Lumix G9 First Field Report

The thing with buying a new camera in November is that we’re into stick season. At least here in Northern Wisconsin we are. That means lots of clouds, cold temps and not much in the way of color. Oh and it was still hunting season for a few days, so I stuck pretty close to home and so I present Leaves in Snow and Ice.

And some things I noticed or played with on my first few outings.

Power Play

When you attach the battery grip, the top display shows the power status for both the one in the grip and the one in the camera. Nice. As you would expect, it uses the grip battery first.

Bracketing reminder

In any mode except for Manual, pressing the exposure compensation button pops up a little control icon inside the viewfinder and on the back screen. It’s for exposure bracketing and you can choose the number of frames and the exposure intervals either by touch on the screen or with the 4-way direction wheel on the back. I love it since I often forget to bracket – with film I did it a lot out of necessity, but with digital it isn’t as important. Unless you’re doing HDR of course, something I rarely play with. And on the GH3, bracketing was a dial setting so I had to think of it to use it. Now I get a little push. I think I will like it.

Program control

I hardly touch the auto modes, but often wonder why. Snobbishness I suppose. I used a couple of all manual, all mechanical cameras for 20 years so I know how do manage my settings. Shooting manual seems to be a badge of honor these days. It shouldn’t be. Not every shot is critical in every way. Sometimes I just want to be more in the moment than a photographer. Especially when I travel. The camera is a barrier sometimes and using a Program mode might thin that barrier a bit. I still have experience enough to know when P or iA isn’t going to cut it so I might give it a go.

When you useĀ iA mode, which is less controllable than P, the white balance button gives you a slider for warm and cool; when you move the slider in either direction a little blue or yellow square appears at the bottom of the viewfinder to tell you that you’ve changed it. In regular Program, white balance can be changed to the camera provided settings.

White Balance

Auto WB is a bit better than on the GH3. It tends to the cooler end of things and doesn’t hit the magenta too hard. In addition to AWB there is AWBc which, as I suspected, adjusts the automatic temperature to a cooler setting than regular AWB. Like the GH3 you can set 3 custom modes or any setting on the fly – moving things from neutral to specific color profiles like orange or green. I’ve done it quite a bit with the old camera and probably will for this one, too, since I like creating images that closely match reality. The best way to do this is in the field.

Focussing

The G9 has roughly 10 times the number of focus points than the GH3 has. While good in terms of accuracy, I think it also makes it fussier to use. A little more fiddly. When shooting some landscapes, I noticed that the range of focus seems thinner. Meaning that things from the front to the back of the image aren’t as sharp compared to the same image, lens, and aperture with the GH3. At least that’s my initial impression. Maybe it’s because the range or radius of focus is smaller for each focus point. Now that there are many more of them maybe that’s the way it works. Whatever the cause (or my perception) I think I’ll have to be more cognizant of focus points, hyper-focus distances and aperture.

In manual focus I can now take advantage of focus peaking, something the GH3 didn’t have. You can google to get a techie explanation of what that is, I’m going to stick to practicality and what it means to me. I use a manual macro lens and in addition to enlarging the area of focus on the back screen, the camera will “paint” pixels that are in focus with a bright color of my choosing. Right now it’s aqua blue since that’s not a color that shows up in my macro shots too often. Focus peaking only turns on in manual focus mode so if I want to use it I’ll have to switch to that when I use an old lens. A new habit.

Monochrome display

In the menu, you can select that the viewfinder and screen show the scene in monochrome. The pictures will still be in color, so don’t worry. I like this for composing for black and white as I’ve kind of lost my eye for this since I haven’t shot Tri-X in about 100 years. Color can be a distraction and so this is a nice option to have. I’ve put the setting in the My Menu section so I can get to it easily. It’s a useful way to do better with monochrome conversions.

So that’s it for this post. I have a few more things to report and more images, but I’ll post that separately. So far I love this camera.

Oh and one last thing. It has one of the NICEST shutter sounds ever. Crisp, soft and lovely. Makes shooting the inside of the lens cap by mistake a little less stupid.

 

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