Andy Quinn Wants to Know about Lumix G9 Birds In Flight

Posted Nov. 17th, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

Hi Dan
Have you had a chance to take a Panasonic G9 out in the wild yet, preferably with a PL 100-400mm mounted?
I have the 100-400 and use it withe a GX8 body, mainly for wildlife – really interested to find out your thoughts on the G9 vs GX8 from an image quality point of view particularly.

I also find BIF hard with the GX8/100-400 as the body seems to initially acquire focus (AF-s single point)…then instead of holding that focus it tries to refocus and i always lose the subject then against the sky….really annoying as it acquires initial focus. This is the way I used to shoot on a Nikon D610 with Sigma 150-600 sport lens with far greater success. Any ideas?

I am mightily tempted by the G9 (I bet a GX9 is not far behind too).

Anyway thanks for sharing your work /process and thoughts with all, its appreciated, especially by amateurs such as myself.

Kind regards

Thanks for writing Andy. As much as I like the GX8, I really do not consider it a good choice for wildlife. Especially with a lens as powerful as the Leica 100-400mm. The 100-400mm, when extended out to it’s longest reach is effectively 800mm. That is extreme magnification and with that much power, it gets harder to find your subjects due to the narrow tunnel-like view you get when looking through the (EVF) viewfinder. Add to that, the GX8’s side mounted, rangefinder-like EVF, which creates a parallax issue due to the EVF not being directly over the lens barrel. This, along with the extreme magnification, makes it very difficult to quickly and easily line up your subject. Even though the GX8’s EVF is only an inch or so off center from the lens, that one inch is seriously increased when pointing the 800mm’s at a subject 100 yards or more out and trying to find that subject while looking through the EVF. Now take these two issues with the GX8 and add a relatively small subject, a bird or birds, that are flying quickly, and you have a recipe for lots of frustration getting great images. I personally think you would have far luck with either the G85 or GH5. The G9 will possibly due even better since it’s going to have the newest AF capabilities.

Hyacinth Macaw, mating pair exhibiting courtship behavior. Pantanal, Brazil. Lumix GH5 with Leica 100-400mm lens. ISO 500

The next thing you want to consider is which AF Pattern you’re using. For birds in flight, I typically use the 225 Area or the Custom Muti with AF set to AF-C. I’ve had reasonably good luck with these settings on Birds in Flight. That said, Panasonic is still playing catchup with the likes of Nikon and Canon when it comes to world class “Predictive AF” which is what we’re dealing with photographing subjects that move as fast as Birds in Flight. I recently ran some tests with the GH5 and the Nikon D500. The subjects were cars on a highway moving at 60-80mph straight at the camera. The GH5 did extremely well, actually better than the D500. But with more erratic subject matter, like flying birds, I’m finding it’s not producing the results I used to get with my Nikons. The GH5 is getting very close however and I’m confident firmware updates are going to bring the Lumix cameras within a few frames of what the Nikon can do. The G9 may already be in line to do this.

Snow geese lift off from a small pond at Bosque del Apache NWR. New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 100-400mm zoom. ISO 320

Snow geese lift off from a small pond at Bosque del Apache NWR. New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 100-400mm zoom. ISO 320

As you most likely can tell from my ramblings above, I’ve not shot the G9 yet. I had a chance to get a pre-production model Lumix USA wanted me to test and shoot sample images with. But I had to turn them down due to being out of the country for three months and there was no way to get it in time for a deadline they had. Oh’well, that’s lifSometimesmes you’re in the right spot, soetimes not, but I will be shooting one by early December. January 1, 2018 I’ll be starting the first of our three Photo Tours to Bosque del Apache where we’re going to have lots of flying geese and cranes. Stay tuned to the Blog for more details on Birds In Flight from Bosque del Apache. Better yet, come join us. We still have one spot left on the second Bosque del Apache tour. We could then put it through its paces together and you would see how it works first hand.

Thaks for the great question and adding your voice to the Corkboard/Blog community


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There are 11 comments on this post…
  1. Stu ElsomOn Jun. 7th, 2018 (1 month ago)

    Hi Dan,

    I read your piece and watched your very informative videos with great interest as I’ve just changed from Canon DSLR (7DII and 100-400 and/or 300 2.8 and extenders) to a G9 and 100-400. I love the camera handling, the lightweight combo for ‘wait and see’ type bird/invertebrate photography and my shoulder has breathed a sigh of relief.

    I have yet to nail exactly how to select the central focusing points for use with birds in flight. Have you discovered this yet, and if so, where can I find it.

    Keep up the good work!

    Thanks and regards

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 9th, 2018 (1 month ago)

      Stu, you want to use the Fn1 button, top right side of camera to select Custom Muti. That’s what I use for birds flight.

  2. Marcus BetteridgeOn May. 12th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    Thanks Dan for the reply. The 2x crop is in camera called extra tele conversion. I have had some good shots with still objects. However it only shoots in jpeg.

  3. Marcus BetteridgeOn Apr. 19th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Hallo Dan. I eventually went digital back in 2010 and eventually ended up with pana gx8 and pl 100-400.The reason being that being a keen enthusiast of all aspects of bird photography the range and weight seemed a no brainer. However im not entirely convinced of the g8 lmages. I get a lot of miss and some hit (im no pro mind)rates. Is the g9 alot better. Also i use the 2x crop which can give some great pics. Is this 1600 equivelent.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 19th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      I’m finding the G9 considerably better in Auto focus than even the GH5 Marcus. I used the G8 but was never a huge fan. For one I don’t care for the rangefinder style EVF when using really large lenses scubas the 100-400mm. I’m not sure of your question regarding the 2X crop. Is this a setting in the camera? If so I’ve not used it.

  4. Les CraneOn Mar. 5th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    I’m looking forward to seeing your evaluation of the G9 for bird photography and any “tips” you can share for BIF settings.

    I got my G9 while on a month long birding trip and used it intensively, leaving my G85 in the bag. It was a “good news, bad news” experience. As far as handling, ergonomics and even image quality, I found the G9 to be markedly better than the g85. The bad news is that I didn’t find an appreciable improvement in my success rate with flight shots. Getting a lock on even slow birds against a clear sky, not easy. I was never a BIF expert but I had better luck with my retired EOS system.

    Otherwise,I for one have no complaints about control placement, size, or usability of the G9

  5. George McCarthyOn Feb. 21st, 2018 (5 months ago)

    Hi Dan great site and great blog!

    I am a UK pro of 30 years standing and during the whole time I have used nothing but Canon. Back in the Autumn I had a client on one of my workshops using a G85 . That was the first time i became aware of the 4/3’s system My interest was aroused as i saw the possibility of losing weight, literally!
    After coming across your YouTube videos and the announcement of the G9 I decided to switch to Panasonic 100%. I sold all my Canon gear including my beloved 500 F4 and 300 F2.8. I pre-ordered 2xG9s, the 100-400, 200F2.8 and two smaller lenses. Very pleased but, and this is a very BIG BUT I am really struggling with the manual despite down loading the larger version.ònline. Your blog is a great help but much of the time you are talking to Pan users who have years of experience.
    So can I suggest an Ebook written for 1st time users like me? I am sure it would be a best seller!
    Regards George McCarthy

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 21st, 2018 (5 months ago)

      Thanks for going the conversation George. Will give your idea of an Ebook some thought. I try not to write explanations as if readers already understand the system. Will keep this in mind for future posts.

  6. Bill CooteOn Feb. 12th, 2018 (5 months ago)

    I am new to photography and have been considering three cameras for bird photography. The Nikon D500 and the Canon 7 mark 11 plus the Lumix G9 with a 100-400 lens.

    I am concerned that will the claims made about the G9 in the end be reflected in the images for birds inflight, and, be as good as the tradional DSLRs.

    I know using Nikon and Canon I have no worries, except weight.

    Lumix g9 is it a good bird photography camera

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 14th, 2018 (5 months ago)

      I’m doing lots of birds in flight pictures with the G9 and Leica 100-400mm. Is it as good as Nikon and Canon? I’m not sure yet Bill but I know it is very close as far as Predictive AF is concerned. I have some tests planned to try and make a final determination as to how good the G9 is compared to a Nikon D500. Stay tuned to the Blog for that appraisal, hopefully end of March or early April. Keep in mind, that one of the huge advantages of the Lumix system is it’s small size and the ability to hand hold an equivalent 800mm lens. Hand holding an equivalent Nikon or Canon lens is not possible for 95% of birds in flight photographers. Now take in to consideration that the Leica 100-400mm (800mm equivalent) costs $1799.00US and the comparable Nikon is $18,000US and in my mind it becomes a no brainer. Below is just one of thousands of birds flight images I’ve shot in the past two months with the #LumixG9.

  7. AndyOn Nov. 17th, 2017 (8 months ago)

    Thanks for the reply Dan, I will have to be patient!
    Wow the Bosque del Apache tour looks awesome, maybe if I win the lottery I can come on that and buy a new G9….🤓

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