Panasonic Lumix GX9

My other articles related to the Olympus OM-D System.

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Note: A framed box like this one is used to mark some general or introductory information, my comments and digressions. Feel free to skip over these.

All equipment images in this article come from Panasonic promotional materials. I only took the liberty of adjustin the pixel size, cropping an tonality for editorial needs.

Out of the two major supporters of the Micro Four Thirds standard, Panasonic is the one behind most (actually: all except one) EVF, rangefinder-style models. The only such camera from Olympus is the Pen F (discounting the other Pens, accepting accessory, externally mounted finders).
Interestingly enough, almost all EVF cameras made today use the two basic form factors established in the 1940's for 35 mm film cameras:
  • SLR-like — with a finder pentaprism housed in a prominent hump, protruding up from the center of the body top (Exakta, Contaflex);
  • Rangefinder-like — with a see-through optical viewfinder at the far left, often housing a coupled rangefinder, accessible from the same eyepiece (Leica and clones, Contax).

Ironically, the R (for Reflex) in SLR-like is a misnomer: it refers to the viewing mirror these cameras no longer have. Neither have they the pentaprism (or pentamirror), so the hump is no longer necessary.

Similarly, the rangefinder-like body design does not involve a rangefinder. It just refers to cameras with no hump, with the EVF placed off-center.

The SLR-like form factor tends to make camera bodies less compact, and seems to have no practical advantages (although some users feel it balances better with larger, heavier lenses). Still, some buyers prefer it, as these cameras look more "serious" (a relic of the SLR era). Even some non-EVF, point-and-shoot models use this form factor, if for solely cosmetic purposes.

Here is the newest (as of this writing) hump-less EVF camera from Panasonic, the GX9, announced in February of 2018. IT seems to have a mixed heritage, being derived both from the GX8 and its simplified (if younger) sibling, the GX85 (a.k.a. G80, a.k.a. G7 Mk.II).
Naming the same camera model differently for different markets is a practice I greatly dislike; it is confusing, not to say deceitful, and smells Orwellian (who controls the language, controls thinking).

While Canon seems to be the worst offender here (just an impression, I may be wrong), neither Panasonic, nor Olympus are without blame. What next? Different names depending on U.S. state or E.U. member country?

Without getting into all that let me just quickly walk you through the features and specs of the new camera, commenting on them as I go.

Body size, weight, and shape

At 124×72 mm (W×H) mm, the GX9 is just a tad larger than the GX85, but clearly smaller than the G8 (ignoring the depth dimension, not really relevant here). Weighing 450g (body plus battery) it also sits between those two models. Actually, size- and weight-wise the GX9 almost exactly matches the Olympus Pen F.

See the table at right for some numbers of interest.

W [mm] H [mm] F [mm] Mass [g]
Lumix GX9 124.0 72.1 46.8 450
Lumix GX85 122.0 70.6 43.9 426
Lumix GX8 133.2 77.9 63.1 487
Pen F 124.8 72.1 37.3 427

For users who are looking for a compact general-use, μFT body (travel, hiking, street shooting) this is good news; so it is for those who need a backup (or, generally: second body) to go with their main rig.

Some, however, would prefer a bigger, heavier and/or sturdier camera: metal alloy body, more resistant to abuse, dust- and drip-proof, better balanced with heavy lenses, and with more room for easily usable controls. These of us will not be happy with the changes in the GX9. and they will be better served by the flagship Lumix, the G9, another recent addition to the Panasonic line-up.

The GX9 body is available in silver (or chrome top)...

...or entirely in black.

Aesthetically, I like the GX9 body design: form derived from function, no excessive ornamentation or fashion statements; business-like and understated , but not crude.

The camera comes in silver or black finish (with "silver"being rather chrome top on a mostly black body, as seen above). While the silver version is prettier, the black one will be more prectical: less chance for camera reflections in shiny parts of the subject. Your pick.

The small, sculpted body grip may feel too small for some shooters, especially those using larger lenses.

The optional HGR2 grip adds 6 mm or so to camera's height and offers a larger front protrusion, but no additional power or control capability.

The kit lens. The GX9 is sold, in the U.S. at least, only as a bundle with the 12-60/3.5-5.6 "standard zoom" lens. As "kit" lens specs go, this is a very attractive one:

  • Focal length: 12-60 mm, equivalent to 24-120 mm on a "full frame" camera;
  • Maximum aperture: F/3.6-5.6;
  • Length (fully collapsed): 71 mm;
  • Weight: 210 g;
  • Filter: 58 mm;
  • Close focus limit: .25 m

Last time I checked, it was offered by B&H at $500; bundled with the GX9 body at the combined price of $1000, this becomes a most attractive deal!

Again, the Puritan layout on the camera's front: a small grip, AF-assist light, and lens lock button

The top deck layout is exemplary: a good use of available space without being overly crowded.

The left, elevated part is used by the tilting finder eyepiece, hot shoe, and pop-up flash (also the image plane marker and two microphone openings). The right, sunken one manages to squeeze in six (!) controls as three co-axial pairs:

  • Shutter release button and the front control dial;
  • Video record button and power on/off switch;
  • Dials for mode selection and exposure compensation.

Of these, the dedicated, marked exposure compensation dial is what I like most; I consider it essential for any semi-serious camera and too bad Olympus does not have this in ther flagship E-M1 II. Interestingly, the Pen F does have this feature, although the GX9 version uses less space.

This page is not sponsored or endorsed by Olympus (or anyone else) and presents solely the views of the author.

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Posted 2018/03/01 Copyright © 2018 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak