Some thoughts about the Panasonic G9 in mid-2022.


Panasonic G9 + Leica 15mm 

I realized yesterday when looking at images from the GH6 and then comparing them to images I'd shot back in 2018 with the Panasonic G9 that the older camera is quite unfairly overlooked by people interested in shooting great images with micro four thirds cameras. We tend to be attracted to the idea of "newest."

There are specific areas in which the more powerful image processing electronics of the newest cameras offer image improvements but these are mostly in the realm of high ISO noise reduction and speed. When used at ISOs from 200-1200 and in good light the differences between a four year old camera and a brand new one are not particularly noticeable. In my experience the quality of lenses being used is a much bigger and more obvious determiner of a system's overall performance. 

While the GH6 touts spectacular image stabilization numbers the G9 is certainly no slouch in that regard and my experience of having shot tens of thousands of landscape, street, people and event photographs with the G9 convince me that its image stabilization is still among the top tier of cameras. 

The G9 was the first of the Panasonic cameras I'm aware of to use the current color science tweaks that come standard on the full frame S series cameras as well as on the GH5ii and the GH6 so it's more or less current in that regard. It's in line with Panasonic's current and much improved ways of handling Jpeg files.

When it comes to video Panasonic's consumer friendly and consistent firmware upgrades raised the performance of the G9 to a more professional level about two years ago. It's now capable of shooting 4K video with 10 bits and generating very competitive video files. It was always capable of using the DMW-XLR-1 audio interface from its inception and able to grab good audio. (with the right microphones..) I remembered this incorrectly!!! It looks like the camera doesn't have the smart interface in the hot shoe needed. My apologies for inaccuracy. It's the first time that's ever happened at VSL 😆

My regard for that camera as a video camera is also high. I had other cameras at my disposal for a large project we did over the course of several weeks back in 2020 but chose to use the G9 because it was up to the imaging challenge and was by far the best choice for use on a gimbal. Since 80-90% of that project was done with a gimbal-mounted camera the smaller size, deeper focus and long battery life seemed essential for a good outcome. And the resulting files looked great. 

While one might think that camera makers can now turn out great products without exception it doesn't really work out that way in the "real world." Every once in a while a camera maker gets everything just right. Or at least most things just right. It seems to be the exception rather than the rule. 

Sure. For the most part everyone gets the sensor and internal electronics to work well enough but there is still an art to the exterior design and the usability of a camera in the field. Some cameras seems to check all the boxes but feel sterile and boring in daily use. Some are designed for someone else's hands but not mine. Some get right up to the line of near perfection only to be laid low by one glaring fault or another. Example: I'd love to have a Sony RX-1Rii but the idea of spending three grand for a camera the battery capacity of which is measured in gnat minutes is too far beyond the pale. Even for me. 

Which brings me right back to the G9. It's a small and light body which feels at the same time dense and comfortable. It's got (relatively speaking) a huge battery that lasts a long time. The physical controls are well laid out and always seem to be exactly where I'd like them to be. And the sound of the shutter is very satisfying. When you add in the great imaging performance for many uses the overall potential of the camera is amazing...in the right hands.

If you want to enter the m4:3 world of cameras but also need to stick to a budget this camera would be my first choice every time. If your budget allows for more it seems a better tactic to buy two G9s instead of one GH6 so you have a perfect back up or, if you are a prime lens enthusiast you can shoot different lenses on two different cameras and not hassle with the perils of changing lenses in the middle of a dust storm, high winds, kinetic situation, etc. Hard to change lenses while crossing a rope bridge in a blizzard...

When I traveled to Iceland in 2018 I carried two of the G9s and an assortment of lenses. My most used lens was the Olympus 12-100mm Pro which worked perfectly on the G9. A surprise favorite was the 15mm Panasonic/Leica lens. And the 25mm Summilux (first version) was also most welcome. The final lens that I included was the 8-18mm which was perfect for all those shots that were just begging for the correct wide angle focal length. 

Everything fit nicely in one small backpack and everything worked well despite cold, sleet, rain and more rain. 

I'm happy to see that the G9 is still available and seems to be selling as well as ever. If I were to travel the world to take only photographs and needed a reliable system the G9 and a very few carefully selected lenses might just be my first choice.  Just thought about this while swimming this morning and thought it might be helpful to share. 

G9 + Olympus 12-100mm 


Henry Beckmeyer said...

I love using older digital cameras. The new cameras are mightily impressive, but now the older models are starting to turn their "failings and quirks" into "virtues and character".

I've been playing with a Nikon P7800 (from 2012- ancient!) lately. It works great, it's compact, the autofocus is slow but accurate, the 28-200 eq lens is really good, and the files are...dare I say...film-like. The B&W JPGs are amazing. Actually, better than film.

JC said...

I know nothing about video, but when a Fox cameraman was tragically killed in Ukraine a few weeks ago, there was a photograph taken of him a few days before his death that showed him with a large professional video camera that must have been a real pain to drag around a war-torn landscape. Given the major use is for TV video, it occurred to me to wonder why he wasn't carrying two or three GH5IIs, or something similar. As I said, I know nothing about video, but is there something about those large video cameras that are better than the GH series, for television use?

I went to Iraq as a reporter back in the day, and I carried a Nikon D3 and the three f2.8 zooms. I would have killed for m4/3 gear. The stuff Pierre Zakrzewski was carrying looked like it weighed a ton. Is my puzzlement simply the product of ignorance?

dinksdad said...

I'm really liking the Sigma 30mm f1.4 for micro 4/3. It's been on sale recently for $265. Nicely sharp even wide open. The focal length works for me.

jrsforums said...

I don’t believe the G9 can use the XLR adapter (which came out with the GH5). The G9 does not have a power connection in the hotshoe.

Roger Jones said...

Good Morning Mr. Tuck
Well after a really good snow storm here in the Pacific Northwest, and after cutting up downed trees, and cleaning up the mess, about 10 hours worth of work, I'm ready to sit down with a good cup of coffee and catch up on your blogs. At this moment I'm sitting by the wood stove staying warm as it's 38 degrees outside, but I'll have to get back to working out at some point soon as I'm feeling sore and stiff. To much sitting I suspect.

I love older cameras, but I can't afford to buy any more. I have to stop, I own to many. I own 10 bodies now with lenses to match, way to much, but the G9 and the GX85 have been on my radar for a while now. At this point in time 80% of my gear is Sigma, from the SD9 thru the FP with a couple of DP's, and Panasonic's mixed in. For such a small company Sigma provides excellent customer service.
I love the older cameras, each one has a different look, like a different roll of film, and they're a lot less costly. With todays new software the older CCD cameras really shine when used with a top notch lens.

Perhaps in a future blog you could give us your thoughts on what to do with equipment that has been loaned to you from a company over the years, and they never ask for it's return, even when you talk with them on the phone. What happens if it's discontinued? They will repair the gear and send it back to you with no questions asked. At the same time the CEO has a private channel to view your work and to use the work if needed.

Also in a future blog maybe you could let us know how you choose, pick a camera. How you choose what camera you'll use that day, doesn't it get confusing?

Well the sun is coming out so it's time for me think about a walk/run. There's the work bell, telling me break is over, and it's time to get back to work.

Be Safe

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

jrsforums, I don't have one in the studio now but you may be right. I may be "mis-remembering" it all wrong. I'll check with my local expert, Frank, and make corrections. Thanks for you catch.

Michael Matthews said...

Thanks for this post. It puts an airtight lid on potential gear lust. I’ll never actually challenge the capabilities of the G9, but it’s comforting to know that it remains just as good a choice as when a wise man said to me, “I’d just buy a G9 and never look back.”.

FoToEdge said...

I have two of them since 2018, and I still am in love with the Bright EVF, the Grip & Big Battery and the Durability of the camera. I really make use of the telephoto effect we get with the 2X focal length factor that Micro 4/3rds gives us. I hope that LUMIX comes out with a G10 with the sensor from the GH6. P.S. I also love my Panasonic Microwave Oven!

Dave said...

I’m usually all about gear acquisition syndrome but the G9 checks so many boxes that I’m very content, even after several years of ownership. Whether vacations, car racing or even pressed into duty as a kick ass webcam (yes I use it for that) the G9 excels for me. I kept my RX10.2 for a long time because of the high speed shooting mode, but the G9 does well in that department as well. It is possible I could add a cheap Nikon full frame just to have a different look, but I plan to keep the G9 until it dies, and shows no sign of doing that any time soon.

FasterThanEver said...

Kirk, thank you for the thoughtful evaluations of the G9, GH5ii and the GH6. Your recent posts have helped me understand how m43 technology has been progressing.

We moved to Panasonic G6s from Nikon DSLRs in 2014. A big improvement for the wildflower, insect and wildlife photography that we do. I acquired a G7 in the middle of an Australia trip when my G6 broke. Later I acquired a G85 and a Panasonic 100-400 zoom for a wildlife trip to see cranes in New Mexico. In Nov/Dec. 2019, I acquired a G9. A body only G9 was the same price as a g95 with kit lens and I worried that m43 gear might disappear. I bought an extra Olympus 600mm macro lens too.

Then the pandemic arrived and we had severe drought years.

After 2 years of not using the G9, we went on a wildflower trip to the Carrizo Plain National Monument at the end of March and took lots of photos. Much of the area was very dry and devoid of flowers but we found some good areas. We visited other areas in San Luis Obispo County (in CA) and found good flowers there too. It felt very good to be out viewing wildflowers and recording what we saw.

I'm quite rusty and have to bring my skills back into active memory. I just need to get out and see and photograph flowers again.

Some of your GAS based posts jar my frugal mentality. I keep reading for the posts that reflect your restrained side. Thanks again for sharing your experiences and your wisdom.

Anonymous said...

I have the GX85 and GX9... Get the latter. I too am looking at the G9 as my next cam, despite the impressive showing lately be Olympus.