Image quality

Like the GX8, the Lumix GX9 comes with a 20MP Four Thirds sensor, though this time Panasonic has decided to eliminate the anti-aliasing filter, which should result in marginally sharper images. Let's take a closer look.

Key takeaways:

  • The electromagnetic shutter on the GX9 allows for use of the mechanical shutter with almost none of the 'shutter shock' that was present on the GX8
  • Removing the AA filter gives the GX9 a very slight edge in sharpness over the GX8, even with the GX8 giving its maximum sharpness in electronic shutter mode
  • High ISO performance is slightly better than the GX8
  • JPEGs show vastly improved color response, sharpening still needs some work

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

Raw

In Raw capture, we can see that the GX9 performs very well indeed. The text looks great, and though switching the GX8 to E-Shutter improves that camera's result, the GX9 just edges it out - this is likely due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter. You can see a similar result with the Siemens Star with the GX8 in both standard shutter and E-Shutter modes, and the bank note again shows good detail capture for all cameras here. The Sony shows stronger aliasing than the other three, mainly due to APS-C systems generally having greater resolving power.

At higher ISO values, the GX9 actually shows broadly similar noise to the other 20MP Four Thirds cameras, though as expected, it's still behind the larger sensor in the Sony. Boosting to ISO 6400 still shows good results from the Four Thirds cameras, though noise really picks up by ISO 12800.

JPEG

Switching over to JPEG, we can see that the GX9 again produces slightly sharper results than the GX8 in electronic shutter mode, again likely due to the elimination of the AA filter. You can see this in areas of fine detail all over the scene. Unfortunately, we still see some odd stair-stepping artifacts from the sharpening algorithm, but there's very little in the way of haloing.

Panasonic's been on a roll with their color science lately, and the GX9 is no different. Compared to the GX8, yellows are quite nice, reds less purple, though greens are skewing a little cooler. Overall, the patches look pretty good alongside some of our favorites from Nikon and Canon. This has a pretty remarkable impact on skin tones, and continues to show improvement over the GX85, released between the GX8 and GX9.

When the ISO value climbs, the GX9 shows fewer noise reduction artifacts in smooth areas compared to the GX8, and also there's better detail retention.

Dynamic range

The GX9 turns in in similar dynamic range performance to its stablemates, the G9 and GH5. In terms of ISO invariance, users can shoot ISOs several stops lower than the 'appropriate one' and push in post, without any real noise penalty. And since highlights begin to clip more easily at higher ISO values, this gives you the opportunity to keep all that highlight data at a lower ISO, and then boost those shadows in post.

When it comes to exposure latitude, the GX9 looks similar to both the other 20MP sensors in the more expensive GH5 and E-M1 II, but not as good as the larger sensor in the Sony a6500 (which is to be expected).