The new Panasonic Lumix G9 II is a stills/video hybrid camera designed for serious enthusiast photographers. While its name makes it sound like an updated version of the Lumix G9 from late 2017, in reality, it’s a completely different camera. In fact, it’s perhaps better seen as a Micro Four Thirds version of the full-frame Lumix S5II, sharing almost exactly the same body design. With all the latest technology on board, it looks set to be one of Panasonic’s best cameras.

Built around a new 25.2MP Four Thirds sensor, the G9 II is capable of shooting at up to 75fps and recording video at up to 5.7K resolution and 60fps. It will be sold either body only, or in kits with the Lumix G 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS or the premium Leica DG 12-60mm F2.8-4 ASPH OIS lenses.

Panasonic Lumix G9 II back controls

On the back, the G9II sports the same well-designed control layout as the S5II. Credit: Andy Westlake

Panasonic Lumix G9 II at a glance:

  • £1699 body-only
  • £1899 with 12-60mm F3.5-5.6
  • £2249 with 12-60mm F2.8-4
  • 25.2MP Four Thirds sensor
  • ISO 100-25,600 (standard), ISO 50-25,600 (extended)
  • Up to 75 fps shooting (AFS + electronic shutter)
  • 3.68m-dot, 0.8x OLED viewfinder
  • 3in, 1.84m-dot vari-angle LCD
  • 5.7K 60p and 4K 120p video recording
  • In-body image stabilisation, 8 stops

Panasonic Lumix G9 II: Key features and updates

As with the Lumix S5II, arguably the headline update is the adoption of phase hybrid autofocus, rather than the proprietary depth-from-defocus system Panasonic used before. With 779 phase-detect focus points arranged across the entire frame, this promises faster, more decisive focusing, and should eliminate unpleasant ‘wobbling’ effects during video recording. The camera also gains the firm’s latest subject detection system that can now recognise cars and motorcycles. Its human and animal recognition algorithms have been updated, too.

Panasonic Lumix G9II 25.2MP Four Thirds sensor

Panasonic has built the Lumix G9II around a new 25.2MP Four Thirds sensor. Credit: Andy Westlake

This AF system is facilitated by a new 25.2MP sensor, which presumably is related to that in the video-focused (and DFD-only) Lumix GH6. It provides a sensitivity range covering ISO 100-25,600 plus an extended ISO 50 option. The top shutter speed is 1/8000sec, or 1/32,000sec with the electronic shutter.

Continuous shooting is very impressive, with the camera capable of a remarkable 75fps using the electronic shutter with focus fixed, or 60fps with continuous AF. Using the mechanical shutter, this drops to 14fps with AFS and 10fps with AFC. In all cases, Panasonic states a buffer of at least 160 frames even when shooting raw+JPEG together.

Panasonic Lumix G9II top controls

Top controls are identical to the S5II, including a drive mode dial on the left side. Credit: Andy Westlake

Pre-burst shooting has also been extended, so the camera can now buffer 1.5 seconds worth of images from before the shutter button is fully pressed, when you want to capture unpredictable action.

In-body image stabilisation is rated for 8 stops of shake reduction, enabling hand-held shooting with slow shutter speeds. This drops only slightly to 7.5fps when using Dual IS with telephoto lenses.

Panasonic Lumix G9II DMW-BLK22 battery

Panasonic’s DMW-BLK22 battery promies roughly 400 shots per charge. Credit: Andy Westlake

Other notable features include a 100MP hand-held high resolution multi-shot, which is easily accessed from the drive dial. A Dynamic Range Boost function creates HDR composite images in-camera, using the sensor’s built-in low-gain and high-gain circuits. Panasonic’s Real-time LUT feature allows you to install preset looks and apply them to both still images and video footage. There’s also a new Leica Monochrome picture mode.

Panasonic Lumix G9 II: Video features

While G-series cameras have traditionally been aimed at stills photographers, Panasonic hasn’t really held anything back in terms of video. The G9II can record in 5.7K resolution at 60fps; 4K at 120fps; or Full HD at 240fps. It’s even possible to record directly to a USB-C SSD, which allows use of the ProRes format.

Panasonic Lumix G9II ports

Panasonic Lumix G9II ports: 3.5mm stereo microphone and headphone, Full-size HDMI, and USB-C. Credit: Andy Westlake

Panasonic is promising 13+ stops of dynamic range when shooting in V-log mode, and it’s possible to record 4-channel audio using the DMW-XLR1 microphone adapter.

Panasonic Lumix G9 II key features:

  • Hybrid:  The G9II is designed to be equally appealing to stills and video shooters, with strong feature sets for both
  • Design:  The body design is shared with the full-frame S5II, but without a cooling fan in the viewfinder housing
  • Autofocus:  Enhanced subject detection can now recognise humans, animals, cars and motorcycles
  • Lenses:  The long-running Micro Four Thirds mount gives access to a wide range of compact, high-quality lenses
  • Power:  The G9II uses the same DMW-BLK22 battery as the S5II, promising around 400 shots per charge. The battery can be charged, and the camera powered, by USB-C
  • Storage:  Your files are stored using a pair of UHS-II SD cards
Panasonic Lumix G9II dual SD card slots

Files are stored to a pair of UHS-II SD card slots. Credit: Andy Westlake

Panasonic Lumix G9 II: Build and Handling

In terms of design, Panasonic has used the same body as the S5II. There are some detail differences – the G9II doesn’t have a cooling fan in its viewfinder housing, and the smaller Micro Four Thirds mount creates space for a second function button on its front – but overall, the two cameras work near-identically. This is good news for anybody who wishes to use full-frame and MFT systems alongside each other.

Panasonic Lumix G9II in-hand

The G9II handles very nicely, with robust-feeling construction and well-placed controls

As a result, the G9II doesn’t look much like its nominal predecessor, and neither does it feel like it in your hand. But it does operate in a very similar way, with all the same controls in mostly the same places. There’s no top-plate status LCD, but on the other hand, the AF joystick is more conveniently placed. As on the S5II, that joystick is also 8-way rather than 4-way, which makes repositioning the AF point considerably quicker.

Also like the S5II, you get a 3.68m-dot OLED viewfinder offering 0.8x magnification, which is large, bright and clear. On the back, the 3in, 1.84-dot vari-angle touchscreen delivers a nice step up in resolution compared to the G9. The viewfinder eye sensor has been repositioned above the eyepiece, with the aim of making it less prone to switching off the LCD when you move your hand across the back of the camera.

Panasonic Lumix G9II fully articulated screen

As usual for Panasonic, the G9II sports a fully articulated touchscreen. Credit: Andy Westlake

Read my review of the Lumix S5II to find out more about how it works

Panasonic Lumix G9 II: First Impressions

I got my hands on the Panasonic Lumix G9II before its official launch, including the opportunity to try it out on a tour around Port Lympne Safari Park. Initial impressions are certainly positive. The S5II-based body counts as a proven design, and personally, I prefer it over the original in terms of handling. The camera fits nicely in your hand, and all the controls are well placed. The updated phase detection autofocus and subject recognition systems appear to work well too.

Panasonic Lumix G9II in use

The G9II looks set to be Panasonic’s best Micro Four Thirds camera yet. Credit: Andy Westlake

As a result, the G9II looks set to be Panasonic’s best MFT all-rounder yet, and a very strong alternative to the OM System (Olympus) OM-1. It’s likely to be an excellent choice for existing G-series users who’d like to update to the latest technology (and for that matter, plenty of Olympus users, too). It’s great to see Panasonic giving some love to Micro Four Thirds, which still has some real advantages over larger sensor systems, particularly in terms being able to put together a lightweight but extremely capable setup. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the camera again for a full review.

Related news: Updated Panasonic 100-400mm II and 35-100mm f/2.8 zooms

Panasonic Lumix G9 II sample images

Ahead of our full review, here’s a small selection of sample images shot with a pre-production Panasonic Lumix G9II. These were shot using the Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 ASPH OIS, often over a long distance, from a vehicle, and on a hot day. So don’t necessarily expect the last word in sharpness. However, they do give some idea of what the camera and system can deliver.

Click on any image to see the full-size file.

Panasonic Lumix G9II sample image

Rhino, Port Lympne Safari Park, Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 Asph OIS. Credit: Andy Westlake

DC-G9M2 · f/6.3 · 1/500s · 400mm · ISO800

Panasonic Lumix G9II sample image

Port Lympne Safari Park, Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 Asph OIS. Credit: Andy Westlake

DC-G9M2 · f/5.1 · 1/1000s · 213mm · ISO500

Panasonic Lumix G9II sample image

Zebra, Port Lympne Safari Park, Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 Asph OIS. Credit: Andy Westlake

DC-G9M2 · f/6.3 · 1/1000s · 400mm · ISO500

Panasonic Lumix G9II sample image

Giraffe, Port Lympne Safari Park, Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 Asph OIS. Credit: Andy Westlake

DC-G9M2 · f/4.6 · 1/1000s · 161mm · ISO160

Panasonic Lumix G9II sample image

Port Lympne Safari Park, Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 Asph OIS. Credit: Andy Westlake

DC-G9M2 · f/8 · 1/500s · 117mm · ISO1250

Panasonic Lumix G9II sample image

Port Lympne Safari Park, Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm F4-6.3 Asph OIS. Credit: Andy Westlake

DC-G9M2 · f/8 · 1/500s · 300mm · ISO250

Follow AP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Panasonic Lumix G9 II: Full Specifications

Panasonic Lumix G9II with Leica 12-60mm lens

Panasonic Lumix G9II with Leica 12-60mm lens. Credit: Andy Westlake