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News Panasonic Lumix G9 - the Nikon D500 killer?


Panasonic announced today its new "flagship" model Panasonic Lumix G9. It looks similar to the Panasonic Lumix GH5, but is targeting the more photo-oriented people while the GH5 is more for the video-oriented users.

Both have many things in common, but also some very important features in which they differ. More on that later on.

Looking at the features and the first reviews, it looks like the Lumix G9 could become a serious Nikon D500 competitor or even a Nikon D500 "killer" Something nobody would have expected before.

So lets get into this in more detail and see what to expect. Not only from the G9 itself, but also on new Panasonic models coming also in 2018.

The Lumix G9 has almost the same dimensions as the GH5. A little but wider and taller. It is definitely on the large side of MFT cameras. But that has a reason I will explain later.





o.k., that is a bold statement. "Nikon D500 killer". But it looks like that Panasonic is targeting exact the same usergroup with the Lumix G9. And it seems that Panasonic achieved a level of performance with this G9, to be able to be on par with the Nikon D500.

The Lumix G9 is in my opinion not "just another flagship model". For me the G9 is a camera for sports photographers or more general for those, who need the same features as a sports photographer. This is the same target group as Nikon tries to lock in with its D500.

Both are weather sealed, both have a new outstanding autofocus with tons of AF points (D500 has 153 focus points, the G9 has 225 focus points), both are able to have an insane fps rate (D500: 10fps, G9: 9/20/60 fps), both have an excellent state-of-the-art viewfinder for its class, both do not have too many pixel so that the images are fast transferred to the newspaper etc. pp.

So if I would be a sports photographer and do not want to carry a lot of weight, I would not only look at the Nikon D500 (760g), but also at the Panasonic G9 (579g). And the G9 has some features which makes it the better choice for some sport photographers.


First I want to get the elephant out of the room. The G9 is around 1.000 USD cheaper than the GH5. It costs 1.699.- Euro without the additional grip. Body only. That is not cheap for an MFT camera. But if you compare this with the models of the competition with similar features, it is almost cheap. The Nikon D500 costs 1.998.- Euro, the Nikon D5 well over 6.500.- Euro.

It will be available in January 2018 and weights only 685g. It has a 20MP sensor without AA filter.

Please bear in mind, that sport photographers do not need many Pixels. Most of them even do not need fullframe sensors. This is why the Nikon D300/D500 was always so successful. It was a very good compromise between price, sensor size, image quality, features and body size/weight. The same is now happening if you compare the Lumix G9 vs. the Nikon D500. There will be difference in IQ at high ISO, because of the different sensor sizes. For some this does not matter, because they use the IS of the Panasonic (with insane 6.5 stops advantage) with their Tele lens and for others it might not matter at all because they do not shoot in bad light. Everyone has different needs.

The G9 has many things in common with the GH5. Both use the same batteries (same as GH4 and GH3 by the way), both have almost the same layout for the buttons, both can do video 4K and 6K., both have the same processor inside. This new processor is the door opener for a new and very fast AF. In both, the GH5 and G9. But the AF of the G9 is even better than within the GH5, because it uses a newer firmware. That is a major advantage of the DFD AF system of Panasonic (based on a contrast AF system) vs. a phase detection system. It can be easily improved with firmware without adding hardware. For an explanation, watch the video embedded below from around minute 32 to minute 41.

The AF works from EV -4 - 18EV. Compare that with Nikon :)

So the more feedback Panasonic gets from users over the time, the more they can improve the AF with new example data, the faster and more accurate it gets. But as far as the first users do report, the AF of the G9 seems to be impressive fast and accurate. Even with AF-C and 20fps.

Regarding Video: The G9 has "only" 8bit, the GH5 has 10 bit. The G9 has an internal restriction to 10 minutes 4K video and 30 minutes for 1080p video. If you connect to an external device these time restrictions are gone. The GH5 can do both internally without restrictions. So Panasonic tries to protect of course the GH5 and its substantial higher price.

The G9 is a completely new designed body. You do see this with the new deeper grip, the LCD display on the top and the different battery pack needed for the G9 vs. GH5. The G9 show the battery status of both, the internal battery in the camera and the battery in the grip at the same time by the way. The GH5 can only show one of both batteries and also only with 3 bars.

For me the viewfinder is a game changer, if the descriptions turn out to be true. It has an OLED display with 3.67 million dots. 100% view. A viewfinder magnification which you can change yourself (!), depending on whether you wear glasses or not. You simply switch from 0,7x to 0,77x or to 0,83x. How crazy is this? And all this with a viewfinder refresh rate of up to 120 fps with no additional grip needed for this high speed (!). No viewfinder black-out anymore! Bear in mind, that normally the EVFs have a refresh rate of around 60fps, the Fuji X-T2 85fps and with the additional grip up to 100fps. Of course you can also turn the G9 viewfinder down to 60fps, if you prefer that. If you wear glasses, the G9 has 21mm distance to the eyepiece and diopter settings from -4,0 – +3,0 (dpt). So here the Lumix G9 opens new ways which really makes a difference in real life shooting situations.

Another feature is the two SD-Card slots. The competition is trying to save money. They offer in most cases one SD-Card slot for the high speed UHS II cards, but the second slot is only the much slower UHS I type. As a consequence, if you put two cards in it, the speed is always limited by the slower card slot, no matter how fast theoretically the faster card could write.

Not with the Panasonic Lumix G9. It uses for both card slots the faster UHSII type. Did I mention already that the G9 has a QR code, Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi?Or Half-Pixel shift to get images of 80MP? (see video below at around minute 14.40)

Or 6K PHOTO: MP4 (H.265/HEVC, Audioformat: AAC (2-Kanal))/4K FOTO: MP4 (H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC, Audioformat: AAC (2ch)). Or video MP4: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Audioformat: LPCM (2-Kanal 48 kHz/16 Bit), AAC (2-Kanal))/AVCHD Progressive, AVCHD (Audioformat: Dolby Digital 2-Kanal)?

Or Postfocus and Focus stacking? I could go on here for a while. I think you see that I am excited about this camera and the direction Panasonic takes. Will I buy one? Not at the moment. Why? I prefer normally the rangefinder style and smaller bodies. Panasonic had to make this into a big body because of heating issues, battery size and because the target group of sports photographers prefer bigger and heavier bodies with a strong grip so it can be handheld easily all day long with large and heavier telezooms or the new 200/2.8 tele lens. You need to be able to operate the G9 with gloves under stress in winter. This is not possible if you make the body too small. So each product has advantages and disadvantages. IMHO the G9 is the perfect camera for sports photographers and similar type of photographers. It is neither too big or too heavy or too expensive for them.

Is the G9 the flagship model of Panasonic? IMHO not in general. It is currently the most advanced model for photographers. But like the Nikon D500, D7500, D600, D750 and D810, there will be other models too, who will use some of this technology in other bodies with a different weighting of strengths and weaknesses.

Everyone else can either buy all the other current MFT bodies (Panasonic or Olympus) or simply wait a few months. I am sure that we will see latest at Photokina 2018 (September) the successor of a GX80/85 or GX8 with a lot of this new technology in it. The sensor for sure, but also a similar viewfinder, and similar AF, maybe limited in fps etc. to differentiate to the G9. The important message from Panasonic is that they are committed to give professional photographers different tools depending on their needs. The GH5 and G9 are in my view just the beginning of a new area of Panasonic.

Exciting times, what do you think?


Here is a very interesting Video-Interview with Panasonice in which they discuss all the details about the G9 and the new tele lens Pana-Leica 200/2.8. Please bear in mind that in the price of the tele lens, also the 1.4x teleconverter is already included ;)

The video is almost 1 hour long.


Active Member
I'm a big fan of Panasonic cameras. The only, let's say, drawback is the smaller sensor size compared to an APS size sensor. But in every other aspect the G series rocks. I had the GF1 and still have a G2 and a GX7 (and a LX100). Focus speed is blazing fast and precise, exposure is always correct and I must say that the 4K video from the LX100 is superb. I also tested a G7 and it was impressive, much better than any sub $1500 Nikon I had in hands.

I think it would be perfectly possible to be a D500 killer, considering the cost. Nikon lost its bearing, too many launchs, too many recalls and honestly they were never able to make a decent quality compact.


I am curious about the progress of the AF of the G9. The AF of the G9 shall be significantly better/faster than all previous Panasonic models. According to the video interview above (minute 32-41). And the older models were not bad at all ;)

I will have the opportunity to have a closer look at a pre-production model end of November. I hope to be able to test the AF then too.

AF and viewfinder have been the two main disadvantages of MLU in the past vs. DSLRs. If Panasonic is able to "equalize" this with the G9, this would be a big step for the MLU sector. At least for Panasonic MLUs :)


I was at a trade show last week-end and had a few minutes to look closer at the Panasonic G9. Unfortunately I could not keep the images.

I just wanted to test the AF and I can already say that the AF of the Panasonic Lumix G9 is really fast. Very, very fast. At least the speed of the Nikon D800, if not faster. I could only test it in a showroom with bad lightenig, because it was raining all day outside and I was not allowed to go outside with the camera.

So AF speed is a non-issue with that camera. I hope to get more time in two weeks when attending a G9 event. The handling is excellent and the G9 has the same individual AF setting options as the GH5. The viewfinder is also excellent. I wear glasses and I even did not need to switch to other magnifications to see the image comfortable within the EVF.

Regarding AF-speed. The AF speed of all Panasonic cameras is the best with Panasonic lenses. If you use Olympus lenses on a Panasonic body, the AF can not use the DFD system, because there are no data stored about Olympus lenses. So with Olympus lenses the G9 and all other Panasonic cameras are using only the normal contrast detect AF, which is sometimes slower than the Olympus AF of Olympus bodies with Olympus lenses.

But the same is also true from the other side. Panasonic lenses are not as fast on Olympus bodies as on Panasonic bodies. The PDAF system of Olympus can not match the speed of CDAF with DFD combined.

So if you want to have the best speed/accuracy in AF, use Oly lenses on Oly bodies and Pana lenses on Pana bodies. Bear in mind that we are talking here already on a very high level and not everybody needs that kind of AF speed. I have no problems at all to use my Olympus 75-300 MkII on my Panasonic GX85 body for surfers ;)

I still am a fan of RF-styled cameras. So I woul love to see in 2018 a kind of GX9, maybe with less fps etc. to differentiate also in price, but a 120fps viewfinder, the same AF speed and accuracy, same sensor etc. And please not bigger than my GX80/85 :)