As we've come to expect from Panasonic's cameras, the GX9 comes with some strong video capture capability. But is it the ideal video and stills hybrid camera for you? Let's find out.

Key takeaways:

  • The GX9 captures UHD 4K video at 30p and 24p, and Full HD at 60p and 30p
  • All video modes exhibit excellent detail; Full HD capture in particular is better than most direct competitors
  • Shooting in 4K results in a crop, making wide-angle shooting more difficult and means low-light performance lags behind the camera's stills mode
  • Utilizing the in-body image stabilizer does not give an additional crop
  • Digital stabilizer crops slightly, but without noticeable detail loss
  • Rolling shutter in 4K is noticeable
  • No headphone or microphone ports for better audio

In depth

The Panasonic GX9 is a really compelling camera for casual video shooters that still want great quality footage. Users can choose whether they want a mostly automatic video shooting experience, or control aspects of exposure themselves.

If you don't want to rely on autofocus, there's focus peaking and a useful focus magnifier - if you do want to rely on autofocus, there is face detection and tracking that are both quite effective, though the contrast-detect system can exhibit some 'wobble' that can be distracting. There's also no provision in the menus to adjust the speed of your autofocus.

Given that it sits below Panasonic's more expensive GH-series of video-focused cameras, the GX9 does not have Log capture (very low-contrast footage best for post processing), nor does it have headphone or microphone ports for higher-quality audio. You can, however, record video in any of Panasonic's Photo Style modes, including the high-contrast black and white L Monochrome mode.

Let's take a closer look at how the GX9's footage compares to other offerings.

Right off the bat, we can see detail capture is ahead of the Olympus E-M10 III, and far better than Fujifilm's X-E3, but still a bit behind Sony's a6300. This isn't exactly surprising, as the a6300 is oversampling its footage from much higher resolution, and the Panasonic generally puts up a good show. Bear in mind, though, that what this scene can't show is the Sony's relatively high levels of rolling shutter - though the GX9 has some noticeable rolling shutter of its own.

The GX9 continues to hold its own even when you enable both sensor-shift stabilization and digital stabilization. With digital stabilization enabled on the Olympus, the image gets softer still, and neither the X-E3 nor a6300 offer anything aside from lens-based stabilization in 4K shooting.

In Full HD, the GX9 pulls ahead of every major competitor in terms of detail capture

Color reproduction on the GX9 is quite pleasing, though you can see some noise in areas of solid color; this is something we've noticed on previous Panasonic cameras like the ZS200 / TZ200. Leaving aside the noise though, fine detail trails only the larger-sensor a6300.

Switch the GX9 to Full HD, and it pulls ahead of every major competitor in terms of detail capture. Coupled with the lack of any crop in this mode, and the GX9 looks to be a great camera for those who don't need the extra resolution of 4K video.

Sample reel

Now that we've taken a look at what sort of detail the GX9 is capable of, let's see what it's like in the hands of an average user. We recorded the below reel in 4K/30p at 100 mbps. We used solely the Panasonic Leica 15mm F1.7, with the aperture varying between F1.7 and F16, and the shutter speed locked at 1/60. We kept the ISO value on auto.

One thing to notice right off the bat is that color response seems generally quite good, in keeping with the updated JPEG engine. There's still some occasional autofocus hunting, though it isn't too offensive - and also keep in mind that there's a lot in focus when shooting at F16. The in-body stabilization also looks quite good, especially on the shots recorded from a moving motorcycle.

Lastly, this should demonstrate that even for casual users looking for better video, a neutral density filter will improve your control over exposure; much of the outdoor shooting was done at F16 out of necessity, to maintain a 1/60 sec shutter speed for natural-looking motion.