Panasonic Lumix G9

The new Lumix G9 is Panasonic's new flagship mirrorless camera, sitting alongside the Lumix GH5 in the range. 

Despite the GH5 being the company's most stills-orientated flagship camera, it's still seen by many as primarily a videographers tool that also just happens to have a wealth of photography features.  

The arrival of the Lumix G9, then, is designed to rectify this situation. While it has many of the same specs as the GH5 it offers more features designed to appeal to the stills photographer, while sacrificing some of the advanced video features that many users aren't likely to need. 

With Panasonic marking 10 years since it launched the world's first-ever mirrorless camera next year, could the Lumix G9 be the perfect way to celebrate?

Features

  • Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, 20.3MP
  • 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
  • 6.5-stop built-in image stabilization system

The Lumix G9 gets the same 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor as the Lumix GH5, which means that, as on the GH5, there's no low-pass filter. If 20.3MP isn't quite enough resolution for you the Lumix G9 also features a new High Resolution mode, which outputs files with an equivalent 80MP resolution. This works by combining eight images that have been taken in rapid succession, with small sensor shifts between each one, which means that, unlike with some rival systems, a tripod is a must when using this mode.

The sensitivity range remains the same as in the GH5, running from ISO100 to 25,600; this is a spec we'd have liked to have seen improved, as it lags a little behind rivals like the Fujifilm X-T2 and Nikon D500, but Panasonic believes image quality has been refined over the GH5 thanks to the inclusion of its latest Venus processing engine. 

The 5-stop in-body image stabilization (IS) system in the GH5 impressed, and the Lumix G9 takes things a step further with a class-leading 6.5-stop IS system. Panasonic has achieved this by using – wait for it – angular velocity and motion vector information from not only the gyro-sensor, but from the accelerometer and image sensor as well.

The Lumix G9 takes things a step further with a class-leading 6.5-stop IS system

The Lumix G9 features a large and bright electronic viewfinder with an impressive 3,680,000-dot resolution. While that number is the same as on the GH5, the magnification has been bumped up from 0.76x to 0.83x (35mm equivalent), while the display runs at a smooth 120fps. For action shooters, the feed is blackout-free when using the camera's burst shooting mode, while there’s also a night mode, plus an AF Point Scope integrated into the viewfinder design.

On the rear of the Lumix G9 is a vari-angle, 3-inch touchscreen display with a 1,040k-dot resolution – it's a bit smaller than the 3.2-inch touchscreen on the GH5, but it does feature a night mode for low-light shooting.

As you'd expect for a camera that's designed to appeal to a slightly different market to the GH5, the G9 doesn't have quite the same video capture credentials. That said, you can still shoot 4K video at up to 60fps – and that's Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) too. 

The Lumix G9 includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity, with the latter enabling a constant connection with your smartphone with minimum power consumption.

The G9 gets dual SD card slots, both of which support the UHS-II format for fast transfer speeds (as long as you've got a compatible card). 

Build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy body
  • Status LCD display
  • Splash and dust-proof

The design of the Panasonic Lumix G9 sees a slight change in direction from the GH5. It looks a bit more hunched-over in its proportions, which is likely due to the raised shutter button and grip, while the sharp-edged pentaprism sits a bit lower.

The most obvious change to the design, though, is the arrival of a top-plate status LCD – this feature is common on high-end DSLRs, but the pricey Leica SL is the only other current mirrorless camera to sport one. While mirrorless designs have largely shunned the top-plate LCD it's nice to see one on the Lumix G9, providing a spot where you can have a quick glance at all the key shooting settings.

The arrival of this LCD display means the mode dial has shifted over to the left-hand side of the viewfinder, with the drive modes now selected via a switch at the base of the mode dial.

The rear of the Lumix G9 follows a similar control layout to the GH5; there have been some minor tweaks in terms of which button does what, but you're still furnished with a decent amount of programmable function buttons. There's also a useful mini-joystick for quick AF area selection. 

The Lumix G9 features a decent-sized handgrip, while the rear thumb rest is a bit more pronounced compared to the GH5, enabling you to get a comfy grip on the camera. The G9 also feels nice and solid thanks to the magnesium alloy front and rear frames, while it's also been sealed to make it splash-, dust- and freeze-proof. 

Autofocus

  • 225-area AF system
  • Customizable AF settings
  • 0.04 sec AF speed

The Lumix G9 gets the same 225-area AF coverage as the GH5, which covers the majority of the frame. Focusing is sensitive down to light levels as dark as -4EV, while the G9 also uses Panasonic's DFD (Depth from Defocus) autofocus technology. This tech has been improved over the system used in the GH5, increasing acquisition speed from an already speedy 0.05 sec to 0.04 sec, which should improve tracking performance. We didn't really get a chance to experiment with this in our brief time with the camera, but we'll be putting it through its paces when we get our hands on a final production sample.

There are plenty of focusing modes to choose from as well. Multi AF is fine for general shooting, but there's also a Custom Multi mode that enables you to freely select the AF-area group, and Zone AF, where the focus area group size and position can be customized.

As we've seen with the Lumix GH5, users can also set up four different profiles with adjustable sensitivity, AF area switching sensitivity and moving object prediction, depending on the type of subject they're shooting.

Performance

  • 20fps burst shooting with full AF
  • 4K and 6K Photo modes
  • Shutter release lag of 0.04 sec

The Lumix G9 is capable of shooting at a blisteringly quick 20fps with full continuous AF, while this can be stretched a staggering 60fps if you don't need to track your subject. That's quite a jump from the GH5's 12fps (9fps with AF-C), while it's also possible to use the 4K and 6K Photo modes to extract still images. These modes might have less appeal with the Lumix G9 capable of shooting at such fast speeds, but it's possible to extract single 8MP and 18MP images from 4K 60fps and 6K 30fps footage respectively.

Early verdict

At £1,499/$1,699/AU$2,499 body-only the Lumix G9 is competitively priced, and costs less than the GH5. 

Panasonic has made a sensible move with the Lumix G9. The GH5, for all its qualities, is still perceived, rightly or wrongly, as very much a videographer's camera, and in the G9, existing users of the Lumix system (and for that matter, Olympus users as well), now have the option of purchasing a feature-packed high-end model without necessarily feeling that they're paying for a load of advanced video tech they may not need.

We're looking forward to shooting with the Lumix G9 in the coming weeks, when we'll really be able to put it through its paces.

  • The 10 best mirrorless cameras you can buy right now

Best PC gaming headset 2017: the best gaming headset for your new rig

Assessing the best PC gaming headset is more subjective than you might expect. Whereas you might infer from the title of this article alone that the best PC gaming headset is all about sound quality over everything else, that’s not the case for everyone – some gamers are more concerned with keeping costs low, while others prefer the ubiquity of the Bluetooth interface.

With that in mind, we’ve taken into consideration the breadth of users out there, putting ourselves in your shoes to determine the best PC gaming headset you can buy right now. We’re aware that you spend as much time talking to your friends on Discord as you do playing Destiny 2, so we’ve also factored in the necessity of an attached microphone in most cases. 

From all the top brand names, including Turtle Beach, Sennheiser, Logitech and Corsair, we’ve spotlighted all of the most likely contenders for the best PC gaming headset your heart will desire. Some are pricier than others, but they’ve all been thoroughly tested by the editorial staff at TechRadar, even if they’re not accompanied by full-length reviews. 

Likewise, you can expect a range of specifications, such as whether the headset you’re perusing is wireless, if it features 7.1 surround sound as well as exactly how far away from your computer you can be sitting to use it. Our guide has it all – best of all, you can buy your choice of the best PC gaming headset directly from the green vendor links.

Neglecting all the unwritten rules of fashion, the ROG Centurion 7.1 is a spectacle to behold. Though it’s a living hellscape to set up, this gaming headset delivers both extreme looks and an unruly knack for emitting crystal clear sound waves. The Asus ROG Centurion 7.1 not only bolsters full-fledged surround sound passthrough for an external set of speakers, but its set of onboard amp controls give you complete power, even if there’s a steep learning curve.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Centurion 7.1 headset

Razer ManO'War

Quick and easy to set up using a wireless USB receiver that stores inside the headset for transportation, the Razer ManO'War is a user-friendly unit primed for surround-sound gaming. Sure, it's a little chunkier than most other headsets, but two soft leatherette ear cups make it comfortable to wear over extended periods. And, with Chroma RGB lighting customizable through Razer Synapse, it even looks snazzy to observers.

Read the full review: Razer ManO'War

There’s a common misconception the best PC gaming headsets have to cost a fortune. That’s fortunately untrue of the HyperX Cloud Alpha, which presents a compelling design along with impressive mid-range sound. The added dual-chamber drivers are a feat for audio quality that doesn’t break the bank, minus the distortion that usually haunts headphones at this price. Better yet, the sonorous bass will put any first-person shooter, not to mention Skrillex, to the test.

Although it’s designed to be used for the Xbox One, Windows users can take solace in the fact that the Turtle Beach XO Three is compatible with any PC sporting a single jack for both mic input and headset output or a PC splitter cable. In spite of this minor caveat, the XO Three is a steal for the price, especially considering its use of 50mm sound drivers. What’s more, it even supports Windows Sonic for 3D surround sound. 

Read the full review: Turtle Beach XO Three

V-MODA

If you're more interested in the sounds coming out of your gaming headset rather than glowing LEDs, macro keys and other gratuitous extras, then the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless is the headset for you. Its stylish cans are a treat for the ears, booming with sound that's bass-heavy with fantastically crisp treble at the other end. Stepping out of the soundscape, the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless is comfy and spacious too, what with its memory foam earcups.

Read the full review: V-MODA Crossfade Wireless

We called the original Astro A50 a "game-changing, experience-enhancing headset," and thankfully its wireless successor follows the "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" rule. Astro's latest headset does what it says on the tin and adds wireless connectivity to an already stellar package. Not only is it ready to rock with your PC, but with PS4, Xbox One and legacy consoles as well – a headset that’s robust and versatile.

Siberia 840

Following in the footsteps of the already impressive Siberia 800, the upgraded Sibera 840 is pro-Bluetooth, anti-lag and all about personalization. With the SteelSeries Engine 3 app, you can customize everything from equalizer settings to what you want shown on the OLED screen of the accompanying base unit. All of that is, of course, secondary to the Siberia 840's sound qualities which are nothing less than sublime. 

With VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift making their way into PC gamers' rooms, specially-designed audio headsets for virtual reality were bound to follow. The Turtle Beach 350 Stealth VR is one of the most flexible out there, featuring a generous amount of adjustability thanks to its sturdy headband which can fit over the top of VR headsets worn on even the biggest heads.

Unlike some of its competitors, SteelSeries stresses subtlety in its headset designs. The Arctis continues this trend by flaunting sound quality and comfort over gaudy appearances. When you pop an Arctis on your head, the goal is for, say, your stream audience to see a professional environment rather than a Dorito stain on your chair. The customizable lighting gives you plenty of wiggle room, too, in case the whole monochrome look isn’t your thing. 

Best gaming headset

Arguably one of the most affordable gaming headsets available today, the HyperX Cloud Stinger is designed to give players eSports quality audio at a bargain. While the red on black plastic design isn’t much to write home about, this headset’s 50mm directional drivers grace it with superb stereo sound. That goes without mentioning the noise-cancelling mic, which aims to keep background noise from hindering your game sessions.

More affordable than Sennheiser's flagship PC 373D while still packing an audible punch, the GSP 350 carries over that headset's stellar 7.1 Dolby surround sound and closed ear cup design. Brandishing a closed-back design and toting a noise-cancelling microphone that mutes breathing sounds by default, if you like the look of Sennheiser's flagship gaming headset but can't quite stomach the price, the GSP 350 is the “lite” version you’ve been holding out for.

G33 Artemis Spectrum

Logitech's flagship G933 Artemis Spectrum gaming headset can be recognized by its cup-mounted G-keys that provide handy shortcuts to performing actions in-game. And, if you're fed up of round ear-cups on headsets then you'll appreciate its large and comfortable ear-shaped ones. The multi-colored lighting strip running all the way down the ear-shaped cup is merely icing on the cake.

Corsair Void RGB

Capable of exuding first-pumping bass that’s powerful without muddying the mix, the Corsair Void RGB is a near-perfect blend of style and function, letting you configure its lighting colors using Corsair's intuitive software and even make it dance in tandem with the company's K65 or K70 mechanical keyboards. Plus, the Corsair Void RGB bears a wireless range of up to 40 meters, making it a solid and affordable option for surround sound gaming.

Cloud Revolver

Here we have a no-frills headset with an upstanding build quality closely rivaling those which cost nearly double. Used by a number of eSports teams, Kingston’s HyperX Cloud Revolver’s large interchangeable memory foam cups help block out unwanted noise, and the retractable mic allows clear and distortion-free communication with teammates. With 53mm drivers designed for punchy mid-tones and pounding bass, this headset comes highly recommended.

Turtle Beach

Aimed at PC and console gamers, using Turtle Beach's Elite Pro feels like sitting down at a command station and gearing up for war. This headset emanates gamer cred right down to the subtle orange ruler-type markings on the headset's automatically adjusting headband. That's down to Turtle Beach's 50mm NanoClear drivers, which do an especially great job of bringing you into the heart of the action in shooters.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

  • Put your audio quality to the test in the best PC games