Pana­sonic Un­veils New Lu­mix RF-Style Flag­ship

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Fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of its new SLR-style Lu­mix G flag­ship, Pana­sonic has launched its next RF-style Lu­mix GX flag­ship. Plus, in­ci­den­tally, Pana­sonic is cel­e­brat­ing ten years of its Lu­mix Mi­cro Four Thirds mir­ror­less cam­era sys­tem, the orig­i­nal G1 model be­ing launched in 2008.

The Lu­mix DC-GX9 – which is model num­ber 28 since the G1 – keeps es­sen­tially the same rangefinder cam­era styling as its pre­de­ces­sor, but is marginally smaller and lighter. Cu­ri­ously though, the mag­ne­sium al­loy bodyshell is no longer weather sealed. The new model steps up to the same 21.77 mil­lion (to­tal) pix­els Live MOS sen­sor that’s used in the G9. The ef­fec­tive pixel count is 20.3 mil­lion and, as on the G9, the GX9’s sen­sor also goes with­out an op­ti­cal low-pass fil­ter to op­ti­mise the res­o­lu­tion and dy­namic range. Pana­sonic’s ‘High-Pre­ci­sion Multi Process NR’ is used to en­hance the high ISO per­for­mance, and the GX9’s sen­si­tiv­ity range is equiv­a­lent to ISO 200-25,600 (with a one-stop ex­ten­sion down to ISO 100).

The tilt-ad­justable viewfinder eye­piece is re­tained, but there’s a new LCoS-type EVF panel with an in­creased res­o­lu­tion of 2.76 megadots. The mon­i­tor screen’s res­o­lu­tion is also in­creased – up to 1.24 megadots – but it’s now only ad­justable for tilt rather than swing. Full touchscreen con­trols are pro­vided, in­clud­ing for aut­o­fo­cus­ing and shut­ter re­lease as well as menu nav­i­ga­tion. The GX9 now has a built-in, pop-up flash which wasn’t avail­able on the pre­vi­ous model and the sen­sor-based im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion now uses the lat­est ‘Dual IS’ tech­nol­ogy to op­er­ate over five axes and give up to four stops of cor­rec­tion for cam­era shake. There’s a new ‘Photo Style’ pre­set called L. Monochrome D which gives a more dy­namic tonal range with in­creased con­trast. Ad­di­tion­ally, ‘Grain Ef­fect’ pro­cess­ing cre­ates a more film-like look by gen­er­at­ing a ran­dom-type grain­i­ness which can be set to Low, Stan­dard or High.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the GX9 can record 4K video which means it also has Pana­sonic’s ‘4K Photo’ high-speed 30 fps cap­ture modes which yield 8.3 megapix­els still frames. To ex­pand ‘4K Photo’s’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties there are two new modes called Se­quence Com­po­si­tion and Auto Mark­ing. The for­mer al­lows for a se­quence of ac­tion shots to be com­bined into one im­age (a tech­nique that oth­er­wise re­quires a bit of prac­tice), while the lat­ter au­to­mat­i­cally tags im­ages in a se­quence so they’re eas­ier to lo­cate later on. Al­ready-in­tro­duced ‘4K Photo’ func­tions such as Light Com­po­si­tion and Post Fo­cus are also avail­able.

On the video side, 4K footage is recorded in the Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion at 50 fps (PAL stan­dard), now achiev­ing a bit rate of 100 Mbps. While the GX9 has ze­bra pat­terns, a fo­cus peak­ing dis­play (to as­sist with man­ual fo­cus­ing) and man­u­ally ad­justable au­dio lev­els, it doesn’t have a stereo au­dio in­put which would seem to se­ri­ously limit its ap­peal as a video cam­era.

As is in­creas­ingly com­mon on the lat­est dig­i­tal cam­eras, built-in WiFi is sup­ple­mented by Blue­tooth LE ‘al­ways on’ con­nec­tively to en­hance the re­mote shar­ing and cam­era con­trol op­tions. Other no­table fea­tures in­clude a mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure fa­cil­ity, an in­ter­val­ome­ter, a re­designed and elec­tro­mag­net­i­cally-ac­tu­ated FP shut­ter (to help re­duce vi­bra­tions), and con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing at up to 9.0 fps.

The Lu­mix DC-GX9 is avail­able in ei­ther black or sil­ver fin­ishes and is priced at $1399 when pack­aged with the Lu­mix G Vario 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S. zoom lens. Aus­tralian avail­abil­ity will be from April.

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