It's already been a bumper 2019 for Panasonic with the launch of its S1 full-frame mirrorless camera. But that high-end accolade isn't an accessible point for many, which is where a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera like the Lumix G90 comes into play.
With its 20-megapixel sensor, unlimited video recording options in 4K/Full HD, and new design compared to its predecessor, the G90 cuts a strong stance in the mid-price mirrorless market. Here's why it'll appeal to photographers and videographers alike.
What's new? G80 vs G90 / G85 vs G95
- G90 ups resolution to 20MP (over G80's 16MP)
- G90 adds dedicated ISO, WB & Exp Comp buttons
- G90 adds unlimited video recording time (4K/1080p)
- G90 adds in-camera battery charging (Micro-USB)
So what's different compared to the G80? Like we said above, the resolution increases from 16MP to 20MP thanks to a new sensor, which is also capable of unlimited video recording in both 4K and Full HD resolutions.
If you own a G80 then the biggest difference you'll see with the G90 is the inclusion of dedicated ISO sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation buttons atop the camera - just behind the shutter button. This opens the camera up for quicker adjustment and operation.
There's also in-camera recharging via Micro-USB, which will be handy for on-the-go charging, although we prefer the faster charging of a dedicated charging cradle (which now lacks here).
Design and Performance
- 3-inch, 1.04k-dot LCD touchscreen, vari-angle mount
- 0.74x mag, 2,360k-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- In-camera 5-axis image stabilisation system
- Starlight AF modes for astro shooting
- Live Composite real-time Bulb mode
- Face and Eye detection AF
- Bluetooth LE & Wi-Fi
- 4K Photo modes
- 1x SD card slot
The core of the Lumix G90 is largely similar to the G80 that came before it. But you know the expression: 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. And when it comes to the viewfinder and display specification, the G90 has everything that you'll need.
Over the years we've become accustomed to using a vari-angle LCD screen, which we find an essential for low-level positioning when shooting products. The G90's screen is responsive to touch, ample in resolution and brightness and far preferable to the tilt-angle options that some smaller cameras put in place (like the Sony A6400).
The viewfinder is even more special thanks to a massive magnification (0.74x) which makes the image appear very large to the eye. The refresh rate isn't as high as some - it's half that of the G9, for example - but you'll only notice this in lower-light conditions, we suspect (having only used the camera in daylight thus far).
When it comes to performance, Panasonic offers a consistent autofocus setup for the majority of its mirrorless cameras. This comprises a variety of area modes, whether selecting automatic across the majority of the frame, Area for a specific section of the frame, a 1-Area single area point, or Pinpoint AF for 100 per cent zoom focus confirmation. The G90 is no stranger, with all these modes responding ultra-quick as we would expect.
But there's more: the G90 also offers Face/Eye AF, like the Lumix S1, which is really useful for automatic tracking. If you're shooting portraits then the eye-tracking mode is particularly impressive, locking onto a subject with ease and holding focus irrelevant of movement.
The G90 is also the first Lumix camera to offer a real-time Bulb mode, called Live Composite, which updates the exposure in real-time on the rear screen when you're shooting long exposures. It's a great idea - one that Olympus has long offered in its camera - designed to complement to Panasonic's variety of Starlight AF modes for star photography (which auto-engage when it's particularly dark - again, we've not tested with this camera due to daylight conditions).
While the G90 can't hit the same ultra-high frame-rates of the G9, it offers 9fps in single autofocus and 6fps in continuous. Or you can select 4K Photo to shoot 8MP stills at 30fps, which can be extracted from long sequences - a bit like shooting video.
Image and Video Quality
- 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, Venus Engine
- 3.5mm headphones jack, 3.5mm microphone jack
- 4K video to 30fps, 1080p to 120fps (slow-mo)
- Unlimited video recording time
- V-Log L
On the image quality front, Panasonic is again consistent in its offering. The G90 might be a cut of the G9's price, but with a similar 20-megapixel sensor arrangement you can expect the same degree of image quality.
At its pre-production stage we've not been able to take pictures away from our brief testing session, so can't detail any results at this stage.
Plus quality will be lens dependent, so you'll want to choose that Micro Four Thirds glass with care - and the entry-level kit lens, while fine, is far from the best on offer.
One of the biggest areas of focus for the G90 is in the video capture department. Sure, its 4K capture at up to 30fps (also 25/24p) is the very same as the G80 before it, but the G90 offers unlimited video recording time - trying to align itself as a vlogging camera in that regard.
There's also Full HD capture at up to 120fps, allowing for half/quarter-time slow-motion, plus dual 3.5mm jacks for both headphone monitoring and microphone recording - again, great for higher-grade vlogging where quality audio and monitoring comes into play.
The Panasonic Lumix G90 offers a great entry point for photographers and videographers looking for a capable, customisable and easy-to-use mirrorless camera.
However, with the earlier G80 now selling for bargain prices, the addition of the G90's extra physical buttons and unlimited video recording might be too little for a price that's hundreds of pounds more in today's market - so do check whether the G90's additions and resolution bump are critical for your purchase. Or there's the Fujifilm X-T30, which is a tempting alternative with similar spec and similar price.
For those looking for a purchase that'll last for years to come and can be expanded and bettered with additional lens purchases, the Panasonic Lumix G90 offers a cut-down Lumix G9 prospect at a very sensible price point. It's the do-it-all compact system camera that'll tick all the boxes for almost any user, while offering additional features and autofocus options that its competitors struggle to deliver.
The Panasonic Lumix G90 will go on sale in June 2019, priced £899 body-only, £1079.99 with 12-60mm kit lens, and £1259.99 with updated 14-140mm lens.