One week into the G9. A rolling review.

saladin

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
2,371
Location
Melbourne
Real Name
jason
Update Time.


P1000745edit.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)




Maintaining Focus.


The title of this little update seems particularly apt on several fronts. Life keeps getting in the way of my getting to grips with the new G9. To the point where the usage has been so haphazard and random that its been tough to zero in on a few key area's that I know people are keen to get some feedback on. In fact, key area's that I want to learn about remain frustratingly unresolved or, at best, incomplete.


Be that as it may, such usage has had one massive benefit. For such a complicated and feature-filled camera, it is fundamentally intuitive to use in key aspects of photographing that which one wishes to photograph. Generally. Which is not to say - and it seems paradoxical - that this is an easy camera to use. Just pick it up, point, and shoot. Oh no. She asks more of you than that. If she's a professional camera - and she most certainly is imo - then she expects you to have a professional outlook too. I'm finding all the tools are in there, but we - the users - need to make the investment in ourselves to learn how to use them. In many ways, its actually quite Pentaxian in outlook, which is perhaps why I'm relatively comfortable with the whole notion. Anyway, I'll save such things for when i have time, in a more "living with the G9" type post down the track. But you'll probably see it emerging in various bits and pieces as we go along.


P1000755edit.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Right. Let me get some focus back - already i'm wandering offtopic a bit - and focus on, err, focus. I've been hesitant to post too much on this important aspect of the G9 because in many area's i'm still finding my way. Conclusions are incomplete, and some of the work done involves kids sport that i have pondered over the suitability of re pic samples. But if i let it go any longer, i risk forgetting some things i feel may be useful to others, and i can always expand on - or revise - such opinions so far reached.


So I wont bore everyone with a rundown of the various modes and focusing settings. You can find them everywhere online. Instead, I'll just describe a few instances i've had in use.



Single point AF, as per usual for Pana, is rapid. In good light, it can feel instantaneous. Its noticeably quicker than my Gx8. Quicker than my G85? Ahh, here it becomes less obvious. I think it is quicker, yes, but its now so subjective as to whether crazy fast is quicker than insanely fast. I think it varies more from shot to shot and exactly where in the frame you place the AF point, whether you wander a bit with framing etc.


But its not infallible and imo expecting it to be so is unrealistic. I havent shot an Em1ii (I'd love to if any fellow MFT users in Melbourne wanted to take a photo walk together) , nor have I shot the almost-mythical D500, but i still suspect that any and every AF system is prone to misses - and perhaps most crucially user error. Here is a nondescript photo i took with the 12-60PL whilst on a photowalk.

P1000696.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)






At close to (but not under) minimum focus distance and F/8, central point AF hunted several times in fairly tough shadow and instead locked on the background (or iirc on one occasion it didnt lock at all). So i called up AF Point Scope that I have set to the frontplate FN button (as mentioned in the OP) and the AF snapped onto the steel mesh without issue. I'm not really clear on exactly what caused the hunting as yet. Low light, lack of contrast or I even wondered if the actual array is larger than the smallest box. Then again, perhaps its just user error. I'll be doing some specific tests at some stage to check this out later. Either way, I have found the Point Scope function very handy at times in my use so far. It can find smallish targets amidst cluttered scenes quickly even if the smallest AF box cannot.


Of course, Panasonic camera's also have a pinpoint focus for even finer AF placement. As noted in the opening post of this review, i discovered that the AF joystick can be used to position the AF crosshairs even more precisely within the expanded window. Very nifty indeed. I use Pinpoint AF with the PIP setting ( a magnified zone within the overall evf view) but you can also set it up for the PIP inlay to effectively become the whole screen if you prefer. Personally, the way i like to work is to see the zoomed view but keep a perspective of the entire frame so PIP it is, for me.


The pinpoint focus seems faster (to me, i have no empirical way to measure this) than my previous Panasonic camera's. There is an apparent delay as the magnify inlay comes up, but the AF locks on rapidly. Exactly how rapidly was brought home to me when I inadvertently left the camera in PIP mode whilst walking about. With camera at my side, i noticed at the last moment an old car coming up the hill, threw the camera to my eye and silently cursed when i realised the PIP window had appeared. I had little hope that I'd nailed the focus given the car was doing somewhere around 50km/hr and I barely had time to align the AF crosshairs. But examination on the computer later revealed a very sharp photo with focus apparently smack bang on the windscreen. I'd simply hit backbutton focus and shutter more or less simultaneously.


P1000599 copy.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
The focus accuracy is somewhat rendered unimportant by the short focal length and resulting deep depth of field, but the speed of acquiring focus and allowing the shutter actuation was real. Not that i'm advocating Pinpoint for general use in streetphotography of course, more so just mentioning that its not only accurate but also pretty speedy. And along with Point Scope, it offers a genuinely flexible way around virtually any AF scenario I’ve come across so far.


Something that was really rammed home by the Bees. Well, with the Bees. Because we are currently moving house. Temporarily. For a while. And naturally we set up the old birdbath in the new garden. Except that Birds didn’t flock to it. Bees did. It was like watching a heard of cows at a dam edge, my very own apiculture livestock sheltering in the shade and taking on water. For an hour or more, in dwindling light, they came and went in shifts. Obviously, this called for the new camera to be put into action. Whats that? A Bee G? Ahh, sorry…. forget it…….


I had the 40-150pro at hand. I also had the teleconverter. Thusly, I set about photographing my little striped heard at 210mm in fading light at minimum focus distance. With the aid of a tripod. Here the sheer number of focusing options afforded by the G9 was supreme. Standard centre point generally locked on without an issue. The joystick was a , err, joy, to use. But even at F/8 I found that the depth of field was often inadequate. Here is a pic of a Bee.

P1031161.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


The AF has grabbed it without issue. But with such a small target, you cant be sure exactly where it will grab. Here, the sharpest focus is on the closest wingtip, the body is still reasonably sharp, the head less so. So I called upon Point Scope but found that it wasn’t really enough of a frame expansion – its more suited to finding a distinct target within a busy scene than a micro placement. The AF zone was still bigger than the Bee head, for instance. Not so with Pinpoint! A flick of the front 2-position switch, up come the crosshairs, joystick manouvering and bang! Right between the eyes....if they had any.

P1031173C.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



Sir wants surgical precision on his Bee? Is Sir impressed? Hell, yes! Sir is very very impressed. Although he wasn’t sure exactly how impressed until looking at the computer screen later, the sheer usability was evident immediately.


And this advantage in field use increased as the light grew less. Not that light actually grows. And even if it did, it couldn’t grow less anyway. A stupid saying by me. What wasn’t stupid though, was the flexibility of pinpoint on the front switch, PointScope on the front plate and the manual focus clutch on the lens. Reflections off the water, shadows on the bees and diminishing sunlight splotches on a background that had little visual separation from a target effectively perched on a ‘horizon’, added to the user pushing the lens to the very limit of its minimum focus distance, resulted in some dire circumstances for the focusing system. And yet, by applying everything the camera had at its disposal, I was able to recover missed focus when needed, maintain a very tight field of view and generally meet the challenges with some pleasing results (if I do say so myself!).



P1000681 copy.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


This, then, is a pointer to my earlier thoughts that this is indeed a very professional camera. Not because it can get it done for you in full auto mode with virtually no effort. No, instead the G9 provides you the tools and options but you still need to drive it and make it work for you. The Great Bee incident showed me the truth of this. If you can find an infallible camera, get it. Otherwise, be prepared to experiment and adapt.


To be clear, this was pushing S-AF to its maximum. In everyday use, good light, travel shots etc, then the G9 will lock onto what ever you want with disdain and probably quicker than we can hit the shutter. I will keep testing it though, and report back whatever boundaries I can find.

P1031122 copy copy.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



So much, then, for SAF. What about C-AF? We’ll, ive shot a couple of basketball games. And so far, I find it very promising. I have only shot it in the default C-AF, with mech shutter. The custom C-AF settings (mode 1, 2,3,4) I haven’t dabbled with yet.


I’ll start by saying that basketball gyms are horrible places. Photographically at least. Probably in other ways too. They are dim, dingy and often the white balance is atrocious with differing area’s possessing differing light. I’ll deal with the G9’s WB elsewhere. Suffice to say, ISO’s were cranked up and my first lens choice – the 40-150 Pro – proved a handful at its slowish (for these venues!) 2.8. So I also tried the 30/1.4, usually at F/2, and was pleasantly surprised at how much the IQ improved when able to shoot at Iso1000 or better.


Be that as it may, initial results were not great. The first shot in a burst usually looked good, but subsequent shots seemed to lose focus and never regain it. I’ve shot a fair bit of Australian Footy and I can usually keep an AF array on a player, so what in the world was going on here? Surely Panasonic didn’t release the G9 with utterly incompetent tracking? Well, something was incompetent. But not the G9. Mea Culpa! A smacking of forehead with palm. Various (almost) inaudible obscenities. For yes, it must be pointed out and admitted with great embarrassment, that changing the drive mode to SH1 does not in itself put the camera into C-AF ! Truly, there’s nothing more inept about a camera than its user!


P1031089.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Interestingly, once I turned the switch to continuous AF, the G9 did a much better job of continuous AF……. Intriguing, isn’t it? Sheesh.

P1000875Edit.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)




In all seriousness, I have found that with single point af, the tracking worked well. Junior players are of course far slower than senior professionals, but I certainly don’t currently share the DpReview view that you’re better off in multi zone and hope the camera picks the right priority. The G9 focused well with the 30/1.4 and I have sequences of shots in focus.


P1031099.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



This is all in its infancy for me, so I have no firm conclusions just yet. I’m also not of the belief (D500 reports notwithstanding) that tracking AF is the God of action photography. Imo, Sports photography is, to be frank, all about practice and knowing the game. I’ve shot a lot of it with snails-pace Pentax AF. In S-AF mode usually. With very good results when I do my bit. But I intend to put a fair bit of time into the G9 and its C-AF. Simply to see how good it can be. I particularly want to try it at AFL footy, which i am very familiar with. Preferably with the 100-400 if I can rent/borrow one. So far though, I have no complaints with CAF. Well, actually, one. My daughters team wears green. And the AF lock flashes green. Half the time I cannot see the damn AF point to know if I’m keeping it where I want it! Especially when using the two-position joystick characteristic I mentioned in post one. I need to delve into the menus and see if the focus confirmation can be changed, or else talk the daughters team into a new uniform! I won’t hold my breath on either……

P1031165.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Hmm. What else can I add right now? Oh yeah. The “Art Palette” or whatever they call it on the mode dial. Totally, utterly opaque to me. I don’t get it at all. Why would I want a creative function that actually disables all the direct controls such as shutter speed and aperture!? Its set up like a weird Program mode. Sure, you CAN change those functions, but only by going into d-pad pressing territory. Why? I cannot see the point of how it operates. I’d rather just set a standard filter via the menu. Ok, yes, I probably SHOULD invest the time, maybe it makes sense once you’ve got your head around it. Heck, maybe it even produces really really cool results and I should trust Pana to put on something useful. But right now, right here, with so many other parts of the camera to learn how to use and master, I’m just not interested.


P1031042 copy copy.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



Ahhh, now, Hi Res. Lets go back to the Bee’s for a moment. So I figured I should have a crack at the Hi Res whilst I had the tripod out and ran a few trial shots at 40mp settings. Remembering that any movement will likely ruin a Hi Res outcome, I was curious to see how this played out. Crops below:


P1031145CE.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



P1031146CE.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



And indeed, as expected, melding eight shots does indeed expose even the smallest of movements. The expanding of the abdomens as they drank, the almost infinitesimally tiny rustlings of the wings in the wind, both show up in the Hi Res shot whereas the standard jpeg saved from the same shot (you can opt whether to save a single shot from the eight) retains more clarity, particularly in the wings. Both shots, of course, suffer from insufficient depth of field, but the extra cropping available from the 40mp Hi Res exacerbates this even more. On the flip side, there is clearly more detail in the stonework, and even in the near side legs, that presumably were sheltered somewhat from the breeze. I also have the impression that the Hi Res output doesn’t have as much contrast added in jpeg processing as the standard jpeg (shot in “Vivid”, fwiw ). Much more to be done and learnt here.


P1031123 copy copy.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



A couple of little incidental observations:

- the mech shutter is lovely. I've seen that some aren't big fans but I really like it. Just enough volume and tone to give it an old school feel but solidly damped to suit the premium feel of the camera. It took about an hour to get used to the "sensitive" shutter release. Not an issue at all.
- The dual-position function switch is assignable in all the custom positions, which is handy.
- The camera will happily run with a battery only in the optional grip. You don't have to have one in the body. It will also charge off the car USB. The USB charging ability of this camera in general is fantastically useful. Fwiw, One hour of driving lifted it from 1 charge bar to 3 bars. I can see this being massively helpful to me on a motorcycle tour.
- after hitting ISO button, you can adjust the upper limit of auto ISO with the front dial. No need to go into menu's if you're wishing to modify the AutoIso on the fly.

And so that’s it for now. Stay tuned for further additions when/if life stops intruding on , well, other bits of life.


Thanks for looking.


P1031021P2 copy copy2.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Last edited:

Ziggy

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Sep 21, 2016
Messages
837
Location
Melbourne, Australia
There is Tracking AF and AFC (in which position prediction is attempted when Focus/Release priority is set to Balanced).
Which were you using?
 

saladin

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
2,371
Location
Melbourne
Real Name
jason
Ive only used the factory-set AFC, Zig. Turn the focus mode lever, start shooting.
 

speedy

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
2,696
Ive only used the factory-set AFC, Zig. Turn the focus mode lever, start shooting.

Same. Only discovered this a week or so ago -you can resize the custom central diamond AF pattern, as well as move it all around the viewfinder/screen. Right down to a 5 box cross. Brilliant.
 

BilboBaggins

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Aug 13, 2016
Messages
36
Real Name
Andy
Yea, same here. That's why I said "a strike against" rather than that I would not buy it.

In trying to come up with other things like that, I can only say that, why, oh why, do they put the viewfinder in the middle, when they could put it anywhere? My nose is getting crushed, and my rear screen is full of nose-prints! Sony seems to have the idea here, with their EVF on the left side of the camera.
As does the Pen-F..
 

Latest threads

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom