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Review Panasonic Lumix DC-S9 - Lumix full-frame compact camera announcement
Reading time: 10 minutes - May 22, 2024 - by Markus Igel

Hands On: Panasonic Lumix DC-S9 - The full-frame compact camera from Lumix

With the Lumix S9, Panasonic is focusing on a camera that is aimed at everyone, a camera that offers you creative freedom, by using Live LUTs and the new Lumix APP for your smartphone, the camera is aimed at people who no longer want to spend hours editing on the PC. With the S9, Lumix relies on the proven technology of the S5II, which we also know from other manufacturers such as Sony.

The Body of the Lumix S9

Even though the built-in technology is the same as the Lumix DC-S5 ii, this camera has a few minor changes that are reminiscent of various cameras, such as the non-built-in viewfinder, which reminded us of the Nikon Z30 and can also be swiveled in the same way as the S5II. But this alone may make the camera less attractive for the classic photographer, but we are not averse to this approach, the longer you shoot mirrorless, the more you dare to work only via the display like with a shaft camera and also to try out deeper or higher perspectives, especially for beginners this camera is interesting, as they are more used to seeing the picture via their smartphone and choosing the picture section.

Individuality of the camera

But what really makes the difference? In terms of size, it is a camera that is more likely to be found in the compact camera sector, but offers an interchangeable lens option and what is even more interesting for fashion-conscious photographers, the camera is also available in four different colors ! Yes, we've had this trend in the past and cynics will say it didn't work back then. But Fujifilm shows with its silver, anthracite and black that there is definitely a market for bringing color into play.

We tested the blue model of the S9, but it is available in green (olive), blue (midnight blue), red (chimney red) and black. The colors and the leather make the camera look very classy and chic, which once again sets the camera apart from the mass market: black cameras, and makes the camera an eye-catcher, perhaps not perfect for the street photographer, but for someone else a reason to buy.

The new button and the missing handle

If we now take a closer look at the Body, we notice two further details, the missing handgrip and a new button, the former of which we are sure SmallRig will provide a solution to in the near future. This is certainly not perfect for photography with larger telephoto lenses, but it is an interesting combination, especially when used with a travel lens such as the Lumix 28-200. Which, considering the target group, is not a bad thing.

However, the new button with the apt name LUT is exciting. Here you can select the stored LUTs, which you can transfer via the smartphone with the new Lumix LAB app and also create your own LUTs, more on this later in detail.

What are LUTs?

The Lumix S9 can manage more LUTs than the S5II, which makes sense if you want to minimize image processing for photographers and essentially speed up the sharing process. The control dials have also been reduced; the S9 only has one and no longer two as is the case with the S5II/S5IIx. In general, the look and feel of this camera reminds us very much of the Leica Q-series and also feels partly the same. The L-mount alliance certainly comes into play here, which of course enables Leica and Panasonic to do a lot and L2 technology in particular to work closely together, which benefits both.

Want a digression for LUTs?

At our Photo Days we had Fabian Grell there, who talked a lot about how to use LUTs and how to fine-tune them. If you have the time, use it to learn more about LUTs and the Lumix full-frame cameras.

Panasonic Lumix DC-S9 + Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 black

  • 24 Megapixels
  • Fast & reliable autofocus
  • Tiltable display
  • Open Gate Video
  • Small and compact body
  • LUTs quick selection

The technical data of the Lumix DC-S9

There's not much to say here, as we've already covered most of the details in our review of the Lumix S5II, which is why we're referring back to our test report here:

Lumix S5ii Review

However, due to the lack of a fan, there are a few limitations with this camera, which do not affect the photo, but rather the video area, but considering that this camera can be interesting especially for social media content creators, because the recording time of the camera is limited and comes with a time limit at Full HD of 20min, at 4K to a maximum of 15min and in 5.9K & 6K which is 10min. If you want to use Open Gate on this camera, you can do so here in 3.8K with the new MP4-Lite video format. We will discuss this in more detail elsewhere.

The IBIS and the electronic image stabilization are a dream come true with this camera, we would even say such a dream that it can hold a candle to a gimbal for most situations and makes it obsolete in the backpack. Fans of the Lumix S series already know the stabilization from the last firmware update. New in the video area is the digital zoom, which can also be switched on. This is smooth and pleasant and cuts into the image, which is a feature that we also like to use

The beloved High-Res mode with 96MP is also on board and other professional features such as dual gain, shutter speed via angle (180?) and co. are also included. What the camera has done without is a second SD card slot, but the camera also uses the same battery from the G9II and the S5II.

The autofocus of the Lumix DC-S9

Is state of the art and very accurate! It no longer has to hide behind that of other manufacturers. It is identical in construction and technically on the same level as the S5II. It works quickly and precisely, whether it's people, animals or vehicles, the camera supports you as a photographer or when filming very reliably.

Finally, the new Lumix LAB app

We teased it earlier and also listed it in the table of contents, now we come to the Lumix LAB app, which rounds off the product, which at the time of our test was of course still in beta and not the final version.

Open Gate & MP4-Lite

Like the S5II, the Lumix S9 is able to record videos with the Open Gate, in simple terms, the entire sensor of your camera is read out when filming and not just the 16:9 part of the sensor of your camera, but as in photography in 3:2. So you have a few more pixels in the height if you want to cut a portrait format shot from it. But you probably already know all this because you've read our blog article on the subject! If not, then it's about time:

Open Gate explained

But that alone is an old shoe in the Lumix world, but the video codec "MP4-Lite" is a novelty in the Lumix universe, it is 40% smaller than the previous normal MP4 codec. This has a charming flavor: It can also be transferred much faster, namely in the new APP, without any cables! Once your smartphone and the camera are paired, it gets exciting and the magic begins.

You can now select the MP4-Lite clips via your smartphone and transfer them directly to your cell phone and even cut and edit them there, adjusting the brightness and tone curves and adding effects such as grain and vignette. Clips filmed in 3.8K OpenGate are particularly exciting, as they can be trimmed directly and used in various formats such as Instagram stories or other social media formats.

The whole thing may have an aftertaste for the professional when you put the "Lite" on the scale, because it suggests poor video quality, the camera records in this codec 4:2:0 10-bit color sampling and with 50 MB per second. This is perfectly adequate for various social media platforms and private use. But that's not all...

Real Time LUTs

Panasonic has made a name for itself with the Real Time LUTs, briefly explaining what LUTs are: LUTs are tables in which information on colors, contrasts and brightness values are stored. These are used as presets, a bit like Fujifilm's film simulation history. These LUTs are usually only applied in post-processing, but many cameras are now quite capable of displaying the LUT, and Lumix can now display and even save them during photography and filming. This is a unique selling point of Lumix, because no other brand can do this yet!

Now the question arises: How do I get the photos with my desired looks onto the camera? Exactly, via your smartphone, with the S5II it was previously only possible via the memory card. The Lumix Lab app allows you to do this and even provides you with a large library of different looks that you can easily use and drag onto your camera and quickly and easily apply the looks yourself following the instructions.

You don't want to edit your photos/videos directly in the camera, but prefer to do it later on your phone? That's no problem, you can also edit the photos and videos with a LUT after transferring them.

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Conclusion:

The LUMIX S9 is a lifestyle camera. Through and through! Everything is designed to create, edit and share high-quality photos and videos as quickly and easily as possible. The camera has a high-quality finish and is also compact enough to always have with you.
It is not necessarily aimed at professional photographers or filmmakers, nor necessarily at content creators with elaborate productions, but is more suitable for private use, the next city trip or even as a second camera.

This is not to say that the camera is not extremely capable. Panasonic only has other cameras for professional use with the S5 II and S5 IIx. The S9 is a bit like a Leica Q3 or Fujifilm X100VI, but with unique features such as real-time LUTs, interchangeable lenses and a damn good smartphone app.

In our opinion, the camera is also extremely fairly priced. At ?1,699 RRP, it is cheaper than the S5 II, which was already the price-performance highlight of recent years.
You don't have to make many compromises here compared to the S5 II and choosing the right Lens is anything but difficult with the L-mount!

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