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
Andy

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 25 comments on this post…
  1. Evleen R AndersonOn Nov. 2nd, 2018 (2 weeks ago)

    We’re now in November 2018 – and I don’t see Dan’s final word anywhere.

    I would really, really like Dan’s “final determination” on the DC-G9 (current 1.2 firmware) and birds in flight. So far I don’t see the final word (well not from Dan anyway). Thanks you.

    Evleen

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

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

      Evleen, I really appreciate your trust in wanting to know how the new firmware works for BIF. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to really make quality tests until around January 1, 2019. I will be in Bosque del Apache for two weeks and will be shooting lots of birds. I do hope to do something sooner with dogs running at the camera, what I call my speeding pooch test. I hope to make that happen in November sometime but it may be as far out as mid December. Sorry for not being able to make any of this happen sooner. Thanks for your confidence and patience.

  2. Portrait of Jay Murthy

    JayOn Aug. 31st, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Dan ,

    I am curious if the focus problem for BIF has been resolved with G9. I stumbled upon this thread and find that my keeper rate on olympus Em1 mii is significantly higher than G9 using 200mm Pan leica or the 100-400 Pan leica.. i am sure its something to do with my settings.. but i have it pretty much set it up like my prior g85, and G85 had a better keeper rate. Thank you!!!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 1st, 2018 (3 months ago)

      Jay,

      I’ve just finished up a five-day shoot with the G9 and the Leica 200mm F/2.8 with lots of BIF. Unfortunately, I’m disappointed in the results. I have a blog post coming in the next couple of weeks discussing the G9 which will include what I’ve found with fast moving subjects, specifically Birds in Flight. Thanks for your interest and joining the conversation.

  3. Deborah AlbertOn Aug. 31st, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Just bought G9 with 100-400 in hopes of giving up my Nikons and heavy lenses. Sure could use some suggestions for best settings in general and especially for fast moving wildlife…leaving soon for the Pantanal.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 11th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      Deborah,

      Sorry for the delay. I’ve been out of the country myself. Here is willing to settings for GH5 which are basically the same as G9. http://naturalexposures.com/?s=LUMIX+settings

  4. James LandersOn Aug. 29th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Hi Daniel. I’m just on the verge of pulling the trigger on a G9 and PL100-400 for my birding. I have shot this lens with a G85 in the past with less than spectacular results for BIF’s. The G9 looks like an all around amazing camera, but since birds are at least half of what I shoot I hesitate to go ahead with the purchase without a definitive review of it’s capabilities in this regard. You are my “definitive source” on this but I haven’t been able to find your final conclusions about this body lens combination anywhere. If It’s no better than the G85, I’ll look elsewhere. Did I just miss your review or is coming soon? Thanks
    Jim

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 29th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      Jim, I’m working on my thoughts on the G9 for BIF even as I write this. I’ve just spent four days photographing puffins and though the G9 is the best Lumix to date for BIF I’m dissapointed to say it’s not yet what I’m hoping for. I’ll be giving more details in a future blog post. During this same four day shoot I had a chance to test a newer, non Lumix camera, that I’ll be including in the coming blog that produced the most phenominal BIF results I’ve ever seen. To say I was shocked is an understatment. The accuracy of this camera was by far the most exceptional I’ve ever experienced which includes the Nikon D4 I used to shoot. Stay tuned.

  5. Martin ViveashOn Aug. 26th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    I have to agree with the initial comment. The camera aquires focus promptly against a bird in the sky (All points selected) then ,just as promptly loses it !!! Shot gone ! This didn’t happen with the Canon 7D11. Its hugely flustrating !!!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 27th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      Could not agree more Martin. I’m currently testing some of the Custom AF settings. But so far I’m finding the exact same issue. I’ve captured some great images but the percentage is extremely low.

  6. Alex BushOn Aug. 19th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    I have to take issue with your comments on parallax. Whilst they would be correct on a ‘true’ rangefinder camera, a modern EVF is fed by the light coming down the lens.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

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

      Alex,

      You’re not the only one to suggest I have no idea what I’m talking about. However I stand by my comments on parallax. When you look through the lens that is 2 inches to the right of the electronic viewfinder that interferes with the ability to point the lens straight at the subject. I’ve use this camera extensively with the 100-400mm and it does create an issue.

  7. Dave GalavanOn Aug. 7th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Hi Dan
    any further updates on your opinion re the G9 + 100-400 for BIF. TIA

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 9th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      HI Dave, I’m currently working on a Blog about the G9 and will be discussing BIF. Stay tuned. Should be out in a week or less. Thanks for checking back.

  8. Stu ElsomOn Jun. 7th, 2018 (5 months 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
    Stu

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 9th, 2018 (5 months 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.

  9. Marcus BetteridgeOn May. 12th, 2018 (6 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.

  10. Marcus BetteridgeOn Apr. 19th, 2018 (7 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 (7 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. http://naturalexposures.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

  11. Les CraneOn Mar. 5th, 2018 (9 months ago)

    Dan,
    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

  12. George McCarthyOn Feb. 21st, 2018 (9 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 (9 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.

  13. Bill CooteOn Feb. 12th, 2018 (9 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 (9 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.

  14. AndyOn Nov. 17th, 2017 (1 year 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….🤓
    Regards
    Andy

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