The Panasonic Lumix G90 takes the gamble to position itself as a device capable of excel in photo and video while remaining compact and relatively affordable.
- Overall responsiveness
- Many customization options
- Oled touch screen
- Electronic viewfinder
- Audio input and output
- No limit of recording time
- Advanced video mode
- Double stabilization
- Cropping 4K / UHD
- Rolling shutter in 4K
- Video picture quality indented
- Only USB 2.0 Micro-B
- Ignition time in slight withdrawal
Panasonic Lumix G90 review
The news on hybrids equipped with 24x36 sensor has been fairly provided in recent months. This is particularly true for Panasonic, which unveiled in detail its Lumix S1 and S1R at the beginning of 2019. Aimed at a rather expert / professional audience, both cameras have excellent performances. However, they are also very impressive while the amount of the entrance ticket is high.
Panasonic returns to what made its success, the Micro 4/3 mount. The makers of the brand claim that the range to the smaller sensor is not abandoned, quite the contrary. It is in this context that is presented the Lumix G90 which succeeds the G80. The brand wants to offer a housing tailored for travel thanks to a reduced size and weight, but also by its solid construction and tropicalized. The camera aims to be versatile in being able to cope with photographic use as video. For this, it takes the advantages of a Lumix G9 oriented photo and a Lumix GH5 which is intended rather for the world of video. By making some concessions on the right or on the left, the Lumix G90 offers a reduced rate that should allow it to convince a wider audience.
Among the main features, the Live MOS sensor without 20.3 Mpx low-pass filter is inherited from the G9 or GH5. It is joined the Venus Engine processor from the Lumix G80. Become a classic at Panasonic, double stabilization is part. The 4K / UHD 30p 100 Mbps video is present with the ability to record without time limits. An idle mode at 120 / s is available in Full HD. Video input and output are available. In addition, the expert ergonomics that is part of the DNA of the brand is present with many possible settings.
Panasonic wants to position the Lumix G90 as a device made to be carried everywhere easily and for photographers and videographers. Its overall size is far from positioning it as a compact hybrid model. For example, the Fujifilm X-T30 is actually smaller while having a larger sensor. On the scale, the Lumix G90 displays 533 g against 383 g for the Fujifilm. However, the Panasonic is still in the category of relatively compact devices and can not be considered a heavyweight. Combined with the Lumix G Vario 12-60mm f / 3.5-5.6 ASPH Power O.I.S. lens, the torque is consistent and balanced.
Ergonomics is often considered a strong point of Panasonic for those who want an expert-oriented device. Unlike the X-T30 which chooses compactness, the G90 wants to offer a grip closer to professional devices with a handle that will ensure a good performance. If it is very practical and globally successful, its recess questions us. A little too salient and with a surface on two levels, it can be a little confusing. However, given the size of the handle, its angle could have been provided differently so that it can rest the device on two or three fingers without having to use the thumb in maintenance. What your editor particularly likes.
The construction is designed to withstand bad weather. This is an excellent point that Panasonic did not want to neglect. Again positioned in front of the Fujifilm X-T30, but also facing the Sony A6400, the difference is not negligible. The finish and the design features small SLR are very successful, although the appearance may lack glam for some. The very good performance offered by the Lumix G90 is as well supported by the materials used as by all the available controls. Many without being too invasive, they are for many parameterizable or adjustable. Like Fujifilm, the softkeys can be held to combine the available functions without going through the menus.
Three shortcuts appear on the top of the case near the shutter release for white balance, sensitivity, or exposure compensation. The attention to detail pushes Panasonic to propose to change the behavior of the button with the choice of the modification of the associated parameter after the release or with the press of the maintained button. However, we would have liked to completely change the setting as on the Lumix S1 and S1R. We would also like to see the generalization of the click-free trigger, even if the G90 is more amateur-oriented than its big brothers - the lack of a click often confuses non-photographers. Also, the lack of a joystick to change the location of the collimator can interfere. It will be necessary to compensate using the touch screen - several options available - or program a shortcut on the directional wheel.
The Oled electronic viewfinder of 2.36 Mpx with its 0.74x magnification is very good, we would have nevertheless preferred a slightly wider eyecup. The touch screen is also Oled and is both effective and has a beautiful flattering image. In both cases, it will be possible to adjust the color rendering. Connectivity is well supplied with the presence of an input and a video output. On the other hand, the Lumix G90 misses the USB-C, an aberration in 2019, even more so for this type of devices. That said, charging is possible directly on the camera, even during shooting.
The Panasonic Lumix G90 has a stabilized sensor on five axes. Panasonic has developed in recent years the dual stabilization it calls Dual I.S. and it declines on most of its new boxes. If the lens is compatible with this system, the gearbox-optical pair can go down quite fast in speed. The versatility thus induced is not negligible. If the ability to take clear pictures also depends on the operator, we could go down without much trouble to the quarter of a second. Depending on your efforts and the number of waste you are willing to accept, it will even be possible to make clear pictures with a one-second exposure time.
Panasonic's DFD technology based on contrast detection has proven itself. Associated with the Venus Engine processor, the behavior of the set is very similar to what is found on the other cases of the brand. We note a start time that passes under the second, but could have been better. Even if they do not play in the same category, we are still far enough from the start in 0.54 seconds of an Olympus OM-D E-M1X. Low-light autofocus, which is often further back, follows this movement, but remains responsive.
On the burst mode side, we achieved a little more than 9 fps, both in RAW + JPEG and JPEG only. The measures announced by Panasonic are confirmed. 28 images in RAW + JPEG can be chained while 72 can be taken in JPEG alone and in the mode offering the best image quality. Three speed stages can be chosen. You'll also need to pay attention to custom settings - like constant preview - that can slow down the maximum rate.
The autofocus tracking proposed by Panasonic is once again effective. The detection of the eyes is very good and works well in photo. In our test conditions, the attachment of the module is done quickly and produces only a few errors. Contrast detection technology requires, pumping effects can be detected at times. Not as powerful as the very high-end Lumix S1 or S1R models, whose DFD technology is more advanced, it will be necessary to pay attention to low-contrast areas and low-light.
Qualities of images
The sensitivity range of the Lumix G90 ranges from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. An extended mode offers an additional minimum value of 100 ISO. The sensor inherited from the GH5 or G9 and the G80 processor are well known. Only software improvements can be made, no miracles are expected. The behavior of the G90 is therefore identical to other enclosures.
The first values of 100 to 800 ISO are no problem and can be used without ulterior motives. A first level is crossed at 1600 ISO, but the details are still very good. It is really from 3200 ISO that a sensible loss is detectable. Depending on your degree of requirement, your limit will be between ISO 3,200 and ISO 6,400 if you are willing to make concessions. The last two values are to be avoided or reserved for special cases.
To check the extent of the work from an "artistic" point of view, we photographed our test scene over a range of +/- 10 EV and corrected the raw files with our editing software to obtain a similar exposure. Unfortunately, the release of this article, our software is not yet compatible with the raw files of Panasonic Lumix G90. We can not yet verify this criterion. We will update the test when we have completed the measurements.
The video part must be one of the highlights of the Lumix G90, alongside the photographic part. The idea of Panasonic is to offer a product that is easily transportable and resistant, but which is broad in terms of possible uses.
The brand thus gives itself the means of its ambitions. The Lumix G90 boasts 30fps of 4K / UHD video at 100 Mbps, as well as slow motion x4 at 120fps in Full HD. Recording in 4K / UHD can be unlimited when the box is powered and up to 90 minutes with the battery according to the settings and the associated lens. Through the HDMI output, recording in 4:2:2 8 bits will be possible against 4:2:0 8 bits on the SD card. The use of LUT is also available.
An input and an audio output allow greater flexibility when making videos. Too often neglected, this connection shows that Panasonic is targeting videographers. In this process, the brand directly integrates the Vlog-L profile, which allows a more flexible calibration and post-production. Without additional cost and pre-installed, the manufacturer wants to avoid a brake on the purchase for a relatively affordable housing. This underlines all the more the pettiness of selling the option on higher-end cases.
Several parameters are available and will be able to appeal to both expert users and beginners wishing to have potential in reserve. In addition to the Vlog-L, Cinelike or Monochrome profiles are available alongside the adjustment of a tone curve for high and low light. Changes can be made to the autofocus behavior. There are also options to refine the sound capture. The display of the histogram is obviously possible and the activation of the zebras can also be adjusted.
If the advanced position of the Panasonic Lumix G90 on the photo part can not be in doubt, we still have some disappointment on the image quality. The cropping factor is 1.26 in 4K / UHD unlike the GH5 or G9 which are free. Sony with its A6400 APS-C offers 4K / UHD in 24p without crop. Fujifilm even offers on the X-T30 the 4K DCI covering all the sensor and therefore without cropping. The throughput can even go up to 200 Mbps. The report on the image quality is without appeal. The Lumix G90, despite all its advantages, is set back on image quality.
As for the rolling shutter, its presence is detectable in 4K / UHD. If the side effect is not as bad as on the worst cases, it should be taken into account. In HDF, the phenomenon is fading. Autofocus is quite effective if good light conditions are met, but a little less as the light runs out. The transitions between the shots are pretty soft by default. It will be necessary to modify the options to gain reactivity. Face detection is always practical and powerful, but may suffer from loss of the subject at times. It is possible to reduce these effects by going through the tracking mode which is very effective.
Panasonic delivers a hybrid that wants to position itself on all fronts. Photo, video, experts, beginner, customization or automatism, there is something for everyone. The Lumix G90 drives the nail with a tropicalized finish and a relatively small size. If the housing by its versatility is a very good device, the video quality could still be better. However, few users will find a crippling lack of Lumix G90. Would this be the ideal recipe?
Panasonic Lumix G90