Is the Panasonic Lumix DC-G95/G90 right for you?
We recently reviewed the Panasonic Lumix DC-G95 (also known as the G90, G91 and G99) and found it to be a good all-around camera. But is it best for the kind of shooting that you do? We took a look at how the G95 performed in the following use cases:
- Family and moments
- Lifestyle and people
- Formal portraits
- Candid and street
- Sports and wildlife
Family and moments
A camera well-suited for capturing family and moments needs to be responsive, relatively easy to carry around and, of course, capable of taking great photos. While it’s not the smallest camera out there, the G95 can still do the job.
You don’t need to be a camera expert to get great results out of the G95. If you’re a beginner – or handing it off to someone who is – the G95’s iAuto mode will select the right scene mode, thus applying the best settings for the situation. Users who are more familiar with smartphones will feel right at home taking pictures with the G95’s touchscreen display, which is fully articulating, by the way.
The camera detects faces and eyes relatively well, though it will always choose the closest subject (and there’s no way to switch between people). It doesn’t have the most advanced autofocus system in its class, though it can track moving subjects reasonably well.
As mentioned above, the G95 is on the bulky side, though its build quality is robust (including claimed weather-sealing) and is covered with direct controls.
Photo courtesy of Robert Rose
A camera that’s well-suited for travel is all about flexibility. You want a camera that’s capable at both stills and videos, relatively portable, and offers good battery life and reliable wireless connectivity. Having a kit lens with a wide focal range doesn’t hurt, either, and Panasonic includes a 24-120mm equivalent one in the box (in most regions).
First things first: the Panasonic G95 isn’t a very small camera. While not gigantic, it’ll be living over your shoulder or in a medium-sized camera bag. That said, it’s very well-built and sealed against dust and moisture, so you need not worry if it’s raining. The fully articulating display (a standard LCD in the U.S. and an OLED elsewhere) allows for overhead, waist-level and selfie shooting, and the large electronic viewfinder makes shooting in bright outdoor light easier.
A camera that’s well-suited for travel is all about flexibility
Image quality is very good straight out of the camera, though photos will be a bit noisier than the G95’s peers at high ISOs in low light. The G95 can convert Raw images to JPEGs in-camera, so you can fix that botched white balance and share it without a PC. Speaking of connectivity, the camera has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that’s usually reliable.
While video quality is quite good (especially in good light), there’s a substantial crop when shooting 4K footage, so you’ll need an expensive, specialized lens if you’re going to be capturing wide-angle footage.
Battery life isn’t spectacular, but the G95 does support USB charging so you can fill up via computer or portable power bank.
Photo by Jeff Keller
Lifestyle and people
The G95 makes it easy to take casual-yet-polished people photos that are ready for sharing on social media. JPEGs look great out of the camera, and with built-in Raw editing you can fix white balance or brighten shadows without having to put Lightroom onto your phone.
If you want photos with a blurred background, you’ll need a fast lens, which are often expensive
The camera focuses quickly and does a good job at detecting faces, though it’s not possible to switch between them. The direct controls on the camera allow you to change settings without delving into the menus.
When focusing you can sometimes see the image on the main display or EVF ‘wobble’ a little, which can be distracting. If you want photos with a blurred background, you’ll need a fast lens, which are often expensive. But one nice thing about the Micro Four Thirds system is that there are plenty to choose from.
Photo by Carey Rose
While it lacks the resolution and wide dynamic range of larger-sensored cameras, there’s no reason why the G95 can’t be used for landscape photography. Its out-of-camera JPEGs have pleasing color and a good amount of detail, though don’t expect to be able to brighten shadows more than a few stops.
The G95 has a rugged, weather-sealed body that can brave the elements. Its fully-articulating display (LCD on the G95, OLED on the other models) is well-suited for tripod shooting, and changing settings is easy thanks to the G95’s numerous direct controls. Battery life isn’t great, but the camera can be powered by an external power bank.
Photo by Jeff Keller
If you’re taking more formal people-pictures, the G95 can handle the job. The camera is quick-to-focus and face and eye detection work effectively. Micro Four Thirds cameras require fast, often expensive lenses to get shallow depth-of-field, but there are some really nice ones available for the system.
There are a few downsides to mention in addition to the depth-of-field issue. Resolution is on the low side for this use case, and Panasonic doesn’t have much of a flash system, though third party options are available.
Photo by Carey Rose
Candid and street
Street photographers prefer small, discreet cameras, which the G95 is not. That said, if you don’t mind carrying around a larger camera, it can do a pretty good job when you want to be stealthy.
If you turn on the electronic shutter, the G95 is totally silent
The G95’s out-of-camera JPEGs are nice enough for sharing online without having to edit Raws on your computer first. It’s a responsive camera, with good face and eye detection. If you turn on the electronic shutter, it’s totally silent, with minimal rolling shutter. If you want to quickly change settings, the direct and customizable controls will keep you out of the G95’s gigantic menu system.
Aside from its bulk, the only other negative for this use case is the fully articulating display, which stands out a lot more than a simpler tilting mechanism.
Photo by Carey Rose
When you think of great video/stills hybrid cameras, Panasonic may be the first brand that comes to mind. Its GH-series cameras show what Panasonic is capable of doing, which is why the G95’s video abilities fall a bit flat.
The camera has plenty of useful tools, including support for V-Log L (albeit topping out at 8-bit capture), mic and headphone sockets, and a fully articulating LCD. The quality in 4K is very good given enough light, with minimum rolling shutter.
There’s a substantial 1.25x crop in 4K
Where Panasonic dropped the ball is when it made the decision to not use the full sensor area for capturing video. Because of that, there’s a substantial 1.25x crop in 4K, which means that if you want wide-angle footage, you’re going to need a specialty lens. Video quality also takes a hit, especially when compared to cameras that oversample, such as the Sony a6400 and Fujifilm X-T30.
Photo by Jeff Keller
Sports and wildlife
While it’s not a camera you’d want for heavy duty sports and wildlife photography, the G95 can do it, with some limitations. It has great out-of-camera JPEGs, fast autofocus, plenty of direct controls and a larger-than-average electronic viewfinder. The body is weather-sealed, just in case the weather is less pleasant, and an optional grip makes it easier to hold with a long lens attached.
If you need a fast burst rate, the G95 may disappoint
Speaking of lenses, Micro Four Thirds cameras have a 2X crop factor, so even modestly telephoto lenses have a long reach. Serious sports and wildlife photographers will find some impressive telephoto zooms, especially from Olympus.
If you need a fast burst rate, the G95 may disappoint, as it tops out at 6 fps with continuous AF. The camera is capable of tracking fairly well, though better options exist. Some may also find the ‘wobble’ when the camera is focusing to be distracting, as well.
Photo (heavily cropped) by Jeff Keller
While the Panasonic Lumix DC-G95 (and G90, G91 and G99) is a good all-around camera, it doesn’t stand out in any one particular area. It can handle everyday shooting and things like travel and casual photography with ease.
However, for situations where resolution and high-speed shooting are requirements, it’s not the best choice. The same is true for video, due mainly to that 4K crop.
If you’re a G95 owner, we’d love to hear what you use it for in the comments below.