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Panasonic G9 versus Nikon D850

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 and the Nikon D850 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2017 and July 2017. The G9 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D850 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (G9) and a full frame sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 20.2 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 45.4 MP.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic G9 and the Nikon D850 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the G9 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Panasonic G9 vs Nikon D850 front
G9 versus D850 top view
G9 and D850 rear side
Body view (G9 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D850 is considerably larger (36 percent) than the Panasonic G9. Moreover, the D850 is substantially heavier (53 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 (D850). 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.

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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic G9 (⇒ rgt) 137 mm 97 mm 92 mm 658 g 400 YES 2017 1,699 latest check
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft) 146 mm 124 mm 79 mm 1005 g 1840 YES 2017 3,299 latest check
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 141 mm 83 mm 46 mm 495 g 350 YES 2016 1,699 latest check
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 92 mm 49 mm 507 g 340 YES 2016 1,599 latest check
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 YES 2016 6,499 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 980 g 1200 YES 2014 3,299discont. check
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 YES 2013 2,749 latest check
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g .. YES 2012 2,999discont. check
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g .. YES 2012 3,299discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 no 2016 1,199 latest check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 128 mm 89 mm 74 mm 505 g 330 YES 2016 899 latest check
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 71 mm 44 mm 426 g 290 no 2016 799 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 YES 2015 1,199 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 YES 2016 1,399 latest check

The listed 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 48 percent) than the D850, 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

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 D850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D850 is 281 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 D850 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Panasonic G9 and Nikon D850 sensor measures
Sensor size
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Sensor size

With 45.4MP, the D850 offers a higher resolution than the G9 (20.2MP), but the D850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 3.34μm for the G9) due to its larger sensor. However, the G9 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the D850, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

Unlike the D850, 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 D850 MP
Sensor resolution
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Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic G9 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p - - - -
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft) Full Frame 45.4 8256 5504 4K/30p 26.4 14.8 2660 100
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p - - - -
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.7 5588 3712 4K/30p 25.1 12.3 2343 88
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.0 14.0 1324 83
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.7 14.8 2853 97
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280 no 24.6 13.1 3279 89
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/30p 25.3 14.4 2853 95
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/30p 25.6 14.3 2979 96
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.7 12.8 1312 80
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 1080/60p 23.1 12.4 894 74
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p 23.9 13.0 807 77
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p 22.8 12.5 656 71
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p 22.9 12.6 662 71
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.5 12.6 806 75
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.5 13.7 1405 85

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the G9 provides a higher frame rate than the D850. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

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 D850 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 D850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Panasonic G9 (⇒ rgt) 3680 YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 9.0 no no
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1620 fixed no 8000 8.0 no no
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting no 8000 14.0 no no
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 fixed YES 8000 14.0 no no
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no no
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 4000 5.5 no no
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 4.0 12 no
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 18.0 no YES
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.2 1620 swivel YES 8000 12.0 no YES
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 9.0 6.2 YES
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2765 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 6 YES
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 11.0 6 YES

Both the G9 and the D850 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The D850 replaced the earlier Nikon D810, while the G9 followed on from the Panasonic G85.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic G9 and the Panasonic G9? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9:

  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p vs 4K/30p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (137x97mm vs 146x124mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 347g or 35 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 (48 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 3 months after the D850).

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Advantages of the Nikon D850:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 20.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 53%.
  • Better low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO images.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1040k dots).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1840 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in November 2017).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G9 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 7 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points.

G9 11:07 D850

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 D850 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic G9 (⇒ rgt) .. .. .. .. .. 2017 1,699 latest check
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft) .. 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 .. 5/5 2017 3,299 latest check
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,699 latest check
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 86/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 1,599 latest check
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 6,499 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 91/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 3,299discont. check
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) - 81/100 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,749 latest check
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2012 2,999discont. check
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) - 84/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2012 3,299discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) - 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 1,199 latest check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 899 latest check
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 799 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,399 latest check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Other comparisons

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 the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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