G9 High Resolution

One of the standout features of the G9 is a new High Resolution (“HR”) mode that promises extraordinary detail.  The High Resolution mode leverages the image stabilization function, so when capturing in HR the IS system is turned off (conveniently automatically if you are using a Panasonic or Leica DG lens).  As a practical matter that will require that you have the camera on a tripod.  The screen will warn you if there is too much movement to take an HR picture (the icon jumps around).

There is no free lunch, and we have to consider that the effective high resolution comes at the cost of correspondingly smaller effective pixel size, which impacts dynamic range.  A lot depends upon the mathematical sophistication of the compositing algorithm.  On the other hand, if you want to print large (say 4 feet by 3 feet) the HR image will give you much lower noise compared to a “normal” image that has been significantly enlarged.

You preset one-time the following settings for HR pictures:

  • Size & aspect ratio e.g., XL4:3 give you an 80.5 Mp file 10368x7776.  
  • Quality:   RAW, JPG, or both  If you have space available on your card and disk drive, then RAW is the way to go.
  • Simultaneous Capture:  Saves the first “normal” 20 Mp file and the HR composite.  In raw mode (RW2) the “normal” file size is 24 to 33 MB, and the HR file in raw mode (RW2) is 131.5 MB.
  • Shutter delay:  this allows vibrations caused by pressing the shutter release to dampen and is generally a good idea if you are not using a cable release.

That’s it. When you are ready to take an HR image you turn on HR mode (this is best done by registering High Resolution Mode in the custom My Menu shortcut), choose “Start” and pictures taken from that point forward will be captured in accord with the settings you made in the HR setup.  If you are successful in starting HR mode a special multi-page icon will appear in the overlay display (red arrow below) and on the information screen in the DISP display (second image; red arrow).  If you want to exit HR Mode press the Fn2 button;  if you are using the overlay information display (shown below) then a reminder to press Fn2 to End is overlayed (green arrow below).  Fn2 is next to the DISP button.

If you are using a non-Panasonic lens you will have to manually disable image stabilization, Panasonic and Leica lenses will automatically turn off image stabilization.  If you are using the overlay information display (shown above) then the image stabilization icon will turn red (blue arrow above)

Then simply aim, compose, focus, and press the shutter.  (First put the camera on a sturdy tripod.  It is probably also a good idea to be using a remote shutter release; either wired or the Panasonic app on your smartphone)  After the preset time to dampen vibrations, the screen goes blank while 8 pictures are captured and a red spot blinks in the viewfinder/screen.  Meanwhile the sensor is incrementally moved to achieve the effective high pixel count.  After capture the camera does the math to combine the images into a single picture, so the camera will be locked until that finishes.  It is actually faster than you might expect; on the order of three seconds.

Auto Review displays the combined photo, and if you set simultaneous capture, the normal file.  The files will have separate numbers; the higher number is the HR file.  I doubt that you will see any difference  on the monitor, however.

Aperture must be f/8 or above.  

Full electronic shutter is used, so speed must be between 1 sec. and 1/32,000 sec.

ISO no higher than 1600

Focus mode AFS or MF (e.g., not AFC)

The combined photo may not be satisfactory if (a) scene brightness is changing rapidly (b) subject is moving (c) scene lit by fluorescent lighting [dependent upon individual exposure time] (d) windy days or (e) waves.  The simultaneous normal capture is the backup, or if something moves during HR capture, an image that possibly can be used.

So how does it look?  In Lightroom at 1:1 the HR and normal image appear identical, but at higher magnifications the HR image has far less noise, and doesn’t start to pixelate until around 8:1 or 11:1.  If you enlarge the normal 5184x3888 pixel image to HR size 10368x7776 pixels, then the noise difference is very evident:

--© Robert Rose 2018