Panasonic Lumix S9 hands-on review: the Instagram cam

The Lumix S9 is a pocket-sized full-frame camera with an appealing price – but is the focus too much on influencers?

Panasonic Lumix S9 camera on a tripod outside
(Image: © Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Early Verdict

The Lumix S9 has been timed perfectly to ride the wave of creatives looking for smaller cameras that are just as capable as their bigger siblings. The S9 is remarkably small considering it is hiding a full-frame sensor inside. However, its impressive size is diminished as soon as you put a not-so-small lens on the front and the camera becomes unbalanced. To keep the size down there is also no viewfinder, which really limited my enjoyment for photography. However, for social content creators, there is more to like. The S9’s party trick of built-in LUTs is a very cool feature for social media creatives who need to get photos up as fast as possible, and the new crop/hybrid zoom is a handy new addition. The coup de grace is the S9's aggressive price, which makes it a lot easier to look past its few flaws.


  • +

    Very compact size (without lens)

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    Built-in LUTs

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    Hybrid and crop zoom

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  • -

    No viewfinder

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    Unbalanced with lenses

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    Minimal grip

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

Panasonic is no stranger to releasing small interchangeable lens cameras, and cameras like the Lumix LX100 II or Lumix GX85/80 previously featured highly on our list of the best travel cameras. However, these cameras seemed to have fallen out of favor at Panasonic, with 2019’s Lumix GX9 the last of its kind to be released as Panasonic has been busy promoting the very well-received Lumix S5II and S5IIX.

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Lens MountLeica L-Mount
Effective pixels24.2MP
ISO100-51,200 (extended to 20,4800)
Max video6K30p, 4:2:0 10-bit, C4K 4K60p 4:2:2 10-bit
Dynamic range14+ stops (V-Log)
FocusPhase Detection AF system / Contrast AF system, 772
ShutterElectronic only, 30fps burst, 8fps AF-C
Image stabilization B.I.S. (5-stops), Dual I.S. 2 (6.5-stops)
Screen3.0in vari-angle LCD touch panel, 1.84m dot
MemoryUHS-II SD Card
Battery470 shots (with S-R2060 battery)
Size126 x 73.9 x 46.7 mm / 4.96 x 2.91 x 1.84 in
Weight486 g / 1.08 lbs (with battery, SD)
Sony ZV-E1

Sony ZV-E1
If you're looking for one of the best small cameras for video then this is it. Made as an all-in-one solution to great social content the ZV-E1 has great 4K video, amazing autofocus, and its finishing touch inbuilt stereo microphones that sound great. The downside, the ZV-E1 is considerably more expensive than the S9.

Fujifilm X-S20

Fujifilm X-S20
The X-S20 offers similar features as the S9 – it's a small camera with open-gate video, IBIS, 26MP images, and access to Fujifilm’s film simulations instead of LUTs. The sensor is APS-C, but there is really nothing in it when it comes to quality. The X-S20 does include an EVF though, making it more practical for photographers, and its deep grip is more comfortable to use, and Fuji has smaller lens options.

Canon EOS R8

Canon EOS R8
While it's not as compact as the S9, and some won’t be able to look past the R8 not having any IBIS, but Canon’s smallest full-frame camera offers sublime photos and video, a good grip, and an EVF. Canon’s autofocus is also the best you can get. Is it a “cool” camera – not really, but it is a very good one.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.