Panasonic G9 II review: Its best Micro Four Thirds camera to date


Panasonic’s 25.2-megapixel Lumix G9 II arrived with a number of fanfare, because it’s the corporate’s very first Micro 4 Thirds digital camera with hybrid phase-detect autofocus. And from the primary day of launch, Panasonic promoted it as the last word small-sensor wildlife and motion digital camera, because of the hyper-fast 60 fps taking pictures speeds and comparatively excessive decision.

Nonetheless, I (and others) observed that it held a number of promise for content material creators, too. The superior hybrid AF can be higher for video than previous fashions and it affords as much as 5.8K 60p video, 4K at 120p, unimaginable stabilization and even SSD ProRes seize. On paper, it’s superior to the corporate’s vlogging-dedicated GH6, although it lacks the latter’s fan and some different minor options.

That offers the G9 II a little bit of an identification disaster. Is it the last word content material creator digital camera, an motion shooter’s dream or the last word hybrid digital camera? To search out out, I’ve received a retail digital camera with the ultimate manufacturing firmware and RAW picture assist.


Bodily, the G9 II is extra just like the full-frame S5 II than the six-year-old G9. Gone is the softer, rounded G9 design, as an alternative a extra angular, hard-edged physique. It’s comparatively massive for a Micro 4 Thirds digital camera, weighing 658 grams (OM system’s OM-1 weighs 599 grams), although it has precisely the identical heft as the unique G9.

The design is extra businesslike than fairly, however I just like the practicality of it. The ridged grip is safe, and it has each management you want, together with a joystick, entrance, again and rear management dials, a setting dial, taking pictures dial and quite a few buttons. A couple of issues have modified from the G9, as the twin dial on the left is now only a single taking pictures dial, the on/off change is in a greater location and it has a entrance taking pictures dial. That is now a template for Panasonic cameras, so for those who’re used to fashions just like the GH5, you’ll adapt rapidly.

The menus are simple to make use of as nicely, however I want it had a devoted picture/video change with separate controls. As an example, for those who set V-log on video, that setting carries over to images too – and also you undoubtedly don’t need that. To maintain images and video aside, you’ll must make use of one of many customized “C” dial settings.

The 1,840K dot LCD show totally articulates for vloggers and self-shooters, after all, and most controls can be found by the touchscreen. It comes with an honest 3,680K dot OLED viewfinder that’s on par with different cameras on this worth vary, like Fujifilm’s X-T5. I’d favor a bit extra EVF decision on a flagship digital camera, significantly for hen taking pictures, however it’s not dangerous.

The G9 II makes use of the identical battery because the S5 II, permitting for a middling 390 photographs on a cost. Video endurance is best than the GH6, although, lasting almost 100 minutes at 4K 60p.

A function I didn’t count on is SSD recording. That permits you to file high-bandwidth ProRes information to an exterior drive through the USB-C port. It does require some rigging, however is a tremendous time saver, as you’ll be able to edit the information instantly with no transcoding wanted. It additionally has a pair of SD UHS-II card slots, however no assist for CFexpress just like the GH6.

There’s a pleasant full-sized HDMI port, however the G9 II doesn’t but assist RAW video recording. You additionally get microphone and headphone jacks, together with a USB-C port that helps 10Gbps switch speeds and quick PD charging.


Panasonic G9 II mirrorless camera review
Steve Dent for Engadget

With a brand new sensor and processor, the G9 II is a velocity demon – however that is Panasonic’s first crack at phase-detect autofocus. That does present at instances, through points like occasional lag and an AI function set missing in comparison with rivals.

It may shoot RAW plus JPEG bursts with the mechanical shutter at as much as 10 fps, or 60 fps within the SH60 digital shutter mode with steady autofocus. When you don’t want that form of velocity (and don’t wish to fill the buffer up too quickly), it additionally affords 20 fps bursts in digital mode. Panasonic additionally launched a pre-burst mode, which constantly cycles bursts via 1.5 seconds earlier than you totally press the shutter – serving to you catch a shot even for those who’re a bit gradual.

It has a big buffer that permits for over three second bursts at 60 fps and continuous taking pictures with the mechanical shutter. Nonetheless, it takes longer than different cameras to clear the buffer – as much as a minute in some circumstances – due partially to the slowish SD ports. This may be fairly annoying, because the digital camera successfully stops working whereas the buffer clears.

Panasonic G9 II mirrorless camera review
Steve Dent for Engadget

Nonetheless, that form of velocity is spectacular – supplied the autofocus can sustain. Fortunately, the brand new phase-detect system on the G9 II is usually as much as the duty. Capturing at 60fps with eye-detection enabled, the massive majority of my photographs have been in focus with a topic operating towards the digital camera.

It wasn’t fairly as dependable for extra distant topics when utilizing Panasonic’s new 200-800mm equal telephoto, and didn’t initially lock in as quick as I’d like. The attention detect autofocus, nevertheless, was typically dependable for each human and animal topics. It lacks a selected setting for birds, however the system does appear to mechanically change between birds and deer, for example, for those who’re taking pictures within the woods.

It may additionally monitor bikes and vehicles, and although I didn’t take a look at it on the previous, it does an excellent job monitoring autos. There’s no “auto” setting both such as you’ll discover on Canon’s newest fashions, so you need to go in and change focus modes manually for those who’re taking pictures a pet and its proprietor.

Panasonic G9 II mirrorless camera review
Steve Dent for Engadget

In different phrases, Panasonic is off to an excellent begin however has a strategy to go to catch as much as Sony’s ultra-reliable and extra clever AF. I count on that to enhance over time, although.

When you’re involved about rolling shutter in digital mode, don’t be. Readout speeds are quick for a non-stacked sensor, so skew and different points aren’t a problem besides in excessive conditions like airplane propellers.

Panasonic has included the identical in-body stabilization system because the GH6, so it might scale back shake by as much as 8 stops, or 7.5 stops with extremely telephoto lenses. It’s very efficient for taking pictures handheld, letting you seize images at 1 / 4 second or much less with no blur.

Picture high quality

The G9 II has the identical 25.2-megapixel decision twin achieve sensor because the GH6 however picture high quality for images is best, with much less noise at decrease ISO ranges.

With 5 additional megapixels over the unique G9, it takes sharper photographs and offers some additional element over rivals just like the OM-1 – letting you crop in a bit extra. JPEG colours straight out of the digital camera look nice and require little retouching.

The twin-gain sensor additionally makes it good in low gentle for a Micro 4 Thirds Digicam. Little or no noise is seen as much as ISO 1600, and it’s nicely managed past that as much as about ISO 12,800, so long as you expose appropriately. That mentioned, it’s all the time higher to have extra gentle with a small-sensor digital camera, as noise ranges can rapidly get uncontrolled, significantly with underexposed photographs.

RAW information are comparatively simple to edit and provide you with room to dial down highlights or deliver up element in shadows. Once more, the small sensor places it at an obstacle to full-frame cameras in that regard, nevertheless, as extra noise will seem at greater ISOs.

Panasonic G9 II review sample images

The G9 II now has a dynamic vary increase perform utilized mechanically. It makes use of each the high- and low-gain circuits, and combines them into one picture, HDR type. That helps increase dynamic vary in brilliant daylight and different tough conditions.

The hand held high-resolution mode, in the meantime, combines a number of pictures right into a single 100-megapixel shot, with no tripod required. It really works surprisingly nicely for photographs like landscapes with restricted motion, drastically boosting decision. I did discover that the high-resolution JPEG information have a man-made look whenever you zoom in although, as if the digital camera is making an attempt so as to add non-existent element. For that cause, I’d counsel enabling RAW when utilizing the function.

Lastly, Panasonic took a web page from Fujifilm with a brand new black and white coloration profile known as Leica Monochrome. It was developed in partnership with Leica, clearly, and options brighter highlights and extra distinction. It’s simply the nicest picture “look” setting I’ve seen on any Panasonic digital camera (it’s nice for black and white video, too).


Panasonic G9 II mirrorless camera review
Steve Dent for Engadget

Panasonic may not wish to hear this, but when I used to be a content material creator on the lookout for a Micro 4 Thirds digital camera, I’d buy this mannequin over the like-priced GH6.

Sure, the GH6 has just a few benefits. It may seize ProRes video on to CFexpress playing cards, whereas it’s essential rig up an SSD to do the identical on the G9 II. It additionally has a fan that permits limitless video recording, so it is higher for occasion videographers. Lastly, you’ll be able to output RAW video to an exterior recorder.

Other than that, the G9 holds its personal. Each can seize 5.7K at as much as 60fps, or 120p 4K, and the G9 II helps 10-bit V-Log recording and 4K inside seize with excessive information charges and easy-to-edit I-frame information, precisely just like the GH6. And you are able to do high-bandwidth ProRes recording through the USB-C port – once more, similar to the GH6.

The dearth of a fan limits the G9 II’s recording instances, however not considerably. 4K and 5.7K recording instances are successfully limitless at 30 and 60 fps. Even 4K at 120fps can go over 20 minutes, and few customers would ever want that.

And the G9 II does issues the GH6 can’t. The phase-detect AF is clearly superior for video, eliminating wobble and focusing a lot faster (although the identical AF caveats for pictures apply). It additionally has a decrease 500 ISO flooring for dynamic range-boosted V-log recording, in comparison with ISO 2,000 for the GH6. That makes it extra sensible to shoot in daylight, the place the advantages of log and dual-gain are biggest.

Panasonic G9 II mirrorless camera review
Steve Dent for Engadget

As with the GH6, stabilization is great for video, although Sony’s ZV-E1 is a contact higher. Enhance Mode offers near-tripod ranges of smoothness for static photographs solely. Turning on E-Stabilization eliminates the necessity for a gimbal in some circumstances (although the digital IBS on Sony's ZV-E1 is a hair higher). That mode additionally corrects warping on the edges with wide-angle lenses, a primary for mirrorless cameras. As a content material creator myself, the stabilization alone would make me attain for the G9 II as a substitute of probably extra succesful cameras like Canon’s R6 II – as a result of I do know I can seize nice footage with no tripod.

4K video is oversampled and thus very sharp, although the cropped 4K 120p is a bit softer. Dynamic vary is excellent in V-log mode, so it’s simple to regulate later, particularly on the base ISO 500. Colours are pure, and low-light functionality is strong for a small-sensor digital camera because of the twin achieve system. So video quality-wise, I’ve no complaints.

That mentioned, there are just a few helpful content material creator options discovered on Sony and Canon cameras lacking right here, like Sony’s devoted product showcase and focus respiration compensation.


Panasonic G9 II mirrorless camera review
Steve Dent for Engadget

With all that, the $1,900 G9 II is among the most succesful hybrid cameras I’ve seen. The dealing with, velocity and improved autofocus make it a compelling possibility for wildlife photographers. However the glorious video capabilities and high quality makes it an amazing selection for content material creators as nicely.

Panasonic’s primary competitors on the pictures facet is the $2,000 OM-1. The G9 II has extra decision, however the OM-1 has a sooner stacked sensor. For images, both is an effective selection, relying on what you want. Nonetheless, the G9 II is much superior for video.

On the content material creation facet, Sony’s $2,200 ZV-E1 is a transparent rival, and is a contact higher for vloggers. Panasonic’s personal GH6, at the moment discounted to $1,700, is another choice. Nonetheless, neither of these fashions can contact the G9 II on the pictures facet. Maybe one of the best totally hybrid different could be Fujifilm’s X-H2, because it affords each velocity and video chops, however it prices $600 extra. All informed, for those who’re somebody who tends to do each pictures and video, the G9 II is a good selection.

This text initially appeared on Engadget at

Leave a Reply