Panasonic Un­veils “Ultimate Stills Cam­era”

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With the hy­brid GH5 be­ing Panasonic’s best-sell­ing lu­mix G model in Aus­tralia, the com­pany has launched a more pho­tog­ra­phy-ori­en­tated de­riv­a­tive. The lu­mix G9 is de­scribed as the “ultimate stills cam­era from Panasonic” and it’s built around an all-new weather-sealed mag­ne­sium al­loy bodyshell which has big­ger hand­grip and a D-SLR-STYLE mono­chrome read-out panel on its top deck. In ad­di­tion to weather seal­ing, the bodyshell is in­su­lated to al­low op­er­a­tion in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures down to -10 de­grees Cel­sius.

The 0.83x (35mm equiv­a­lent) OLED-TYPE EVF is the largest yet in the mir­ror­less cam­era world and has a res­o­lu­tion of 3.68 megadots with a re­fresh rate of 120 fps to elim­i­nate black-out. To ac­com­mo­date spec­ta­cles wear­ers, the EVF mag­ni­fi­ca­tion can be set to 0.70x or 0.77x. It’s sup­ple­mented by a tilt/swivel-ad­justable RGBW LCD mon­i­tor screen with a res­o­lu­tion of 1.04 megadots and touch con­trols. A new Night mode puts a red cast over the dis­plays to re­duce the amount of light emit­ted and help pre­serve night vi­sion.

The G9 has the same 21.77 megapix­els 4:3 ‘live MOS’ sen­sor (20.3 MP ef­fec­tive), but Panasonic says it has been tweaked to op­ti­mise its per­for­mance for pho­tog­ra­phy, in­clud­ing an ex­tended dy­namic range. The ab­sence of an op­ti­cal low-pass fil­ter op­ti­mises the res­o­lu­tion. The ‘Venus en­gine 10’ pro­ces­sor en­ables con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing at 20 fps – match­ing Sony’s A9 – with con­tin­u­ous AF/ Ae ad­just­ment and up to 60 fps with the AF locked to the first frame.

The sen­sor-shift ‘Dual IS 2’ image sta­bil­i­sa­tion has been up­graded to give up to 6.5 stops of cor­rec­tion for cam­era shake and at fo­cal lengths of up to 800mm (35mm equiv­a­lent). Panasonic has added pixel-shift­ing High Res­o­lu­tion mode to the G9 which cap­tures eight frames, cre­at­ing an 80.6 megapix­els image (10,368x7776 pix­els) with ei­ther RAW or JPEG cap­ture. Four of the shifted images are to en­hance colour re­pro­duc­tion by pro­vid­ing RGGB in­for­ma­tion at each pixel point, and four en­able the in­crease in res­o­lu­tion, so Panasonic’s sys­tem is a com­bi­na­tion of what’s of­fered by olympus and Pen­tax.

As per the GH5, the G9 has the ‘6K Photo’ shoot­ing modes which cap­ture at 30 fps with no limit on burst length and give 18.7 megapix­els stills. The ‘4K Photo’ modes cap­ture at ei­ther 60 fps or 30 fps. Dual SD for­mat mem­ory card slots are pro­vided and, im­por­tantly, both sup­port the UHS-II speed SDHC and SDXC de­vices.

Panasonic con­tin­ues to de­velop its DFD (‘Depth From De­fo­cus’) con­trast-de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus­ing which now uses 480 fps cal­cu­la­tions and is claimed to have an in­dus­try-lead­ing re­spon­sive­ness of just 0.04 sec­onds. Ad­di­tion­ally, new ‘Deep learn­ing’ tech­nol­ogy en­ables the sys­tem to recog­nise fre­quently-shot sub­jects or sit­u­a­tions, fine-tun­ing per­for­mance ac­cord­ingly. There are 225 mea­sur­ing points.

other no­table new fea­tures in­clude in­cam­era bat­tery charg­ing via USB (the G9 can also be run from a por­ta­ble USB power bank), Blue­tooth le wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity to sup­ple­ment Wi-Fi, ‘AF Point Scope’ func­tion (for mag­ni­fy­ing dis­tance ob­jects) and a top shut­ter speed of 1/32,000 sec­ond (with the sen­sor shut­ter). The fo­cal plane shut­ter has a claimed life span of 200,000 cy­cles. The G9 can record 4K video at 50 fps and Full HD res clips at up to 150 fps (for su­per slow-mo ef­fects), but it doesn’t have the same se­lec­tion of bit rates and com­pres­sion meth­ods as the GH5. Nev­er­the­less, the video func­tion­al­ity still ex­tends to au­dio in/out con­nec­tions, a full-size HDMI con­nec­tor, an 4:2:2 8-bit un­com­pressed video out­put, ad­justable au­dio lev­els and ze­bra pat­terns.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Panasonic is par­tic­u­larly tar­get­ing the G9 at sports and wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers so it’s ap­pro­pri­ate that the 31st lu­mix G lens will also ap­peal to this audience. The new le­ica DG el­marit 200mm f2.8 Power OIS prime tele­photo has an ef­fec­tive fo­cal length of 400mm yet it weighs in at 1245 grams and is just 174 mil­lime­tres in length. Panasonic is pack­ag­ing the new 200mm f2.8 with a 1.4x tele­con­verter which de­liv­ers an ef­fec­tive fo­cal length of 560mm with a max­i­mum aper­ture of f4.0. The lens is fully weath­erised (in­clud­ing for use in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures) and fea­tures the same nifty com­pact tri­pod mount­ing col­lar de­sign as the 100-400mm tele­zoom. It will be avail­able in Jan­uary 2018 priced at $4299 (which in­cludes the 1.4x tele­con­verter).

There are sev­eral op­tions for buy­ing the G9 (which also be­comes avail­able in Jan­uary), start­ing at body-only for $2499 or there are two lens kits – with the le­ica DG Vario-el­marit 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH Power OIS zoom for $3499 or with the lu­mix G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8 II ASPH Power OIS zoom also for $3499. The ac­ces­sory bat­tery grip (DMW-BGG9) is priced at $399, but if you order your lu­mix G9 be­fore 31 De­cem­ber 2017 it’s yours for free.

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