Panasonic has unveiled the Lumix G9 II, its first Micro Four Thirds camera with hybrid phase-detect autofocus. A successor to the 20-megapixel photo-centric G9 released way back in 2017, it comes with a new 25.2-megapixel (MP) sensor, and offers features like 60 fps burst speeds, 5.7K and 4K 60p ProRes video, USB-C SSD recording and 8 stops of optical image stabilization. It instantly becomes Panasonic’s best Micro Four Thirds camera and should appeal to users ranging from wildlife photographers to content creators.
The key feature is the new 25.2-megapixel dual native ISO sensor. It carries the same resolution as the GH6, but adds hybrid phase-detect (PDAF) autofocus with 779 points that’s married to Panasonic’s AI subject tracking. The new system allows not only for faster tracking, but better AF in backlit conditions, low illumination and other tricky conditions. It recognizes not just faces and eyes, but also human bodies, and can track animal eyes, cars and motorcycles.
Panasonic is promising blackout-free burst speeds of 60 fps with continuous AF and the electronic shutter, or 10 fps in mechanical mode. At the same time, the buffer takes three seconds to fill, meaning you can grab around 160 RAW+JPG images before shooting slows. It’s also got a pre-burst shooting function (0.5-, 1- or 1.5-second settings), meaning photographers won’t miss a decisive moment if they’re a bit late on the shutter.
Panasonic also borrowed the “Dynamic Range Boost” function from the GH6. It’s essentially an HDR photo mode that combines low and high ISO images to produce a composite with both low noise and high saturation. The G9 II also has Panasonic’s handheld high-res mode that combines multiple images to create a 100MP JPEG photo with extra detail. It uses the camera’s IBIS mechanism to keep the camera steady, meaning no tripod is required.
As for the IBIS, it’s also borrowed from the GH6 and delivers 8 stops of compensation, or 7.5 stops in 5-axis Dual IS 2 mode (used for longer telephoto lenses). As with other recent models, the G9 II also offers Active IS for shooting on the move, and Enhance IS to correct larger shake when running or walking.
The G9 II has a weather-resistant design, a new 8-direction joystick and supports an all-new optional $350 camera grip (also compatible with the S5 II/S5 IIx). The 1,840K dot LCD display fully articulates for vloggers and self-shooters, of course, and it comes with a decent 3,680K dot OLED. Other features include microphone/headphone ports and a full-sized HDMI port.
Panasonic downplayed it a bit, but the G9 II is now the company’s most powerful Micro Four Thirds mirrorless model for video, thanks largely to the PDAF. It can shoot 4:2:0 10-bit 17:9 5.7K video at up to 60 fps, or 10-bit 4K at up to 120p. It also offers 4:3 open gate (5.8K) and 4:3 anamorphic shooting (4.4K). Plus, it supports regular MP4 formats (including I-frame) and Apple ProRes — not bad for a camera aimed at photographers.
You can shoot V-Log/V-Gamut video with 13+ stops of dynamic range, while applying your own LUTs in real time to see how graded footage will look. Panasonic also has a few new creative looks including Leica Monochrome “for deep black-white contrasts.”
Other handy video features include a red rec frame indicator, a frame marker and AWB (auto white balance) lock. You can capture video not just to the dual UHS-II SD cards (relay, backup and allocation recording), but also to an SSD via the USB-C Gen 3.2 port. It also supports external ProRes recording via HDMI. The major drawback compared to the GH6 is the lack of a fan and a dedicated cooling design — so it may shut off during long recordings at high frame rates in hot conditions.
The Panasonic G9 II arrives to the US in early November for $1,900. That’s $200 more than the original G9 at launch, but a bit less than OM System’s OM-1 Micro Four Thirds camera. Along with the G9-II, Panasonic introduced the new $1,600 Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 II Power OIS lens (200-800mm 35mm equivalent), ideal for wildlife and macro photography. It also unveiled the $1,150 Leica DG 35-100mm f/2.8 (70-200 35mm equivalent).
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