Lumix G90 Announced Hail the Baby G9

Posted Apr. 6th, 2019 by Daniel J. Cox

The return of the built-in flash

Whahoooo… as Yukon Cornelius would say. Panasonic is finally giving us a stills oriented camera that brings back the built-in, on-camera, flash. Hallelujah, and Gloriosky as my mama often sings.

Few people know this, but Yukon Cornelius carried a Lumix G9 in his rucksack to capture proof of the bumble.

However you describe it, I’m extremely happy about this development. The only thing that would make it better is if it were a G9 with a built-in flash. But the newly announced G90 will fill the void nicely and be a great addition to my camera bag as a wonderful tool for people pictures and macro photography.

Let’s see the same on a revised Lumix G9

About the only disappointment I had with the release of the Lumix G9 is the fact it was missing a built-in flash. I’ve heard from both Nikon and now Lumix that pros don’t want a built-in flash, and I say bunk in triplicate. Build it tough, build it stout, and I would buy a camera with one over a camera without every time.

Lumix G90 G95
Here’s the G90 with the fabulous pop-up flash.

Above is an image of the newly announced Lumix G90 showing the built-in flash. Why is an onboard flash so important? Because having even a small amount of electronic light can make or break a photograph. Having it built into the camera but hidden means you have extra light as long as you have the camera. I regularly bring a camera and forget or don’t want to carry a flash. But having even just a small amount of electronic flash can be extremely helpful for filling in shadows, for both people and animals, under tough lighting conditions.

Introducing the Lumix G90

Lumix G90 G95

Panasonic DC-G90 Specs

PixelsActual: 21.77 Megapixel
Effective: 20.3 Megapixel
AV Recording
Aspect Ratio16:9
Focus ModeContinuous-Servo AF (C), Flexible (AFF), Manual Focus (M), Single-Servo AF (S)
Autofocus PointsContrast Detection: 49
Viewfinder Resolution2,360,000 Dot
Viewfinder Eye Point20 mm
Viewfinder Coverage100%
Viewfinder MagnificationApprox. 0.74x
Diopter Adjustment-4 to +4 m
Exposure Control
Metering MethodCenter-Weighted Average, Multiple, Spot
White BalanceAuto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Daylight, Flash, Incandescent, Shade, White Set 1, White Set 2, White Set 3, White Set 4
Continuous ShootingUp to 9 fps at 20.3 MP for up to 30 Exposures (Raw Format)
Up to 6 fps at 20.3 MP for up to 30 Exposures (Raw Format)
Up to 2 fps at 20.3 MP for up to 30 Exposures (Raw Format)
Up to 9 fps at 20.3 MP for up to 600 Exposures (JPEG Format)
Up to 6 fps at 20.3 MP for up to 600 Exposures (JPEG Format)
Up to 2 fps at 20.3 MP for up to 600 Exposures (JPEG Format)
Up to 30 fps at 8.3 MP (JPEG Format)
Flash ModesAuto, Auto/Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-Eye Reduction, Off, Slow Sync, Slow Sync/Red-Eye Reduction
External Flash ConnectionHot Shoe
Battery1 x DMW-BLC12 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 7.2 VDC, 1200 mAh (Approx. 290 Shots per Charge)
Operating Temperature14 to 104°F / -10 to 40°C
Operating Humidity10 to 80%
Kit Lens
Angle of View84.05° to 20.44°
Minimum Focus Distance7.87″ / 20 cm
Maximum Magnification0.27x
Optical Design11 Elements in 9 Groups
Diaphragm Blades7, Rounded
Image StabilizationYes
Dimensions (D x L)2.60 x 2.80″ / 66 x 71 mm

Fill flash to the rescue for outdoor people pics

Using a flash to fill in the shadows under, let’s say a baseball cap, is a huge benefit. Not only are you filling in the shadows, but you’re also balancing the flash with the ambient light. Below is an example my wife Tanya shot of me several years ago. I was on a boat under the protective canopy. She shot one with no flash. I suggested she pop the built-in flash up which is the next exposure. The third and final exposure is the first one that looked very dark. To lighten it I made adjustments to the image in Mylio basically giving it a +2 stop exposure increase.

Fill flash
Far left. No flash. Middle, flash set to -1 EV. Far right is the first image with a +2 stop exposure increase in software.

Below is another example of adding just a small blip of light that changes the entire image. Keep in mind, this image of Tanya is a long hike into the backcountry of Colorado. I had no interest in hauling an external flash, but when we got to this basin I realized a little flash would be very helpful. I popped up the built-in flash of my Nikon D70 and added the light I needed.

Fill flash
Tanya checking out a flower field guide in the Colorado Rockies. Just a small blip of light from the built-in flash in a Nikon D70 brightened her jacket and the shadows beneath her hat. There was even enough light to illuminate the book so you can actually see it’s a field guide.
Fill flash
Same image shot with no pop-up flash from the Nikon D70.

It works for wildlife as well

Often times a pop-up flash can also be extremely helpful for wildlife. Keep in mind that when I use flash with animals I’m only using a very low output we call fill flash. Some people feel that flash should not be used on animals, but they base that critique on the fact they were at a party somewhere and were photographed in a dark room with their pupils adjusted for the dark and all of a sudden, POW! A flash goes off and they’re momentarily blinded. That hurts and rightfully so.

fill flash
This young tortoise was shot with the Lumix G80 with the flash down.
Fill flash
Same image after popping the tiny little flash of the G80 up. Notice how much alive the image looks and the beautfiul glint/highlight/sparkel in the eye of this little guy.

However, that’s not how fill flash works in the outdoors in broad daylight. As I’ve already discussed, fill flash simply adds enough light to fill in the shadows. There is absolutely no way even an external, off-camera flash can overpower the sun. When using an external flash on animals in the outdoors, during normal daylight hours, their eyes will be adjusted for the sun, and a flash isn’t going to overpower sunlight. A built-in camera flash is no different. Don’t get fill flash confused with normal flash that can be blinding in a dark room at a Christmas party.

fill flash
A black-and-white ruffed lemur. Using the small pop-up flash on the G80 made all the difference in this image where I was shooting against the bright white sky.

That said, there are some animals and or birds that just don’t like the flash going off. It can scare some creatures, and if that’s the case no picture is worth disturbing or harming your subject. You simply close the flash and make sure the animal is comfortable before carrying on.

Soft light from a cloudy day makes fill flash necessary on this indri in the jungles of Madagascar.

Let’s finish up with macro

Whenever I used to think about macro photography I associated it with a kinked neck, sore knees, and clothing that gets stained and muddy. None of that ever stopped me from shooting macro, but with the new Lumix cameras, especially the ones with a built-in flash, macro has become a lot more fun.

This is my favorite way to shoot macro, a camera with a built-in flash that wirelessly triggers an external flash.

This setup works well with plants and small creatures like frogs. Below are a couple of examples of the kind of lighting I get with an external flash that has a an attached Lumiquest bounce diffuser.

fill flash, macro
Close up 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 camera to trigger remote flash for macro.
Tree frog, Costa Rica. Shot with Lumix GH4 and Leica 45mm macro lens. Off camera FL360 triggered by GH4’s built-in flash.

Lots of pre-release video reviews

As is always the case, there are a number of much more successful bloggers and YouTube pundits than me that get pre-release versions of the new cameras. That’s ok by me since I really don’t think you can tell anybody what a camera is truly like by only having it in your hands for a few days. For those who read this blog, you know that I typically don’t do a major review until long after the others have filled the air with semi-reviews. And as you can see from this post it wasn’t meant to be a review of any kind. I wanted to write this as more of an announcement and a celebration we finally have a new Lumix body that has a built-in flash. This post really became mostly about the flash and that was intentional.

I’ll finish this off with a little history of how and what influenced my purchases of Nikon cameras. When I was shooting Nikon I only ever had one of their top tier bodies, D2, D3, D4, D5, specifically because they didn’t have an onboard flash. I would always have two second-tier bodies, D300, D7000, or whatever, specifically because they DID have a built-in flash. I personally think one of the main reasons people don’t have a desire for a built-in flash is due to their lack of understanding of how to use it properly. It’s a fabulous tool and I’m more than elated that we finally have a new Lumix body that brought it back.

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There are 7 comments on this post…
  1. verdeOn Apr. 12th, 2020

    Do you really use the flash to photograph those poor animals?…

  2. Portrait of Joel Kleiner

    Joel KleinerOn Nov. 20th, 2019

    Hi Dan, Thank you for all this amazing information.

  3. JimbobOn May. 16th, 2019

    If pros don’t need built-in flash, they also shouldn’t need the other built-ins, e.g., TTL metering, automatic aperture, automatic exposure modes, tilt screens, EVF, digital sensors, etc. (just shoot a Praktica from the 1950’s!) It’s another tool in the toolbox. If a tilting or swiveling screen can be made “pro-tough”, surely the built-in flash can be too. I’ve seen plenty of shoe mounted flashes broken or ripped off at the foot (the old Vivitar 283 created a whole flash shoe cottage industry); in comparison, the built-in flash neatly folds away. I call it marketing dept Buffalo Shot.

  4. HankOn May. 1st, 2019

    Thanks for your thoughts, the best flash is the one with you when you need it, not the one you left behind. I completely agree with the on board flash… and as far as that goes everything else you share your thoughts on

  5. Chris WayOn Apr. 24th, 2019

    … and I am still learning the G9. Dang.

  6. Portrait of Alison McClure

    AlisonOn Apr. 9th, 2019

    Very interesting Dan! Thank you!

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