Panasonic Unveils “Ultimate Stills Camera”
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.
For more information visit www.panasonic.com.au