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: Build and handling
The G90 has the same footprint as the G80 and is smaller than the Lumix G9. It doesn’t have the same rugged build quality as its senior cousin, nor does it feel as muscular, but it does feature weather seals in its construction to keep moisture and dust at bay.
The SLR-style design provides a deep grip to wrap your hand around and it’s sculpted in such a way that it feels comfortable to hold in one hand when your left hand is occupied. Another benefit of the deep handgrip is that it provides a satisfying, well-balanced feel when it’s used with long telephoto lenses and to give the body added strength it has a magnesium alloy front-plate.
When you tap the top plate and some areas at the rear though, you realise a large proportion of the body is made from plastic – something that extends to many of the external buttons and dials. The rubberised grip that extends all the way around the handgrip to the thumb rest at the rear has an excellent texture to it and gives you that extra reassurance when your hands are wet or you’re wearing gloves that it’s not going to slip from your grasp.
Compare the G90’s controls to the G80’s and you’ll notice a few differences. One of the minor changes is found at the front of the body where the letter ‘L’ has been removed from the lower left corner. Up on the top plate the movie-record button is shifted further back and now sits closer to the mode dial, requiring a bit more of a stretch of your index finger to reach it.
This repositioning has freed up space for new white balance, ISO and exposure compensation buttons to be added directly behind the front dial that encircles the shutter button on a downward slant. The new buttons are laid out like those on the Lumix G9, but differ in the way their height is staggered. The white balance button protrudes more than the ISO button in the middle and the exposure compensation button is virtually flush to the top plate. The idea is it lets you distinguish which is which by feel alone when your eye is raised to the viewfinder.
There isn’t space for a top plate LCD like you get on the Lumix G9 so the mode dial and on/off switch accommodate the real estate to the right of the EVF. The rear dial sits a fraction higher than the G80’s, which like the front dial can be configured to your preference. The Fn1 button that sits within the rear dial is set to Dial Operation Switch as default, which is handy if you’d like to quickly change white balance from the front dial and ISO from the rear dial. Like the eleven function buttons across the body, it can be customised to as many as 66 different settings. Two of the buttons (Fn1 and Fn3) can also be customised to perform different tasks in playback mode.
On the left shoulder of the top plate you’ll find a drive mode dial, with direct access to 4K Photo modes, self timer, time-lapse and continuous shooting modes. Buttons at the rear are positioned around a new wheel dial, again similar to that you’ll find on the Lumix G9.
The Q.Menu button has been shifted down and the playback button is a fraction higher than it was before. The AF/AE lock button merges with the focus mode lever that can be easily flicked with your thumb, however with no joystick users are expected to use the touchscreen to reposition the AF point, or turn Direct Focus Area on, which instantly starts moving the AF point when the directional buttons are used. When the AF point is active, the size of it can be changed to one of eight sizes using the front or rear dial.
Users of the G90 who’d like to improve battery life, add a bit more depth to the body, or enhance the handling in the portrait format have the option to purchase the DMW-BGG1 battery grip (£249). This is the same grip that the Lumix G80 uses and is built to match the rugged, splash and dust resistant design of the G90.