Panasonic G95 Conclusion
Despite Panasonic's recent push into the "full-frame mirrorless" market, they are still going strong with their Micro Four Thirds series as well. The latest addition to their mini-mirrorless Lumix cameras is the Panasonic G95. As the model name suggests, the Lumix G95 follows up on 2016's Lumix G85, and with it brings updated specs and features that blend still-photo elements from the G9 and video features from the GH-series cameras, essentially making it a "G9 Lite" in a sense. The Panasonic G95 maintains the smaller, lighter form-factor of the G85, resulting in a rather impressively feature-packed hybrid camera that's well-suited for stills and video creators. And it doesn't hit too hard on the wallet, either.
|Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 lens at 128mm (256mm equiv.), f/6.3, 1/400s, ISO 200.
Design & Build Quality
The design of the G95 is vastly similar to the preceding Lumix G85. The camera maintains a compact yet ergonomic DSLR-like shape with a deep, contoured handgrip and a raised, centrally-located EVF. Panasonic has, however, refined and improved the ergonomics and other physical features of the camera, bringing over a variety of features from the high-end Lumix G9 cameras. The grip contouring has been re-shaped for better comfort and a more secure hold, and the G95 gains larger buttons, redesigned top-deck controls and updated rear controls -- bringing the G95 closer in line to the higher-end G9 and GH-series cameras. The G95 does, however, lack a joystick control.
In terms of screens and displays, the G95 is too compact to have a top-deck display like the G9, but the rear vari-angle touchscreen gains a higher-resolution display. The EVF, meanwhile, remains the same internally as the G85's, with the same resolution and magnification factor.
However, despite being a slightly "lower-end" Lumix model, sitting under the flagship- and professionally-oriented G9 and GH-series cameras, the G95 remains reassuringly weather-sealed and ruggedly built. With a magnesium alloy front frame and sturdy polycarbonate plastic elsewhere, as well as sealed joints and gaskets, the G95 is said to have Panasonic's full level of weather sealing.
Additionally, despite the smaller physical size and tweaked ergonomics, the G95 is still compatible with the small vertical battery grip accessory that was released alongside the earlier G85. Not only is this handy for previous G85 owners, but the battery grip on its own adds shooting versatility and comfort with longer lenses, as well as additional battery life.
In use, the refreshed G95 feels excellent in the hands. It's compact and lightweight yet very well built with a pleasing amount of physical controls and dials. Despite the array of controls, the camera remains nice and compact. The larger buttons are easier to press, and the rearranged buttons put all of your critical shooting and exposure controls within reach of your right hand.
|Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 lens at 400mm (800mm equiv.), f/8, 1/500s, ISO 200.
When it comes to capturing images and video, the G95 is explicitly designed as a hybrid camera, offering healthy doses of features and specs for both still photography and video shooting. Compared to the predecessor, the G95 gains a newer, higher-resolution sensor, going from a 16MP chip to a 20.3-megapixel sensor -- the same sensor as in the G9. As with the G9, the 20MP sensor in the G95 lacks an optical low-pass sensor, so the camera is great at fine detail resolution. However, there's always a higher risk of unwanted moiré and aliasing artifacts with the OLPF removed.
The image quality, especially at lower ISOs, is excellent for this class of camera and sensor type. Colors are pleasing and natural without appearing overly saturated or artificial. However, when it comes to fine detail, the in-camera JPEG processing feels a little heavy-handed to our eye at the default settings, removing or smoothing out finer details for the sake of noise removal, even at lower ISOs. We found that shooting in raw and processing images to taste can produce images with better overall detail.
At higher ISOs, the G95 offers the same expansive native ISO range as the G9 of ISO 200-25600, however much like the higher-end model, the G95 performs best, image quality wise, up to around ISO 6400 -- for the best print quality, we recommend ISO 3200 and below. Beyond that point, images become noticeably noisy, and image quality definitely takes a downturn. Still, the G95 manages to produce usable images at impressively high ISOs for a Micro Four Thirds camera. And, like with the lower ISOs, shooting in raw and performing your own, more controlled noise reduction processing will generally yield more pleasing and detailed high ISO images.
|Panasonic 8-18mm f/2.8-4 lens at 8mm (16mm equiv.), f/2.8, 20s, ISO 6400.
As mentioned, the G95 features a nice array of video features, making it a well-rounded video shooter for those who want to record high-quality video, but might not really need all the bells and whistles offered by cameras like the GH5. As with the stills features, the G95 fits somewhere in the middle: more advanced than the previous G85, but not as well-stocked as the G9 (or GH-series). The G95 does shoot 4K, of course, but doesn't offer it at 60p like the G9. Rather, 4K is pegged at up to 30p, like the G85. On the other hand, 4K recording time is unlimited, unlike on the G9. The G95 also features a headphone jack (something the G85 lacked) and pre-installed V-LogL picture profile -- a feature that's actually an optional paid upgrade for the G9.
Quality-wise, there aren't really any surprises given Panasonic's excellent track record in the video department. 4K videos shot at 100Mbps look excellent, with lots of fine detail, pleasing colors, and nice dynamic range even at the default picture profile. For those who want more exposure control and better color grading options, the built-in V-LogL gives you more latitude for image adjustments in post. Unlike the GH5 or G9, 4K video is slightly cropped on the G95, though not by a drastic amount. For slow-motion video, the G95 does shoot Full HD at up to 120fps.
Video autofocus is also quite nice with quick and smooth focus adjustments, with pleasingly minimal wobbling from the camera's contrast-detect AF system. AF performance is nice in low-light situations as well. The built-in in-body image stabilization, though not as powerful as the G9's, is rated up to 5 stops of correction for stills and is a very welcomed addition for anyone shooting video handheld.
Overall, while there are fewer choices for things like bit rate options and faster 4K frame rates, the G95 for most use-cases offers high-quality video and a pleasing amount of features for most intermediate users or those outside of professional or high-end video productions.
|Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 lens at 156mm (312mm equiv.), f/4.6, 1/640s, ISO 320.
Autofocus & Performance
In both lab-testing and in the field, the G95's autofocus performance is quite impressive. Despite using only contrast-detection AF, the G95 proved to be quite the fast-focuser, thanks in part to the quick DFD-based AF technology and swift 240fps AF calculation system. Single-shot AF is particularly fast and with very little lag, just as we've seen with other modern Panasonic DFD-capable cameras. With continuous focusing, it is also surprisingly fast, reliable and accurate, even in tricky situations such as wildlife with various obscuring distractions and in low-light scenarios.
The contract-detection-based AF system does have some drawbacks, though, as it produces a noticeable wobbling effect as it measures for focus. This is true on all CDAF-based cameras, however, and not a unique issue with the G95. This isn't much of an issue with single-shot focusing, but it can be a little distracting when using C-AF, as it will constantly perform this wobbling effect while actively adjusting focus.
Despite pleasing AF performance, this is one of the notable differences between the G95 and the pricier, higher-end G9. The G95 keeps the same 49-point AF system as in the G85, whereas the G9 has a faster, more sophisticated 225-point AF.
In terms of sheer performance, the G95 is a fast, nimble camera. However, once again, it doesn't match up with the higher-end G9 and instead keeps the same general performance specs as the G85. With both mechanical and electronic shutter modes, the G95 matched the published specs, however, with 9fps with S-AF and 6fps with C-AF. It's not a speed-demon with those numbers, but the camera is generally quick enough for all but the most demanding sports and action subjects. Plus, at those burst speeds, buffer depth is plentiful (basically unlimited with JPEGs and a fast UHS-II card) and clearing times are decent.
The Panasonic G95 is all about balance. Offering features and performance for both still photographers and videographers, as well as balancing comfort, durability and physical controls with size and weight. Plus, it does all of these things while maintaining a reasonable price point. The G95 provides improved image quality, pleasing performance as well as more robust video features. The updated design offers better handling, numerous physical controls and still maintains thorough weather resistance.
For the US market, we do wish there was a body-only option available, however, as there are likely many photographers looking to upgrade their camera body but who don't necessarily need the full kit with a lens. Nevertheless, with a price point of around $1200 with a 12-60mm zoom lens, the G95 hits a nice sweet spot for enthusiasts and intermediate-level creators looking for a capable, well-rounded multimedia-focused camera that offers quality and features but doesn't hit or approach the $2K mark like the flagship G9 or GH-series cameras. The G95 is a clear winner in our book and easily gets added to our Dave's Pick list.
Pros & Cons
- Same excellent 20-megapixel Four Thirds sensor as GH5 & G9
- Sharp images thanks to the lack of an optical low-pass filter
- Very good image quality overall
- Very good high ISO performance and dynamic range for its class
- Dual image stabilization
- Compact, weather-sealed camera body
- Updated body design offers better comfort
- Still compatible with G85 battery grip
- Top deck WB/ISO/EV Buttons
- Built-in EVF offers good magnification
- Higher-res tilt/swivel touchscreen display
- Quick startup
- Fast autofocus performance
- Improved continuous shooting performance
- Able to autofocus in extremely low light
- Excellent cycle times
- Improved burst shooting performance
- 9fps burst mode with mechanical shutter regardless of file type (tested at 9.3fps)
- Good buffer depths & clearing times
- UHS-II support
- 4K Photo modes
- Built-in flash
- Flash x-sync speed improved to 1/200s
- Flash hot shoe
- 4K video features and quality are very good
- V-LogL included (no need for paid upgrade)
- Unlimited 4K recording time
- External mic & headphone jacks
- Built-in Wi-Fi & Bluetooth LE
- Can be powered or charged via USB
- Lack of an optical low-pass filter can result in aliasing artifacts
- Below average battery life, though power save mode helps (and optional battery grip can double battery life)
- Continuous autofocus limits camera to 6fps shooting speeds
- Electronic viewfinder struggles in low light
- No 6K Photo features despite higher-res sensor
- No 4Kp60 video option
- No NFC
- No body-only purchase option