Testing the Limits of the Panasonic Lumix G9
After a long wait since the winter I got my hands back on the G9, there was much anticipation for this trip and I look forward to sharing the results with you!
It was really nice to travel with just a messenger bag through three airports across
Canada. In my bag I had the G9, GH5s, 12mm f1.4, 12-35 f2.8, 35-100 f2.8, 100-400, spare batteries, a goby travel tripod, a few extra cards and my laptop. By the time I got in the cab in Yukon my shoulders said thank you for traveling so light. Nothing beats traveling with 4/3 gear compared to big bulky DSLR’s and huge lenses.
I like to test all my gear to all the limits if possible, weather, different shutter speeds, different lenses and different styles of photography. I want to start off by first stating that this camera fit in my hand like every other Lumix 4/3 camera I have shot with. The dials were all in firmiliar locations and the menus, well they were the same like every other model except the new additional upgrades.
My regular set up for all Lumix cameras is, back button focus and generally AFC or MF settings with the mode dial set to burst continuous shooting. I found the AF to be super fast as well adjustable for each type of scenario I was shooting in. Another feature I enjoyed is the ability to adjust exposure compensation without having to go into the menu, instead a push of a button on the top right of the camera. This helped for adjustments to preserve my whites when shooting in the snow and adjusting for shadows in my landscapes. I have been a view finder shooter for many years. I can honestly say now I only use it for wildlife and for all my landscapes I use the back LCD screen for landscapes. I love what I see in my LCD is more or less an exact representation of the images I see in bridge when Im previewing my images.
First test was the northern Lights, why not go big right? My location was Yukon in September last month. I have photographed the lights many times so I tried some different settings to see what happens when I push the camera and what happens when I don’t push the histogram to the right, resulting in heavy editing to see how well the images handle being pulled apart in Photoshop.
This first image was from the Top of the World highway, it was an extracted raw image from a time-lapse I was performing in camera. My settings was ISO 800, F 1.4, 3.2 seconds long. Normally when I’m shooting the lights I like to push my ISO more but for a time-lapse I like to keep it a little lower to manage highlights when you get flare ups in the lights. So this was a perfect image to push a little when I was editing. If you are exposing properly there should be more shadow detail in the trees along the foreground. You can see they are really shadowed so I had to push up my whites in the image to make the sky a little brighter. I couldn’t be more impressed with the turn out of this image, as well the time-lapse I created in camera.
For my time-lapse set up I used the above settings mentioned ISO 800, 12mm F1.4, 3.2 seconds with one second intervals, I also had long exposure noise reduction turned off. I have not added any music to the video and the footage is raw unedited from the MP4 file created in camera.
Next was an image I pushed that histogram to the right, it was a fairly inactive aurora, so no dancing of the lights. My settings for this image was ISO 320, 12mm F1.4, 15 seconds I should also add that I manually adjusted my focus, as well set my white balance to K and used 3450. I find this to be very close to a good representation of what the sky should be set to. So on this image when I was editing I actually brought down the highlights a little as the whole scene was fairly lit and there was a little bit of a breeze causing the trees and vegetation to move a little bit.
Here is a small gallery of images taken in the night hours with the G9 😀 ISO settings ranged from 500 to 1600. The average nightly temps ranged from -2C to -10C or 28.4F to 14F with no cold weather issues what so ever. I was taking over 2000 image time-lapse with one battery and still had life left in them for more images.
Lets move onto the next subject, birds and animals. For this I was using the G9 paired up with the 100-400. Last time I had the G9 I used it with the 200mm f2.8 so this time I wanted something with a zoom capability just incase I needed it. I still can’t get over I’m shooting 200-800 and it is so light compared to a DSLR. You be the judge if the quality is there or not?
First subject is a cross fox up near the Arctic Circle, we noticed him jumping in the low bush along the roadside and we were able to hang out with him for a good 15-20 minutes. This image was with the 100-400, G9, ISO 800, 1/320th F5.6 at 280mm so almost 600 equivalent.
I do like to include animals in their natural landscape but when I’m shooting with this lens I love the ability to just keep zooming in and getting that detail. Not to mention the stabilization in lens and in camera to allow a tack sharp image at a low shutter speed. The time of day was very close to first light but we were quite clouded over due to our elevation, his colour blended in so well to the natural vegetation. I was surprised how well the AF picked him up with each shot I took. My settings were AF sensitivity -2 so it didn’t pick up the grass blades that kept coming between me and the subject. AF area switching sensitivity was set to 0 and Moving object prediction was set to 2. I had these setting already done in camera as I was predicting conditions as such in the area I was in for 3 days.
My next subject was a bald eagle in a tree, super easy for the camera to pick up focus and lock on, it was just a matter of keeping that camera to my face and wait for the perfect opportunity to capture, I took about 8 images in this sequence and they were all tack sharp but I really liked the wing movement in the launch so I picked this image to show you. For settings I had G9, 100-400 @ 400mm 800 equivalent with no crop. ISO 400, 1/1250, F 6.3
Here are some other images that I shot with ISO ranging from 500-1600. I really wanted to push the camera more but the weather was honestly to good, like really we couldn’t buy a cloud in the sky some days.
As I mentioned earlier I really like the back flip screen on Lumix cameras. It allows me to flip and adjust in harsh or direct lighting conditions. Combine that with in body stabilization and it allows me to hand hold the camera at many different angles. When I shoot landscapes I always have the pop up histogram as well zebra highlights to see whats over exposed in my image prior to shooting. Most of my images I use manual focus as well, I have on focus peaking so I can see exactly what part of my image is in focus.
I find one of my go to lenses for landscapes these days is the 35-100, it offers great stabilization and sharp image quality. Something about the compression of the image allows me to relate more than a wide angle lens. It also allows you to pick the area you want to be the foreground and not depend on whats right in front of you at the time. For example in front of this pond it had some scraggy looking grass and the sky had no clouds, using the 35-100 allowed me to isolate the parts of the image I felt most impactful.
This image was taken with the G9. 35-100 @ 35mm, ISO 250, F6.3, 1/400th of a second handheld, Lens IS off
I put this camera through its paces over the past two weeks in Yukon, from doing 2000 plus image time-lapse in the night in minus temperatures, set back up for wildlife in the am and back to landscapes in the flick of a switch. I really enjoyed have the dials set for my custom shooting features, between the shutter mode on the top dial, shooting mode on the front switch it made flipping back and fourth really easy for me. Taking the time to set these features in the beginning saved me so much time for a, I need to shoot this immediately situation. As photographers these are the moments we miss the most, lets be honest. How many times have you grabbed a camera and just starting shooting something with out really looking at the settings because you had limited time to get the shot? I sure know I have come across many situations, having these quick setting available gave me a better base value to photograph my targets.
High resolution mode come in hand for some keeper shots I knew I would possibly want to do a massive print with one day. Having a 80mp image is a game changer in todays world. So many camera manufactures played the mega pixel race for years and now full frame cameras are taking some massive files. Am I jealous?? Well yes but no, why would I want 1000, 40mp images from an outing to fill up my hard drives and use one possibly two images? Then dumb them down to such a small file size to use on social media so I wouldn’t have to wait 4 hours on crapy wifi to load up an image to FB. Here if I want the option I just go into the menu and and turn the high res mode on, the images I want large I can do so and then set the camera back to a regular shooting mode. I still have faith the 20mp image could create a well detailed 24x36 canvas with more than enough info.
Part of my trip I was on a glacier flight, this is one of my highlights each year I return to Yukon. I found this year I was shooting for patterns and lines, as well looking for isolated patches of colour. Once we flew down the glacier one of the islands in a lake had some beautiful colours as well great contrasts along the edges in the water. This image was taken from 4000 feet with the G9, 35-100@ 45mm, ISO 500, F 7.1, 1/320th of a second.
This is gallery of some of the other landscape images I was able to take on my trip. All of them were handheld using the back screen for viewing.
The G9 did not disappoint on this trip, it actually out performed any Lumix camera I have used in the past. It preformed well in low light, situations where subjects blended into the environment and created some of the best dynamic range I have experienced in the Lumix line up.
I’m looking forward to adding this camera to my Lumix family as I can only see better images to come in the future.
If you would like to lean more about the Lumix G9 please read my blog “A full walk through of the new Lumix G9”
If you would like to read more about my Yukon trips to photograph wildlife, landscapes and Northern lights check out this link https://www.northof49photography.com/yukon-index/