Conclusion

What we like What we don't like
  • 20MP sensor without AA filter gives good detail and noise performance
  • Really pleasing JPEG color, fun high-contrast B&W modes
  • Tilting viewfinder is fun and addictive
  • Good quality 4K and Full HD video
  • Effective in-body stabilization
  • Plentiful and customizable controls
  • Solid-feeling build
  • Responsive touch interface and Touchpad AF
  • Fast, accurate autofocus with 'sticky' autofocus tracking
  • Good wireless implementation, including low-energy Bluetooth
  • USB Charging
  • Electromagnetic shutter essentially free from blur-inducing 'shutter shock'
  • Built-in flash
  • Viewfinder is small and 'color tearing' may bother some users
  • Limited battery life
  • Burst shooting with tracking autofocus is unimpressive
  • JPEG sharpening occasionally shows 'stair-stepping'
  • 4K capture comes with a crop
  • Noticeable rolling shutter in 4K
  • Auto ISO is too simplistic
  • No headphone or microphone ports
  • No weather sealing
  • Built-in flash not very powerful
  • External battery charger not included

Overall conclusion

Before we really get into the Lumix DC-GX9, let's establish where it sits in Panasonic's lineup. Back in 2013, the GX7 pioneered the tilting EVF. Then Panasonic took the series upmarket with the GX8, and introduced a new lower-tier GX85 / GX80 / GX7 Mark II to go with it. Sometime afterwards, the company must have decided this separation didn't work and recombined both the GX85 and GX8 into this, the GX9.

The GX9 is an impressive combination of capability, size, control and fun-factor

As such, the GX9 inherits a lot from both of those models. There's a tilting mechanism for the viewfinder like the GX8, but the viewfinder panel and tilting rear screen mechanism are taken from the GX85. The body is closer in size and build to the GX85, but adds an exposure compensation dial and improves over the GX8 with its AA-filterless sensor, improved shutter mechanism and pop-up flash. And let's not forget that the GX9 comes with Panasonic's latest JPEG engine for really fantastic color straight out of the camera, a big improvement over both prior models, despite being priced between the two.

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw.
Lumix G 20mm F1.7 | ISO 200 | 1/160 sec | F1.7

Despite all the hand-wringing about which camera this is actually a follow-up to, the end result is that the GX9 is a really enjoyable camera to use. Sure, the viewfinder could be bigger and the battery life better (and there really should be an external charger in the box). But the image quality - particularly in JPEG - is lovely, the autofocus excellent for all but the most demanding of uses and the novelty of the tilting viewfinder almost makes you forget that that the viewfinder itself is a tad small. We also find that we generally prefer the smaller size of the GX9 to the GX8.

With the GX9, Panasonic has managed to strike an impressive balance of capability, size, control and fun-factor that makes you want to pick it up and take it with you wherever you go - all without breaking the bank. In our book, that's well worth an award.


What we think


Dan Bracaglia
Editor
The GX9 packs a lot of camera into a little package, especially when used with a prime. The combo of nice JPEGs, a unique tilting EVF, good AF performance, simple connectivity and a responsive touchscreen make it a strong option for enthusiasts. Simply put, if I were heading out to explore a new city, I’d definitely consider bringing this camera along.


Jeff Keller
Editor
The GX9 is a nice camera that shows that Panasonic is listening to its customers, especially in terms of image quality. That said, it feels like the company left out several features, like a external mic jack on a camera that takes great 4K video. While the tilting EVF is clever, it was disappointing to see that Panasonic is back to using an irritating field sequential display, after briefly switching to OLED on the GX8. For $1000 (with a lens), I would’ve expected a bit more.

Compared to other cameras

Sony a6300: The 24MP APS-C sensor in the a6300 comes with more resolution and dynamic range than the GX9, and a kit with a lens is around the same price. It's a better camera for demanding uses, such as landscapes or sports, but the GX9 handles better, has better controls (including a touchscreen) and a more responsive interface. For outright image quality, the a6300 wins, but for the most engaging experience as well as a broader selection of lenses designed for it, the GX9 comes out on top.

Olympus PEN-F: The PEN-F comes with the same 20MP sensor found in the GX9 and, though it comes with a high-resolution image stacking mode, the GX9 comes with better video capture. In the end, your decision is likely to come down to price (the PEN-F is more expensive) and which one you think looks better (we lean toward the PEN-F in this regard). The PEN-F's viewfinder is higher quality but it doesn't tilt. All told, both are solid Micro Four Thirds options.

Panasonic GX85 / GX80 / GX7 Mark II: The older GX85 still has a lot going for it, especially considering its lower price point. The GX9 will have more detail from its higher-resolution sensor, and of course includes the tilting viewfinder. Panasonic has also made significant strides in its JPEGs in the time between these two options as well. We'd recommend the GX9 if you can afford it, but for those on a budget the GX85 is also a lovely camera to use and still offers good image quality, particularly in Raw.

Panasonic GX8: Whether you prefer the GX8's articulating screen to the GX9's tilting screen is a personal preference, but the better viewfinder on the GX8 is sure to find universal praise. Overall though, the newer sensor, JPEG engine, shutter mechanism and updated controls on the GX9 make it a more compelling option in our eyes than the still-more-expensive (and larger) GX8.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
With its compact size, robust feature set, abundant controls and overall responsiveness, the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 is a great camera for all kinds of photographers. The trick tilting viewfinder is a neat touch (though we wish it were larger), and limited battery life remains a sticking point. But impressive in-body image stabilization, a pleasing JPEG engine and good quality 4K capture mean the Lumix GX9 is a camera we can easily recommend.
Good for
Street photographers, travel photographers who don't mind carrying an extra battery with them, enthusiasts that enjoy abundant controls and those who want great JPEGs right out of the camera.
Not so good for
Hardcore landscape and sports shooters that may need greater dynamic range, resolution and burst speeds.
84%
Overall score