Panasonic G90 hands-on review

What is the Panasonic Lumix G90?

You might be forgiven for thinking that after the launch of the Panasonic full-frame S series, the brand would be a little bit quiet on the Micro Four Thirds front. But the latest announcement from the company suggests there’s still life in the more compact format yet.

Following on from the popular Panasonic G80, the G90 is the latest G series model to sit plumply in the middle of Panasonic’s range of interchangeable lens cameras. For now at least, the G80 will remain in the line-up as a more budget friendly option to its new sibling.

Aimed squarely at vloggers thanks to a comprehensive range of video-centric features, the G90 can be seen in many respects as a “G9 Lite”. It distils many of the best features of the top-of-the-line model, along with some from the GH5/S to make a very appealing all-round package for mid-range shooters.

To that end, the G90 features a very similar sensor and processor combination as the G9. Panasonic says that the sensor is new, but at 20 megapixels, the resolution is the same as its pricier brother, while image quality is also promised to be on par with the older model. There’s also 5-axis dual IS 2 to offer up to five stops of camera-shake reduction.

The camera sees a set of ergonomic changes to help with one-handed shooting, and other useful new features such as USB battery charging. For vloggers and video shooters, there’s unlimited 4K recording, plus a range of handy AF features, including zebra patterning, both a headphone and a microphone socket, and a fully articulating screen which can face forward for recording to camera.

Related: Best mirrorless cameras

Panasonic Lumix G90 – Price and release date

The Panasonic Lumix G90 will be available to buy from June 2019 in the following bundles:

  • £899.99 body only
  • £1,079.99 with a 12-60mm lens
  • £1,259.99 with a 14-140mm zoom lens

Panasonic Lumix G90 – Build and Handling

The G90 is very much like a ‘G9 lite’, both in terms of the internal specifications and the outward design.

It’s not quite as large as the G9, but there’s still a nicely chunky grip which has plenty of texture to make for a comfortable shooting experience. Only the front frame of the G90 is constructed of magnesium alloy, but the camera maintains dust/splash resistance – useful for shooting in the odd rain shower or two.

Panasonic Lumix G90

Designed very nicely for one-handed operation, all of the G90’s essential buttons and controls are grouped towards the right hand side of the camera. There’s some on the top plate of the camera, while others can be found on the back.

There’s a front and rear dial which can be used in combination to control various settings depending on the shooting mode you’re in – and they can also be customised to control something else if there’s a particular mode you use frequently.

Panasonic Lumix G90

A new feature for the G90 is a set of three direct access buttons for exposure compensation, white balance and ISO. A neat feature here is that all three buttons feel different – one is raised from the body, one has two dots on it, and one is sunken into the body, the idea being that you know which one you’re pressing without even having to look down (which is also useful for shooting in low light).

A fully articulating touch-sensitive screen can be used to set the AF point and navigate through menus. As is common with Panasonic cameras, you can continue to use the screen to set AF point even when shooting through the viewfinder. That’s particularly useful here where, unlike the G9, there is no joystick to help guide your AF points to the appropriate place.

Panasonic Lumix G90

The viewfinder is a 2360k-dot OLED device which is large and bright enough to give you a good view of the scene – it’s not as high resolution as the G9’s 3680k-dot viewfinder, but in isolation it performs well enough. I’ll be keen to see how comfortable an experience using the G90’s viewfinder is when full-production samples are available.

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Panasonic Lumix G90 – Video Features

The G90 goes heavy on the video features, making it the ideal model for vloggers and videographers who have an equal interest in movie-making and stills. There have been some notable upgrades when compared to the G80, and there are even some advances over the G9.

One such advance is the ability to record 4K for an unlimited time (or as long as your memory card has space). On the other models, recording is limited to 29 minutes and 59 seconds. As standard, the G90 has the V-LogL Photo Style which is designed to give up to 12 stops of dynamic range within your video – this is something we’ve seen before on the Panasonic GH5/S.

Panasonic Lumix G90

Other important video features include Full HD slow-motion recording up to 120fps, and the addition of a headphone socket as well as a microphone socket. It’s also possible to output live video via HDMI. Some other specifications, such as the ability to charge via USB (and continue recording) and the articulating, forward-facing screen are also likely to be appealing to vloggers.

Related: Best vlogging cameras

Panasonic Lumix G90 – Performance

So far we’ve only had a limited time with the G90, and we weren’t allowed to take any images away for deeper evaluation, but early indications are promising. With image quality rated as the same as the existing G9, we can expect the G90 to put in a good performance in a range of different situations.

Autofocusing seemed quick and rapid in the limited conditions we’ve been able to use it in – it uses DFD (depth from defocus) technology with promised speeds of 0.07seconds. Panasonic promises that it is accurate in low light and low contrast situations – I’ll be keen to see how well that stacks up when a full production model becomes available.

Panasonic Lumix G90

Although this is in many ways a “baby G9”, high speed shooting doesn’t quite match up to the more expensive camera. Here we’ve got a 9fps capability (AF-S), which reduces to 6fps if you want to maintain focus in between shots. That compares with 20fps on the G9, so it’s likely to be less appealing to wildlife and sports photographers.

What is available, as we see on all Lumix cameras, is 4K Photo. This allows you to extract 8-megapixel stills from short 4K video clips shot at 30fps. Again, it’s not quite what the G9 can muster, which can record at 60fps, but it’s still very useful for capturing fast-moving subjects.

Battery life is rated at 290 shots when used in the standard mode, but you can push that to a much more impressive 1000 shots when using Power Save LVF mode to automatically put the camera to sleep when not in use. This is something I’ll be keen to evaluate in further depth at a later stage, to see if it really can deliver such a lengthy life.

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