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(Pocket-lint) - The line between DSLR and mirrorless cameras continues to blur, with the Panasonic Lumix G9 gunning to be the first choice for pro photographers. In many respects, this is the camera to cease the disparity between the formats; it's almost like a "mirrorless DSLR".

The G9 offers oodles of appeal by cutting out the typical irks that many mirrorless cameras can present: it's got a huge viewfinder with near-instant startup; a super-fast 20fps continuous autofocus mode at full resolution; it adds a light-up status LCD screen (which you'll find nowhere else except on a mirrorless Leica); and offers improved battery longevity with up to 920 shots per charge.

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Having used the Lumix G9 with a variety of lenses for two weeks - in both South Africa on safari and Vietnam while travelling - we've come to think that it's perhaps the finest mirrorless cameras that money can buy. Indeed, it's so good that we'd lean away from the Fujifilm X-T2 and Panasonic's own GH5 in its favour.

Our quick take

The Panasonic Lumix G9 doesn't only step up what mirrorless cameras can do - surpassing even the Fujifilm X-T2 in many areas - it successfully places itself in among the DSLR elite. It's a very impressive bit of kit indeed.

However, having already described it as a "mirrorless DSLR", that does mean the G9 is on a large scale compared to most mirrorless cameras. In many respects this is to advantage - the huge grip, for example, makes it a treat to handle with longer lenses - but if you're expecting a small and light chuck-it-in-a-bag experience then, well, that's not the point of this camera.

At first we weren't sure the G9 defined itself enough from the GH5, but after weeks of use we're now certain it does. With mighty impressive image stabilisation, an ultra-sensitive shutter, super-fast burst mode, accomplished continuous autofocus and burst shooting, plus a viewfinder that's unrivalled by any mirrorless model, the G9 really is the finest mirrorless camera that money can buy.

The Panasonic Lumix G9 is available from 1 January 2018, priced £1500 body-only, £2020 with the Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4 lens, and £1670 with the Panasonic 12-16mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The Leica 200mm f/2.8 lens will be priced £2700. The optional battery grip will cost £309 (but is free for pre-order customers).

Alternatives to consider

Fujifilm X-T2

The mirrorless camera to set the benchmark back in 2016, especially when paired with the optional battery grip, the X-T2 is still a stellar camera. But Panasonic's wider lens range, extra features and video capabilities offer yet wider appeal.

Read the full article: Fujifilm X-T2 review

Panasonic Lumix G9 review: The finest mirrorless camera that money can buy

Panasonic Lumix G9

5 stars - Pocket-lint editors choice
For
  • Huge range of Micro Four Thirds lenses (incl. new 200mm f/2.8 Leica) ensure top image quality
  • Massive viewfinder and useful vari-angle LCD
  • 4K video and 6K stills modes
  • Super-fast burst modes
  • Accomplished continuous autofocus
  • Pinpoint AF mode
Against
  • Viewfinder eyecup could fit tighter
  • Optional battery grip should offer two batteries
  • Smaller LCD screen than GH5
  • Smaller sensor than some rivals
  • No 'super raw' with post-focus adjustment (like Canon 5D IV)

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How does it differ from the GH5?

  • All-new status LCD screen atop camera
  • Dual IS 2 offers 6.5-stop image stabilisation
  • Redesigned body with extra deep grip and textured leather-like coating
  • 4K at 60fps video recording also possible

There's no skirting around the presence of the Lumix GH5 - a camera that's already largely accomplished in this sector, but which is perhaps more widely seen as a videographers' camera. That's where the G9 fits into the equation differently: the image processing has been tuned specifically for stills photography, while the Dual IS 2 image stabilisation system is improved, too (to 6.5 stops).