Compact AND POWERFUL: Panasonic Lumix G90
The Panasonic Lumix G90 is the first Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic since the introduction of the full-frame S system. The Lumix G90 is clear proof that Panasonic is not going to stop using the Micro Four Thirds system. The Lumix G90 also shows the power of the system. The camera is compact and offers many options. In addition, this camera is very affordable. The Lumix G90 has the 20-megapixel sensor that we know from the GH5 and G9. The sensor has 25% more pixels than its predecessor, the G80, and it has no anti-alias filter. This allows you to get the maximum sharpness in your shots. The Lumix G90 has a new Venus Engine processor and the latest version of Panasonic’s image stabilization: Dual IS 2. The camera has also borrowed a number of video functions from the GH5. One of those is the ability to film in V-log. Combine this with the turning and tilting 3-inch screen, a 3.5 mm microphone input that is very conveniently placed, a headphone jack, good image stabilization and the options to film in different speeds in both 4K and 1080p, and it may be clear that the G90 is equally suited to photography and to filming and vlogging. Sharing images is also very easy, thanks to Bluetooth 4.2 and 2.4 GHz Wifi. A Low Energy Bluetooth connection can even ensure that the camera stays connected without consuming much energy.
Panasonic Lumix G90 versus Panasonic Lumix G80/G85
The Panasonic LUMIX G90 closely resembles its predecessor, the LUMIX G80/G85. But it offers much more. The body has become a fraction larger and better sealed against weather and wind. Panasonic has released new, weather-resistant versions of several popular lenses, including the LUMIX 14-140 mm f/3.5-5.6 and the LUMIX 45-200 mm f/4-5.6, and G90 combines perfectly with those. For photographers, the resolution has been increased from 16 to 20 megapixels. For videographers, there is the option of unlimited filming, which is ideal for concert recordings and the like. The G90 also has an extra-flat profile and a headphone jack so that you can listen to recorded audio. But not everything is better. The buffer, for example, has not grown, but the file sizes have. As a result, the buffer fills up sooner with fast serial recordings. For video, the G90 has unfortunately gotten a larger crop, which means that you will miss out on the wide-angle side. And, because there is a newer model, the LUMIX G80/G85 has become a lot cheaper. We find the extra quality and options worth the extra price, but that always remains a personal consideration. The LUMIX G80/G85 remains a great option for those who pay close attention to their budget.
Panasonic Lumix G90 versus Canon EOS M50
The Panasonic LUMIX G90 has a smaller sensor than the Canon EOS M50 and slightly fewer pixels. On the other hand, the G90 has no anti-alias filter and therefore gets the maximum resolution from the smaller sensor. The EOS M50 does have such a filter, so you have less chance of moiré, but you also lose some sharpness. Another strength of the LUMIX G90 is the Dual IS image stabilization. Thanks to this system, all lenses are stabilized, including older lenses that you use via an adapter or fixed focal points that have no stabilization in the lens. With Canon, many zoom lenses are stabilized, but most fixed focal lengths are not. In terms of viewfinder, the two are fairly similar, and the screen of both cameras can be turned as well as tilted. The screen of the G90 has a slightly higher resolution. Remarkably, the EOS M50 is a lot smaller and lighter than the LUMIX G90, despite the larger viewfinder. On the other hand, the EOS M50 is not well sealed against moisture and dust, cannot be charged via USB and has no headphone jack. The EOS M50 therefore has fewer options, but also a lower price.
Panasonic Lumix G90: BUILD QUALITY, DESIGN AND ERGONOMICS
Panasonic claims that all seams and buttons of the G90 have gaskets and are sealed extra well. We now have a lot of experience with Panasonic models under the most varied weather conditions, and we know that Panasonic takes weather resistance very seriously. If the brand makes such a claim, then our expectations are high. The GH5 and G9, but also cheaper models such as the GX8, have an excellent reputation in this area. Panasonic has also released new versions of many lenses in recent years. That was not only to make them usable with Dual IS 2, but also to make them resistant to dust and rain. The unique thing about this is that Panasonic has done this for a large number of compact and affordable lenses such as 45-200 mm f/4-5.6.
In terms of construction, the G90 has many similarities with the G80. The viewfinder house and the layout of the buttons is almost the same. The grip is slightly larger on the G90, and it leans a bit more toward the grip of the G9. The bigger grip not only ensures a better hand position but has also provided some extra space on the top cover, so that the G90 now has three separate buttons for white balance, sensitivity and exposure correction. The viewfinder is the same as on the G85, with 2.36 megapixels and a 0.74x magnification. It’s a great viewfinder, even though it doesn’t have the high resolution of the GH5 and G9. The screen has picked up some extra pixels, but that won’t result in major differences in practice. An important addition for videographers is that you can connect headphones to the G90. The microphone connection has therefore been moved upwards and is now under a separate cover. It’s also a 3.5 mm input and no longer the small 2.5 mm plug for which you almost always needed an adapter cable. The placement of the microphone connection means that you will now be less likely to get in the way of the screen with the microphone cable if, for example, you want to blog. The G90 has a single SD card slot. This is one of those areas in which the G90 distinguishes itself from the GH5 and G9, both of which have two.
SCREEN AND VIEWFINDER OF THe Panasonic Lumix G90
The Panasonic LUMIX G90 has a viewfinder with a resolution of 2.36 megapixels. That is no longer the highest value, but it is still a very good viewfinder that produces a nice, sharp image. Fortunately, the viewfinder is not sequential, like the viewfinder on the GX9. That one builds up the different colors one after the other, so that when you move the camera you can sometimes get a sort of rainbow-like effect. This is not the case with the LUMIX G90. Another point where the G90 distinguishes itself positively from the GX9 is the size of the viewfinder. With the LUMIX G90, you actually don’t notice that you’re working with a sensor that is not APS-C or full frame. The screen can be turned and tilted, which is great for more than just filming. It has a resolution of 1.24 megapixels and that’s sufficient. The screen has a very good touch interface, as we are used to with all Panasonic system cameras.
The image quality of the Panasonic LUMIX G90 is comparable to the top models, the LUMIX GH5 and the LUMIX G90. That means you get sharp, detailed images. Panasonic has done a lot of work on the colors in the jpeg shots in recent years, and you can see that in this Panasonic LUMIX G90. The files that come directly from the camera are beautiful in color and contrast. Combine this camera with one of the excellent Panasonic zoom lenses or fixed focal lengths and you get shots that, at least at the lower ISO values, are just as good as shots made with APS-C cameras.
The dynamic range of the sensor of the Panasonic LUMIX G90 is good. With the current state of the art, it is absolutely no longer the case that bigger pixels automatically ensure a higher dynamic range, or vice versa: that you have a much lower dynamic range with smaller sensors. The modern Micro Four Thirds sensors are in no way inferior to most APS-C sensors and are even comparable to a large number of current full-format sensors. As soon as you go to the higher ISO values, the quality drops off a bit, but up to ISO 3200, you can certainly still work great with the Panasonic LUMIX G90.
Noise is still something where sensor size and pixel size play a role. In our opinion, the Micro Four Thirds sensor still performs well up to ISO 3200. With a little extra, careful post-processing, files at that sensitivity can still be printed in a reasonable format. Above that, the quality drops off. If you’re going to show the shots mainly on a screen and you convert the files back to the lower resolution of a monitor, then you can still go a bit higher if you really have to. However, the excellent image stabilization of the Panasonic LUMIX G90 ensures that this isn’t often necessary.
The Panasonic LUMIX G90 can film in both 4K and Full HD. The quality of the 4K files in particular looks very good. A minus point is that the LUMIX G90 has a visible crop factor. The LUMIX G90 has more pixels on the sensor than its predecessor, so the camera uses a smaller part of the sensor to capture the 4K image. So, pixel binning or line skipping has not been chosen. Another downside is that you can film up to 30 frames per second in 4K and therefore can’t create slow motion. It is possible, though, in Full HD. Those who want that in 4K will have to look at one of the larger Micro Four Thirds models. What is possible is filming with a log profile, and that’s quite unique for a camera in this price range. This allows you to get the maximum dynamic range out of the sensor, if you apply the correct post-processing. Perhaps even more practical is the headphone jack on the LUMIX G90. This allows you to listen to the sound you are recording and check for distortion.
The Panasonic LUMIX G90, like all other Panasonic cameras, has contrast detection autofocus that uses Panasonics DFD technology. Contrast detection is very accurate, but without DFD, it’s not as fast as phase detection because the camera doesn’t know which direction focus and how much. Thanks to the DFD system, which only works with Panasonic lenses, the camera knows that and the autofocus works both quickly and precisely. In S-AF, the Panasonic cameras and lenses are among the fastest on the market. In continuous autofocus, the camera continues to search for the correct focus. In many cases, it finds it at the right time, and most of the shots that you make are sharp. Only in the viewfinder do you see the image becoming slightly out of focus and sharp again, and that’s not always handy. You also see this searching in the image when you film. C-AF is therefore not really suitable for video.
V-log AND Creatieve opties
The Panasonic Lumix G90 is the first non-GH camera on which you can film in V-log. In that respect, the G90 is a more of a hybrid camera than the Lumix G9. The latter is therefore more like a GH5 for photographers. The G90 is a model on which film and photography are beautifully balanced. Furthermore, the G90 offers a large number of options that you can get creative with as a photographer. Those are:
- Post Focus, Focus Stacking and Bracketing-modes
- Veelzijdige Photo Styles, including dynamic black-and-white images
- Live View Composite Recording
We know the latter function from Olympus’s Micro Four Thirds cameras. It’s nice to see that you can now also have this as a Panasonic user. Live View Composite Recording is useful for shooting fireworks or stars. This function relaxes the shutter at predetermined intervals and combines very bright parts in one shot while keeping the background the same. The image is also built up live at the same time so that you can stop recording when the desired effect is achieved..
One of the strengths of the Micro Four Thirds system, for both Olympus and Panasonic, is the really excellent image stabilization. The image stabilization built into the body works over five axes and stabilizes every lens that you put on it, no matter how old. If you put a Panasonic lens on it that also has image stabilization, the two systems work together for an even better effect, and you can get more than five stops of correction. This allows you to work with low ISO values longer so that you can get higher image quality from the camera. Even in low light.
Panasonic Lumix G90 SAMPLE IMAGES
Curious about the performance of the Panasonic Lumix G90 in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.
ConclusiON: REVIEW Panasonic Lumix G90
Panasonic has recently tidied up at the bottom of the range. The GM models have disappeared, and the GX series has actually been reduced to 1 current model with the GX9. With the disappearance of the GX-8, this Lumix G90 (and its predecessor, the still available G80/G85) is actually the first choice for anyone looking for a Micro Four Thirds camera with extensive control options, a turning and tilting screen and a really nice, non-sequential viewfinder. It’s a shame that you can no longer get all these options in a slightly more compact body, but that does not detract from the qualities of the Lumix G90. Because it’s simply a very good camera. Fortunately, it’s at least a lot smaller and lighter than the quite hefty top models Lumix G9 and Lumix GH5, and that’s good news for anyone considering Micro Four Thirds because of the lower weight and the smaller dimensions. And there will be quite a few. The image quality is excellent, and the options for a camera in this price range are very extensive. A strong point for the Lumix G90 is that actually all Panasonic lenses score at least “good” in our tests. This allows you to get the maximum image quality from the camera within every budget. For a number of competing APS-C cameras, that is certainly not the case, and it can only be managed if you go for the more expensive zoom lenses or fixed focal lengths.