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Test/ First Impression First (brief) impressions of the S9

Mister Sloane

New Member
Had some hands-on time (about 60 minutes) with the S9 last week at an event at a local camera store - I liked it a lot. Thought I would post my thoughts but think it would be useful to quickly a bit about where I was coming from and why I was interested.

Because of the recent Gerald Undone video, I feel for the sake of transparency I should state that I didn’t receive anything from Panasonic for going to this. The staff at the shop did make me a cup of tea but they do this for most customers and this hasn’t influenced what I’m posting. Biscuits might have been another story; I’m not made of stone.

I’ve been using Lumix kit for a little over nine years and currently have a GX9, G9 and S5II - I also own a Ricoh GR 3 and GR 3X. Mainly shoot stills but am doing more video. Main reasons I’d be interested in a compact camera are:
  • I quite often carry two cameras as find it more convenient to swap bodies that’s lenses.
  • I do a lot of street/urban photography, which I prefer compact options.
  • Travel - it does vary what kind of kit I travel with but on a lot of trips I’m finding I travel light; earlier this year, I spent a few nights in Vienna and took the GX9 and a Ricoh, which is a set-up that works for me and the idea of a full-frame compact is getting more appealing for travel.
The event was at a Wex store in the UK, which was holding a Panasonic Touch and Try day. There was a wide range of kit to try including the S9, which I was able to play around with and try a few lenses with it. The Panasonic rep, Andre was great to chat with and very knowledgeable - unfortunately, he was yet to receive his copy of the 26mm and SmallRig grip, but we did chat about them.

As to the camera…

Looks - really like this. It’s one of those cases where I think the actual thing looks better than product shots. I had been leaning towards green as a colour; this was the only one I saw that’s confirmed my opinion. Having looked up close, I felt the design is classy and elegant in a discreet, understated kind of way.

Feel - Had heard a couple of opinions about it feeling liked a cheaper build compared to others cameras, such as the buttons feeling ‘plasticky’. Maybe that affected my perception as I went in half-anticipating that, but for me, it felt like a very light, well-made piece of kit. Richard Wong made a point that because he uses so many mid and high end cameras, the buttons felt more hollow compared to the S5II, so I guess what you’re used to is going to be a factor. The leatherette was smooth but not slippy.

Ergonomics - felt very nice to use and liked the control layout. Although I don’t think I would say no to a couple of more buttons on the back, I appreciate the clean, uncluttered design and suspect this fits the intended market best.

As I say, I wasn’t able to use the grip but liked the feel of using the camera without it - the thumb rest works very well. The largest lens that I tried was the 70-300mm and was pleasantly surprised how good that pairing was; I believe Panasonic put the heavier components towards the rear of the, which I think help make it feel so balanced and lighter than it is.

The Lumix tripod grip doesn’t work, which I had suspected but think that sort of accessory would be a natural fit.

I saw on a Facebook post is an upcoming grip was a result of a collaboration between Lumix and SmallRig; from the pictures this looked like the L-shaped one but wonder if this applies to them all. Personally, I think they have been smart partnering this way with a well-known brand.

Paired lenses - I tried the Sigma 45mm 2.8 (which I had brought with me) and that was a fantastic pairing, in size it’s very similar to the GX9 and PL 25mm, which is great for me as I can slip it into a coat pocket. The Panasonic ones there that I tried were the 18mm, 35mm, 100mm Macro and the 70-300mm - all worked very well. Obviously, three of those Panasonic ones are roughly the same size and although I really appreciate the smaller size of the Contemporary lenses, felt these are a decent pairing. Suspect there will be smaller lenses in the future, but as of now, feel there are some very good options. I do use some large lenses on small bodies, so am used to working with that.

Crop Zoom - only had a quick play, but looked very good.

Lumix Lab - had a quick look and as Android users can access this now, the most useful thing I can mention is that the speed of the connection between the camera and app looked really good.

Only brief impressions, but as I say, I liked it a lot and with various things I’ve read about who the key audience is, feel good decisions have been made.
 
I feel for the sake of transparency I should state that I didn’t receive anything from Panasonic for going to this. The staff at the shop did make me a cup of tea but they do this for most customers and this hasn’t influenced what I’m posting. Biscuits might have been another story; I’m not made of stone.
Z04 Kaputtlachen

Had some hands-on time (about 60 minutes) with the S9 last week at an event at a local camera store - I liked it a lot. Thought I would post my thoughts but think it would be useful to quickly a bit about where I was coming from and why I was interested.

Thank you very much for these first impressions!
 
Yes, thanks for posting your experience. I am keen about the S9 as a replacement for my GX85 so this has been really helpful information.
 
Yes, thanks for posting your experience. I am keen about the S9 as a replacement for my GX85 so this has been really helpful information.

Maybe it is worth it to wait for a replacement a little bit. The Lumix GH7 was announced tonight and strangely all YouTube reviewers had a smile in the face when they said that it would be lovely to have a new smaller MFT body in the MFT product line... look here.
 
Maybe it is worth it to wait for a replacement a little bit. The Lumix GH7 was announced tonight and strangely all YouTube reviewers had a smile in the face when they said that it would be lovely to have a new smaller MFT body in the MFT product line... look here.
Thanks Dirk! I noticed the last sentence in @Richard Wong 's GH7 review hinted at that. I was planning to wait a bit anyway regarding the S9 as the launch price is too high for me given that this would be a less-used "casual" camera, so maybe by the time this happens there will be a G100 Mark 2 or a GX9 Mark II to consider.

It's great to see Panasonic launching so much new gear in the past 18 months.
 
Thanks Dirk! I noticed the last sentence in @Richard Wong 's GH7 review hinted at that.

It was not only him. In all reviews I linked above, there was a strange smile-hint regarding this.

This is no guarantee of course, but it is food for our hope - or oil in our fire depending on your perspective :)

This would be so good that it sounds too good to be true. 3 MFT cameras, G9ii, GH7 and GX10 and all use the same excellent 25MP sensor and the same AF system. I would be in heaven.Z04 Herz

Let's hope that they put some artificial limitations regarding video into the GX10, to be able to offer it significantly cheaper than the G9ii.

If the GX10 would be offered below 1.000€ list price this would give the MFT system tons of new customers (assuming the EVF would be better than the one of the GX9).
 
Thanks for the write up of your experience. I’m sure it’s a nice haptic experience, but as I’ve said before there are two show stoppers for me - no EVF and single dial only. I know both would ruin the ergonomics and usability for me.

No amount of cuteness or perceived build quality can make up for that.
 
Because of the recent Gerald Undone video, I feel for the sake of transparency I should state that I didn’t receive anything from Panasonic for going to this. The staff at the shop did make me a cup of tea but they do this for most customers and this hasn’t influenced what I’m posting. Biscuits might have been another story; I’m not made of stone.
Chocolate biscuits are my Kryptonite. Feed me Chocolate biscuits, and I'm anyones.
 
Yes, thanks for posting your experience. I am keen about the S9 as a replacement for my GX85 so this has been really helpful information.

A pleasure! Although I’m not looking to replace my GX9, I have mulled it over as I think it’s good take stock of my gear now and think about what I actually need. Also, as they are both quite similar in size and shape, and my usage is likely to be similar (e.g. street photography) I did wonder whether there could be too much overlap to justify having both.

Although for me, it could make a decent replacement, each offers things the other doesn’t - for example, a tilt screen is something I usually find more useful than an articulated one, but for travel, it’s the other way round. I have a lot of MFT lenses that I like a lot and also think that the GX9 and S9 combined would make a great travel combo.

As people said a new, compact MFT may be on the cards (which I would love) and I’m a great believer in getting kit when it’s actually needed, and it sounds that you’re well placed to wait a while.

I did take a pic of the S9 and the GX9 together with a Sigma 45mm and PL 25mm. Due to the angle I took it from (I’ve rotated the image) the S9 appears a fractionally larger than it is and the 25mm has a filter on it, so it’s not a perfect comparison but does give a good idea. I should have done a couple more comparison shots with other lenses, really!
 

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A pleasure! Although I’m not looking to replace my GX9, I have mulled it over as I think it’s good take stock of my gear now and think about what I actually need. Also, as they are both quite similar in size and shape, and my usage is likely to be similar (e.g. street photography) I did wonder whether there could be too much overlap to justify having both.

Although for me, it could make a decent replacement, each offers things the other doesn’t - for example, a tilt screen is something I usually find more useful than an articulated one, but for travel, it’s the other way round. I have a lot of MFT lenses that I like a lot and also think that the GX9 and S9 combined would make a great travel combo.

As people said a new, compact MFT may be on the cards (which I would love) and I’m a great believer in getting kit when it’s actually needed, and it sounds that you’re well placed to wait a while.

I did take a pic of the S9 and the GX9 together with a Sigma 45mm and PL 25mm. Due to the angle I took it from (I’ve rotated the image) the S9 appears a fractionally larger than it is and the 25mm has a filter on it, so it’s not a perfect comparison but does give a good idea. I should have done a couple more comparison shots with other lenses, really!

Thanks for the comparison photo! I'd like to handle the S9 before I decide to get one or not. They are scheduled to be in stores later this week but I'm in no hurry. Although with the EOFY sales on this month here, I did just order a Sigma 24mm f3.5 at a reasonable price, another small contemporary that would go well with an S9. :D
 
I did take a pic of the S9 and the GX9 together with a Sigma 45mm and PL 25mm. Due to the angle I took it from (I’ve rotated the image) the S9 appears a fractionally larger than it is and the 25mm has a filter on it, so it’s not a perfect comparison but does give a good idea. I should have done a couple more comparison shots with other lenses, really!
Looking at that photo comparison, it's a real shame they couldn't have fitted an EVF like that lovely folding one on the GX7/8//90/95 etc. I'd have been very tempted if so.
 
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