G9 (vs EM1.2) Initial Impressions (+IBIS)

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slartz Senior Member • Posts: 2,098
G9 (vs EM1.2) Initial Impressions (+IBIS)

I am on a business trip to Singapore, and while my G9 is on backorder in BHPhoto, I found the G9 here, in stock, in a store in Singapore. Price, after VAT refund, is ~1620$, so even cheaper...

I've spent the last few hours "playing" with it, in my hotel room only. So these are very initial impressions. I will provide more information in the coming weeks but thought I'd share my initial feelings about it.

Size & Weight

It was always my biggest challenge with the G9 and it still is. It is just too big. I don't care that much about the weight, esp. as the 12-60 vs 12-40 lens kinda negates most of it. But it's too chunky. I know for those with large hands this is helpful, and I will admit that even with my medium sized hands it is a little more comfortable in hand, but I like the Olympus size better. I also like the *feel* of the Olympus better. The Olympus is cold to touch - it feels metallic. The Panasonic feels rubber. It's not a bad thing, but I prefer the Olympus. The G9 feels a bit too DSLR for my taste.

This, however, for the most part, concludes the negative part of the G9. Moving on to the good stuff...


Well - this is kinda needless to say. But the viewfinder on the G9 blows the EM1.2 away. Really. In every possible aspect. Yes, when I try to look I see the pincushion. I can also the see some smearing the corners. but it's just cause it's soooo huge. It is also insanely bright. It's just amazing. Funny thing is, at first when I used the G9 I liked it, but was not sure I get the big deal. But then I went back to the Olympus and it just seems so pale in comparison.


Ok... Kudos to Panasonic here. While there are some small gripes I can complain about (and I will, later), this is just a MUCH better handling camera. I've always had issues with Olympus's 2x2 and worked out various different configurations but was never ENTIRELY happy with ergonomics. When I shot this week focus bracketing, for instance, it was a dive down menu lane.

The Panasonic wins in Ergonomics in various areas - but probably the biggest one is just that everything is more straight forward, alongside the double function DPAD-Wheel which is no longer needed for focus because of the Joystick. For P/S/A I set my front wheel to set the main variable, the rear wheel for exp comp, and the dpad wheel for ISO. I am still contemplating if I prefer it for focus area size, though I love the ISO setting so much (I might keep the focus size as a setting just in a Custom setting, if possible. This way I can make C1 for birding/wildlife shooting). I also set the DPAD keys to do Left: Play, Bottom: Level Display; Up: Bracketing; Right: Histogram. I am a happy camper now.

Menus are straight forward, and everything is a breeze. The On/Off button on the right hand is nice (I never found it to be THAT bothersome on the Olympus but it's nice to have it in your thumb).

The LCD Screen is great and already used it without even paying attention to it.

There are two things I am still struggling with - I believe they are probably more about getting use to than anything else. The front dial - I am very used to it being around the shutter button and I can't seem to fine it automatically (yet). My old Canon had the same setup, and I never recall having an issue, so I guess it's just a little time to get used to it. The rear dial, on the other hand, I find placed less than ideal. It's not BAD or anything, but if it would be a little further to the left, it would be more convenient. I know this has to do with the screen, but there were ways to work around it - either put it a little lower, or make the screen a tad smaller. Either ways those are minor gripes compared to the huge advantages otherwise offered ergonomically.


So, for me, IBIS Is a deal breaker. If the IBIS is noticeably worse on the Panasonic, it kills the deal for me as I'm a huge fan of IBIS. And unlike many, I'm a huge fan of IBIS in UWA. My favorite type of shooting is Landscapes, and I sometimes find myself without a tripod. Being able to do 2-4secs (and even 5 secs) exposures, handheld, with the EM1.2 was amazing. Of course, it's also great with Telephoto.

So I sat down to do some testing. For each of the tests I shot 10 frames with each camera with similar settings, then picked the sharpest of each, and compared the results.This is all NON scientific and VERY individual. And I will repeat those tests again later on again. However, in the meanwhile - my initial impressions:

  • Shooting the PL8-18 @ 8mm for 4" , I found performance to be similar, with a slight edge for the Olympus. The sharpest image of both the G9 and EM1.2 looked very similar (sharpness wise). However, I found more shots on the EM1.2 I felt were close enough than I did on the G9. This was my first test, however, and I am not 100% sure I had the right grip on the G9 yet.... As I said will be repeated. 
  • Shooting the PL12-60, both at 12 and at 60mm at 1" and 1/4 secs, I got very similar results. The Olympus was on IBIS only, while the G9 had Dual IS2 with the 12-60. I can honestly not tell the difference in performance. Will try again. I remember someone here claiming they couldn't get 1" shots with the G9. Not sure why. I got plenty. Even got a decent one at 2". 
  • Shooting @ 100mm with the 35-100, the story changed. Here, the G9 opens a noticeable gap. I shot @ 100mm for 1/2 secs. That is 6.5 stops (!!!). Not only I managed to get a sharp picture with it, I got sharp pictures in MOST of the frames (about 7 out of 10). I still can't believe my owns eyes. With the Olympus it was much harder at 100mm. This is not too surprising as I recall Olympus already admitting that their IBIS was weaker than OIS in telephoto (and hence the 300 comes with OIS). I managed to get an acceptably sharp picture with the Olympus at 1/2 secs with the 35-100 @ 100mm, but it was only the one. And I had to concentrate hard. And it's still not AS tack sharp as the ones from the G9. I could repeat the G9 results with the Olympus at 1/4 sec.. which is 5.5 stops. Which is indeed inline with their advertised number. 

Bottom line - Noticeable advantage (at least 1 stop) in the telephoto range. Similar performance in the wider ranges with maybe a tad of advantage to Olympus on the widest side with IBIS only. I will repeat those tests when I get back home. 

  • AWB - This may be a weird point to bring up, but as I'm shooting in my hotel under artificial lighting this was immediately noticeable. The AWB on the Panasonic was WAY better (at least in artificial lighting) compared to the Olympus. Olympus came out way too yellow (just like my old Canon used to get). The Panasonic got it far more white which was much more pleasing. Kudos. 
  • USB Charging/Operating - Well needless to say this is a killer feature. I got the camera with empty battery. I will charge it tonight. In the meanwhile I can use the camera off a USB cable. AWESOME. There are some quirks here - it's not a laptop yet... but they are reasonable. It won't charge while you use the camera (but it will feed off the USB power rather than using your battery), and it won't work off USB power if the battery is not inside the camera. Why? Only Panasonic can answer that. But it's liveable. I think I am going to glue a powerbank to my tripod... 
  • Startup time - Still feels a tad faster than Olympus. Not a deal breaker however. 
  • Playback time - I love the fact I can press the play right after shooting a burst and not having to wait for it to finish clearing the buffer. 

That's all for now. To be continued....

 slartz's gear list:slartz's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH Panasonic 8-18mm F2.8-4 +9 more
Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
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