Panasonic G9 Field Test Part III

The G9 includes a plethora of great shooting features

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 02/23/2018

Recap of Field Test Parts I and II

In my first two Field Tests, I focused on the camera's design, image sensor, autofocus, performance and then its use as a video camera. In this third and final Field Test, I will be discussing the shooting experience in greater detail and discuss shooting modes, wireless functionality and more. The Panasonic G9 has a lot of good features, such as time-lapse shooting and 6K Photo, which will be discussed in this Field Test. Finally, I will wrap up my overall thoughts of the Panasonic G9 based on my real-world testing.

Shooting Experience

Metering

While a large part of a camera's shooting experience comprises its design, ergonomics, image quality and autofocus, there are other aspects that matter a lot, too. Metering is an example of this. It's not often I encounter serious issues with a camera's metering system because most cameras work well in that regard. The G9 is one of those cameras. Its 1,728-zone metering system offers intelligent multiple, center-weighted and spot metering modes, with the lattermost being tied to the active autofocus point. Further, the camera has +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation, which is overkill in most cases, but still welcome.

Leica DG 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 lens at 10mm (20mm eq.), f/7.1, 1.6s, ISO 200, Auto White Balance.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image. This is one of the rare situations in which the G9's metering system struggles, low light shooting.

In terms of exposure and white balance, the G9's metering system is reliably accurate and worked well. Occasionally, images shot in low light were a bit too blue or too dark, but in most situations, the G9 worked as expected and delivered good images.

Shooting Modes

The Panasonic G9 has an interesting high resolution composite mode. With this mode, the G9 can create 80-megapixel images, which can even be recorded in RAW format. This is achieved by shooting eight separate images with the sensor being very slightly shifted each time. The files are combined in camera to produce the 80-megapixel image. This mode can also be used to create a 40-megapixel RAW image, although I don't particularly see the reason to use it for less than the maximum resolution.

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens at 12mm (24mm eq.), f/8.0, 1/80s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image. As expected, scenes with a lot of motion are difficult for the composite mode.

If you're thinking that the mode might not work as well when you have a moving subject because the camera has to capture successive images, then you're right on the money. The mode is great for still subjects and really does do a good job at creating a sharper, larger image file. However, if something is moving in the frame, it looks odd in the final image. It is therefore not useful for, say, sports or wildlife photography. However, it can work well for landscape photography, provided that you don't have any moving objects within the frame, such as water, leaves or clouds.

There are clearly limitations to the mode, which makes sense, but there are also some things to consider when using the mode in addition to the real-world challenges. The camera produces roughly 125 MB files when shooting high-resolution composites, which can be very taxing on your storage and your computer. It's also interesting to consider what an 80-megapixel image from a Micro Four Thirds camera really produces. The files are equivalent to an 80-megapixel file, yes, but the resulting images aren't as sharp or detailed as files from a 50-megapixel Fujifilm GFX 50S or even a full-frame camera such as the Nikon D850.

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens at 14mm (28mm eq.), f/8.0, 1/400s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image. In this 100% crop, we can see a lot of artifacts in a very still scene. While it's nice to have the extra pixels, I prefer the look of the non-composite shot.

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens at 14mm (28mm eq.), f/8.0, 1/400s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image. Another 100% crop from the same image as above.

Ultimately, it's a very neat mode which works well in some situations, but it has limitations. If you have a tripod and your subject is stationary, the mode can work really well and produce higher-quality images than you could get with a single exposure.

Stabilization

The G9 has the same five-axis image stabilization system as the GH5, but thanks to new software algorithms, the camera is able to take the raw data and process it differently, and more effectively, than its sibling camera. In the real-world, Panasonic states that the camera can deliver 6.5 stops of stabilization correction, which is 1.5 more stops than the GH5 and G85 are stated to deliver.

By combining the in-camera image stabilization with the Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) built into some Panasonic lenses, such as the 100-400mm zoom lens, you can use Dual I.S. 2. While I tested the camera's image stabilization primarily with this long lens, Panasonic says that the full corrective strength of the camera's stabilization would better be applied to wider lenses with Dual I.S. 2.

The image stabilization definitely works very well. I was able to shoot at 400mm (800mm equivalent) and achieve shots without motion blur at shutter speeds as low as 1/60s. While I would likely want a faster shutter speed to ensure more sharper shots, such as 1/100s or so, it's impressive to be able to handhold a lens at that focal length and shoot with that slow of a shutter speed.

Wireless

The Panasonic G9 includes built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, which lets you remotely control the camera, transfer images to your smartphone and even view images on a compatible television wirelessly. The connection process is straightforward and the on-screen guides work well.

Once connected, you have a wide variety of options for remote control. In fact, I've long considered Panasonic to offer some of the best wireless features of any camera company. You can control manual focus, you can adjust aperture, white balance, exposure compensation, metering mode, see all the settings you would typically see through the viewfinder or on the camera itself, and much more. You even have access to the Q. Menu and can enable special shooting modes such as High Resolution Composite.

The G9 has great wireless functionality.

Further, settings changed on the camera body itself are recognized on the application without needing to reconnect the camera. It's all handled very well and the connection proved stable during my testing. While wireless connectivity is not something I use often, for photographers who enjoy wireless remote control or transferring images, the Panasonic G9 performs very well.

6K Photo

We have seen 4K Photo in many Panasonic cameras, but 6K Photo is a more recent addition to their lineup, first seen in the Panasonic GH5. 6K Photo allows you to capture 18-megapixel images (versus 8-megapixels with 4K Photo) at 30 frames per second. You can then extract still frames from within the camera. It works well and is a pretty neat option for capturing fast-moving action.

HDR

The G9 can capture in-camera HDR images as well. One annoying aspect of the HDR mode, and this is not unique to G9, is that you must first disable RAW recording before you can select the HDR mode in the camera's menus. It would be much better if you could simply click HDR and have the camera automatically switch to JPEG recording only and then back to RAW + JPEG, or just RAW, after you're done and have disabled HDR mode.

HDR shooting itself works fairly well and delivers generally natural-looking results with a good dynamic range. In the sample shots below, you can see the original JPEG, the Auto HDR and then an HDR shot with +/- 3 EV, which is the maximum allowable in the camera.

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens at 14mm (28mm eq.), f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Non-HDR image.

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens at 14mm (28mm eq.), f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. HDR Auto.

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens at 14mm (28mm eq.), f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. HDR with +/- 3 EV setting.

Time-lapse shooting

The G9 includes a very good time-lapse feature, which is located on the camera's mode dial. When you set the camera to record a time-lapse video, you can change settings such as the interval and the number of total shots. Further, you can even schedule the camera to begin shooting at a specified time, which is awesome if you want to set your camera up somewhere and leave it to shoot.

In the video below, I shot 300 frames over a period of 10 minutes, and the frames were then compiled in-camera, with about four minutes of processing time, into a 4K/30p video. A downside to processing in-camera is that you cannot choose to crop it when creating the final time-lapse video, so you end up with a 16:9 video with a 4:3 frame surrounded by vertical black bars on either side. If you want a 16:9 time-lapse video straight from the camera, you need to set the aspect ratio for still photos to 16:9 before shooting because there's no option to crop before processing the time-lapse video in-camera. I like having the full size of the image frame to work with later, so changing the image area before shooting is not necessarily a great alternative for me, personally. You can create up to a 4K/60p video in-camera as well. Further, whether you choose to process the video in-camera or not, the camera records all your still frames separately so you can make your own time-lapse on your computer later if you so desire.

Panasonic G9 4K Time-Lapse Video
Time-lapse recorded with 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens at 17mm (34mm equivalent), f/5.6 aperture, ISO 200. 300 shots total over 10 minutes. Video played back at 30 frames per second.
Download Original (120 MB .MP4 File)

Field Test Part III Summary

Many special features make the G9 a very well-rounded camera

What I liked:

  • Good metering performance
  • Very good wireless functionality
  • 4K Photo and 6K Photo work as advertised
  • Time-lapse feature works well

What I disliked:

  • Multi Shot Composite is limited in its usability and not significantly sharper
  • Some modes are difficult to locate in the camera's menu system
  • Time-lapse processing in-camera is a bit sluggish

Overall Field Test Summary

Leica DG 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 lens at 12mm (24mm eq.), f/7.1, 2s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Overall, the Panasonic G9 is a very impressive camera. It handles well, shoots nice images, delivers very good performance, records nice 4K video and includes a wide array of neat shooting modes. Ultimately, the Panasonic G9 is a highly versatile camera and definitely one of the best Micro Four Thirds cameras on the market.

 



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