Using the Em1ii and G9...my vote is for the Em1ii

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Chairmanlmao Regular Member • Posts: 132
Using the Em1ii and G9...my vote is for the Em1ii
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Panasonic G9 vs Em1 ii

Hi,

This post is very subjective, and one of many similar ones (I'm sure someone will say "oh not another!!"), but it is hopefully useful.

A couple of weeks ago I got one of the first G9’s (in the UK). This was because late in 2017 my Em1 ii and 12-40 2.8 was stolen, and eventually I was able to get a ‘replacement’ (in terms of a store credit), so I waitied a few weeks for the G9 with the 12-60 2.8-4. I also bought the 12-35 2.8 to compare to the 12-60 (because of my use of the 12-40).

However, the G9 was faulty (it just froze one day, and there was a flaw with the EVF - I’ll detail that in a sec). The store had sold out of G9’s, so late last week went back to the EM1ii and 12-40 (being able to exchange back to the G9 if I wanted to).

Long story short, there is no one significantly better than the other, but I won’t be going back to the G9. Here is why (loooong post, sorry).

TL:DR it is hard to chose and you can’t go wrong. I wish the Em1ii had an EVF closer to the G9, the USB charging and bluetooth, a wheel around the D-Pad… but overall in the hand and in use the Em1ii feels a more comfortable and speedier body, and I prefer Oly lenses.

Lenses.

This is nothing to do with the bodies, but I prefer Oly lenses. Having the 12-40 again on the EM1ii reminds me what a great lens it is; I use the manual focus clutch more than I remember (this in effct removes the advantage of the focus switch on the G9), and the close focusing is another benefit I forgot about. Subjectively - so not using test charts - it seems sharper and more consistent than the 12-35 I had. And much better than the 12-60 (which was misaligned to the right)

Looking at both sets of lenses (I believe they do work better with their own manufacturer body), I prefer the Oly 14-150 ii, 12-100, 25 1.2 (though it’s overpriced) to the Panasonic (rough) equivalents. Thats’s my opinion, so I should move onto the bodies.

Build quality.

Build quality is the same (kudos to Panasonic). In my view the buttons feel a bit better on the EM1ii but the card door is more solid on the G9. But I think - but don’t know for sure - the Olympus has better weather sealing. There are two reasons I think this. First, is the design of the ‘loose’ EM1ii door (and battery door). Looking again the Em1ii card door is in effect two doors - a middle door and a looser sliding lock covering that ‘sealed’ door. So while this can seem loose and creak a little, I think it provides a stronger weather seal because the seal is in the middle of the door, not along the edge, it is also a thick seal. I also think the battery door is a thicker seal on the EM1ii. I could be wrong, of course! The Panasonic gave me no reason to worry, but Olympus seems much more confident in it’s weather sealing that Panasonic. Panasonic might be as good, it probably is. I just feel more confident in the Em1ii weather resistance.

Handling.

This is, of course, hugely subjective. On the surface, the G9 should have much better handling; more buttons to customise, three wheels, joystick for AF, focus switch, frame rate switch. However, now I have used both over the last two weeks, the g9 is not any better handling (to me). There are pros and cons to both, but I lean towards the Em1ii. Here my up and downs between the two.

  • ALL the EM1ii dials are easier to reach, especially the mode dial. The front and rear dials on the Em1ii fall exactly where my fingers fall when holding the camera, and best of all the mode dial can be turned without looking with my right thumb. This means is qucker to move from A to S priority (or a custom mode) on the EM1ii than the G9 - with the G9 I would have to take my hand off the lens to change mode, not with the EM1ii. Of course, if you mostly use only one priority, or shoot manual this isn’t huge, but I tend to jump from A-S a lot. Moreover, the resistance of the Oly dials is perfect; stiff enough not to be knocked, but still easy to turn with my right thumb, (including the mode dial).
  • The joystick on the G9 is not a huge benefit for me, because it is only four way. If it was eight way it would be much more useful, but as a four way dial it is not substantively better than the four way pad. It is better to have a joystick of course, but not nearly as beneficial as it could have been due to the G9’s implementation - it’s a mile away from the joystick on a Nikon, for example. A shame. Of course, the lack of joystick means you loose four more custom buttons on the EM1ii - a definite benefit of the G9 - and I DO wish you could set the EM1ii centre button to return the focus position to the centre with a shot press (rather than long press). But, overall, the joystick is not as big of a difference as I thought it might be.
  • The front switch on the Panasonic is great - the Em1ii should allow more things to be set to the rear switch, so here the Panasonic is better (I love that you can set face detect on or off with the front switch on the Panasonic).
  • I see no benefit of the rear focus switch on the G9 - with the manual clutch on the Oly lens I can move to MF from any focus mode, so you only really need a switch between S-AF and C-AF on the EM1ii, and you can set up the lever to do that (but I have something to add to this in the focus section below).
  • I’m not a big user of back button AF, but when I want to use it the FN button on the lens on Olympus allows one to detach C-AF from the shutter - somewhat like back button focus (this is much better than a stiffer ’switch’ that Panasonic use on, say, the 12-60), so I prefer that with Olympus. If I used back button focus a lot, this wouldn’t be a major benefit of course (it’s harder to use than a proper AF-ON rear button), but it is worth adding that when using C-AF the lens button allows you to both detach focus AND exposure from the shutter (temporarily), because you can press that, AL, and the shutter as you normally hold the camera to shoot.
  • The extra ‘dial’/ switch for drive mode again isn’t a real benefit to me. Why?…
  • …The shutter. At first I loved the sensitive G9 shutter, I had no problem distinguishing half-press from full. Great! But, I was never able to use that shutter to take only one photo when in high-fps drive mode. Of course, that’s my problem not Panasonic’s, but whereas with the G9 I would have to move the dial back to single shot, with the EM1ii I can leave it in 10fps and still easily only take one shot with the Em1ii. So, most of the time I was spending using that switch on the G9 I never need to change on the EM1ii.
  • Also, the ‘hold and move’ dial on the Em1ii is really not any more inconvenient than the G9…
  • …and on the EM1ii you can of course remove some drive options to make the drive button/menu more efficient. With the G9 if there are some drive modes you don’t need, you will always have to cycle through them.
  • The front of the body buttons are easier to reach (for me) on the Em1ii
  • I do prefer the G9 power switch location.
  • In the end I never used the top display once. This links to the fact…
  • …the size of the EM1ii is - to me - appreciably different. Neither feels better to grip (both equally excellent) but the EM1ii is smaller to the extent is matters to me. I can get the Em1ii an the 25 1.8 or 15 1.7 in my (large!) coat pocket, I can’t with the G9. Same with a top pocket on one of my rucksacks - Em1ii fits, G9 doesn’t.

Focus.

This is the big one, and it links back to why I don’t mind the lack of focus switch on the Em1ii

  • CAF seems a wash to me. In my use - sport (rugby, football, ice hockey, karts so far), kids, cars, they are equal BUT with a functional advantage for the EM1ii (see next point). I am not a birder though, so if you are I just can’t comment on that.
  • The thing I MUCH prefer on the EM1ii is the simplicity and clarity of the AF lock / ‘reactivness’ setting. No, it’s not the best use of terms in the way Oly presents the option, but once you know moving the AF lock setting to minus makes the AF stick to target more (ignoring obstacles that pass between the camera and object), moving to plus makes the AF move more quickly to something new, it just works very well. It’s clear and simple to understand, and it is immediately obvious how the change impacts the AF. One could argue a more granular setting is better (like Panasonic with multiple modes across three settings but I think that leads to ‘paralysis by analysis’) but I would much rather have a simple four options (especially when you could have custom modes on the mode dial set to three of them).
  • The DFD jitter you get in the EVF/LCD using C-AF with the G9 is not the end of the world, but I’d really rather not have it.
  • In my use, low-light S-AF is just much better on the EM1ii. With the G9 if it could not focus (on an admittedly hard low light target). Most of the time the harder low light targets focus in C-AF mode (!) on the EM1ii, when they wouldn’t focus in S-AF on the G9. If you can’t get it to focus in C-AF (because it tends to be my default and I am lazy!) S-AF almost always works. I’m talking about extremes, but again, with the easy to use manual focus clutch on the Olympus, I simply found low-light focussing better on the EM1ii.
  • The G9 has a smaller focus box, BUT if you set one of the EM1ii custom buttons to zoom in on the focus point, with two presses from ANY focus mode you get the same fine focus point (if you don’t mind the zoom). This is actually quicker to get to fine point focus on the EM1ii than on the G9 (double tap on the Em1ii, change focus type on the G9). Small focus point has always been there on the EM1ii - with a double press of a custom button - you just have to know how to get to it.

EVF

The G9 EVF is just generally better, by quite a margin. The G9 has greater contrast, colour gamut (I think) and it is clearer, and you can customise the image more. I wish the EM1ii had that G9 EVF. But, there are four things that pull the EM1ii back towards the G9 a bit here…

  • No jitter when using C-AF.
  • I didn’t find the higher magnification any obvious difference. Because the Em1ii EVF is physically smaller, it doesn’t ‘feel’ like a lower magnification to me.
  • The blurry extreme corners did in the end bug me a bit about the G9 (the pincushion was not a distraction for me). The problem with the blurring on the G9 was that it was inconsistent, a tiny movement of my eye position changed the blur and I felt I could never consistently get the right position, regardless of magnification, and the best solution was to squeeze my eye into the viewfinder rubber which was not comfortable. I don’t have to ram my eye right into the Em1ii EVF to get the best view, and moving my eye a bit does not make a major difference.
  • My G9 EVF had obvious colour shift on the right! This is one of the faults it had that caused me to return it. The ocular was shifted slightly to the left, so the ’true’ centre of the optics in front of the EVF was to the left slightly. If I did not have my eye about 15% to the left of centre, the right side of the EVF had colour shift (red was more pink, yellow more blue). I looked at one in another store and it was not nearly as bad, but it was still there slightly. It might have just been a bad batch, but it was very poor on mine - if you had your eye in the centre of the EVF so to minimise the blurring, the right 20% of the EVF was colour shifted (this was very obvious in menus).

In summary the G9 EVF is potentially amazing, but it depends on getting a body one with a good optical quality / fitting, there clearly is some variation out there. I really wish the EM1ii had a better OLED EVF, but it is consistent and comfortable.

Bits n Bobs

  • Unless you use it wide open, the 12-35 2.8 slightly slows the G9 high FPS - I was generally getting about 20-30% slower FPS than 9fps with the 12-35 stopped down (this is caused by the lens aperture mechanism, it does not happen with the 12-60 2.8-4, or the 12-40 on the EM1ii).
  • High FPS - 10fps being my preferred option on the EM1ii - is more consistent on the Em1ii. I could mostly get the G9 to keep to 9fps, but it slowed more quickly and after the first second of shooting fluctuated between 7-8ish fps.
  • The 20fps mode in the G9 feels like zero blackout…
  • But the ‘liveview’ blackout seems the same to me on both - fast DLSR like.
  • The EM1ii does not let you view bursts until fully written to the card…
  • …But with the same card (Transcend 32gb R285 W180), the Em1ii flushed it’s buffer more quickly, and in general use brought up image review appreciably faster than the G9.
  • I prefer the mechanical shutter sound of the Em1ii - the G9 is a bit harsher.
  • The USB charging on the G9 is fantastic....
  • ...As is the Bluetooth low power.
  • But the USB-C socket means the EM1ii is easier to connect to my MacbookPro.

Hopefully this is a little helpful for someone.

Olympus 14-150 F4-5.6 II Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
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