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Panasonic G9 versus Nikon D3S

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 and the Nikon D3S are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2017 and October 2009. The G9 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D3S is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (G9) and a full frame (D3S) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 20.2 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Panasonic G9 vs Nikon D3S

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Panasonic G9 and the Nikon D3S. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the G9 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Panasonic G9 vs Nikon D3S
Compare G9 versus D3S top
Compare G9 and D3S rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3S is considerably larger (89 percent) than the Panasonic G9. Moreover, the D3S is substantially heavier (88 percent) than the G9. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (G9) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3S). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Panasonic G9, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the G9 gets 400 shots out of its DMW-BLF19 battery, while the D3S can take 4200 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Panasonic G9» 5.4 in 3.8 in 3.6 in 23.2 oz 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i i
Nikon D3S« 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i
Fujifilm X-H1« » 5.5 in 3.8 in 3.4 in 23.7 oz 310 Y Feb 2018 1,899 i i
Nikon D4S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i
Nikon D3X« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999- i
Nikon D700« » 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i
Olympus E-M1 II« » 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Panasonic GH5s« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 23.3 oz 440 Y Jan 2018 2,499 i i
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Panasonic G85« » 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 Y Sep 2016 899 i i
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The G9 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 67 percent) than the D3S, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic G9 vs Nikon D3S

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic G9 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Nikon D3S a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3S is 282 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the G9 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3S offers a 3:2 aspect.

Panasonic G9 and Nikon D3S sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Panasonic G9 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D3S. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 8.43μm for the D3S). However, it should be noted that the G9 is much more recent (by 8 years) than the D3S, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the G9 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the D3S, the G9 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (80.6MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

G9 versus D3S MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic G9» Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----
Nikon D3S« Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
Fujifilm X-H1« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
Nikon D3X« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-24.713.7199288
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Panasonic GH5s« » Four Thirds 9.9 3680 27004K/60p----
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777
Panasonic G85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the G9 provides a higher video resolution than the D3S. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic G9 vs Nikon D3S

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the G9 has an electronic viewfinder (3680k dots), while the D3S has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic G9 and Nikon D3S along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Panasonic G9»3680 Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Nikon D3S«optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Fujifilm X-H1« »3690 Y 3.0 1040 full-flex Y 8000 14.0 n Y
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D3X« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Panasonic GH5s« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n n
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y
Panasonic G85« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 9.0 Y Y
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y

The G9 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the D3S has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D3S was succeeded by the Nikon D4.

Review summary: Panasonic G9 vs Nikon D3S

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic G9 and the Nikon D3S? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 12.1MP) with a 27% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 720/24p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 11 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (137x97mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 582g or 47 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (67 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years of technical progress since the D3S launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3S:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4200 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2009).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G9 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

G9 15:04 D3S

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the G9 and the D3S in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Panasonic G9»HiRec85/1005/5-5/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i i
Nikon D3S«-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i
Fujifilm X-H1« »Rec86/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Feb 2018 1,899 i i
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i
Nikon D3X« »-86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999- i
Nikon D700« »89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i
Nikon D3« »-HiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Panasonic GH5s« »-84/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2018 2,499 i i
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Panasonic G85« »HiRec84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899 i i
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/5-5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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