GX9 (and some PenF relative comparison)

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Raist3d Forum Pro • Posts: 36,792
GX9 (and some PenF relative comparison)
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In a bout of GAS, because there's no other way to put it, I got a GX9.  It was a fairly impulsive purchase even if it's a camera model at many times before it existed I wanted.

Truth is, I wanted to commit myself to use the GM5 for my street photography simply to get my head out of equipment and gear, and focus on what matters.

So before you continue reading, if you love the camera you have, keep using it. It's that simple.  Not proud of this, I am going to start eliminating gear I have until I end up with no more than two cameras and on a different class each.  And one interchangeable lens system.

For those who are wondering about the GX9 or PenF or GX9 that have not bought a camera yet- this may help you sort out a bit.

Disclosure: at present time I own both, which is quite frankly insane. Anwyay...

Some quick tid bits.

GX9

Operation - like many contemporary Panasonics, fast and to the point. The new Panasonic tabbed UI since GH5 is a charm. They really thought this out.  It also has a "my menu" like the Fuji X-E3.

I really wanted to see the AF system of the G9, but alas, that's not happening. However the AF system is still pretty good and fast, as I expected.

The camera operates pretty fast and has the key controls on it. Only real annoyance is that you have three dials stacked vertically more or less (PASM, exposure compensation and then below the rear dial).  It's nice the rear dial is a push button.  But having these dials aligned makes a bit difficult to sense the exposure compensation dial vs the rear dial.

A trick is to swipe my finger from the very first dial (PASM) down and the "2nd dial I hit" is the exp. compensation dial.

The camera operates very fast, with the exception perhaps of some stalls that can occur writing to the memory card if you press the play back button. Looks like the data to memory card writing can be a bottle neck but otherwise the camera multitasks rather well.

OFF to ON is fast- like the GM5.

RAW files

RAW files are pretty much as rich as PenF/GX8, etc.  and it is one of the key things I was looking for in this model. I don't know why many reviewers didn't pick this up, but this sensor clearly has more DR or more flexible files than the very old 16 MP sensor used around the likes of GX850/GF10/EPL-9/OMD 10 MKIII/ GX85/80

Same with color. May not seem like a big step but yes, it shows pretty nice.

JPEG

It's sad that even after Panasonic tried to beef up their color JPEG engine, they still feel sub-par to Olympus and Fuji. It's better, and as usual under the right light it can do an excellent job but the window of operation where something doesn't look a bit odd is definitively narrower than PenF or Fuji.

The black and whites are really good though- Panasonic has always done those well and now with the grain option, they can be also nicely textured nice.

TILT LCD

This is the *right* LCD for street photography. I wish more reviewers just simply STOPPED complaining "it lost the fully articulated LCD"- it's clear to me these people don't seem to go out and shoot on the streets. Tilt LCD is much better here.  It's not like Panasonic doesn't offer ample options here so I don't understand this obsession to get an inferior LCD articulation for the market it's aimed at.

Fully articulated LCD takes more space, more time to deploy, it's more annoying and if you miss your selfie LCD, get an GX850/GF10, whatever.

Pen-F vs GX9

Those who have read me here and there know I have had quite a love-hate relationship with the PenF.  Mainly because the AF in lower light is not as dependable as I would expect/like, the operational speed doesn't seem to match the price class it's at, CDAF is a complete joke (not that I use CDAF a lot) and the Olympus usability has gotten worse over time.  Yet the color is amazing and so are the RAW files.

So how do I feel they compare?

PenF feels better built (though those fake rubbers seem to come off the camera body for me sooner than any Panasonic ever has).

JPEG - no question, the PenF has the best color JPEGS I have seen of m43rds. B&W is a tie- both are good here.

RAW - both share this magical sensor that makes me not miss Fuji much at all. I still find that developing the raw, for some reason, it's easier to hit good color with the PenF raws than the GX9, even if you definitively get much more flexibility on the GX9 by going RAW vs JPEG for color.  Why is this I wonder? Must be some RAW file meta data calibration and possibly a different color filter array that each company uses.

AF

The GX9 simply runs rings around the PenF for focusing. From the far better focusing options like pin point AF that makes the PenF spot focus seem completely outdated and slow, to a reasonably decent CDAF capability which the PenF simply can't remotely match in this galaxy and several other parallel universes.

The PenF can single focus fast in daylight, but once you go out at night, it becomes notably undependable.  Also the GX9 is able to focus in much darker light even if it needs to slow down to do so while the PenF will just miss.

Finally the PenF doesn't focus the Panasonic 20mm lens well on a single shutter actuation, something the Panasonics never have a problem with.  This is one of my favorite lenses.

IBIS

PenF IBIS is as expected, a bit notably better here when not using the DUAL IS system on the GX9 which requires a Panasonic OIS lens. When using a DUAL IS lens, they feel close. As the CIPA ratings would lead you to believe, overall, the PenF does this a tad better.

EVF

PenF OLED EVF is clearly better. What matters most though is the EVF matches the color of the LCD, which is unfortunately not the case with the GX9.  I find this a bit annoying, but I normally use LCD anyway, with EVF only in high daylight.  As a framing tool it works, but wished it matched the colors.

The refresh rate on Panasonic though is pretty instant, like the (current) Fuji's. This is not the case for the PenF- though the PenF has an option for high frame rate, that doesn't work if you are shooting in B&W simulation profile 1, 2 or 3.

Touch interface

Panasonic here is vastly better with not only a better UI/usability, but notably faster response.

Value

No question, the GX9. Particularly given Panasonic gives you what is actually a decent kit lens (USA) - the 12-60.  I wish they sold it body only though.

WiFI/blue tooth

While Olympus has a good connection (iOS) to camera, Panasonic has a superior implementation supporting low power blue tooth and the ability to transfer RAW files directly. I have seen this capability only on the Ricoh GRII.

Better Camera?

I think the GX9 is the better camera and I would recommend it any day over PenF for street photography.

It does what a camera is supposed to do which is to get out of my way, feels more dependable, faster (settings UI respond notably faster) and is cheaper.  It doesn't look as retro-nice as the PenF, but it looks re-assuring on its own right. I could see myself shooting a wedding with either and look right.

If Olympus can re-work their darn UI, make a non-modal touch - AF mode that sticks when you turn the camera on/off and is not mutually exclusive with bring the super control Panel, make their camera operation fast and responsive, and possibly add at least in the center some PDAF points, focus better in low light, then it may be a different story.  Also a TILT LCD and some form of built in handle/grip.  The GX9 grip helps quite a bit as simple as it is.

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Raist3d/Ricardo (Photographer, software dev.)- I photograph black cats in coal mines at night...
“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” - George Orwell

Olympus PEN-F Panasonic GH5 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5
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