Panasonic’s SLR-style Micro Four Thirds camera follows on from where the Lumix G80 left off, but how does it differ? Michael Topham put it to the test
Panasonic Lumix G90: Features
The G90 embraces a lot from the larger Lumix G9 – a camera I liked very much when I reviewed it in late 2017. It adopts a similar 20.3-million-pixel Four Thirds sensor that does away with an optical low-pass filter in an effort to maximise resolution. The chip provides a standard sensitivity range of ISO 200-25,600, which is the same as the G80, and an extended lower setting of ISO 100 is also available.
The sensor teams up alongside a powerful Venus Engine processor that allows it to shoot a continuous burst at up to 9fps (AFS) or 6fps with continuous autofocus (AFC). This isn’t as quick as the Lumix G9, which shoots at up to 12fps or 9fps with AFC, but is respectable for enthusiasts it’s designed for.
Those who’d like to shoot faster can take advantage of the G90’s 4K Photo modes, which allows users to extract 8-megapixel stills from 4K-movie footage captured at 30fps. Panasonic’s 6K photo modes that enable 18MP still images to be taken from 6K-movie footage at 30fps, aren’t available however.
Like the G80, the G90 employs an electromagnetically-driven shutter unit. Shutter speeds range from 60 seconds to 1/4000sec using the mechanical focal-plane shutter, or 1 second to 1/16,000sec using the electronic shutter, which isn’t as wide as the 60 seconds to 1/32,000sec range on the G9. Enable the electronic first curtain setting and the highest shutter speed the camera can be set to is 1/2000sec. The advantage of using the electronic shutter is that the camera operates silently, but there is the risk of distortion when shooting fast moving subjects due to the rolling shutter phenomenon.
To control handshake, the G90 is equipped with Panasonic’s 5-axis Dual I.S II image stabiliser that offers up to 5 stops of compensation when shooting stills or movies. The beauty is that it works with any lens, including Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses, and when an optically-stabilised lens is mounted the two systems work in harmony for maximum effect. If you intend to use any legacy lenses mounted via a mount converter, you’ll be prompted to enter the focal length of the lens when the camera is switched on.
Like the 6K photo modes, there’s no high-resolution mode on the G90 – a feature that remains exclusive to more premium models in Panasonic’s lineup such as the Lumix G9 and Lumix S1/S1R.
Again, like the G80, the G90 has a small built-in flash. It has a guide number of 6.4 at ISO 100 and pops-up out of the viewfinder housing. Users can use it in TTL or manual modes with first or second curtain sync, but it can’t be used for wireless control of external units. Behind it you’ll find a hot shoe ready to accept more powerful Micro Four Thirds flashguns such as the DMW-FL360LE (£229).
Newly added additions include a new Live View Composite mode, which is designed to allow those who shoot at night to clearly track the movement of stars against a pitch-black night sky. Each time the shutter is fired, a composite image is displayed, letting users shoot as they monitor results in real time.
As well as introducing the L.Monochrome D picture style that creates deeper blacks and richer gradation to black and white images, the new AWBw auto white balance mode carries across from the Lumix S1/S1R and is intended to create a warmer feel to portrait images.
Two other new creative functions are Auto Marking and Sequence Composition. The idea of Auto Marking is that it recognises motion or faces in a scene and sets a marker so that you can quickly skip to what the camera thinks are the best shots in a sequence. This is different to Sequence Composition, which allows you to combine up to 40 frames from a sequence together in camera to produce a creative and dynamic multi-exposure look to images.
Other features that see the G90 advance on the G80 include its ability to shoot ultra high definition 4K video at 30p/25p/24p with a bit-rate of 100Mbps. There’s support for 4:2:2 8bit output recording via micro HDMI and 4:2:0 8bit output in-camera. Switch across to Full HD definition (1920×1080) and there are a good number of slow motion settings available, including 120fps recording at 30p.
Videographers and moviemakers will also like that V-Log L is pre-installed, allowing wider dynamic range and superior colour rendering during the post-production process. Additionally, a 3.5mm microphone jack for high-quality audio recording is included, as well as a headphone socket.
The Lumix G90’s 290-shot battery life in its normal shooting mode suggests it uses its power very quickly, but the good news is there’s a new power save LVF mode that automatically puts the camera to sleep after a set period of inactivity detected by the eye sensor. This can increase the battery life dramatically to around 900 images per charge.
Elsewhere, the G90 can be charged on the go via USB, plus you get Wi-fi and low-energy Bluetooth for quick and easy sharing with mobile devices.