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Panasonic GX9 review

Panasonic’s new rangefinder-style mirrorless camera offers plenty of features in a compact, well-made body

Our Verdict

The GX9 ticks all the right boxes in terms of specifications, size and price, but despite its traditional-looking exterior and external dials, it relies heavily on its menus and touch-screen interface and can feel fiddly to set up. Its image quality, however, can hardly be criticised.

For

  • Size and build quality
  • Tilting EVF and rear screen
  • 4K video and photo modes

Against

  • Display lag in burst mode
  • Reliance on digital interface
  • Small rear control dial

Panasonic is feeling pretty bullish. The total size of the interchangeable-lens camera market might be down to 95% of last year’s figures, but that includes declining DSLR sales; Panasonic says the market for mirrorless cameras has actually increased 135% on last year. This includes 181% growth for the Panasonic Lumix G range, with the most recent G9 and GH5 producing 65% of that grown between them. 

That’s the background to the launch of the new GX9. It’s a step down from the G9, with a smaller rangefinder-style body, though it maintains the same 20.3MP sensor resolution. It’s designed as a premium street-photography camera, and it does not replace any other model, which means the similar-looking but cheaper GX80/GX85 carries on. 

Read more: Panasonic announces GX9

Features

  • 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, no OLPF
  • 4K video recording and 4K PHOTO modes 
  • 5-axis Dual I.S. combines in-body and lens I.S for 4-stop compensation 
  • In-camera focus stacking for 4K Post Focus mode 
  • 9fps continuous shooting, 6fps with continuous AF
  • EVF with 2.76m dots and 90-degree tilt action 
  • 3in tilting, touchscreen LCD, 1.24million dots
  • L. Monochrome mode
  • Grain effect 
  • 260/250-shot (LCD/EVF) battery life (900 shots with Power Save Mode)
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE 
  • Silent mode

Inside the rectangular-shaped body is a 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor with no optical low-pass filter, together with a 5-axis in-body image stabilisation system. This works alongside Panasonic’s image-stabilised lenses to provide a hybrid Dual I.S. system.

Panasonic says the new camera has improvements both in resolution and in dynamic range over previous models, as well as improved tracking autofocus using 3D measurement of the entire image. The AF sensitivity has been improved too, with the previously seen Starlight AF feature for shooting in low light included.

Read more: Panasonic G9 review

The autofocus system makes use of Panasonic’s DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology, although it's based on contrast-detect AF, rather than on a hybrid system that combines contrast- and phase-detect AF. Even so, it’s fast and effective, and the lack of phase-detect AF points doesn’t seem to harm its performance at all.

Externally, Panasonic has given the electronic viewfinder a 90-degree tilt mechanism, and the touch-sensitive rear display tilts up and down by 80 degrees and 45 degrees respectively. There are two control dials – one on the top plate to the left of the shutter-release button and one inset into the rear where your thumb rests – and stacked mode and exposure compensation dials.

There’s also a new L.Monochrome Photo Style, plus an optional Grain effect for adding a film look to your photos. 

The new camera also gets Bluetooth and a built-in flash, together with the option of using a separate grip. Naturally, the GX9 also shoots 4K video, but only up to 30fps; it’s more of an all-rounder than a video specialist like the GH5 or GH5S. 

Panasonic continues to develop its 4K PHOTO modes, and these now include Auto Marking, where key moments in your 4K bursts are tagged automatically for easy navigation later. There's also a new in-camera focus stacking option for merging post-focus frames into a single shot with full near-to-far depth of field. It's possible to extract 8MP frames from footage, and also select key frames in a 4K burst before merging them into a single multiple-exposure image.

In the UK, the camera is set to go on sale from 12 March, with a body-only price of £699. It will also be sold in a variety of lens bundles, with the Lumix G VARIO 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA OIS, the Lumix G VARIO 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. POWER OIS and Panasonic 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 LUMIX G VARIO II OIS ASPH optics.