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Panasonic G9 II presented: hybrid AF, 60 fps photography and 4K120p video

Panasonic G9 II presented
Panasonic G9 II presented

Panasonic has unveiled the highly anticipated LUMIX G9 II , the first Micro Four Thirds G-series camera with phase detection autofocus technology. It arrived six years after the first generation Panasonic G9, and the manufacturer promises that the long wait was worth it.

The new flagship Micro Four Thirds camera is designed specifically for photographers. The model is equipped with a new 25.2-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, a more powerful processor, a fast hybrid autofocus system with subject recognition technology and continuous shooting at up to 60 fps.

25.2MP Live MOS sensor and incredible speed

At the heart of the G9 II is an all-new 25.2-megapixel Live MOS image sensor that promises fast response speed and high-quality images. The camera’s ISO range is from 100 to 25,600, and can be expanded to ISO 50 when shooting photos. The ISO range for video is 100-12,800, although V-Log is 500-12,800.

The G9 II’s fast sensor readout and increased processing power enable continuous shooting with continuous autofocus at up to 60 fps. This requires the user to be in SH60 mode, which requires the use of the camera’s electronic shutter. With a fixed focus point, the G9 II can shoot even faster, reaching 75 fps.

When using the mechanical shutter or electronic front-curtain shutter, the G9 II’s maximum speed is 14 fps when using AF-S and 10 fps when using AF-C.

The G9 II can record about 200 images, including RAW+JPEG, when shooting at 60 or 75 fps. The buffer capacity ranges from 160 to 200 frames when using the mechanical shutter, depending on the file type.

Phase detection autofocus on the Lumix G series

Following the unveiling of the S5 II and S5 IIx full-frame mirrorless cameras with phase detection autofocus earlier this year, it made sense that Panasonic’s new cameras, including Micro Four Thirds, would also feature PDAF. And the G9 II is equipped with a hybrid autofocus system.

The G9 II’s hybrid autofocus system includes subject recognition technology based on artificial intelligence. The system now recognizes cars, motorcycles and animal eyes in addition to the previously existing human and animal detection modes. In addition to the new objects that the G9 II can track, the manufacturer also claims that the G9 II provides faster and more accurate recognition of people and animals.

The G9 II’s AF area covers almost the entire sensor area and includes 315 contrast AF points and 779 phase detection AF points.

Photo-focused camera with video capabilities

While Panasonic is positioning the G9 II (like its predecessor) as photography-focused, the new camera offers plenty of impressive video features.

The G9 II shoots 10-bit 4:2:0 video at 5.8K resolution using the full sensor, and 5.7K video at a 17:9 aspect ratio. Like the GH6, it can shoot 10-bit C4K/4K video at 4:2:0 and up to 120p, as well as record Apple ProRes video.

The G9 II supports recording and playback from an external SSD via USB, and includes real-time LUT support and Active IS for manual video recording with perspective distortion correction.

Additional new features

Speaking of Active IS, the Panasonic G9 II features built-in image stabilization that provides up to eight stops of shake correction.

Thanks to image stabilization, the G9 II can produce 100-megapixel Hi-Res images and Live View composite images when shooting handheld, while the newly added Leica Monochrome mode promises improved black-and-white shooting.

Design and Features

While most of the focus is on the G9 II’s new image sensor and hybrid autofocus system, it’s worth taking a closer look at the camera’s design.

The G9 II is very similar to its predecessor. The G9 II’s dimensions (width, height and depth) are approximately 134.3 x h102.3 x 90.1 mm, and the camera weighs 658 g with battery and SD card.

The previous G9 has identical weight and very similar dimensions. The G9 II is slightly narrower, taller and deeper.

Panasonic LUMIX G9 and G9 II

The G9 II has a 3.68 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder with ~0.8x magnification and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. And it appears to be the same viewfinder as its predecessor.

On the back of the camera is a 3.0-inch fully rotatable touchscreen with a resolution of 1.84 million dots (the G9 had 1.04 million dots).

Another improvement to the G9 II’s ergonomics is an eight-way joystick compared to the G9’s simple four-way controller, as well as a repositioned EVF eye sensor that promises greater reliability.

Panasonic G9 II with new DMW-BG1 grip

The G9 II works with the newly introduced DMW-BG1 handle. This grip allows photographers to use a second battery to extend shooting time and make portrait shooting more comfortable.

The Panasonic G9 II features a full-size HDMI port (Type A), USB-C (USB Power compatible), and two UHS-II SD card slots. Wi-Fi 2.4/5 GHz and Bluetooth 5.0.

For photographers who shoot in challenging outdoor conditions, the G9 II’s magnesium alloy body is not only durable, but also features a weather-resistant design that Panasonic claims offers reliable protection against dust and water.

Key improvements over the first G9

Aside from the obvious changes to autofocus technology, it’s worth giving a quick overview of the G9 II’s key new features compared to its predecessor.

In terms of image sensor, the G9 uses a 20.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, while the G9 II bumps up the resolution to 25.2-megapixel. The lower ISO of the new 25-megapixel sensor is lower (100 versus 200), and the Hi-Res mode is now 100 megapixels instead of 80.

In addition to increasing resolution, the G9 II is also faster. While the G9 could shoot at up to 20 fps, the G9 II more than tripled that speed to 75 fps, and with continuous autofocus, up to 60 fps.

Panasonic LUMIX G9 and G9 II

The buffer capacity has increased. On the G9, it held 50 to 60 images when shooting continuously in most modes, including all modes with AF-C, so being able to shoot 200 frames of RAW+JPEG at 60 fps with continuous autofocus on the G9 II is a significant improvement. The recording before the series is now better: up to 1.5 seconds instead of 0.4.

Panasonic LUMIX G9 and G9 II

Improved image stabilization provides up to 8 stops of correction instead of 6.5.

Video functionality has also been significantly improved. The G9 II can shoot at almost 6K, while the G9 can shoot at a maximum of 4K. While the G9 shoots 4K video at up to 60p, the G9 II can record C4K video at 120p. The G9 II offers higher bitrates and ProRes video.

However, in fairness it is worth remembering that the two generations of cameras are separated by as much as 6 years. Therefore, a significant increase in capabilities is quite understandable.

What about the prices?

The Panasonic Lumix G9 II will go on sale in early November for $1,900. The Panasonic DMW-BG1 Battery Grip, which is also compatible with the Lumix S5 II and S5 IIx full-frame mirrorless cameras, will be available in late November for $350.

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