Panasonic firmware update to add 10-bit 4:2:2 to the G9, CFexpress support to the S1R

Tips & Techniques

Panasonic is set to launch some new firmware on November 19th for both the G series (GH5/GH5S/G9) cameras, as well as their full-frame S1 and S1R mirrorless cameras. The firmware updates offer some nice functionality for all models, but most interesting is the addition of 10-bit 4:2:2 4K video to the G9, bringing it largely in line with the GH5 in terms of video.

The S1 and S1R feature a dual XQD and UHS-II SD card slot arrangement. But the new firmware turns that into a CFexpress and UHS-II SD configuration. CFexpress is the drop-in successor to XQD, offering some massive speed increases, particularly useful for video shooters and action/sports photographers who need to clear that buffer quickly.

With many manufacturers having now either released or about to release CFexpress cards, the only thing holding people back has been a lack of support in the cameras. Now that the new firmware is coming, Panasonic appears to be the first to actually support the new format (although Nikon has been promising it for months).

S1R Firmware Version 1.3 / S1 Firmware Version 1.3

  • Support has been added for CFexpress Type B, offering theoretical maximum speeds of 2,000Mbps, 300% higher than XQD cards.
  • Expanded compatibility with Profoto wireless transmitters – Ability to use Profoto wireless transmitters “Air Remote TTL-O/P” and “Profoto Connect-O/P”.
  • Improved compatibility with Sigma lenses and the MC-21 mount converter. You can assign function buttons to the Fn buttons of Sigma L-Mount lenses, and the MC-21 gets better Body IS performance (no mention of continuous AF, though).
  • Improved compatibility with Panasonic lenses – Function buttons can be assigned when mounted.
  • Improved AF performance
  • Improved performance of high-speed video
  • Ability to separate raw+jpg saving to different card slots

A few bugs have also been fixed, including some V-Log recording issues.

GH5/GH5S/G9 Firmware Version 2.0

Panasonic’s G series Micro Four Thirds cameras are all essentially aimed at hybrid shooters, but each has typically had a lean more towards either stills or video. The GH5 and GH5S have been Panasonic’s primarily video bodies and while the G9 is geared more towards stills. A few of the updates in the new firmware are shared between all three models.

  • Expanded compatibility with Profoto wireless transmitters – Ability to use Profoto wireless transmitters “Air Remote TTL-O/P” and “Profoto Connect-O/P”.
  • Highlight Weighted has been added to Metering Mode
  • Exposure Offset Adjust has been added to the custom menu allowing users to adjust standard exposure for all metering modes

The GH5S and G9 also see some AF performance improvements.

  • Animal Detect has been added to AF mode. It uses AI technology to recognise animals including cats, dogs and birds and then lock onto them. They say it will continue tracking the subjects even if they turn their back to the camera.
  • Focus Peaking is available in MF and any AF modes
  • Continuous AF capability is available on the live view screen in Creative Video mode and other video recording modes where the video recording area is displayed.

But the G9 is where we see the biggest changes. Offering “Enhanced Video Functions”.

  • 4K 30p/25p 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording is supported.
  • 4K 60p/50p 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output is supported.
  • Luminance level for 10-bit video is supported.
  • VFR (Variable Frame Rate) shooting is supported (FHD 2-180 fps/4K 2-60 fps).
  • HDR video recording is supported.
  • V-Log L recording and Waveform Monitor (WFM) are available with the Upgrade Software Key DMW-SFU1 (sold separately).

So, you still need to do a paid upgrade for V-Log L and to get the Waveform monitor, but they are now available to the G9.

The GH5 and G9 both utilise the same 20.3-megapixel sensor, have the same ISO range, a stabilised sensor (although the G9 is said to perform about a stop and a half better than the GH5), touchscreen flippy out LCD, HDMI output, dual card slots, a microphone jack, focus peaking, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, and various other common features.

The GH5 has been the video go-to, though, for many people. Or at least, it was before the likes of the Blackmagic Pocket 4K and Z-Cam cameras were released. The GH5 offers 10-Bit 4:2:2 up to 400Mbps, V-Log L, HDR gamma, 6K 24fps anamorphic mode, and a bunch of other video-oriented options.

The G9 offers some distinct advantages for stills over the GH5, such as the top LCD, larger viewfinder magnification, faster continuous shooting burst modes, 80-megapixel high-resolution composite shooting mode, and a stop faster shutter. Both bodies feature a stabilised sensor, although the G9 is said to perform a stop and a half better than the GH5.

With the new firmware adding 10-Bit 4:2:2 to the Panasonic G9, it might become the more attractive option over the GH5 for many looking to purchase today. Especially when it’s $200 cheaper than the GH5 new, and substantially less expensive on the used market.

You can download the new firmware for all five cameras on Panasonic Support website from the 19th of November.

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