Sunday, February 18News That Matters

Panasonic's new $999 GX9 is a mirrorless camera for monochrome film lovers


Panasonic has just announced the Lumix GX9, the company’s latest mid-range interchangeable lens camera. It’s coming next month for $999 with a 12-60mm (non-Leica) kit lens. A body-only configuration won’t be available in the US, but will likely be sold elsewhere. The GX9 is a mishmash of some of the best aspects of the GX8 from 2015 and the GX85 that was introduced a year later. Plus, it’s got a new monochrome shooting mode that film enthusiasts might get hooked on.

Perhaps most importantly, Panasonic has upped the megapixel count back to 20.3 — similar to the GX8, but without a low-pass filter. That allows for greater detail, according to the company, and Panasonic says its Venus engine still minimizes any unwanted moire effects. 4K video can be captured at 24 or 30fps. The GX9 has Panasonic’s 5-axis “dual” image stabilization, which is complemented by stabilization in the company’s lenses.

Burst shooting has improved from 8 to 9 fps in single-shot AF (AFS) mode, with a buffer that can hit over 30 in RAW and over 100 in JPG. And the GX9 expands on Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode with sequence composition and auto-marking. 4K Photo lets you shoot at 30fps at a lower 8-megapixel resolution for when capturing the exact moment you need is more important than using all of the camera’s megapixels. Sequence composition combines multiple action shots into a single composite image with a pretty easy, intuitive interface. Auto Marking “identifies the frame most different from others in the file to help minimize the time it takes to choose the best individual shot.”

Panasonic has also refined the buttons and controls on the GX9 and brought back the exposure compensation dial, focus lever, and tilting live viewfinder from the GX8. That viewfinder LCD has a resolution of 2.760 million dots and magnification of 0.7x. The 3-inch rear touchscreen LCD isn’t fully articulating like the GX8’s, unfortunately, but tilts up 80 degrees and down 45 degrees for more flexible shooting — unless you’re taking a selfie or trying to vlog and see your frame.

There’s still the built-in flash from the GX85, as well. And like the GX85, the GX9 has an electromagnetic shutter, which Panasonic says produces less shutter shock than the spring-driven mechanism that was on the GX8.

One of the more impressive things about the GX9 is a new L Monochrome D shooting mode that applies noise (meant to mimic actual film) to your photos. Panasonic had several large prints on hand during the GX9 briefing to show off L Monochrome D, and I was pretty impressed by how authentic the grain seemed when combined with the deep blacks and rich overall look. The grain effect is randomized for a more organic feel.

The GX9 will ship in March and come in either silver or black. An extended eyepiece ($19.99) and handgrip ($59.99) will also be offered for the camera.

Separately, Panasonic also today announced the Lumix ZS200, a super-zoom with 15x optical zoom and a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor that succeeds the ZS100. The Leica co-branded lens now gets you significant more range, with a 35mm equivalent of 24 – 360mm. But the tradeoff is slower aperture, which is f/3.3 – 6.4 compared to f/2.8 – 5.9 from the ZS100. Macro focusing distance at the wide end has also improved to 3 cm. And both the viewfinder and touchscreen LCD around back have improved resolution over the older model. The Lumix ZS200 hits stores on March 20th for $799.99.

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