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CheckMag | Screw the Lumix S9 - the Micro Four Thirds Lumix GX10 is the camera we want

Panasonic should have given us a premium Micro Four Thirds camera instead of the messy compromise of the Lumix S9. (Image source: Panasonic - edited)
Panasonic should have given us a premium Micro Four Thirds camera instead of the messy compromise of the Lumix S9. (Image source: Panasonic - edited)
Panasonic's new Lumix S9 is a feat of engineering and design, stuffing a full-frame sensor with IBIS into a body smaller than even many Micro Four Thirds cameras. That form factor comes with serious sacrifices, though. No EVF, no mechanical shutter, and no hot shoe. Panasonic should have just updated its Lumix GX line-up and made a full-featured Micro Four Thirds camera, instead.
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Panasonic's recent release of the Lumix S9 was rather positively received, with much of the praise for the camera coming from its relatively small size and impressive performance. However, it's this writer's humble opinion that Panasonic made the wrong camera — one with too many compromises and little sense.

Now, it's no secret that camera manufacturers chase hype. Much like the Fujifilm X100VI, the Panasonic Lumix S9 is chasing hype around a few key features, from the — admittedly sleek — retro-inspired looks to the compact form factor, price point (launching at just $1,499.99 via Best Buy), and even the full-frame sensor. However, in order to achieve some of the key specs to deliver on that hype, Panasonic's Lumix S9 cuts many corners.

To keep the size and cost down, Panasonic has had to omit several key features, including a mechanical shutter, a separate headphone jack, a viewfinder of any kind, and, perhaps most reprehensibly, a hot shoe. None of these compromises in itself makes the Panasonic Lumix a poor camera, but each of them adds limitations.

The digital shutter, lack of buttons, and omission of an EVF make the Lumix S9 a poor choice for many photography applications, while the headphone jack, small battery, and absentee hot shoe make the camera limited for video shooters — potentially estranging its main target market.

The biggest problem with the Panasonic Lumix S9, though, doesn't come from the camera itself. Rather, the camera's L-Mount, while certainly a good choice for a full-frame camera — means that any photographer that wants to have good image quality or have any diverse focal length is going to be carrying around some very big kit, whether that be a chunky zoom lens or even a few sleek prime lenses. While it's true that photographers looking for a compact package could spring for something like the Leica Elmarit-M 1:2,8/28 ASPH for a very compact form factor and superb image quality, it's unlikely that many are going to drop $2,500 on a lens to go on a $1,500 camera.

Again, the Lumix S9 still has the fabulous sensor from the Lumix S5II and S5IIx crammed into its diminutive body, making it a very competitive camera for the $1,499 price point, but there is a better way to get most of the way to the Lumix S9's performance without sacrificing on features to achieve the small size — the mythical Micro Four Thirds Lumix GX10.

A Panasonic Lumix GX10 is well overdue

A Micro Four Thirds-based Panasonic Lumix GX10 is the sensible answer to Panasonic's quest for a compact, feature-rich camera that wouldn't require as many sacrifices to achieve those Fujifilm X100VI aspirations. The Panasonic Lumix GX9 launched way back in 2018 — six years ago, for those counting — and it still serves as a compelling alternative for photographers and videographers after a compact camera, even after all these years.

Despite the genuinely compact form factor, the Panasonic Lumix GX9 (curr. $1,324.30 on Amazon with a kit lens) has a pop-up tilting EVF, a hot shoe, and a pop-up flash. Its back is also laden with buttons, and its top control surface has a versatile mode and exposure compensation control dials alongside two custom control dials.

Contrast that with the Lumix S9's two top dials and sparse back panel, and it becomes clear which camera is more user-friendly.

The GX9 is, however, outdated in a few ways. All Panasonic would need to do to the GX9 to turn it into a killer GX10 is upgrade to the latest 25 MP BSI sensor used in the Panasonic Lumix G9 II (curr. $1,614 on Amazon) and bring the camera's ports situation into the modern age with USB Type-C and mic and headphone inputs, like it has with the G9 II. The GX9 already has IBIS and the aforementioned controls and features that make photography and videography a pleasant experience, while only compromising on sensor size, rather than cutting out features.

Updating the GX9 to the 25 MP M4/3 sensor of the Lumix G9 II also gives you the theoretical resolution for the same 6K open-gate recording as the Lumix S9. What's more, Micro Four Thirds has an even larger selection of high-quality lenses than the L-Mount found on the Lumix S9, and Micro Four Thirds lenses are far more compact than full-frame lenses, making it an objectively better choice for those looking to travel light without sacrificing the versatility that comes with a large lens collection.

One notable drawback to the GX9 and hypothetical GX10, by extension, is the small sensor and its crop factor, but the OM System OM-1 II (curr. $2,399.99 on Amazon) has proven that this limitation is far from the death sentence it used to be, thanks to things like computational photography and improved sensor manufacturing technology. Especially for the social-media-crazed market the Lumix S9 is targetting, a compact Micro Four Thirds camera would have been a better choice for many of Panasonic's users.


DPReview (1, 2), Panasonic (1, 2)

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 05 > Screw the Lumix S9 - the Micro Four Thirds Lumix GX10 is the camera we want
Julian van der Merwe, 2024-05-26 (Update: 2024-05-28)