PanasonicLumixVideo: Panasonic LUMIX GX9 Shooting Impression by Viviana Galletta

“The new LUMIX GX9 is the one letting fashion portrait photographer Viviana Galletta explore LA’s stylish sidewalks on her terms. Combining incredible image quality with an impressively compact design, its tiltable viewfinder frees her up to capture her unique perspective on the city. A 20.3-megapixel sensor + no low pass filter with Dual Image Stabilisation guarantee head-turning image quality, while creative in-camera effects let her add an artistic flourish to her photography.”

panasonic_lumix_dc_gx9_silver_front_back_1024px_60%
Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 in silver and black, from and back, with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS kit zoom lens, excellent for stills and good for video so long as you do not hang step-up rings and variable neutral density filters off its front. This lens does not have a manual focus ring so must be focussed via autofocus or back-button focus.

Commentary

panasonic_lumix_dmc_85_black_top_12-32mm_01_1024px_60%
Panasonic Lumix DMC-85, also named DMC-GX80 in certain territories and Lumix GX7 Mark II in Japan, with the excellent and tiny but grossly underestimated Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 collapsible kit zoom lens. The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS collapsible zoom lens makes a fine telephoto companion lens.

Panasonic has released its very first photographer video for the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 featuring German fashion photographer and model Viviana Galletta, perhaps signalling the camera’s intended user base or at least two of them, fashion photographers working on location and women.

Ms Galletta is a former user of the Lumix GX80, known in the USA as the DMC-GX85 and in Japan as the Lumix GX7 Mark II, as she attests in an interview by the German Lumix G Experience website.

Will there be further such videos in the series and what genres of photography will they feature?

Will they, too, be created by West London creative agency Brave, notable for its female creative director, Caroline Paris, in an industry still employing far too few female creatives altogether and even fewer in senior agency roles?

This is the first time that, to my knowledge, Panasonic’s Lumix brand has commissioned an advertising agency to produce its YouTube videos and the move has its merits.

I have worked at and for top British creative hotshop advertising agencies, incidentally while living just down the road from Brave, and have some insights into how the agency/client relationship can work at its very best.

Great agencies can help a brand understand itself and its products by acting as, as the great Australian copywriter John Bevins puts it, brand custodians that know the brand better than its owners.

That is crucial for giant global corporations like Panasonic with their many product divisions, product types, constantly churning management infrastructures and management staff, and a tendency to forget those divisions’ achievements, history and missions.

Panasonic’s product pages appear to be orienting the enthusiast-level GX9 towards street photographers as opposed to the documentary and photojournalists and other professionals at whom was aimed the flagship-level GX8, and this fissure between the GX8 and its supposed successor in the GX9 has created confusion, dismay and disappointment in the ranks of the GX-series’ professional user base.

Brave may be able to help Panasonic better understand the GX-series and the havoc it has wreaked by replacing an advanced flagship camera with a lower-order camera, and how to better target another user base given the GX9’s more limited feature and applications set.

Brave could also have a hand in better evening up the extreme lack of gender balance in the marketing of photography and video production hardware.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, ancestor of the GX9 aka the Lumix DMC-GX7 Mark III

The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 aka Lumix GX7 Mark III hearkens back to the first Lumix GX7 camera, though minus its rather decent built-in grip.

What does the GX8 flagship camera have that the GX9 enthusiast camera does not?

Enough said. The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 is anything but a replacement for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8.

A great 4-lens kit of little, lightweight Lumix lenses

panasonic_lumix_dmc_gx8_g_little_lenses_1920px_60%
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with, left to right, Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS, Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS, Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric and Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS. Image produced at CameraSize.com.

Recently I have been digging into online information about Panasonic’s Lumix G lenses in an effort to understand their benefits and differences from the Panasonic Leica DG and Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses that are often perceived as being sexier and more professional.

While I default to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses for professional stills and video due to their weather sealing, high-quality optics and constriction and especially their repeatable manual clutch focus, Panasonic’s Lumix G lenses are worth a serious look given their adherence to the Micro Four Thirds format’s founding philosophy of high quality combined with affordability, small size and light weight.

panasonic_lumix_g_vario_14-42mm_f3.5-5.6_01_1024px_60%
Panasonic Lumix GX8 with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric II Mega OIS kit zoom lens, also worth considering for lightweight, small camera stills and video projects.

I am considering adding three of the four lenses illustrated above to my first purchase, the excellent collapsible Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS lens, and I will probably purchase them secondhand as I did the 12-32mm given much of my lens budget needs to go into M.Zuiko Pro lenses for professional documentary projects.

  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS – only available on the secondhand market or when bundled with a Lumix camera.
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4-5.6 Aspheric Mega OISB&H – a fraction of the price of Panasonic’s Lumix G X 35-100mm fixed maximum aperture alternative.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II AsphericB&H – the “perfect normal” focal length I much prefer to the more usual 25mm “standard” lens that I find a little too narrow.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OISB&H – reportedly excellent fast portrait-length short telephoto lens for portraiture, documentary photography and photojournalism.
cosyspeed_camslinger_streetomatic_black_hero_1501px.jpg
Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus camera bag is an excellent waist-pack for carrying a minimal kit such as a GX8 plus two or three small lenses or one large one.

The only downside to all these five small, affordable, lightweight lenses is that you will need to attach one or two step-up rings if you wish to use your 77mm or 82mm diameter fixed or variable neutral density (ND) filters for video production.

Their filter diameters range from 37mm through to 46mm, and top-quality step-up rings, protection filters, UV filters and ND filters can be limited in those sizes.

The 12-32mm zoom does not have a focussing ring for focus-by-wire; the 20mm pancake prime may be too short to fit your fingers behind step-up rings and ND filters for manual focussing and the 12-32mm and 35-100mm are collapsible lenses whose mechanism may not safely support step-up rings and NDs.

Otherwise, these look like a terrific matched set of lenses for stills photography and video when you need to carry your gear in small bags like those made by Cosyspeed.

All these lens purchases are predicated on Panasonic continuing to make professional-quality rangefinder-style cameras like the GX8 and that, sadly, currently remains under question.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on and purchasing through these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Panasonic DMW-EC3 Eyecup for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-EC5 EyecupB&H – for the Lumix DC-GX9
  • Panasonic Hand Grip for Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-32mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. LensB&H

Panasonic Cheaps Out, Dumbs Down and Winds Back Professional Rangefinder-Style GX Camera Series with Lumix DC-GX9

Panasonic has been scoring some especially impressive runs with its Micro Four Thirds stills photography and video cameras lately, the Lumix DC-GH5, the Lumix DC-G9 and most recently the Lumix DC-GH5S, so it is deeply disappointing watching them drop the ball, even hurl it over into an adjacent field, with yesterday’s announcement of the Lumix DC-GX9, supposedly the replacement for the Lumix DMC-GX8

panasonic_lumix_dc-gx9_black_12-32mm_kit_square_slant_1024px_60%
Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom lens, for “street photography”.

Perhaps “drop the ball” is too delicate an expression to describe the magnitude of what has occurred with the GX9 so I will borrow a phrase from Amazon’s DPReview and instead name it a fail.

More accurately, a major fail.

panasonic_lumix_dc_gx9_majorfail
Screenshot from a google search for the GX9.

The GX9 with either of its apparently bundled kit lenses may be a good entry-level camera and lens combination for those new to the Micro Four Thirds sensor format or to the GX9’s rangefinder-style form factor though it is a rather costly entry-level combo compared to, say, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85, also named the Lumix DMC-GX80 in some territories outside the USA.

The Lumix DC-GX9 comes with a kit lens, which one depending on where you live

In Japan, the Lumix DMC-GX80/85 is referred to as the Lumix DMC-GX7 Mark II with the Lumix DC-GX9 actually designated the Lumix DC-GX7 Mark III.

The camera known as the Lumix DMC-GX7 in Japan appears to be the same as the camera called the Lumix DMC-GX7 elsewhere.

panasonic_japan_gx7mk3_main_pc01
Image from Panasonic Japan’s Lumix GX7 Mark III aka Lumix DC-GX9 product page.

Panasonic Japan’s naming is at odds with the company’s convention everywhere else where, for example, GX8 denotes the professional, top-end version of a line of cameras, GX80 and GX85 denote the second-level version of the same line and GX800 and GX850 denote the third-level version of the GX rangefinder-style line.

panasonic_japan_lumix_dmc_gx7_mark_ii_top_1950px
Top view of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Mark II on the Panasonic Japan website’s product page. The GX7 Mark II appears to be the same camera as the one designated GX80 or GX85 in other territories.

As my partner reminds me, former employer Canon follows a roughly similar naming convention for its cameras whereby its DSLR product range falls into three levels, DSLR for Beginners, DSLR for Enthusiasts and DSLR for Professionals though with the further complication of Mark I to IV and probably beyond thrown in for good measure.

Panasonic’s coming and current GX-Series rangefinder-style cameras

If we borrow Canon’s camera naming convention, then Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GX850/800 is their rangefinder-style camera for beginners, the DMC-GX85/80 their rangefinder-style camera for enthusiasts and the DMC-GX8 is the camera for professionals, which indeed it is in my experience and that of a number of other professional moviemakers and stills photographers of my acquaintance.

Three highly-esteemed photojournalists and one documentary moviemaker who use Panasonic Lumix GX-Series cameras

And then there is the Lumix DC-GX9.

panasonic_lumix_dc_gx9_lifestyle_shot_1024px_60%
Lifestyle photograph from Panasonic media/press release image collection depicting Lumix GX9 with the pricey Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens.

Judging by the product itself, its specifications and its marketing material including product and lifestyle photographs, the GX9 is not aimed at professional cinematographers and photographers including those working in the fields of documentary and photojournalism, but rather at “street photographers”, beginners and enthusiasts, to borrow Canon’s terminology.

Professional users are conspicuously absent from the Lumix DC-GX9’s marketing material in contrast to that of its predecessors, the Lumix DMC-GX7 and Lumix DMC-GX8.

panasonic_lumix_gx8_square_waterspray_1024px_60%
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens

Magnum photojournalists Ian Berry and Thomas Dworzak were depicted working with the GX7 while Australian expatriate photojournalist Daniel Berehulak produced photographs and video footage in Cuba with the GX8.

In the GX9 press kit, the sole user image is that of an unnamed young woman holding a GX9 with optional though reportedly essential accessory eyecup and optional though reportedly necessary plastic hand-grip, sporting a Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens.

At time of writing, the GX9 apparently cannot be bought body-only but with the kit lens designated for the particular territory in which it is bought, and research to date indicates that may be one of three lenses, the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS collapsible zoom lens, the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60mm f3.5-5. Aspheric Power OIS and the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric.

B&H Photo Video currently has the GX9 with 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom listed at $US997.99 and the Leica Summilux 12mm f/1.4 priced at $US1,297.99.

panasonic_leica_dg_summilux_15mm_f1.7_aspheric_H-X015K_01_1024px
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens

I suggest that this pairing of the GX9 with the Leica 12mm f/1.4, the lens costing far more than the camera plus kit lens much less camera body only, is a highly unlikely choice for the camera’s apparent user base, whether beginner, enthusiast or street photographer.

The two kit zoom lenses are more appropriate choices priced well in line with that user base, with the Leica Summilux 15mm f/1.7 prime lens a more appropriate choice for a street photographer, however that is defined, with something of a purist’s attitude to lenses.

I own a Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS zoom lens bought as-new secondhand from an eBay seller whose camera came with it as kit lens.

The collapsible 12-32mm is a perfectly fine, sharp and well optically-corrected lens despite its tiny size and pancake prime lens dimensions that I bought for use when photographing in the middle of daylight outdoor events where I need to be as discrete, as near-invisible as possible.

In other words, classic photojournalism, documentary and breaking news situations.

smallrig_cage_for_panasonic_gx8_1844_01_1000px
SmallRig Cage for Panasonic GX8 1844, the camera cage I use when shooting documentary video with my Lumix DMC-GX8. Even with accessories attached, the GX8’s form factor and tilting EVF allows me to work right in the middle of crowds of strangers at public and private events.

The Leica Summilux 15mm f/1.7 might be a useful choice for those purposes, too, but I find it an odd focal length almost halfway in-between my two preferred prime lens choices, 14mm and 17mm or 17.5mm, though I may change my mind if I manage to borrow one for some extended real-life testing.

I would choose none of these kit lenses, 12-32mm, 12-60mm or 15mm for shooting video though the latter may be appropriate if attached to a drone camera.

Documentary video requires the use of lenses with good manual clutch focus, or linear focus-by-wire or fully manual lenses for fine control of focussing as a graphically creative and emotive storytelling element, and my preference is Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses while cinematographer Rick Young carries a large set of upper-end Panasonic Lumix and Leica lenses.

The Panasonic marketing staff’s apparent confusion over the Lumix DC-GX9’s naming, user base, best choice of lenses and indeed overall message is reflected in their marketing materials and website content.

If going by the press kit user photograph then I would give them benefit of the doubt and assume their main GX9 user base is street photographers.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 would have been best choice if going small for street photography

I make no claim to the title street photographer though I do keep my eye and hand constantly exercised by carrying a camera every day and making storytelling urban documentary photographs so I have some well-qualified thoughts on best cameras for street photography.

Were Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GM5 still in production, I would choose it due to its tiny size, good-enough 16 megapixel sensor and for looking as little like a serious camera as possible while delivering excellent quality results.

Even better, the cigarette pack-sized GM5 was made in three colourways, all black, red and black, and silver and green, the green and red being, one hopes, fake leather.

Street-bound members of the public glancing at a street photographer equipped with one of these would be even more oblivious to the presence of a serious photographer than if spotting somebody with a GX9.

Panasonic’s DSLR-style stills camera solutions, the Lumix GH5 and Lumix G9

If that photographer were toting a DSLR-style camera of any size and brand with prime or zoom lenses of any size and shape, I can guarantee the street photographer in question would be noticed and their presence would adversely affect the images they produce, no matter how terrific the camera.

There is one feature that the GX7, GX8 and GX9 can boast and that remains unique amongst contemporary digital cameras and that is their tilting electronic viewfinders.

It also tilts, as it were: the Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex

I value my Lumix DMC-GX8 for many things but foremost is for its tilting EVF, the closest thing I have nowadays to the tilting or upright magnified viewfinders of one of the finest analog cameras for unobtrusive, fly-on-the wall documentary photography and photojournalism.

As with the Rolleiflex and its telephoto and wide-angle variants, the Lumix DMC-GX8 with its tilting EVF and fully-articulated monitor is a brilliant solution for those two forms of photography as well as portraiture where you need your sitters to rapidly relax on being confronted by the top of your head rather than staring down the barrel of a sniper rifle-like DSLR.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 is to be released on April 1st, 2018, which would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Panasonic, please give us the fully up-to-date GX8 successor we need right now and well deserve, and stop trying to fob us off with this aptly also-named Lumix GX7 Mark III waving the false flag of “GX9”.

There is no substitute.

Links

Image Credit

Header image concept and quick hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on and purchasing via these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H

David Thorpe: A Review And Test Of The Panasonic GX80/ GX85 Micro Four Thirds Camera

“A camera so good they named it twice!

A Review and Test of the Panasonic GX80/GX85 Micro four Thirds Camera…”

Links:

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on this affiliate link helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-32mm LensB&H