High-Resolution Pixel Peeping with the Panasonic G9

Panasonic G9 processing example in PhotoLab
VIew from Win Hill in the Peak District. Panasonic G9 with 12-60 lens. See text below for further details.

I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that I’ve been wasting lots of time with my new Panasonic G9. I’ve spent hours pixel peeping to examine the performance of the camera and have even been comparing it side by side with my Fuji XT3. I won’t say too much about this yet as I want to compile a larger article in the future. It’s certainly proved fascinating up to this point.

But let’s put this to one side because I want to share something that has taken me completely by surprise. The Panasonic G9 high-resolution mode.

If you’re not familiar, the high-resolution mode is where the camera shoots multiple images, shifting the sensor between each frame. It then processes these into a single JPEG and/or RAW file depending on your settings.

The camera has two high resolution modes to choose from:

  1. 40 Mpixel (7,296 x 5,472 pixels)
  2. 80.5 Mpixel (10,368 x 7,776 pixels)

When I decided to get the G9, this feature wasn’t even in my mind, although it clearly competes with the resolution figures for many full-frame cameras. The reason I ignored it is that you need a perfectly still scene. If there’s any movement, it can create a strange ghosting effect as the camera tries to merge the multiple images. This makes it an ideal feature for studio photography but useless for landscape photography.

Or does it.

Whilst I was experimenting with this feature, I noticed something interesting. If you slightly elongate the shutter speed so that moving objects blur a little, the moving objects become smoothed in the high-resolution image. From everything I had read and the examples I’d seen on the internet, this was a complete surprise.

My other surprise was how detailed these high-resolution images are. Here’s an example.

panasonic g9 80mpixel image
Image captured using the Panasonic G9 80 Mpixel high-resolution mode.

And here’s a small section from the centre of the frame. Notice how the movement in the ferns looks completely natural.

Section of the image at 100% magnification (click to view)

It’s early days but this could be a bit of a game changer for me. Whilst I can’t handhold these shots, I don’t mind shooting from a tripod because that’s what I would do with a larger camera anyway. It also makes carrying a Neutral Density filter more important.

Now back to the image at the start of the post. This is another image captured using the Panasonic G9. I shot it handheld in the Peak District whilst out walking. The exposure was 1/250” at f/8.0 and ISO200. The lens is the Leica 12-60 that came with the G9, set to 18mm.

The reason that I wanted to share this image is that I’ve used it in my latest YouTube video. In it, I share how and why I use DxO PhotoLab for my Micro 43 RAW file processing. I hope this will be of interest to a least a few readers. PhotoLab works great with many cameras (they don’t support Fuji XTrans) but I’ve found it particularly good for Micro 43. If you haven’t tried it, I’d recommend downloading the trial version (affiliate link) and following my video with your own RAW files.

I’m going to leave it there for now, but I will have more to share in the future about extracting the best performance from RAW files.

I hope you have a great weekend.

14 thoughts on “High-Resolution Pixel Peeping with the Panasonic G9

  1. You can shoot 50 Mpixel shots hand held on an OMD EM1mkIII – surprised you can’t do this with your G9.

      1. For completeness sake, the one other advantage of the hi-res Olympus images, for studio macro.product setups, is that you can space out the timing of individual shots in that mode to accommodate the recharge time of studio lights for each of the stitched shots. (Panasonic hi-res cannot similarly pause the shots for multiple studio flash pops, so continuous lighting is needed for product photography with the Panasonic.)

        But in head-to-head comparisons I’ve seen, overall the Panasonic high-res images are sharper than Olympus.

      2. That’s a very good point and another nice feature. Now if Panasonic were like Fuji they would be releasing that as a new feature in a firmware upgrade. But who knows, perhaps they will.

  2. Hi Robin ,

    I am keenly interested in what you are doing at the moment because I have the Fuji XT3 and am craving going back to M43 ..G9 or OMD EM1iii . I broke my GX8 in a fall in 2018 .

    One simple reason …weight

    Was out today with my XT3 16/55 and 55-200 . It is usually the 16/55 on the camera . But I’m irritated by the weight.

    I put up with the Fuji because I love the 3 dials ..top 2 and aperture ring and I’m ‘scared ‘ that the IQ of the G9 would be inferior to the XT3 . I shoot raw .

    Be brilliant to see your comparison of the XT3 to G9 IQ . I presume you are using the top Pana glass .

    All the best and thanks for what you are doing

    1. Sorry to hear about your fall but I’m pleased that this subject is interesting to at least someone else. There’s a lot you need to consider to compare the two systems in terms of image quality. It will take me a few weeks but I will put something together.

  3. I’m definitely interested in the follow-up article. I just purchased the Olympus EM1 Mk3, I was looking for a lighter kit and your selection of the Panasonic got me exploring. I’m a little apprehensive about the 4/3 sensors ability. Looking forward to seeing the results!
    Thanks!

      1. I am super keen for help towards my camera decision and this thread is helping . I’m a hobbyist and can only afford one camera system .

        Agonising deciding between keeping my XT3 despite the weight and Oly 1 mk iii or Panasonic G9 .

        Robin you seem to prefer the G9 to the Oly but if you had to make a choice between XT3 and G9 which would you keep please ?

        I only shoot stills by the way . Mostly landscape/ seascape a bit of street photography . Plus family and travel . I enjoy editing particularly compositing.

        Many thanks

  4. Roger – I wouldn’t be too concerned about the sensor’s ability unless you are doing anything which involves really high speed and/or ultra dark conditions – I’ve had my G9 since they came out, it’s handled the deserts of SW USA, seascapes, dust storms, rain-hail-snow, and temperatures from 110F to -5F. In conjunction with the 100-400 I shot storm waves at a range of 3/4 mile during a Force 10 storm. The only genres I haven’t used it for – Studio, which I don’t do anyway and Astrophotography, for which I use a specialist camera.

  5. Whenever I see something about super high megapixel counts (>50MP), I always wonder if the lens can provide enough resolution for this image. Most lenses that I have looked at get a resolution score of somewhere in the 30 – 50 MP range, so are all of the extra Megapixels providing any useful data?

    1. I agree there could be a lens quality problem with high pixel count sensors but the high res mode is slightly different. It’s created using a series of standard resolution images which the lens has no problem with. I’ve zoomed into the 80Mpixel images at 200% and more. There isn’t a problem resolution the detail.

  6. Maybe it’s because we are all getting older but changing system has also been on my mind for a few months now…lugging the full frame DSLR up mountains is becoming too much of a chore so I’m another who is following this thread with eager anticipation in search of the perfect weight-saving solution.

    1. The only thing holding me back is my angst over image quality and that’s where Robin is in a great place cos he has both cameras .

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