Price (RRP): $3499 ($2499 without lens)
When Panasonic released its latest flagship camera last year, it’s focus was almost as much on its video capabilities. But the new Lumix DC-G9 brings things very much back to still photography.
That’s not to say that the DC-G9 doesn’t do video as well. Indeed it does, and it has most of the features you might want, including 4K at 60 frames per second and both 4K and FullHD slow motion. But it brings certain features considered the norm for high end still photography for $500 less than the DC-GH5. That’s the aforementioned Panasonic flagship.
It’s similar in size to the GH5 and offers the same 20.3 megapixels of resolution. Since it’s mirrorless and uses the Micro Four Thirds lens system – enjoying its tenth anniversary this year – it’s more compact than a typical full frame DSLR. But you can get smaller (and cheaper), for example the Lumix DC-GX9. It has a decent feel in the hand, especially the right hand. There’s a reasonably bulky grip for we righties. How that works for lefties I couldn’t say. If you’re one, you should play with a DC-G9 in a shop.
Panasonic says that the camera has a “Splash/Dust/Freezeproof rugged design”.
The controls have been re-arranged from the GH models in a largely sensible way. They had an inconveniently placed “display” button under the heel of the right hand. That has been moved. The mode dial has been moved to the left side of the camera. The drive dial for choosing things like burst and bracketing is now a ring underneath it.
There are three function buttons for which you can assign functions. The adjustment dial is in two places: as a dial at top right and as a vertical dial just behind the shutter release. You can use the first with your thumb, the second with your index finger. Just behind that one are dedicated buttons for white balance, ISO settings and exposure compensation. Those dials adjust those. Likewise, there what you use to choose aperture and shutter speed if using aperture or shutter priority.
The video record button is on the top, unlikely to be accidentally tapped, but easily reachable when you want it. A switch for choosing focus mode – including manual focus – can be easily reached by the right thumb. A little joystick allows you to change the focus priority area while you’re peering through the 3.7 megapixel OLED viewfinder.
When you take your eye away from the viewfinder, the image is displayed instead on the one megapixel rear display panel. It’s touch sensitive, so you have the camera determine its settings by choosing on the priority area on this as well.
I love the display monitor on these Panasonic cameras. It folds out sideways on an arm, and then can rotate through 180 degrees. You can put the camera down on the ground and shoot from that level, framing through the viewfinder. You can hold it out at arm’s length and still use the viewfinder. Overhead, likewise. And you can close it with the glass side inwards to stow it safely away.
On top, for the first time for a Panasonic mirrorless: a large, clear LCD display showing useful information about settings, shots remaining and so on. In a sense this isn’t necessary because all the information is available elsewhere. Nonetheless, if you’re not folding in the main display screen, having this information available at a glance is very useful.
The camera supports dual band WiFi plus Bluetooth. The WiFi can be useful for transferring photos in the absence of a wired connection or a card reader, but I find it most useful with Panasonic’s smart phone app which allows remote control. Moderate remote control, that is, via a WiFi Direct connection.
Connections include full sized HDMI, Micro-B USB with USB 3.0 support (this can power the camera too), microphone input and headphone output. There’s a port at the bottom for adding Panasonic camera extensions like external grips and pro-level audio gear. There are two slots for SD cards, with the newer UHS-II bus supported for even higher throughput.