Panasonic Lumix G9 II vs Panasonic Lumix S5 II - Which is Better?
The full-frame Lumix S5 II hybrid photo and video mirrorless camera was launched in early 2023, and we absolutely loved it, awarding it our highest 5-star Essential rating and commenting that "the new Lumix S5 II introduces phase-detection auto-focus for the first time on any Panasonic camera - for many people, that will be the only reason that they need to seriously consider it".
Now with the launch of the new Lumix G9 II, Panasonic seem to have released a more affordable version of the s5 II blueprint, just using a smaller format Micro Four Thirds sensor. But how exactly do the S5 II and G9 II differ and ultimately which one should you buy?
We're bringing you this Panasonic Lumix G9 II vs Panasonic Lumix S5 II head-to-head comparison to help you choose between the two cameras.
The S5 II offer 24.2 megapixels of resolution via a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor with no low-pass filter.
The G9 II utilises a 25.2 megapixel Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor with no low-pass filter, which currently offers the highest megapixel count of any Panasonic Lumix Micro Four Thirds camera (along with the GH6).
Both cameras are built around a newly developed sensor that supports Hybrid Phase Detection Auto-Focus. All previous Lumix cameras, with the exception of the S5 II and G9 II, have used a contrast-based AF system.
We'll talk more about this below, but suffice to say this is a big deal that could persuade many people to buy one of these newer models in preference to the rest of the Lumix range.
Both the G9 II and S5 II employ the very latest Venus Engine processor with L² technology incorporated, which Panasonic claim is 2x faster than the previous generation processor.
This provides higher resolution, higher bit rates and minimises rolling shutter.
The G9 II has an ISO range that runs from ISO 100-25,600 and can be expanded down to ISO 50 if required.
The native sensitivity range of the S5II is ISO 100-51,200, which can be expanded down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 204,800.
Also on the S5 II, Dual Native ISO is borrowed directly from the S1H and Panasonic's broadcast line of video cameras. This automatically switches between native ISO settings of 640 and 4000 without increasing noise by changing the way the camera reads out the image sensor. The G9 II does not support this feature.
High Resolution Mode
Both cameras offer the special High Resolution mode, which delivers 100 megapixel images on the G9 II and 96 megapioxels on the S5 II for the ultimate quality when detail really matters.
In the High Resolution mode the camera rapidly takes 8 separate images and combines them into one JPEG or Raw file.
The new G9II benefits from also having the same hand-held high-res mode as the S5II, so you don't have to mount the camera on a tripod for the best results.
The S5 II offers high bit-rate video performance that Panasonic claim is on a par with the Lumix S1H.
It supports internal 4:2:0 10-bit 6K (3:2) and 5.9K (16:9) at 30fps and 4:2:2 C4K and 4K at up to 60fps, while a low-profile heat management system allows for unlimited recording times, something that the G9 II doesn't guarantee, without increasing the size of the camera body..
The S5II also supports HFR (High Frame Rate) recording at up to 120fps and Slow & Quick capture at up to 180fps and it even has a full-size HDMI Type A terminal.
The new G9II supports up to 5.7K 60p and 4K/C4K 120p 10-bit 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 recording, depending on the specific mode - 5.7K (17:9) 30p/25p and C4K/4K 120p/100p are 4:2:0 10-bit.
ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes 422 can be recorded to an external SSD recorder with one caveat - if you're recording more than 60fps to the SSD it requires an additional external power source.
5.8K 30p/25p/24p 4:2:0 10-bit anamorphic 4:3 modes are recorded utilising the full area of the sensor and there are also 4.4K 60p/50p/48p modes.
The Lumix G9 II has V-Log/V-Gamut built-in which provides 13+ stops of wide dynamic range, and the Dynamic Range Boost mode expands it to 14+ stops.
Both models utilise the full area of the sensor to record then downsample it in-camera, which means that your framing won't be cropped when composing.
The new S5II was the first ever Lumix camera to use a hybrid contrast and phase-detection auto-focus system, and now the new G9II is the first ever Lumix Micro Four Thirds camera to use a PDAF system.
Fast and dependable and providing 779-area metering, the new PDAF system is able to detect target subjects in difficult conditions such as low light and backlighting and, once locked on, will remain tracking them even with other moving objects in the frame.
Subject recognition on the G9 II has been further improved, though, so that it now recognises cars and motorcycles and it can differentiate between the body and eye of an animal - the S5 II can't do either of these things.
The full-frame S5II offers high-speed burst shooting at up to 30fps with the electronic shutter and is capable of capturing up to 300 images in a single burst.
The new 2023 G9 II ups the ante considerably by offering 60fps burst shooting with continuous auto-focusing and an even faster 75fps mode with the focus and exposure locked at the first frame, both using the electronic shutter.
There is a 200 shot buffer for both JPEG and RAW files which provides around 3 seconds of shooting time.
If you prefer to use the mechanical shutter, the burst rates are 9/7fps (AFS/AFC) on the S5 II and 14/10fps on the G9 II.
Despite having very different sensor sizes, the G9 II and S5 II look very similar side-by-side in terms of their external control layout and size and weight.
Measuring 134.3 x 102.3 x 90.1 mm and weighing 740g / 1.64lb body only, the Panasonic Lumix S5 II is the same size as the new G9 II, but weighs 82g more.
The latter camera measures 134.3 x 102.3 x 90.1 mm / 5.29 x 4.03 x 3.55 inch and weighs 658g / 1.45 lb with the same battery and SD memory card fitted.
The difference is largely due to the new low-profile heat management system that Panasonic have integrated into the design of the S5 II, which helps to provide impressively unlimited recording times in every available video mode that the camera offers.
In terms of their external design, the new G9II is virtually identical to the full-frame S5II.
Indeed, apart from the difference in sensor size that becomes apparent when you remove the lens, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the G9 II and S5 II apart.
The G9 II benefits from inheriting the same 8-way joystick, expanded drive dial, 3.0-inch free-angle touch-control monitor and large, 3,680K-dot OLED Live View Finder as the S5 II.
The Lumix S5 II has an OLED electronic viewfinder that offers 0.78x magnification and 3,680K-dot resolution. It operates at a native rate of either 60 or 120fps.
The new G9 II has a similar 3,680K-dot resolution EVF to the S5 II, but the magnification is ever so slightly higher at 1.60x / 0.80x and the maximum refresh rate is also 120fps.
Both cameras also use exactly the same 3.0-inch, 3:2 ratio, swivelling and tilting LCD touch-screen with 1,840,000 dot resolution.
The free-angle design means that you can flip it out to the side, rotate it forwards for easier operation when pointing the camera at yourself, and fold it flat against the back of the camera to stop it from getting scratched.
The S5II features 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) which provides up to 6.5 stops of Dual IS compensation for stills, or 5 stops of in-body IS.
The G9 II provides a very impressive 8-stops of in-body image compensation (IBIS) and 7.5 stops of 5-axis dual image stabilisation when used with compatible lenses.
The stabilisation system in both cameras works for both stills and video recording, and both have an Active I.S. mode which provides highly stable video recording by optimising horizontal, vertical and rotational correction.
This is especially effective in traditionally challenging conditions for handheld shooting, such as using telephoto lenses or filming while walking.
Both of these cameras have dual memory card slots, both support the faster SD UHS-II memory card standard, and both have a dedicated memory card port that's hidden behind a lockable door on the left-hand side of the camera.
The Panasonic Lumix G9 II uses exactly the same large capacity DMW-BLK22 battery as the Lumix S5 II..
Battery life is actually very similar at around 370 shots on the S5 II when using either the Live Viewfinder or the LCD screen, and 390 shots on the G9 II using either the EVF or LCD.
Both cameras can also be powered and charged via a USB connection, which is useful if you're out and about and have a compatible powerbank to plug the camera into, with both using the newer USB-C 3.2 variant.
A price-tag of £1,699 / €1,899 body only makes the new Panasonic Lumix G9 II more affordable at launch than the Lumix S5 II, but that's no surprise given that it has a smaller MFT sensor.
It's also available in two different kits, with the Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3/5-5.6 lens for £1,899 / €2,099 and with the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 lens for £2,249 / €2,499.
In comparison, the Lumix S5 II is currently priced at £1999 in the UK, €2,199 in Europe and $1999 in the US, body-only.
Choosing between the Panasonic Lumix G9 II and the Lumix S5 II largely comes down to which sensor size you prefer and/or how much money you have to spend, such are the similarities between them in terms of their ergonomics and feature-sets.
So what do you think? Would you choose the MFT Panasonic Lumix G9 II or the full-frame Lumix S5 II, and why? Leave a comment below!