Panasonic has carved out a, now well established, sector of the market and the brand is known for offering well built mirrorless cameras that are very capable of, not only capturing impressive stills, but also excel at shooting video, too.
The GH5, launched in early 2017 to succeed the popular GH4, is often found in the kit bags of indie filmmakers. However, the G9 (launched in November 2017) has given prospective Panasonic buyers a genuine buying decision to make. These two cameras share a huge amounts of features, but dig a little deeper into the specification sheets and you’ll discover some key differences that could well make up your mind on which camera to purchase.
Both cameras benefit from weather sealing that enables them to be used in harsh shooting environments and, although the bodies aren’t wildly different, there are definitely some differences that are worth pointing out. For example, the G9’s mode dial has shifted over to the left of the camera and this is to make way for a top plate LCD (the sort you’d see on a DSLR), which displays all the typical exposure information. Being mirrorless cameras, both models sport compact dimensions to appeal to photographers and videographers who wish to travel light and while the GH5 is featherlike at 725g, the G9 is even lighter at 658g.
Despite the small dimensions, both cameras find room for dual SD memory card slots, which is a highly desirable feature, particularly when shooting video as it allows you to record the footage to both cards at once, creating an instant backup – just in case something goes wrong with one of the cards. Both cameras have a pronounced handgrip for a comfortable hold and at the rear, both models offer an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a matching 3680k resolution. Both cameras feature a touch-sensitive vari-angle LCD, although the GH5’s screen is a little bigger (3.2-inch v 3-inch) and has a higher resolution (1620k v 1040k).
This vari-angle screen design is incredibly useful for setting up awkward high/low compositions and when shooting video – plus, because the screen flips all the way round, it’s perfect for Vloggers working on their own. A final practical advantage of the vari-angle screen design is that the LCD can be closed so it faces the opposite way, shielding it from any bumps or scratches that could occur when bumped against other gear in the kit bag for example.
When it comes to battery life, both cameras are fairly evenly matched, with the G9 slightly more efficient, offering 410 shots on a single charge, compared to the GH5’s 400. Both cameras use the tried and tested Micro Four-Thirds mount, so there is a huge choice of lenses on the market and both cameras can also use Olympus optics too, as they feature the same mount.
Both cameras feature a 20-megapixel Micro Four-Thirds sensor with no anti-aliasing filter, which should give sharper images at the expense of an increased risk of moire. The GH5 and G9 share the same Venus Engine processor and, while 20-megapixels isn’t a huge resolution figure when compared to some APC-S DSLRs, it should still be more than enough to capture stills and print them in sizes up to A3.
Both cameras share the same ISO range, too, with an expanded range of 100-25600, meaning photographers should be able to take handheld pictures in low light conditions. Of course, both cameras also shoot RAW format (as well as JPEG) so photographers should have plenty of tolerance for editing images in RAW conversion software, such as Adobe Lightroom. One massive advantage the G9 has over the GH5 in terms of image quality is its High Resolution mode, which combines up to eight images by shifting the sensor in between multiple exposures to create a single 80-megapixel image. This feature will be highly appealing to those who love to make big prints or those who just want more detail and the G9’s files can be saved as JPEGs or DNGs.
The GH5 is already known for being a comprehensive mirrorless camera for video use, but does the more stills-leaning G9 have much to offer too? The answer is absolutely as both cameras can capture ultra high-quality 4K footage at 60p and can record very cool slow motion footage thanks to the fast frame rate of up to 180fps in 1080p. What’s more, while it’s no surprise the GH5 offers ports for headphones and an external mic, it may come as a surprise that they make it on to the G9 too – meaning videographers can record (and monitor) enhanced audio.
While the G9 punches well above its weight in terms of video specifications, the GH5 still has more in its locker to attract videographers. The GH5 boasts faster mbps rates, shoots Cinema 4K and supports 10-bit capture. What’s more it also includes V-Log and MOV features that are missing from the G9. While the GH5 is the obvious choice if the majority of your work is video, the G9 will stick tick a lot of boxes for creative photographers.
While the GH5 and G9 share many specifications, there’s also a number of key differences that could well shape your buying decision and at the top of that list is the camera’s burst rates. For example, the GH5 tops out with a max burst rate of 12 FPS (frames per second), while the G9 is much, much faster. In fact, the G9 can shoot at 20 FPS when used with continuous tracking or 60 FPS with the focus locked after the first exposure. With such blistering speed, the G9 is sure to turn the heads of wildlife and sports photographers who are looking for a lightweight camera that can not only shoot fast bursts, but can also capture high quality video. What’s more, action photographers will also benefit from the 2x crop on both cameras that doubles the effective focal lengths of optics – so a 300mm f/2.8 lens turns into a 600mm f/2.8.
In terms of autofocus, both cameras feature a 225-point contrast-detect system that benefits from being able to lock onto subject in very low light (-4 EV), with the G9 having the edge os focus speed by achieving focus in as quick as 0.04secs. Also found on both cameras is Panasonic’s built-in five- axis image stabilisation technology. Because this system is on the camera, it means that every lens you use benefits from this stabilisation, and the G9 has the edge in this department too, offering 6.5-stops of compensation compared to the GH5’s 5-stops. Another feature that will peak the interest of action photographers is the 6K Photo mode that both the GH5 and the G9 can offer. Incredibly, photographers can fire a 30FPS burst and extract an 18-megapixel JPEG, which maximises your chance of capturing the perfect moment, especially useful in wildlife and sports photography.
Both these cameras are packed with technology and offer competitive features for boths stills and video. However, it’s clear the GH5 offers more for videographers while the G9, complete with that blistering burst rate, has the edge for stills photography. If anything, your buying decision may well come down to exactly what sort of videos you are shooting. For Vlogs and other basic video, the G9 will most likely have enough features for you, but it you are an aspiring filmmaker, the GH5 is the best choice.
Both cameras benefit from built-in image stabilisation, a huge range of lenses to choose from, decent megapixels and touch-sensitive vari-angle screens as well as being weather-sealed so you can use them in harsh conditions. These specs make both cameras attractive to those photographers who wish to travel light while still owning a camera that’s packed with technology.
|Panasonic GH5||Panasonic G9|
|Price||$ 1,350.00||$ 1,259.00|
|Sensor||20.3-Megapixels Micro Four-Thirds||20.3-Megapixels Micro Four-Thirds|
|ISO||200-25600 (expanded to 100)||200-25600 (expanded to 100)|
|LCD||1620k dot 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD||1040k dot 3-inch vari-angle LCD|
|Built-in Image Stabilisation|
|Max burst rate||12FPS||20FPS (60FPS with no continuous focus)|
|Dual SD card slots|