Panasonic G9 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Panasonic G9's image quality at a few ISOs to its predecessor's, the G85, and against its more video-centric sibling, the GH5, as well as to several competing models at similar price points or in similar categories: the Fuji X-T3, Olympus E-M1 II and Sony A6500.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Panasonic G9, Panasonic G85, Panasonic GH5, Fuji X-T3, Olympus E-M1 II and Sony A6500 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Panasonic G9 to any camera we've ever tested!

Panasonic G9 vs Panasonic G85 at Base ISO

Panasonic G9 at ISO 200
Panasonic G85 at ISO 200

Here we compare the G9 to its predecessor, the G85, at base ISO. The G9 not only gets a resolution boost to 20 megapixels over the G85's 16-megapixel sensor, but it also gets improved image processing courtesy of Panasonic's latest generation Venus processor. As you can see, the G9 image has a larger scale and is more detailed from the increased pixel count. We also see improved contrast and more pleasing color from the G9's revised processing. Moiré patterns are more visible from the G9 here in the red-leaf fabric, however both cameras lack an optical low-pass filter, so the G85 can also generate aliasing artifacts, just in different situations because of its lower resolution. Our tricky red-leaf fabric also illustrates the G9's context-sensitive processing, where it retains and even exaggerates the fabric's thread pattern in some areas but not in others, while the G85 produces a smoother rendering with virtually no thread pattern visible (although some of the difference here is just a result of the G85's lower resolving power).

Panasonic G9 vs Panasonic GH5 at Base ISO

Panasonic G9 at ISO 200
Panasonic GH5 at ISO 200

These two siblings produce very similar image quality here at base ISO, as both feature OLPF-less 20-megapixel sensors with the same generation Venus image processor. The G9 image is just a bit sharper and slightly more detailed, however be aware we have changed our lab lens and aperture for Micro Four Thirds cameras since the GH5 was shot, moving from a Zuiko 50mm f/2 at f/8 to a Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 at f/5.6 which results in slightly sharper images with less diffraction. Thus, the slightly sharper G9 image can be attributed to better optics.

Panasonic G9 vs Fujifilm X-T3 at Base ISO

Panasonic G9 at ISO 200
Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 160

Above we compare the Bayer-filtered MFT Panasonic G9 to the X-Trans-filtered APS-C Fuji X-T3. You might expect the 26-megapixel X-T3 to have a noticeable resolution advantage over the 20-megapixel G9 here, but both cameras have similar dimensions on the vertical axis (4160 vs 3888 pixels) which is how this target is framed, so the resolution difference is very minor and mostly boils down to different demosaicing algorithms and processing. Luminance noise appears a little higher from the X-T3 in flatter areas, but the G9 produces a crisper image with slightly better detail overall. The G9 does noticeably better in most of the fabrics, but it also shows more aliasing artifacts which the XT-3's X-Trans filter helps avoid. Both cameras produce pleasing colors though the Fuji's are warmer.

Panasonic G9 vs Olympus E-M1 II at Base ISO

Panasonic G9 at ISO 200
Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 200

Above we compare the G9 to another 20-megapixel MFT camera without an OLPF, the Olympus E-M1 II. At base ISO, the G9 does a slightly better job at rendering fine detail while the E-M1 II image shows more obvious sharpening haloes and is slightly cleaner. Again, be aware we have since changed lab lenses and aperture for MFT cameras, though, giving the G9 a somewhat "unfair" advantage in optics here, though some of the difference in detail is due to the E-M1 II's stronger default noise reduction at base ISO. We know this because the E-M1 II's extended low ISO 64 shot shows significantly more detail in the red-leaf swatch and elsewhere in the target. The sharper optics also likely contribute to moiré patterns in the red-leaf fabric being more visible from the G9 as well, though again the E-M1 II's stronger default noise reduction does blur the leaf and thread patterns quite a bit more than the G9 here at ISO 200.

Panasonic G9 vs Sony A6500 at Base ISO

Panasonic G9 at ISO 200
Sony A6500 at ISO 100

Here we compare the 24-megapixel APS-C Sony A6500 to the 20-megapixel MFT G9. At base ISO, the A6500 produces a slightly crisper, more detailed image with almost no sharpening haloes. The A6500 also exaggerates the offset printing coloration in the mosaic label which the G9 appears to attenuate. Fine detail and contrast are much better in our tricky red-leaf swatch from the Sony as well, however moiré patterns are visible from both cameras. Colors are cooler but generally more accurate from the Panasonic.

Panasonic G9 vs Panasonic G85 at ISO 1600

Panasonic G9 at ISO 1600
Panasonic G85 at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the G9 shows significant improvements in both detail retention and color reproduction over its predecessor, while producing slightly lower luma and chroma noise levels in flatter areas despite its smaller pixels.

Panasonic G9 vs Panasonic GH5 at ISO 1600

Panasonic G9 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GH5 at ISO 1600

As expected, we see very similar image quality from these two siblings here at 1600 with just minor differences in color and noise, though again the G9 produced a slightly sharper, more contrasty image thanks to the better optics.

Panasonic G9 vs Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 1600

Panasonic G9 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 1600

The G9 continues to do a better job rendering fine detail than the X-T3 here at ISO 1600, while at the same time producing much lower luma noise. The Fuji however produces fewer aliasing artifacts and lower chroma noise. Again, colors are noticeably warmer from the Fuji but still pleasing.

Panasonic G9 vs Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 1600

Panasonic G9 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the G9 holds onto significantly more fine detail than the E-M1 II. While the sharper lens contributes to the G9's better performance, the E-M1 II's stronger default noise reduction plays a larger roll here, smudging fine detail while still producing higher luma noise in flatter areas, though the Olympus' noise "grain" pattern is tighter and more consistent.

Panasonic G9 vs Sony A6500 at ISO 1600

Panasonic G9 at ISO 1600
Sony A6500 at ISO 1600

The G9 competes quite well with the A6500 here at ISO 1600, retaining similar levels of fine detail with lower noise and better color, however sharpening artifacts are more evident. The Sony does noticeably better in our tricky red-leaf swatch though.

Panasonic G9 vs Panasonic G85 at ISO 3200

Panasonic G9 at ISO 3200
Panasonic G85 at ISO 3200

Again, the higher-resolution G9 does better at retaining fine detail with improved contrast and color while at the same producing less objectionable noise "grain" in flatter areas. The G9 also produces fewer sharpening artifacts along most edges, however some edges aren't as well defined as from the G85.

Panasonic G9 vs Panasonic GH5 at ISO 3200

Panasonic G9 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GH5 at ISO 3200

Once again, just minor differences between the two siblings here at ISO 3200, with the G9 producing slightly better color and contrast. Upon close inspection, noise levels appear a little lower from the G9, and the "grain" pattern is less blocky or "digital-looking" in flatter areas as well.

Panasonic G9 vs Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 3200

Panasonic G9 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 3200

At ISO 3200, the G9 image appears sharper, contrastier and cleaner, but with more noticeable sharpening haloes. Fine detail is a little better from the X-T3 in our troublesome red-leaf fabric, though both cameras blur it significantly at this ISO. Colors are still warmer from the Fuji.

Panasonic G9 vs Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 3200

Panasonic G9 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 3200

This is a pretty close race here at ISO 3200, with the G9 cranking up its default noise reduction more than the E-M1 II compared to ISO 1600. The G9 image has slightly higher contrast and is a bit sharper with more visible sharpening haloes, but both cameras hold onto similar amounts of detail. Luma noise is noticeably higher from the Olympus, though, but it's more fine-grained and film-like in appearance.

Panasonic G9 vs Sony A6500 at ISO 3200

Panasonic G9 at ISO 3200
Sony A6500 at ISO 3200

The A6500 image is crisper with better detail here at ISO 3200, but it's also much noisier in the flatter areas, so it's difficult to pick a definitive winner here as it comes down to personal preference. Color remains better from the Panasonic, if a bit cool.

Panasonic G9 vs. Panasonic G85, Panasonic GH5, Fujifilm X-T3, Olympus E-M1 II, Sony A6500

Panasonic
G9
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
G85
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
GH5
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X-T3
ISO 160
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M1 II
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A6500
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it separately. As you can see, the Panasonic G9 offers improved contrast and detail compared to the G85 across ISOs. As expected, performance is very similar to the GH5, with the only minor differences in color, though some of that just comes down to white balance error. The G9 bests the only other Micro Four Thirds camera in this group at higher ISOs, the Olympus E-M1 II, but keep in mind the updated lens. The G9's performance is competitive with the X-T3's especially as ISO climbs, however the Sony A6500 arguably leads the pack overall by producing excellent detail, contrast and sharpness across ISOs with minimal sharpening haloes.

 

Panasonic G9 Print Quality Analysis

Excellent 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 100/200; a good 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 800, and a solid 11 x 14 at ISO 3200.

ISO 100/200 deliver superb prints at 30 x 40 inches, and even larger if your viewing distance allows given the 20-megapixel resolution. The prints provide crisp detail and impressive color rendering, with plenty of three dimensional pop to please discerning eyes. Very pleasing prints overall!

ISO 400 yields a very good 24 x 36 inch print, displaying similar characteristics to the 30 x 40 inch prints at base and extended low ISOs. The larger 30 x 40 inch prints are certainly usable here as well, but mild softening is detected in certain areas of the prints upon close scrutiny, so we'll put our seal of approval on the 24 x 36 inch prints at this gain setting.

ISO 800 prints are quite good at 16 x 20 inches, which is still quite a nice-sized print given the gain is beginning to climb. On close inspection there is a mild softening in the red channel, typical of most cameras by this ISO sensitivity and print size, and just a touch of noise in flatter areas of our test target, but still a very good all-purpose print. It's well worth noting that the 20 x 30 inch prints here are quite usable for wall display purposes and less critical applications as well.

ISO 1600 manages a good 16 x 20 inch print, displaying a touch more visible noise in some areas of our target, but not enough to miss out on our good grade. However, for your most critical printing applications at this gain setting we suggest 13 x 19 inches to be sure.

ISO 3200 sees the strain of cranking the gain increase, as the G9 is only able to manage a workable 11 x 14 inch print. This is still a fairly nice-sized print, but for fine art printing to 13 x 19 inches and higher you obviously won't be able to rely on ISO 3200 or above, as there is simply too much apparent noise at the larger print sizes to yield dependable prints.

ISO 6400 delivers a good 8 x 10 inch print, but there is a noticeable lack of "pop" and richness in color overall, and this is common for most all but full-frame and larger sensors here. For this reason we suggest limiting the G9 to either ISO 1600 or 3200 for critical printing purposes. Still, you can get a good 8 x 10 inch print at this gain setting in a pinch.

ISO 12,800 prints a decent 5 x 7, and that's not too bad given how high this ISO is for this sensor size. At this size the detail is good enough for anything but critical applications, though anything larger begins to show too much in the way of noise and some obvious smearing effects from anti-noise processing.

ISO 25,600 comes very close to allowing a good 4 x 6 inch print, perhaps closer than any MFT camera to date. There is still reasonably full color reproduction and not the typical burnt look that haunts many cameras at this sensitivity, but just not quite enough fine detail to pass our good grade. Still, and more than most crop-sensor cameras, you can get decent results at 4 x 6 inches here for less-critical applications if needed.

Overall, the Panasonic G9 turns in a solid performance for print quality. Given that this camera is marketed for the most part at still photographers, and given its competition with cameras such as the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, the G9 does a good job of holding its own against both that model and the storied Panasonic GH5. You can safely expect very good prints at large sizes up to ISO 1600, and still get useful printed results through ISO 3200. Beyond that, you're not likely to get great printed results for your most important purposes, so heeding these settings in the field will help ensure good printed results.

 



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