The Panasonic S9 Crams the S5II into the Smallest Full-Frame Lumix Body

A display of four Lumix cameras in different colors (green, red, blue, and black) mounted on cylindrical pedestals of corresponding colors. The background is gradient grey, and the cameras are presented at varying heights.

Panasonic announced the Lumix S9, the smallest and lightest full-frame camera in the company’s S-series lineup. Available in four colors, the S9 takes a lot of what makes the S5II desirable and crams it into a much smaller body.

The goal of this camera is clear: it’s meant to appeal to young creators who got their start on a smartphone. It eschews an EVF in lieu of just a free-angle (otherwise called a vari-angle) rear screen for flexible shooting at all angles, is equipped with MP4 Lite (a new smartphone-optimized Open Gate video mode), and is meant to be as unobtrusive to a mobile creator’s workflow as possible. The body of the S9 is extremely small and weighs approximately 403 grams (or about 0.89 pounds).

In short, it’s Panasonic’s answer to Sony’s ZV-E1 Mark II which looks similar and targets the same type of user.

A black Lumix digital camera is shown from the front, featuring a prominently large lens with specifications 3.5-5.6/20-60mm. The camera's body has a textured grip, and the lens has a glossy finish, reflecting light. The brand name LUMIX is displayed on the upper left.

The Lumix S9 uses a full-frame 24.2-megapixel sensor that Panasonic says is “equivalent to” the one found in the S5II and is backed by the company’s latest engine that allows the capture of content with high levels of detail and the promise of natural tones. Also like the S5II, the S9 is equipped with in-body image stabilization to enable smooth handheld video. Panasonic rates the stabilization of the 5-axis dual IS 2 at 6.5 stops when paired with compatible optically stabilized lens (by itself, it’s rated for five stops). Likewise, the sensor features phase detection autofocus which Panasonic says allows it to accurately track subjects.

Panasonic is attempting to appeal to the smartphone user by providing a range of in-camera color grades — what those users would likely call filters — through a dedicated button for its Real Time LUT (Look-Up Table) function. Beyond that, users are encouraged to build their own LUT recipes in the new Lumix Lab app on smartphones. The goal here is to allow creators to create original photos and videos with a unique look to them without having to take editing to a computer.

Four cameras are displayed on a wooden surface in different colors: black, blue, green, and red. Each camera has a lens attached, and in the background, a minimalist vase with leafy branches is placed on the right side. The backdrop is a simple, light-colored wall.

The Lumix S9 also introduces a new recording format called MP4 Lite. It captures Open Gate 4:2:0 10-bit footage in either 30p or 25p in a format that is optimized for use on a smartphone and, thanks to the aspect ratio, is more suited to publishing to social media via the Lumix Lab app. Lumix Lab is optimized for the high-speed transfer of photos and videos from camera to smartphone and has the tools needed to quickly edit MP4 Lite video files so they can be quickly shared.

While it shares a lot of the internals found in the S5II, what the S9 doesn’t have is active cooling. As a result, it doesn’t offer the long recording capabilities of the larger sibling camera due to the amount of heat generated. It does come with Panasonic V-log (of course, given the emphasis on LUTs), and a huge list of recording formats in addition to MP4 Lite including the aforementioned full 6K open-gate in 4:2:0 10-bit, 5.9K (16:9) at up to 4:2:0 10-bit, Cinema 4K (4,096 by 2,160) at 29.97p in 4:2:2 10-bit, and standard 4K at 29.97p 4:2:2 10-bit along with Full HD capture options. Higher frame rates (up to 59.94p) in Cinema 4K and standard 4K resolutions are also available with an APS-C crop. For faster frame rates — up to 120 frames per second — a drop to Full HD is required but does not incur a crop.

One last major difference between the two cameras is that the S9 doesn’t have a physical shutter. Panasonic says that in order to keep the camera as compact as it is, it had to make the choice between a shutter mechanism or IBIS, and it chose IBIS.

Panasonic will debut the Lumix S9 at 2024 VidCon in Anaheim, California from June 26 through 29, again emphasizing the target user and market. It will be available to purchase in “late June” for $1,499.99.

Image credits: Panasonic