Panasonic G9 and 10-25mm Reviews!

I can’t believe I’ve never done a review on my Panasonic G9 camera. A whole 3 years has gone by since I bought my first one!

And then there’s the Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 lens. One year with it. Maybe the best lens I’ve ever owned. Certainly one of the best I’ve ever used. And to be honest, it wasn’t love at first site. I can’t tell you why. But eventually, it would become the lens that rarely comes off my camera.

The Panasonic G9

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The first day with my new G9 mounted with the amazing Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens I've used for a good 3 years when I was using it with my Panasonic GX8. For me, pretty much the perfect match.

I mean, the Panasonic G9 camera may be the most perfect camera I have ever owned or ever wanted to own. Why?

The Pros

• Ergonomics. Your typical reviewer would start quoting specs here. Not me. I just love using the camera. Holding it. The menu system. How everything is laid out. Talk to an auto enthusiast. Most of the time, it’s simply how the car makes them feel. Not specs.

• Specs. Okay, now we talk about specs. When you look the quality of the image below, can you tell me which was done with a Full Frame(FF) camera and which with the G9? To be fair though, the FF was 10 years old (my Canon 5D MKII) with the comparison. But that Canon is a legend. A whole lot of commercial and fashion was done with that camera.

• Lens selection. When I bought my GX8, Olympus didn’t even have prime lenses in the focal ranges I needed. Panasonic did. Plus, Panasonic has Leica designed, Panasonic manufactured lenses. Olympus is great. But I preferred the Leica look. Colors punch more. I like the bokeh a bit more too. It’s just a preference.

• Price. You can regularly get a G9 for $1199 and often on sale for $999. The performance you get for that price is untouchable from anything else.

The Cons

• Color bit depth. Sort of a big deal and not. When I look at my pics, I’m super happy with the quality of colors. But as good as it is, I can see the difference from good cameras with bigger sensors. Though most people can’t tell the difference. Sort of like wine connoisseurs. They can tell the difference between a ’42 and ’43 merlot. That’s me with color detail. But again, most people can’t tell. So the G9 is completely fine for most work.

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It's hard to explain. I just love these images. I think it's best to ask: can you tell what camera took these pictures? Can you tell what type of camera? The only thing I can tell is that it wasn't photographed with a medium format camera. That camera offering the highest level of quality and a certain 'look'. That probably less than 1% of people can tell.

In other words, it's a totally fine image that can go into any magazine, advertisement or any other commercial need. Completely.

• Low light performance. For event work, this is a tough one. Colors just start to fall apart greatly once you go above a certain ISO. The better the lens, the more you can squeeze out of the sensor. I’ve gotten very decent images from my inferior 12-60mm f/3.5 lens at ISO 1600. I’ve never shot the Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 above ISO 800. Since I dip into f/1.7. But since the 12-60 did ‘okay’ at ISO 1600, The 10-25 should do the same at ISO 3200 or maybe higher. Maybe. But Full Frame cameras can easily do 6400, 12800 and beyond. But there are trade-offs with FF. So it’s not the end all be all.

• 3rd Party Support. This is a headache. I don’t know why companies like Profoto don’t make natively compatible equipment for Panasonic and Olympus. Yes, it takes work and resources to do it. But it’s a market. I guess m43 is not taken as seriously with them. Not a huge problem because my Flashpoint lighting system is native to m43 and it rocks. At a fraction of the cost of Profoto lighting. And I never use high speed sync (a lighting technology) on a strobe. So I’m good there too. It feels like a lack of respect for Panasonic cameras. That’s what really gets me. I’m a professional photographer. I chose Panasonic.

No camera is perfect. No matter what the marketing and fanboys say. If you enjoy using your camera, it’s the camera for you.

The Panasonic Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 Lens

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I’ve written about it here and there, but not in the blog…. It wasn’t love at first sight with this lens. I rented it specifically for a shoot in California but thought I would also do some street work while I had it. In the end, I thought it was good, but it didn’t blow me away.

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A personal shoot I did with my muse Chalyce Payne when I was visiting San Francisco. I rented the Panasonic Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 for the first time. Cool photo. And there is no way I could've gotten this shot with my 42.5mm Nocticron. There just wasn't enough space in this small section of staircase. But in terms of 'look', I wasn't blown away. But quality is top notch.

But I bought it. I thought the lens had the specifications to do some great event photography with it. The focal length and fast aperture is highly superior to the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that was my go-to lens until then. Try shooting an indoor event with no flashes at f/3.5. Yes, I was very interested in f/1.7. While an extra 2mm was appreciated, it wasn’t a huge benefit compared to 12mm.

But within 3 months, I would use the Leica 10-25mm more than I ever thought I would. Maybe more than any lens in a non-professional capacity. It was crazy! I would just use it more and more. Especially for landscape and architecture.

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Once I bought it, I thought I would take the lens out and see what it could really do. Colors and image rendering with this lens is phenomenal. I could not believe what I was seeing...

I think the big test for the lens usefulness was when I used it for a wedding party. I didn’t want to use flashes as it would’ve been distracting. So I opened up the lens and dialed up the ISO as far as I dared. And the results were fantastic…

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This might seem like a good, regular pic. However, the lighting in this room was quite dim. I wasn't using any flash equipment. I got the shot. This would've been quite impossible from my inferior though fully-loved 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that I would've used otherwise. I wouldn't been able to get the brightness without the image falling apart in detail.

I haven’t used the lens enough at events yet to truly push it and figure out how to get the most out of it. If you look at the image below, that was taken with my inferior 12-60mm f/3.5-f/5.6 lens. I can only imagine how much better this pic would’ve been with my 10-25mm…. It's a good pic. But the colors would've been more vibrant and detailed. More sharpness. But even this pic is more than good enough for any publication. I made it work. 

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For the Millionth Time...

It's not about the gear. Gear just gives you more options. If you don't spend the time to learn how the gear works and how to get the most out of it, you'd be just as fine getting less expensive gear. And that's fine. Why spend your money on something you won't be getting the performance from? In decent light, my 12-60mm lens gets fantastic images. Most people probably wouldn't tell the difference between it and my 10-25mm from images in great light. It's when you don't have great conditions where these two lens separate themselves.

I never think about how my camera gear will work in a non-professional and stylish manner. Yes, style matters. Especially with camera bags. But if you have the money and love using the gear, why not? There are much more expensive and sillier things people buy and never use. 

I'm just lucky I'm extremely happy with the results I've gotten from gear that's relatively inexpensive. And happy that I can afford it!

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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