Gear Reviews

Olympus E-M1 MkIII v Panasonic G9; head-to-head

Two featherweight Micro Four-Thirds cameras do battle, but which is the right one for you?

Despite the availability of full-frame and APS-C sensor cameras, there’s still a big demand for the Micro Four-Thirds system. Started by Olympus and Panasonic over ten years ago, both brands have developed and refined their MFT (Micro Four-Thirds) offerings over the years to include some of the best cutting edge technology in the image-making industry. This comparison review pits two of the most popular MFT cameras against each other as a detailed look at the specifications shows that, while they share plenty in common, there’s some big differences, too. 

In the Olympus corner, we have the E-M1 MkIII – the current flagship model from Olympus and the third incarnation of the E-M1 line, with the Mark III launched back in February 2020. From Panasonic, we have the slightly older G9, which was launched in 2017 and shares many specifications with Panasonic’s current flagship MFT camera, the GH5. So, which one should you buy – let’s find out…

One: Resolution

Despite one camera being a little older than the other, you may be surprised to hear that both models serve up the same pixel count, with the E-M1 Mark III and Panasonic G9 delivering 20-megapixels. There is a tiny difference in maximum file size as the Olympus offers 5760 x 4320, slightly up from the Panasonic’s 5184×3888 max file size.

 

This doesn’t tell the full story though as the E-M1 Mark III and G9 feature a high-resolution mode that combines multiple images to make a 80-MP file, with the Panasonic also including a 6K Photo Mode that extracts 18-MP JPEGs from a burst sequence.

Two: Burst speed

Both the G9 and the E-M1 Mark III are rapid cameras that should be on the radar of wildlife and sports photographers, even more so when you consider the 2x crop factor from the MFT lens mount that doubles the effective focal length of lenses.

When it comes to burst rates, the Panasonic G9 delivers 20 frames per second which, while amazing in its own right, is trumped by the Olympus, which can shoot up to 60 frames per second. With either of these cameras, you should be able to capture split second, fast action sequences with no trouble at all.

Three: Battery life

Mirrorless cameras typically have a lower battery capacity than larger DSLR options and this is the case with both the G9 and E-M1 Mark III. While the Panasonic G9 can offer 400 shots on a single charge, the E-M1 Mark III pips this figure by offering 420 shots on a single charge. It should be noted that battery grips are available for both cameras which hold a second battery, greatly extending the time a photographer can shoot for before needing to change a battery.

Four: Autofocus system

Both cameras in this comparison feature advanced autofocus systems that perform well in the field, but there are some differences worth mentioning. While the E-M1 Mark III includes a 121-AF point system, the Panasonic G9 delivers 225-points in its system. Both cameras also feature Face-Detection, making it easy for photographers to establish focus when capturing portraits.

Five: Video specs

Along with impressive specifications for creating stills, both the E-M1 Mark III and Panasonic G9 include plenty for videographers, too. While Olympus E-M1 MarkIII can capture ultra high-quality 4K footage at 30p, the Panasonic G9 pulls ahead, offering 4K at 60p. This will enable G9 videographers to use the 4K 60p footage at half speed to create a slow motion sequence.

Both cameras feature their brands colour profile technology (F-Log for Olympus and V-Log for Panasonic) and because each camera has ports for headphones and an external microphone, superior audio can be captured and monitored. All these specs, plus the small size and lightweight design make both cameras suitable for Vlogging.

Six: Weight and size

As you’d expect from two cameras that share the same size sensor, there isn’t a huge difference in the weight and form of both cameras with the E-M1 MarkIII being the slightly lighter, tipping the scales at 580g (including battery and memory card), while the G9 is 658g (including battery and memory card). Both cameras are weather-sealed, meaning they can be used in harsh conditions, with the G9 measuring 136.9 x 97.3 x 91.6 mm and the E-M1 Mark III measuring 134.1×90.9×68.9mm.

Seven: Image Stabilisation

Micro Four-Thirds brands were pioneers when it came to Image Stabilisation, so it should come as no surprise that both the E-M1 Mark III and G9 feature advanced IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation) systems. With a 5-axis system that corrects for pitch, roll and yaw, the Panasonic G9 offers up to 6.5-stops of compensation, but this is better by the Olympus E-M1 MarkIII, which offer 7-stops of compensation – a feature that will help to keep images sharp, especially in low light conditions.

Eight: LCD and viewfinder

As both the E-M1 Mark III and G9 are mirrorless cameras, photographers have a choice of options when it comes to composing their images. Both cameras offer a 3-inch vari-angle screen with matching resolution – this LCD design is very useful when setting up awkward high/low compositions and when framing up for video.

However, when it comes to the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), there is more of a difference, with the Panasonic G9 offering the higher resolution version at 3,680k dots (compared to the Olympus’ 2360K dots).