing something similar, but only Olympus is matching the Dual IS Panasonic is perfecting. Being able to handhold an 800mm lens down to 1/15 of a second is nothing short of magic. 

Yacare caiman resting along the bank of the Cuiaba River, Pantanal, Brazil. This image was shot from a small boat using the Lumix G9, Leica 200mm F/2.8, and 2.0X teleconverter. That’s the equivalent of 800mm. Exposure was 1/50th of a second at 2000 ISO. Handheld, no tripod. Anybody think there’s too much depth of field?

At 16 years old, when I first started taking pictures of nature, I was completely opposed to using a tripod. I tried for months to get a sharp image of a whitetail deer, sneaking around the Minnesota woodlands with a 300mm lens shooting Kodachrome 64 film. I never succeeded. Finally, I broke down and bought a tripod and only then did I see quality results. At that time my mindset was, “How can a wildlife photographer drag a tripod through the woods and not scare the animals?”

The cover of my first book Whitetail Country that sold just short of 200,000 copies. The cover image was shot on a tripod.

Well, I figured it out, and though it’s possible I much prefer leaving the sticks behind. Having the ability to ditch the tripod is now like stepping back in time, turning into a naive, dreamy-eyed kid once again. Only today the physique is gone, there’s less hair, and what I do have is much more gray. In short, I’m getting old. Being able to leave the heavy tripods behind is a HUGE bonus that’s now possible with this diminutive camera system that produces great big results. 

Frame Rates Off The Chart

Can you imagine 60 Frames Per Second in AFS? It’s possible with the Lumix G9. How about 20 Frames Per Second in AFC? Once again, it’s doable with the G9. In all fairness, Olympus first proved they could obtain a frame rate of 60 FPS in AFS and 18 FPS in AFC. Panasonic brought us one better by giving us 60 FPS in AFS and 20 FPS in AFC. The numbers from both companies are hard to believe. 

In reality, these frame rates are only for special situations. Can you imagine a photographer at the Olympics shooting a gymnast on the balance beam? Basically, a subject that does not move from front to back stays in a relatively static position in relation to the plane of the camera. There on the beam, she performs moves difficult to comprehend but easy to discern with a series of pictures shot at 60 Frame Per Second. 

The Lumix Diaries pulls out a win at the IIHA World Hockey Championships in Paris where I used the small, pocketable Lumix ZS100 in 4K Photo Mode to catch the winning goal by the Swiss, beating the Canadians 3-2 in overtime. Amazingly, I was sitting halfway up in the stands, middle part of the Colosseum, where I shot much of the game with this tiny little camera. Tanya and I were just passing through Paris on our way to Croatia and Slovenia when we realized her distant family member Nate MacKinnon was in town playing for the Canadians. Would have rather had the Canadians win than to get this shot, but hey, that’s the way the puck rolls. This is an 8-megapixel jpeg pulled from the 4K Photo Mode file.

I first saw the benefits of mega frames rates, 30 FPS, when shooting the early version of 4K Photo Mode with the Lumix ZS100. It was the winning goal of the 2107 IIHA International Hockey Championship in Paris. I wasn’t allowed to bring in my so-called “professional camera” which at the time was the GH5. But they had no problem with me shooting the Lumix ZS100. Working with 4K Photo Mode I captured the winning goal. Astonishingly only one frame out of the 30+ the camera fired showed the puck turned broadside to the camera. It’s the image above, and it proves there really are times where massive frame rates, beyond the traditional 12-14 current DSLR’s shoot, can be a tremendous advantage. It allowed me to capture that once in a lifetime image. 

Whisper-quiet Shutter (as well as completely silent)

For me I like the sounds of a clicking camera. There’s something satisfying about the push of a button and the snap of the shutter. The G9’s version of this is even more interesting. Why? Because it’s super quiet yet loud enough to give the pleasurable feedback. That’s when it’s in normal mode. Set the shutter to Silent and nobody has any idea the camera is even working. A great feature for times where noise can be an issue.

Even Jane Goodall likes quiet cameras, as witnessed on 60 Minutes where she and Tom Mangelsen are sitting on the banks of the Platte River photographing cranes. Mangelsen picks up his big old clackity Nikon D5 and points it to the sky firing off several pictures. Ms. Goodall looks over at him as Mangelsen brings his camera down. Dr. Goodall looks straight at him and says, “Next year do you think you can invest in a silent camera?” I about fell off the couch laughing. Seems the good Dr. would appreciate the silent mode in all the Lumix cameras. Below is an image I shot of Dr. Goodall enjoying a much more peaceful moment than she experienced on the banks of the Platte River.

Dr. Jane Goodall waits patiently at a private reception during the Youth 4 Action conference in Ottawa, Canada in 2009.

High-Resolution Mode

Some photographers think one of the downsides to the smaller MFT sensors is their lack of megapixels. The G9 has 20.3 megapixels, but when you switch it to High-Resolution Mode you get a whopping 80 megapixels, a file size of 10,368 x 6912 pixels. For a quality comparison test of the G9’s High-Resolution file, I borrowed a Nikon D850 and a Sony A7Rlll from my friends at Bozeman Camera. I know the quality of the Nikon and the Sony are superb, so they were great cameras to do this comparison with.

Below are the three images. I feel the details in the G9 file are impressive, but the river’s water is less than pleasing. Something very strange and unnatural about it. The Nikon and Sony rendered it beautifully, but then again they weren’t combining frames as the High-Resolution mode does. I plan to shoot further tests of the same river to try and see if maybe a longer exposure would smooth the river out. If not I will have to be disappointed in the High-Resolution mode for the kind of work I do.

For architecture, the High-Resolution mode could be fabulous. Make sure you look at the small yellow flowers in the right upper part of the frame. They are exceptional in all three pictures. Everything in the Lumix frame looks very good other than the strange looking water. I’m not sure what’s going on—maybe a much longer shutter speed would have smoothed out this disappointing effect.

Lumix G9 with Leica 12mm F/1.4 High-Resolution Mode

Sony A7Rlll with 24-70mm F/2.8 G Master Lens

Nikon D850 with 24-70mm F/2.8

Star Light AF

A popular photography genre these days is night skies. The G9, GH5, and GH5s, as well as a few other Lumix cameras, have a special feature called Star Light AF. What this feature does is give you the ability to focus on the stars without having to do it manually using the infinity mark on a lens. This is very helpful if you don’t have a manual lens with a specific infinity mark. Without infinity marker, it’s often difficult to impossible to get proper focus when setting up after dark. Many photographers solve this by purchasing a special manual focus lens with the infinity mark.

The Milky Way shot in New Zealand with the Lumix G9 and Leica 12mm F/1.4 lens. I used Starlight AF to focus on the sky and processed a group of images with Starry Landscape Stacker.

Or… they have to get to their shooting location before the sun sets to get focused on infinity, then tape the lens or shut AF off so as not to change focus when the skies go black. Having Star Light AF alleviates the need to buy a special lens and makes shooting night skies a breeze. Keep in mind, however, the directions mentioned in the manual that you must use the middle part of the screen as the AF area. Don’t try to use AF on the outer edges of the viewfinder. Star Light AF doesn’t work on the edges. I tried before going back to the manual and getting set straight.

Nighttime Lighting

Nighttime Lighting changes the color and intensity of the G9’s upper and rear LCD. This is a nice option to keep your eyes from having issues adjusting when shooting those night skies with Starlight AF. 

6K & 4K Photo Mode

We covered this a bit when I discussed frame rates. Some might feel the power of 6K & 4K Photo Mode is weakened with the G9’s actual 60 Frames Per Second stills capabilities. But shooting video stills can be advantageous in some situations like the hockey goal example shown earlier. The only problem with 6K Photo Mode is that there are few programs that make it easy to extract the frames you want once the card leaves the camera. If you do the extraction process from the camera it’s much easier.  My fellow Lumix Ambassador Photo Joseph has produced a nicely done video on how to extract 6K Photos from a 6K Video file which I’ve included below.

Yes, it’s true that while shooting 6K or 4K photo Mode you’ll only get JPEGs to work with. But the advantage is the ability to turn the camera’s video function on and just let it go. No need to predict that decisive moment during capture.

A chameleon launches his sticky tongue to reel in a grasshopper. This is an 18-megapixel jpeg pulled from 6K Photo Mode that was shot at 30 FPS.

Start the camera, let it go, and pick your 18-megapixel frame when the action is over. 6K Photo Mode gives you an impressive 30 FPS capturing 18-megapixel jpegs. 4K Photo Mode gives a whopping 60 FPS, with 8-megapixel jpegs. The manual says you can even shoot AFC and the camera will adjust even at these massive frame rates. I haven’t tried this yet and to be completely frank, I would need to see the results to believe it. We’ll talk more about Predictive AF a bit later. 

There’s even a feature for correcting Rolling Shutter which is an issue with virtually all digital cameras. 6K & 4K Photo Mode will show signs of Rolling Shutter. Once you take the picture you can review your 6K video, select a still image, and when you save it, the G9 automatically fixes Rolling Shutter issues.

I’ve also found a much simpler way to extract your photos from the 6K Photo Mode, but unfortunately it’s only for Mac users via Apple’s Photos. I created the video tutorial above for extracting stills from your 6K video files in Photos.

Post Focus / Focus Stacking

This is another inspiring tool based on Panasonic’s revolutionary 4K video capabilities. In a nutshell, the camera shoots a video series, changing the focus from front to back of the frame as it records the video. When finished it stacks all the different focused frames into one frame giving you much better depth of field than what you could get from a lens alone. Once again the final output is a JPEG. 

Flash

Many reading this blog may not even think that a guy specializing in wildlife and nature would even know what a flash is. If that’s what you thought, you would be wrong. Flash is actually a very important tool for documenting conservation efforts and natural history. When used correctly as fill flash on subjects in normal daylight where the flash doesn’t affect the animal’s eyes, flash is very helpful. I stress “fill flash” here since using a flash in bright daylight to fill in the shadows is much different than using a flash in unlit conditions where the animal’s eyes are adjusted for the dark. I don’t shoot flash with animals in unlit situations. Remember, the safety of your subject is the most important rule we have in the world of wildlife and nature photography.

Flash Modes Auto
Auto/Red-Eye Reduction
Forced On
Forced On/Red-Eye Reduction
Off
Slow Sync
Slow Sync/Red-Eye Reduction
Built-in Flash No
Max Sync Speed 1 / 250 Second
Flash Compensation -3 EV to +3 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
Dedicated Flash System TTL
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe, PC Terminal

But fill flash is a different story. As long as the day is bright and the animal’s eyes are adjusted to the daylight, fill flash is never going to be more powerful than the sun. But it can help in brightening shadows and stopping the action of a moving subject. The image below of a leaping black and white ruffed lemur is a perfect example of when I like to use flash.

Panasonic has three great flashes that work with the G9. They are the FL360, the FL580, and the much smaller FL200. All of them work wirelessly to give you extensive options for firing your strobes off camera. Unfortunately, as good as the Lumix strobes are, and they are very good for most situations, they do have a few issues for the kind of work I do.

 

Lumix flashes FL360 and the FL200. I didn’t include a photo of the FL580 since it looks exactly like the FL360. It just has more power and is considerably larger.

On the plus side is the fact the FL360 is a serious powerhouse, yet still very small. It shoots in TTL and can be controlled via the camera—I don’t have to adjust the flash itself for +/- Exposure compensation. It has a High-Speed Sync setting, works wirelessly, and has a fabulous video light built in the front. Overall it’s an impressive unit.

The biggest issue with all my Lumix strobes is a substantial delay in how quickly the flash fires after the shutter button is pushed. It’s not something you’ll notice shooting events, family gatherings, etc., but break out a leaping lemur or two and you’ve got problems. Below is a photo of a leaping black and white ruffed lemur.

Black-and-white ruffed lemur leaping through the forest. Lumix G9 with Leica 12-60mm zoom and FL360 flash set to manual.

My desire for this picture was to use a shutter speed slow enough to blur the background, panning with the animal to keep the subject sharp. Along with panning the flash was used to help freeze the action. This is a technique I’ve used for decades with my Nikon gear, but last year when I tried this approach on the lemurs I found the animal was always out of the frame by the time the camera and flash fired. I could not figure out why I kept missing them. This year when I returned, rather than using TTL, I switched the flash to manual and that did the trick. Apparently, when the flash is in TTL it fires a series of pre-flashes that affect the speed of capturing the real exposure. By the time the pre-flash is done, the subject is out of the frame.

Flash for Macro Subjects

Unfortunately, one of my few disappointments in the G9 is the lack of in-camera flash. The photo below is of my GH4 and FL360 setup where the built-in flash of the GH4 can wirelessly fire my FL360. It’s a phenomenal macro setup but one that’s not possible with the G9 unless you hang a comparatively bulky FL200 or FL360 on top of the G9 as a commander flash.

Me with Lumix macro setup using the FL360 with the Lumix GH4. The same flash works beautifully with the new Lumix G9. Costa Rica

Very disappointing since the GH4 and the wireless FL360 is the best macro setup I’ve ever used across all camera lines. Oh well, maybe a future Lumix camera. Lumix isn’t the only one that thinks Pros don’t want a built-in flash. When I was deep into the Nikon system I only ever had one of their high-end flagship pro bodies, such as the D3 or D4.

Closeup of orchid. Shot with a Lumix GH4 with flash on camera triggering FL360 placed behind the orchid. This is an example of having a flash built into the camera to trigger a remote flash for macro.

The main reason was a lack of a built-in flash. Like we’re seeing with Lumix, Nikon required you to purchase their second-tier cameras like the D700, D300, and others to get the built-in flash. The same is now happening with Lumix where you have to buy the second tier G85 to get the built-in flash. And I do have a G85 for this exact reason. I would rather have a built-in flash on the G9, but that’s not how it was built. Unfortunately, nobody asked my opinion before the G9 came to be. Such is life.

Treefrog, Costa Rica. Shot with Lumix GH4 and Leica 42.5mm macro lens. Off camera, FL360 triggered by GH4’s built-in flash

My Nikon contacts loved to tell me their pro bodies didn’t have built-in flashes because “Pros don’t want a built-in flash.” Wrong! I absolutely love a built-in flash, and I’m very disappointed my new G9 body doesn’t have it. I was certain that since the G9 was targeted at still photographers, it was most assuredly going to have a built-in flash. I’m hopeful that Lumix will change that in future cameras. It’s definitely not a deal breaker, but macro and quick portraits in harsh midday sun would be much more efficient with a built-in flash. I use it all the time when I have a camera that has it.

Predictive Auto Focus AKA AF-C

One of the ongoing issues with all MFT cameras has been less than stellar Predictive Autofocus capabilities. I’ve said for years that it’s a real testament to the hard work and engineering Nikon and Canon have employed to achieve the best Predictive AF in the world. It’ obviously not an easy thing to do. 

The below gallery is an in-sequence series of images shot in AF-C, Custom AF Set 1 (Default settings). 


Panasonic is trying hard with their DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology which uses Contrast Detection for acquiring proper focus. Many YouTube pundits have harshly criticized the DFD/Contrast Detection for not being able to match the results of Phase Detection AF other manufacturers employ, and that criticism has been warranted. However, Panasonic is making great strides with DFD, and I’m confident DFD will eventually catch up and surpass Phase Detection AF. Panasonic engineers are on to something here. Their way of doing Predictive AF is different than the rest and that will eventually be an advantage. I can hear some screaming now, but I’ll put money on it that I’m right.

Verreaux’s sifaka mother in typical “dancing” posture as she moves across a dirt road with her baby clutching to hear back, Madagascar. Lumix G9 and Leica 50-200mm

Last summer I did a Predictive AF comparison blog post titled: Predictive AF Comparison Tests Lumix GH5, G85, Oly EM-1 Mark ll, and Nikon D500 using the new Lumix GH5. For that test, I used very consistently fast-moving subjects–cars coming towards the camera at 50-80 mph. The GH5 did extremely well, and in fact better than the Nikon D500. However, in real world shooting situations, where the subject was less predictable—like birds flying against a busy background—the GH5 didn’t do so well. Unfortunately when the G9 came out it used the same AF system as the GH5, so it wasn’t’ much better. But things are changing fast with ongoing firmware updates.

Verreaux’s sifaka leaping as it crosses a field. Shot with the Lumix G9 and the Leica 50-200mm zoom

Fast forward to today, and I’m seeing the G9’s Predictive AF showing substantial improvements. With the firmware update Version 1.1, I’m getting much better results when shooting flying birds against busy or bright backgrounds. This latest trip to Madagascar I was finally able to get a large number of sharp pictures of the dancing sifakas as well.

With the G9 and the GH5 before it, Panasonic created a series of four Custom AF sets that are intended to help fine tune AF for several different situations. Unfortunately, those four Menu Sets are complicated. Yes, they give us many options, but it’s almost impossible to figure out which ones are best.

A screenshot of the four different AF Set options that allow you to fine tune autofocus. Click here to download the Lumix AF Handbook.

Keeping track of the Set’s changes is the most problematic, especially in the heat of action where you’re just trying to capture exciting flight pictures. Making it even more difficult is a lack of metadata to document the Custom Set you used with all its specific details. If this information was available in Metadata, nailing down the best AF settings would be much easier. But, unfortunately, we don’t have that option.

An example of the Custom AF Set menu. There are four Sets and each has three options that can be fine-tuned. Above is Set 1 Moving Object Prediction. Having this menu is better than not having it, but it’s not easy to figure out just what to change. I would be more impressed if AF just worked without having to make changes. Hopefully, this can be made less confusing in the future.

For whatever reason Panasonic does not record Custom AF settings in the RAW file’s Metadata. Nailing down Custom AF settings would be so much easier if we had this information available AFTER the shoot.

Birds In Flight

One of the hottest topics across the Internet and on any of the forums is Birds in Flight, AKA BIF. I understand why. Photographing flying birds is a lot of fun and it’s not easy for a camera or photographer. Fortunately, the G9 is the best Lumix camera to date for flying birds. Below is a screenshot of a series of a jabiru stork I recently photographed in Brazil. You have to take my word for it, but out of the 26 frames, 24 are razor sharp. The other two are sharp enough to keep. Almost a perfect score.

Jabiru stork photographed with the G9 and Leica 50-200mm with the 1.4X teleconverter. Custom AF Set 2, AF-C

This was a particularly difficult situation since the bird was flying against a seriously contrasty background in the first half of the frames. That’s always been very problematic for the Lumix cameras. One advantage this scene offered was a very bright, white subject.

Jabiru stork in flight brings a stick for its nest. The bright twigs in the background did not affect the G9’s AF sensor. It’s possible the bright white bird was helpful as well. Lumix G9 with Leica 50-200mm

I can’t say whether a darker bird against the same background would have come out as well. However, I have found that since the latest firmware update to Version 1.1, the G9 does a better job with all subjects against a brighter/distracting background.

Black skimmer flying over a bright sandy beach. Shot with the Lumix G9 and Leica 50-200mm with a 1.4X teleconverter

The above group of pictures is of a black skimmer against a very bright whitish, sandy beach. I was using a Custom AF mid-sized Diamond shape for the AF pattern. It most certainly covered the bird and would have most certainly seen a part of the background as well. Thankfully it stuck with the bird. Again, this is not how the G9 reacted when it was first released.

Another New Firmware Update for Lumix G9 Version 1.2

Much of this review was written over about a month-long time frame. When I first started this report my G9 pictures stood at about 35,000 images. Today my Lumix G9 files stand at 47,000 pictures. During that time Panasonic announced new firmware updates for several cameras including the G9 This firmware update includes the following improvements.

  1. Improved AF performance
    –There were cases where the focus point was shifted to the background while tracking the subject in AFC mode. The new firmware minimizes this problem.
    – There were cases where the focus point was shifted to the background while tracking the subject in video recording. The new firmware minimizes this problem.
  2. Improvement of operation under specific lighting conditions (fluorescent lights, etc.)
    – There were cases where the camera did not catch up to the brightness change smoothly under specific lighting conditions such as fluorescent lights. The new firmware minimizes this problem.

I’ve been hearing very good things about the new firmware update. Peter Gregg and his little buddy Jingles gives it a try which you can watch in the video below. I love Jingles, and the Christmas room just makes me warm and fuzzy.

I’ll be trying the G9 update with fast dogs in the Speeding Pooch Test, hopefully later this month. If not, for sure in early December.

Smaller Sensor Equals More Noise

Let’s face it, it seems the number one criteria people base a quality camera on is its ability to shoot at very high ISOs. Unfortunately, noise at higher ISOs is the biggest issue we face with all Micro Four Thirds cameras. The G9 is no exception, but it is the best so far aside from the GH5s. That said, I personally feel we’ve all been brainwashed to think lack of noise is the only thing to care about.

With software, you can fix a huge amount of the noise issues we sometimes see with the smaller MFT cameras. In general, the G9 is about 1.5 to 2 stops less capable than a full-frame camera. That means if you start seeing noise with full-frame at ISO 6400, you’re going to see the same at about 1600 ISO on the G9. I typically don’t shoot the G9 above 2000 ISO but I have shot it as high as ISO 6400.

A flock of great-tailed grackle make their way home to roost late evening at Bosque del Apache NWR. Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8. 1/50th of a second at F/7.1

With software, specifically DxO PhotoLab 2, I clean it up. And my goodness DxO PhotoLab does a fabulous job cleaning up noise and retaining sharp details in feathers, stars, and other things. I can agree that if you absolutely need the most ultimate quality possible, a larger sensor will make that happen, but I’m doing prints as large as 30×40 inches and they are extremely sharp and detailed with outstanding colors.

Raven Spirit, a fine art print 24×36 inches in size (without the frame) hanging in our home in Bozeman, Montana.

The number of times I do prints that size is maybe four times per year, and then it’s mostly for testing purposes to prove to people these cameras can handle it. It’s truly just plain crazy that we’ve all been hoodwinked into thinking we ALL need a full-frame sensor camera by the phenomenal marketing machines from Nikon, Canon, and now Sony.

Wine cellar in New Zealand. Lumix G9 with Leica 8-18mm, shot at 0.25 seconds at F/11, ISO 3200, handheld

What’s in the Pipeline

I’ve been waiting for a breakthrough sensor, one that will equal or better full-frame sensors, since I embraced my original MFT camera the Lumix GF1. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet in the Micro Four Thirds realm, but I predict it’s not far away. We all know that electronics are always getting faster, cheaper, and better. Sensors are nothing but electronics and therefore are no exception. The time is coming where we will have at least as much resolution, dynamic range, and low noise characteristics in Micro Four Thirds sensors as the full-frame sensors.

This is a sample image taken with the new Panasonic 8K sensor showing the phenomenal Dynamic Range between the guy sitting in the shadows and the light blue sky, all taken from the same frame.

Panasonic recently announced a new 8K video camera, the AK-SHB 810 with their equally brand new Organic Sensor. This sensor sounds like it may be the one I’ve been hoping for, but it’s not made it to our smaller cameras yet. There’s not been any word on when that may happen, so this little dream is all just speculation but it’s coming, just a matter of when.

Conclusion

This review is a bit lengthy, and yet there are lots and lots of features on the G9 I’ve not covered. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough time to sort it all out. Even I’m still learning new things about this camera. Not to mention, what fun would you have if I gave you every single feature and how it worked? There would be no surprises left. The things I’ve covered in this Blog post are tools and features I use regularly. There are some I’ll never use, but overall this is the most well thought out/designed camera I’ve ever had the privilege to shoot.

So there you have it, ten months and 47,000 pictures later. Some might think this review is a bit late, but I’ve never been one to be the first. I only strive to do my best, and being the first certainly wouldn’t have let me get to the know this camera as I have with 47,000 frames under my belt.

As mentioned at the head of this post, there are lots and lots of other reviews on the details of this camera that came out within weeks of its release. Those reviews are a dime a dozen. My goal was to shoot this camera long enough to make sure I figured out the pros and cons so others can be prepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thankfully,  I didn’t find anything ugly. The Lumix G9 is a fabulously fun, capable, and easy to carry photographic powerhouse. Combine it with the best lenses available and you get a tool that allows you to compete handily with full-frame cameras. Which leads me to what I call the Micro Four Thirds Triad which I’ll discuss in more detail in a coming video. In short, the Micro Four Thirds Triad states that if you:

  1. Use the most current Micro Four Thirds camera being made, currently the Lumix G9, Lumix GH5, or Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark ll
  2. Buy the highest quality lenses such as Lumix Leica or Olympus Pro lenses
  3. Use the best RAW conversion software, in my opinion, DxO PhotoLab 2

Do the above three things and you can compete very well with full-frame sensor cameras. You can try it for yourself at a great price. Lumix just announced a promotional discount of $400. I paid $1799 for my first G9, but the stores listed below have it for $1299. Smokin deal! I’ve listed two of my favorite smaller stores, Bozeman Camera and Hunt’s Photo. I also listed B&H since they so kindly helped me with some of the technical details in this post. I prefer to use smaller dealers, but obviously, it’s up to you. Both Bozeman Camera and Hunt’s are great dealers to work with.

Thanks for stopping by. Please do me a favor and share this post across Facebook, Twitter, or other forums you feel would be interested. I used to post my reviews on DPReview, but they’re not very friendly over there so I’ve stopped. If you visit other forums and want to give them a heads up, I would be grateful. This is truly a labor of love and without feedback, I’m not sure how long I will continue to do these things. This review alone I’ve logged well over 80 hours.

Bozeman Camera

Hunt’s Photo & Video

B&H Photo & Video

Lumix Ambassador Disclaimer

In the spirit of complete transparency, I want all my readers to know that I am a Lumix Ambassador. That means I get paid a small stipend for writing about a system I absolutely love. That said, I want you all to know there is no amount of money more important than my integrity. Much to the chagrin of some of my Lumix colleagues, I often point out the bad with the good regarding Lumix technology and camera gear. My belief is honesty and truthfulness will not just help others, but it also helps a company I truly admire and enjoy working with.

Editorial Note:

Just for those who might wonder, none of my images are manipulated in any way. All are virtually exactly as they were straight from the camera. I don’t use Photoshop or any other software that allows for manipulation of an image. I do allow for minor color correction, cropping, and retrieval of highlights if needed. The software I use for keeping track of my entire 1 million+ image library is Mylio. I sometimes use DxO PhotoLab for noise reduction and highlight recovery when needed. You can see more of my work on my Instagram account labeled with the hastags #nophotoshop and #realphoto.

Add Your Voice!
There are 38 comments on this post…
  1. David MantrippOn Dec. 4th, 2018 (1 week ago)

    Thank you for the review Daniel, it is both well written and informative, a sadly rare combination. I have one question about the G9: you don’t mention the pincushion distortion in the EVF. I assume this is because either it doesn’t bother you, or it has been wildly exaggerated by others. Do you have any comment on that? Thanks.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 5th, 2018 (6 days ago)

      Hello David, I have to say I’ve never noticed any pincushion distortion in the EVF. That’s not to say it’s not there. I’m not sure but it’s definitely not been noticeable enough to bother me. The thing is, there will always be some issues with any camera whether it be an electronic EVF or optical. I decided long ago that the new mirrorless technology, though not perfect, offers so many advantages that I don’t sweat the small stuff. I appreciate you coming by to join the conversation here on the Blog.

  2. Chris WilliamsOn Dec. 3rd, 2018 (1 week ago)

    I’ve just bought the G9. It’s a fabulous camera – ergonomically one of the best I’ve ever used and I’ve used most marques.

    So I am talking about this as someone who is experienced and reinvested in the MFT system.

    Your lens comparisons are either misguided or disingenuous. Comparing a Lumix 200mm f2.8 to a Nikkor 400mm makes no sense whatsoever. Equivalence is a thing, but it isn’t just a ‘thing’ for AoV – it works for DoF and total light gathered too.

    This is very easily practically demonstrated. Take a 200mm f2.8 designed for full frame [35mm format], add a 2x teleconvertor and you’ve got a relatively compact 400mm f5.6 for FF. Same AoV as the PanaLeica 200mm, Same DoF character, and importantly the same overall light gathered – so give or take the same performance in terms of noise. Alternatively you could take an adapter, stick a FF 200mm f2.8 on your G9 and again, in terms of IQ and character you’ve got something similar to the native glass. Except it’s not as expensive.

    Even Panasonic themselves [at least now they’re also developing a larger format camera series] admit this. A recent interview from one of their technical guys explicitly stating their forthcoming 10-25 f1.7 for mft will be equivalent to a 20-50 f3.7 on a FF camera.

    I’m actually using quite a few adapted lenses with a speedbooster. It’s heavy kit, but it does give me similar performance in many ways to larger format kit [the Sigma 18-35 f.8 after all the arithmetic comes in equivalents as roughly 25-50 f2.3]. But there’s no size benefit – or not much to using FF kit. But I do get the benefits of the features [including amazing ibis] of the G9 and fit lightweight lenses when I don’t need those extremes of performance.

    I just don’t kid myself I’m getting a free lunch because I don’t like lying. Even to myself.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 3rd, 2018 (1 week ago)

      Listen Mr. Williams. You best understand that ANYBODY who suggests I’m “misguided” (stupid) and or “disingenuous”, a term only a coward uses for lying, you’re damn lucky I even allow this comment through let alone answer it. You may think you know it all but as far as I’m concerned I don’t split hairs as you’re obviously doing when you suggest the Leica 200mm F2.8 is so different optically than a Nikon 400mm F/2.8. Technically you’re right but I don’t give a flipping hoot. I still earn a substantial part of my living from the sale of pictures and that’s what I base success or failure on. No editor I’ve ever worked with has suggested any images shot with the Leica 400mm F/2.8 were not purchased due to it being inferior to a Nikon, Canon or Sony 400mm F/2.8. The technical details you are so enamored with make no difference in today’s world of photography. The only people that care about such anal retentiveness are pixel peepers and those that are more impressed with the status of a lens rather than what that lens can actually do. If you ever revisit this site I suggest you come back with your manners front and center or you’ll never take part in any conversation I have control over again. Consider this a favor.

  3. james wilsonOn Dec. 2nd, 2018 (1 week ago)

    Hello Dan,

    At Bosque last week I set my G9 up at the flats at temps below freezing and the preview lit up but it would not fire. There was one frame grabbed out of multiple shutter pressings. Later it worked fine. Tried the 2nd day, same story, later worked fine. Any suggestions on a remedy? I am off to Iceland in a week.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 2nd, 2018 (1 week ago)

      James, Unfortunately, I can’t make any recommendations. I’ve not used the G9 in extremely low temps but I have shot it at 5 degrees above with no issues. I’ve always had very good luck with my Lumix cameras in cold temperatures. My suggestion would be to send it in to have it checked out. Not sure what else to tell you. You could do tests by placing it in the freezer and seeing how it behaves. When I do freezer tests I make sure I place a small foldable cooler in the freezer as well. I do this to give me a cold case to put the camera in before I take it out of the freezer. If you bring a cold camera out into the warm room temperature air, you will get sever condensation which can actually harm your camera. So don’t do this test unless you have the cooler to place the camera in and let it warm up slowly

  4. Chris WitzgallOn Dec. 2nd, 2018 (1 week ago)

    Daniel,

    One or the other. I have two bodies on me most of the time, and switch quickly between the two.
    Chris

  5. Chris WitzgallOn Nov. 29th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

    Daniel, that you so much for looking into this. With regard to using the fl360, maybe the slower fps has to do with having to move the shutter twice? Would efcs make a difference? I think that Panasonic is disabling continuous flash on non-panasonic (or olympus)flashes. I use Godox, for three reasons, not fulfilled by Panny or Oly. 1. Radio control. 2. Lithium battery, 3. Price. The first two are the show stoppers for me. I used to use manual pocket wizards, having a shoe mounted flash that can control remote flashes is a revolution. I can also control the same remote flash using my Sony and Panasonic, each with their own flash on camera, seamlessly. This means that I can have one camera that has the remote at a given power level, and the other camera has that same remote flash at a different level, or off, or ttl, or whatever. It makes getting different looks with different cameras very fast and easy.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 29th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

      Are you shooting two different cameras at the same time?

  6. Denise NeuendorfOn Nov. 27th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

    Daniel, what a fantastic review! Can’t believe I got so lucky as to find this.
    I had been happily shooting sports, birds, and general wildlife with the GX8 and Leica 100-400 for several months when the camera was dropped rendering both the lens mount and camera sensor unusable. I have replaced the 100-400, but have been agonizing for two weeks about whether to replace the GX8 or go for the G9. I really had no beefs with the GX8, but the G9 is just newer and I’m thinking without the anti-aliasing filter maybe images would be sharper and maybe with the updated image stabilization perhaps noise levels would be improved since I can go lower with shutter speed. But the G9 is so much heavier and I hike a lot! UGH, help!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 27th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

      Yes, the G9 almost double the weight but it’s more than triple the camera in my opinion. If you are really committed to the MFT system I would seriously consider getting a G9 and eventually purchase a used GX8 for your backcountry adventures. Thanks for the very kind comments. I appreciate your enthusiasm about finding this review. Please do me a favor and share this blog with others when you can. T

  7. Rob ShawOn Nov. 27th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

    Dan

    I thought you’d like to know that you’ve created another Lumix/M43 convert. After months of researching various systems it was down to Oly vs Panasonic (with an occasional glance at Fuji), and it is largely due to your comments on the G9 that today I ordered 2 bodies, two grips, the 12-60 and 50-200 from B&H to replace my 5DIII/7DII and all my Canon L glass. I am at the age where lugging around tons of full-frame/APS-C gear is becoming a non-starter, plus I’ve been wanting the advantages of mirrorless for some time, and your views on the Lumix line and the M43 format pushed me over the edge.

    Thanks very much for your great coverage and cheerleading for the M43 system, and as a fellow nature/wildlife photographer (although only as a serious hobby) and aviation/transportation photography enthusiast, I will continue to follow your blogs and videos with great interest. Love your insights and the practical knowledge/wisdom you share that cuts through the technobabble and fanboy noise. Once my piggybank recovers I am strongly considering joining you on one of your photo tours – but that might take a while! 🙂

    Best Regards,

    Rob Shaw
    Kent, WA, USA

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 27th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

      Thanks Rob. Your kind comments are great.y appreciated.

  8. Chris WitzgallOn Nov. 26th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

    Daniel,

    Have you had a chance to look into the flash issue I raised?

    Hope you had a nice holiday!

    Chris

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 26th, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

      Chris, I did check this situation out. Interestingly, my FL360 does fire at a rapid speed when the flash and camera are in manual mode. However, it’s not the full 12FPS I had the camera set to. It sounds more like 4-5 FPS. For whatever reason, it’s not shooting at maximum frame rate even though the flash is a fraction of full power and in Manual. I tried the same test with a Nikon D500 and the new Nikon SB5000 strobe and it fires at the full High-Speed frame rate the camera shoots at without the flash. No noticeable difference that I can tell. So the good news is it does work but not at the highest frame rate the cameras can shoot at.

  9. VladimirOn Nov. 23rd, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

    Hi Daniel,
    Great review… as usual !

    You are one that made me buy a G80.
    I m a landscape photographer using the g80 with pana leica 8 18mm .

    As you said, 16m pixels are enough.

    My question is what would i gain changing my g80 for the g9 ?
    Thanks and congrat for your awesome work.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 23rd, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

      Thanks for the kind comments Vladimir. For landscapes, you would get the amazing ability of High-Resolution mode on the G9. It’s great for landscapes that don’t have any moving parts such as a flowing river, blowing grass etc. You would also get a bit larger sensor but as you said, 16 megapixels is typically enough. They’re both great cameras but there is no doubt that the G9 is considerably newer and with all electronics, newer is most often at least some better as far as the sensor goes. Hard call. I do love the G9 and it’s now my main camera.

  10. Paul FramptonOn Nov. 20th, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

    Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for your informative (as always) post. I’ve followed you quietly for a couple of years now and your posts on the G85 and the 100-400 played a large part in me buying both last year, a pairing that has left me very happy.
    I’ve been hankering for the G9 for a while now, the only thing that holds me back is how much of a step up from the G85 it is for BIF? I’ve read that the EM1.2 is the better option for birds in flight, but I really like the Panny and would prefer to stay in their camp.
    I also like aviation and motorsport photography. I struggled at first but feel a lot happier after this years more recent outings after becoming more used to the lens and camera. Sadly, birds in flight still seem to be a struggle. I’ve read that the G85 finds it hard to keep a lock if the background is busy and I can confirm that the focus sometimes seems to ‘jump away’ to something else if I’m tracking a duck coming in to land in a lake, for example, despite keeping the focus point on the bird.
    Would I get a noticeable improvement with the G9 and latest firmware over the G85 in this situation?
    Thanks again.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 20th, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

      Thanks for the kind comments Paul. It’s always gratifying to hear from my readers that appreciate the long hours that go into producing blog post like this. I’m very grateful.

      I’m predicting the new G9 with the newest firmware should be a major improvement for birds in flight and predictive autofocus. Unfortunately I can’t tell you I’ve tried The G9 with the newest version firmware but I will be testing it during the month of January with lots of birds in flight. I realize this is still a bit of ways off but I should have a great opportunity to really check the new firmware out and let you know how it goes. Thanks for joining the discussion.

  11. jordanOn Nov. 19th, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

    Daniel,

    the “Reply” button doesn’t seem to be working so i hope this is the right way to ‘reply’.
    i have the 100-300 version II. my aim is to get faster AF fo rBIF. so you’re saying i would be better served with a G9?
    okay. G9 it is.
    thanks for your input!
    regards,
    jordan

  12. jordan pawOn Nov. 17th, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

    Daniel,
    great review! i have a question for you regarding replacing my camera body or lens. i’m currently using a G85 + 100-300. while it’s a good combo, for BIF it sort of falls short.

    Should i get a G9 or a 50-200 pl? put it in another way, would i benefit more with a G85 + 50-200 combo vs G9 + 100-300? can’t buy both!

    thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 18th, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

      Jordan, it depends on which 100-300mm you have. If you have the first generation, replacing the lens would be a big advantage. If it’s the second generation I would go for the G9.

  13. bishopOn Nov. 17th, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

    Dan, thank you so much for your advice. Just to answer your question, I’m using the G7 with the 14-42 kit lens, the Lumix 25 1.7, the Lumix 42.5 1.7 and I also have a vintage Minolta 50mm f2 just for fun. In the Nikon world, I use the D750. My goal this year is to really develop my portraiture skills and I shoot street photography for fun–I realize these are the exact opposite of what you shoot! I’m ready to go with DxO, but just waiting to see if there are any Black Friday deals. Philosophically I totally support the M4/3 system. Yes the top of the line gear and systems are expensive, but still cheaper compared to equivalent Nikon/Canon offerings.
    (also, my apologies, I couldn’t figure out how to respond to your response to my message, so entered this as a new message)

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 17th, 2018 (3 weeks ago)

      Bishop, thanks for the added info. By the way, you responded correctly by adding your input to the Blog thread. This way others can partake in our conversation which may help them as well.

      The equipment you mention is definitely adequate but unfortunately not what I consider in the superior league of the MFT Triad requirements. However, for getting started you will be fine as long as you ad the benefits of the MFT Triad-Software, DXO PhotoLab. You mentioned in your earlier comment you had heard good things about Capture One and I agree, it’s very close and possibly equal to DXO. But… it’s more expensive and a bit more difficult to operate. At least I feel it is. Either one would be a good choice. I have a preference for DXO but they are both very, very good. Another reason I went With DXO it’s superior ability to play nice with Mylio which is what I use for organizing my pictures and some processing.

      Thanks for joining the conversation and please come like on Facebook if you do Facebook and welcome to the NE Corkboard Family

  14. Trent G. AndersonOn Nov. 15th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Tell us what you really feel Dan. Wonderful, comprehensive review mate. I’ve sent it out to friends hoping it gets them to step up to the plate and upgrade. Right out of the box, I knew this is where I was hoping Panasonic would land. As you know, I’ve had issues with the eyecup since I started out with the GH-4. However, Panasonic, in my opinion, upped their game with the addition of the G9 Extended Comfort Eyecup. A few weeks ago I used it down in the Everglades for the first time and I was finally taking/attempting shots of flying birds without muttering under my breath about the dam eyepiece. I did, out of habit, tape the eyecup because…you still have to. Thanks again for your thoughtful review.

  15. bishopOn Nov. 15th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Thank you for this exhaustive review–btw I love this site, I have spent way too much time here during the work day! I’m a Nikon refugee (a hobbyist) and relatively new to Lumix. I really want micro four thirds to work for me–because philosophically I’m completely on board with this system. But so far I’ve been struggling with IQ. I realize that much of this is probably due to my own limitations… I’m working with an outdated body (G7), so in terms of your triad, what do you think is the most important element to address first? Body, lens, raw conversion? And forgive my ignorance, but is DxO able to be used in conjunction with Lightroom/PS? I’ve heard that switching to Capture One from LR/PS also does wonders for the micro four thirds photos.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 15th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

      Bishop,

      The quickest, least expensive way to upgrade the quality of your images would be to spend the money on DXO PhotoLab. I can tell you that I’ve shot the G7 quite a bit and found it to produce very good quality images. But admittedly it’s a bit behind the times. Also, It would be helpful to know which lenses you’re using, are you comparing the quality of your G7 images to your Nikon and if so which Nikon were you using? Let me know and I’ll try to get more specific to help.

      Regarding DXO and Lightroom. Yes, DXO works relatively well with Lightroom. I use it with Mylio but you can follow the same procedure I do which is, I save the file from DXO to the Orignal Image Folder. You then may have to go to that folder and Import to LR. With Mylio, it just automatically sees the new corr to file and Imports to my Mylio Catalog. Not sure if LR can be setup to do that or not.

      Let me know if I can be of further help. Thanks for stopping by to join the conversation.

  16. Dean SwartzOn Nov. 14th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Your lengthy post can be summed up with a single word: BRILLIANT! Well done, my friend! (But, I’m still not giving up my Sony A7RIII and Zeiss Batis lenses!)

  17. Bill BurkholderOn Nov. 14th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    @Dan Cox — I love your patience and real-world analysis. I certainly believe you spent 80+ hours on this. THANK-YOU. This will help a lot of folks make major decisions about their camera choices.

    @Helen Hooker — I read your linked review. Excellent work! It nicely complements Dan’s excellent piece here. Your photos are good examples of a broad range of applications.

    One thing Panasonic has done over the last decade of Micro 4/3 development is to LISTEN to their customers. Some other camera companies are so fraught with hubris that they cannot take constructive criticism. The Lumix folks listen, then till that fertilizer into the soil that grows the next generation cameras. The fact that we get regular firmware updates that add features, improve other features, and fix bugs, is remarkable, too. Some other companies fix bugs, period.

  18. Louis BerkOn Nov. 14th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Great review, Daniel. I often point people at your site for more information on Panasonic cameras and wildlife photography.
    One of the great things about a review like this, is that for a relative novice like myself, I discover that in fact I am doing things right.
    I’m in agreement that the AF on the G9 frustrating at times. But I have also pulled off some fantastic bif shots with the camera. I know I would find it hard (at 63 years old) to tote anything larger than m43rds so I keep the faith.
    Obviously, I’d love to see a ‘G10’ with a BSI sensor to improve the signal to noise characteristics of the sensor. I think one thing worth emphasising is that the competition, e.g. D500 and 7DMkII (I discount Sony due to lack of lenses) still only deliver the same number of pixels (21.3 and 20.2 respectively). So for cropping – which is part and parcel of wildlife photography (for me, at least) – you are not going to get more ‘cropability’. I fully accept you get less noise and that is one thing I am envious about with respect to Nikon and Canon.
    I’d say the XT3 and 100-400 might be serious competition for Panasonic in the wildlife space but the thing which is a drawback is button placement (and I speak as an owner of the fantastic GFX system, so I am familiar with Fujifilm ergonomics). As you rightly point out – the ergonomics of the G9 (and the GH5, GX8 and GH2 I owned before it) are literally second to none, e.g. the leader of the pack, imho.
    For a long time now I have exclaimed that the OVF is dead. It is a quaint artefact from photographic history. I was immediately converted when I got my GH2 and realised I could actually see the impact of EV compensation – and as you rightly point out now, the histogram in the viewfinder. I reckon in a few years time you’ll have kids exclaiming, “I got this cool camera, it has an optical viewfinder. It is so old school it is fantastic!”, the way we see people loving film photography for its organic feeling – but not necessarily its IQ.
    Finally, I believe the standard which is most likely to disappear in future years is the arbitrary FF sensor. You can say all you like about Sony A&Rs and D850 but my GFX50s beats FF hands down and some. And it is an equivalent price. I believe that crop sensor will remain for the multiplication factor and the ability to make small portable lenses with high comparable high quality image capture and that the future for larger sensor sizes is in MF. I was kind of disappointed that Panasonic did not go the way of Fujifilm. I’ll be they do at some point in the future.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 14th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

      Thanks, Louis, I always appreciate your input.

  19. Chris WitzgallOn Nov. 13th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Daniel,

    Thanks for responding. I am using Godox strobes, under the Flashpoint label. In talking with other photographers online, they have confirmed the following on other stobe units as well. I have not tried with a Panasonic or Olympus flash. but others have and report it not working. Maybe you can test?

    Set camera for mechanical shutter, and then any continuous drive mode. Note that the drive mode shows in the viewfinder, for example on the G9 it can show a stack of rectangles with Live view and an L next to it. Hold down shutter button, and camera fires of sequentially until released. Now, mount a flash and turn it on. The drive mode icon turns red, with a line through it. When the shutter is pressed, it only shoots one frame per press. Turn off flash, and you can again shoot continuously. I have tried this six ways to Sunday, using TTL and manual flash.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 13th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

      Chris, I’ll give this a try with my Lumix strobes but I won’t be able to do so for a few days since I’m away from my studio and for the first time, I can ever remember, don’t have my camera gear with me. I’m also going to ping one of the Lumix engineers and see if he is aware of this issue. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  20. Chris WitzgallOn Nov. 13th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Daniel,

    You did a good job of reporting the pluses and minuses of the G9. I have had one for about 6 months now, and it is great all-arounder. I love the image stabilization, and the colors are improved over even the GX8.

    I still shoot some weddings each year, and one issue I have with all Panasonic cameras is their inability to shoot in continuous mode when using flash (and mechanical shutter – of course.) There are times when I need this, a bride tossing her bouquet, for example. My Sony A99ii does this just fine. Nikons before as well. A typical scenario might be iso 1600, manual flash on camera set at 1/64th power, another radio controlled flash set at same or a bit +- depending on situation. The A99ii will usually fire off four shots at the 8 frames a second rate before a dark one shows up, and then some more correctly lit. None of my Panasonics, the G9, GX8 Wife’s) Gx7 or my old GH3 will shoot in continuous. Strangely, I have a few Rotolight LED lights that have a flash feature. Using the matched Elinchrom radio transmitter, it will allow continuous shooting, but only at about 1-2 fps. Do you know if this has ever come up in talking to Panasonic???

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 13th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

      Chris, I’ve never heard of this. Let me try to understand. Are you saying that the G9 won’t fire consecutively even if the flash has plenty of power by way of only being at 1/64th. power? Is this a Lumix strobe and if so which one?

  21. Helen HookerOn Nov. 13th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Great review Daniel, which mirrors many of my experiences of the wonderful G9. If you’re interested, I wrote a review of the G9 a few months back and I’m planning to do a follow up when time allows. You can find it here: www.helenhookerphotography.co.uk/inspiration-and-education/2018/2/20/panasonic-lumix-g9-review

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