I was amused to see on The Online Photographer blog that Michael Johnston says, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the Panasonic Lumix G9 is the Porsche 911 of cameras. At first glance, it is a compliment. You know, build quality, unimpeachable brand image, desirability and all that. But it can be taken another way — that the G9 suffers from the same bloat as does the Porsche 911. The latest iteration of the famous series is ample (if I may be permitted the adjective) proof of Michael Johnson’s assertion. As well as the styling, in particular at the rear end, the weight coupled with all those driver aids, the designers of the latest 911 have totally destroyed the 911 driving experience.
Rumpelbloatskin: In half a century the Porsche 911 has gained an unwieldy fat rump, a 50% increase in weight and less exciting handling. Progress?
The last current-era 911 I drove, two models back, was totally uninvolving. I’d take either of my classic 911s any day over a current 911. Although, hopefully, the current 911 would start every time while, mine gave me palpitations by being reluctant to start at Hardys Bay, about 12km from home, one morning last week. Fortunately, it did eventually fire.
Still back to the G9/911 comparison. Considering the G9 has a small m4/3 sensor it is well overweight. The Leica Q, a full frame camera with integral lens, weighs only 640g whereas the G9 body alone tips the scales at 658g. At the same time, higher performance lenses for the m4/3 system are also suffering from bloating, although in terms of image quality that may be no bad thing. The original micro-four-thirds systems gloried in their overwhelming benefit of economy of scale: Small cameras, small lenses, lightness. They were the perfect antidote to the clunky crop-frame starter DSLR kits of the time.
Sadly, this glorification of the compact form has gone the same way as the spirited handling of the earlier 911s. My 1971 911 weighs 1,020Kg unladen; the latest 911 is 50% heavier and not better for it. Like the latest Porsches, the G(o faster)9 Lumix is a much speedier and smoother beast than the earlier models but what the latest Porsches gain in terms of performance (and safety) they lose in comparison to my classic Porsches in terms of driving involvement and fun. And, of course, it isn’t just Porsche when it comes to cars. Look at the original Golf or the first Mini of the early 1960s — tiny vehicles that have now morphed into bloated offerings
Michael Johnson is right, on reflection:, In terms of styling and system bloat, the G9 is the modern 911 to a tee. They make a good couple of fat arses in contrast with their Ur-models.
What do you think? Is it a good thing to have m4/3-sensor cameras outgrowing their APS-C and, in some cases, full-frame counterparts?
You can find more from John Shingleton at The Rolling Road and on Instagram at therollingroad.