If the Lumix GX9 looks familiar, that’s because externally it’s almost indistinguishable from the Lumix GX8, Panasonic’s previous premium rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The Lumix GX9 does not replace the cheaper but similar-looking Lumix GX85 (GX80 outside the US), but we can assume it will take over from the Lumix GX8.
While things may look the same on the outside, a few things have changed inside, although the Lumix GX8, launched way back in 2015, was arguably ahead of its time, and the improvements here are subtle rather than revolutionary. Panasonic is pitching the Lumix GX9 at amateur photographers who want a ‘professional’ experience.
The difference between this camera and Panasonic’s new Lumix G9 is that the Lumix GX9 is a smaller, more compact camera designed for portability – hence the ‘street’ camera label. The G9 is a bigger camera styled like a DSLR and better suited to sports, action, bigger lenses and more ambitious styles of photography.
- Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, 20.3MP
- 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,240,000 dots
- 4-stop built-in image stabilization
Panasonic uses Micro Four Thirds sensors, which are smaller than the APS-C sensors in most interchangeable lens cameras, but match them pretty well for performance and image quality.
The Lumix GX9 comes with 4K video, as we’d expect from Panasonic, and the company has also enhanced its 4K Photo modes. Here, the camera uses its 4K video processing power to capture images designed to be exported as 8MP stills. The 4K burst mode captures frames at an impressive 30fps, and the GX9’s new auto marking feature puts markers in the burst where there’s a significant change in the frame contents to help you find key moments later.
The 4K Post Focus mode is even more impressive. The camera captures a short burst using every focus point, and in playback mode you can simply tap on the picture to choose the focus point you want. This enables you to do something which feels like it ought to be impossible: focus after you’ve taken the shot. And new in the Lumix GX9 is in-camera focus stacking, so you no longer need a computer to merge a series of images with different focus points into a single photo that’s sharp from front to back – something that's impossible to achieve in macro photography with a single exposure.
There are also new focus and aperture-bracketing modes, and Panasonic has extended the battery life in Power Save mode to 900 shots, and increased the regular burst rate to 9fps (with focus locked on the first frame) or 6fps with autofocus.
Inside, the in-body image stabilization system has been enhanced with 5-axis compensation, which works alongside Panasonic’s in-lens optical stabilizers to enable you to use shutter speeds four stops slower than would otherwise be possible and still achieve sharp shots.
The Lumix GX9 now has Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi, and analog film fans will be pleased to hear there’s a new L.Monochrome image style, along with a Grain effect available in three different strengths for enhancing that ‘film’ look.
Build and handling
- Rangefinder body with tilting EVF and LCD
- External EV compensation dial and focus lever
- Weighs 450g
The Lumix GX9’s body may be designed in the style of a compact rangefinder camera, but it’s actually quite substantial, and no smaller than a Sony A6000-series camera (such as the Alpha A6300) or even the compact DSLR-style mirrorless Fujifilm X-T20. This does give the Lumix GX9 a quality ‘feel’, although given the size of the body it’s a shame there aren’t a few more external controls.
There is a mode dial on the top plate and, stacked below it, a EV compensation dial, and the focus lever on the rear of the camera can be used to switch between AF-S (single shot), AF-C (continuous AF) and Manual focus modes, but other routine settings like the drive mode, 4K Photo modes, focus point selection, ISO and white balance settings rely on buttons and the Lumix GX9’s on-screen interface.
While the GX9’s weight and solidity give it a ‘proper camera’ feel, its reliance on menus and icons for routine adjustments can be tiresome. The touchscreen is responsive and effective, though, and you can use the twin control dials for menu and feature navigation rather than tapping on the screen.
The top dial is easy to spin with your forefinger. The rear dial is squeezed in above the thumb rest on the back of the camera and isn’t quite so easy to use, however, and it has a ‘click’ action which you can sometimes engage accidentally when you meant to spin the dial.
The electronic viewfinder is very good, and even offers a 90-degree tilt for viewfinder fans who find themselves working at awkward angles. The rear screen also tilts, but stops short of a fully-articulating pivot, so it doesn’t work as well when the camera is held vertically.
- ISO200-25,600 (expandable to ISO100-25,600)
- No optical low pass filter
- Monochrome Image Styles
We'll need to spend more time with the camera to fully review performance and image quality to get the full picture on how the Lumix GX9 performs, but did get to shoot with the camera.
Panasonic has removed the low-pass filter from the sensor in the Lumix GX9 to further enhance fine detail rendition. This does increase the risk of moiré effects (interference patterns) in fine textures and details, visible in some of the shots we took with the camera, but it squeezes the absolute maximum detail from the sensor. We obviously couldn't look at raw files either, so check back once we've got full review sample.
With a launch price of £699 body-only (US and Australian pricing is still to be confirmed), the Lumix GX9 looks good value.
It’s well made and packed with high-end features. We tried it with Panasonic’s retracting 12-32mm zoom, which is a good size match for the GX9’s body; longer lenses, such as the Panasonic and Leica 12-60mm lenses, could make it a little more front-heavy, but there is a 14-42mm kit lens option too.
Even though the emphasis is on classic camera styling and handling, we think the Lumix GX9’s appeal lies more in its digital capture and processing technologies than in its physical design. If you’re really into knobs and dials rather than menus and icons, you might be disappointed.