Lumix S9 – 5 minute thoughts

By | 2024-05-25

I’ve been taken a break from session recordings to focus on other hobbies, and I’m certainly not buying any more session gear. Which is a shame since Panasonic have, very sweetly, released a camera just for me. Yes, the S9 is out to, let’s say, “mixed” reviews. But for my use, it just might be very good.

I haven’t tried one in person so this all just thoughts based on paper specs. I have no idea if it’s a good business decision, I have never personally Tik’d nor Tok’d. Should they have spent that opportunity cost on refreshing one of the S1 models? Who knows.

I don’t think it makes any sense for photography. It’s not the lack of EVF as small EVFs of the type that go on compact bodies are often terrible anyway. My RX100 VII viewfinder is like watching TV through a straw. It’s the lack of mechanical shutter that’s the issue.

It is less generally useful than a S5 II and comparing it to the X100 VI is pure lunacy.

So Why Good

It’s all about the size. My portable recording setup ranges from 8kg to 12kg depending on what I bring, and keeping that low as possible is important. And with weight reductions it’s all about pushing down on each item as much as possible. My two camera setup is a S5 II and a S1 (which was the cheapest way of getting a second 6K camera). Swapping the S1 for a S5 II would save 300g for a price, but picking a S9 would save over 500g for slighly less. I’d be tempted to put the S9 on the gimbal where the extra 200g saving would be felt the most, and I could leave the gimbal plate permantly attached.

And it’s not just the weight but the physical size. My rucksack is often volume limited as much as weight limited and the smaller S9 might mean I can cram more into one internal bag and perhaps drop another internal bag completely.

Plus, for an outside shoot I could normally get away with a pair of those new 18-40 compact zooms. Weight currently unknown, but let’s assume they’ll be light.

But The Limitations

OK, so running through all the ways the S9 is bad, thinking only about this use case:

  • No EVF – Don’t care, never use for video
  • No mechanical shutter – Don’t care as not relevant for video
  • No headphone jack – Don’t care as I use external audio recorders
  • No hot-shoe for XLR adaptor – Don’t case, would never prefer one over a Zoom recorder
  • Record time limits – Don’t care, never record single shots that long
  • Lack of physical controls – Care a bit, but I never touch the camea once recording and I’ll use custom modes anyway

The only worry would be the overheating. The recording limits are there because Panasonic don’t trust the thermals, and whilst I don’t record 30 min shots I might record 6 x 5 minute shots with minimal breaks. Will be interesting to see how that pans out.

We’ll See

I’m not buying one now, but will keep an eye out. I don’t think the £1500 price will hold, and they’ll be some winter promotion with bundled lenses and double cashback that brings the price below £1000. For example, earlier this year you could get a UK stock S5 II, 24-105/4 and 85/1.8 for £1400.

If the S1 has any resale value by that point it could be a cheap weight saving upgrade. But it still wouldn’t be a X100 VI. I mean, come on now.