Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 First Impressions Review and Sample Gallery
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 is a rangefinder-style Micro Four Thirds camera whose most recognizable feature is its tilting electronic viewfinder. The GX9 provides a healthy serving of new features and performance improvements over its predecessor, the GX8.
The most notable changes include the removal of the low-pass filter on the GX9's 20MP sensor, 5-axis in-body image stabilization (up from 4-axis), slightly faster burst shooting and Bluetooth connectivity. The shutter unit has also been redesigned, with Panasonic claiming a 90% reduction in 'shutter shock' compared to the GX8. There's also a built-in flash - something the GX8 lacked - as well as some tweaks to image processing.
Panasonic appears to have rearranged their lineup a bit, with the GX9 serving more as a midrange model than its predecessors, sitting alongside the DSLR-style DMC-G85. The price has come down to $999 with a kit lens, compared to $1199 for the GX8's body alone. Alongside the price drop, some features found on the GX8 are now gone, such as weather-sealing. The EVF is smaller and battery life has dropped by about 25%, as well.
The GX9's closest peers are the Fujifilm X-E3 and Sony's a6300, both of which have 24MP APS-C sensors, hybrid autofocus systems (which the GX9 lacks) and 4K video capture.
* The 12-32mm lens pictured above is not the kit lens, which is the Panasonic Lumix G 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 OIS.
- 20.3MP Four Thirds sensor with no low-pass filter
- 'Dual IS' 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- Depth from Defocus contrast-detect AF
- Tilting 2.76M-dot electronic viewfinder
- 3" 1.24M-dot touchscreen display
- 6 fps burst shooting with continuous AF
- 4K UHD video capture at 30p
- Built-in flash
- Redesigned shutter mechanism with electromagnetic drive
- New L. Monochrome D and Grain Effect color modes
- Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
All-in-all that's a pretty nice feature set, with the removal of the low-pass filter promising better resolution and the new shutter reducing the shutter shock which plagued its predecessor. Panasonic also added some new tricks to its 4K Photo mode that we'll touch on later.
Now let's take a look at how the GX9 not only compares to its predecessor but also how it stacks up against Fuji's X-E3 and Sony's a6300.
|Panasonic GX9||Panasonic GX8||Fujifilm X-E3||Sony a6300|
|MSRP||$999 (w/12-60mm lens)||$1199 (body only)||$1299 (w/18-55mm lens)||$999 (w/16-50mm lens)|
|Sensor||20MP Four Thirds (no OLPF)||20MP Four Thirds||24MP X-Trans APS-C||24MP APS-C|
|Image stabilization||5-axis (Dual IS)||4-axis (Dual IS)||Lens only||Lens only|
|ISO range (full)||100-25600||100-51200|
|AF system||Contrast-detect (DFD)||Hybrid||Hybrid|
|Burst rate (C-AF)||6 fps||8 fps|
|LCD||1.24M-dot tilting 3" touchscreen||1.04M-dot fully articulating 3" touchscreen||1.04M-dot fixed 3" touchscreen||921k-dot tilting 3" touchscreen|
|Viewfinder||2.76M-dot LCoS (tilting)||2.36M-dot OLED (tilting)||2.36M-dot OLED (fixed)|
|Viewfinder magnification||0.7x equiv.||0.77x equiv.||0.62x equiv.||0.71x equiv.|
|Video||4K UHD @ 30p|
|Wi-Fi||Yes, w/BT||Yes||Yes, w/BT||Yes, w/NFC|
|Battery life||260 shots||340 shots||350 shots|
|Dimensions||124 x 72 x 47mm||133 x 78 x 63mm||121 x 74 x 43mm||120 x 67 x 49mm|
|Weight (CIPA)||450 g||487 g||337 g||404 g|
|The GX9 (left) is noticeably smaller than the GX8.|
You can see that the differences between the GX9 and GX8 are a mixed bag. The GX9 loses the low-pass filter, get an extra axis (rotation) of image stabilization and adds Bluetooth and a flash. However, its viewfinder is smaller, body no longer weather-sealed and battery life has taken a turn for the worse. Speaking of viewfinders, Panasonic has gone back to a field sequential panel (a different technology than traditional LCD or OLED,) which some people may find distracting due to 'color tearing'. The LCD is now tilting versus fully articulating, which some people may find as an upgrade, and others will not.
The 20MP Live MOS sensor on the GX8 is as high resolution as you'll find on a Micro Four Thirds camera, though larger APS-C sensors perform a bit better at high sensitivities. Both the X-E3 and a6300 have hybrid (contrast + phase detect) autofocus systems, though Panasonic's DFD system has performed quite well despite lacking phase-detection. The GX8 has higher resolution LCDs and an EVF that's quite a bit bigger than the X-E3's. Both the X-E3 and a6300 have faster burst rates and 35% higher battery life.
Two accessories for the DC-GX9 really caught our eye, and would likely be placed in the shopping cart next to the camera if we bought one.
|The GX9 shown with its optional DMW-HGR2 grip.|
The GX9 doesn't have a huge grip and we found ourselves really liking the available DMW-HGR2 grip. The grip protrudes quite a bit, so smaller hands might find it a bit too substantial, but those of us in the DPReview office who tried it had no complaints. The one downside is that it must be removed in order to access the battery and memory card compartment.
|GX9 with optional DMW-EC5 eyecup.|
If you find yourself shooting outdoors with the EVF then the DMC-EC5 eyecup is a must. Without the eyecup this reviewer found himself using his left hand to keep light out of the viewfinder, rather than bracing the camera for stability, and for $19, buying it is a no-brainer. Getting at the diopter correction knob can be a bit challenging with it attached, though.
Pricing and Availability
The DC-GX9 will begin shipping in early March at a price of $999 with the Panasonic Lumix G 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 OIS lens. (Keep in mind that the GX8 launched at $1199, body only.) Other regions will likely have other kits available.
Color choices include black or silver.