From E-M1.1 to G85: the good, the bad and the disappointing

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photofan1986
photofan1986 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,136
From E-M1.1 to G85: the good, the bad and the disappointing
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I have been shooting an E-M1.1 happily for more than four years. It's a great camera, and mine is still going strong. However, I felt like trying something else. And unfortunately, in m43 world, the only real upgrades from an E-M1.1 are the G9, the EM1.2 and the GH5. And I consider those far too expensive for what I do (photography as a hobby). Also, I must say that I would have a hard time spending almost 2000€ on  a m43 camera when I can get a camera with much better IQ for the same price. I know those are high-end, top specs cameras, but I would not be using all the features, while I may be craving for better IQ (for the price).

Anyway, I recently got my hand on a like new g85 for 400€, and that is a camera I was always interested in. Size is about perfect for me, and the feature set and price are about right for my use.

I have been using the camera for about two weeks now (quite intensively), and here are my observations.

The good

- The camera is about the perfect size and weight: the grip is large, and while the camera is the same weight as the EM1.1, it feels lighter.

- Build quality is very good, but not on par with the EM1 which feels like it's made out of lunar rock. (however, that is only perceived quality. We all know that Olympus has many more quality control problems than Panasonic).

- The EVF is excellent! This is the first time I can say that about a Panasonic camera! Yay!
The OLED panel is more contrasty than the lcd in the EM1.1, and it can sometimes feel more "coarse", but all in all, an excellent performance.

-Ergonomics are great. Much better than the Olympus. You can customize some buttons, and most functions can be accessed directly, compared to Olympus where you have to dive into the menus. I need to shoot moving subjects? Thumb switch to AFC, top left dial to continuous and BAM. On the EM1.1, I always ended up turning the dials in the wrong direction (or the wrong dial for that matter)...

- It's quick, dayum ! Everything about the camera feels extremely snappy  (except one thing, see below). You can see the additional computing power compared to the EM1.1

- Video quality is great. Many formats and options, way more than I need. And a mic input!

- The IBIS is great. It seems about on par with my E-M1 when using a non stabilized lens, but in dual IS, it's even better. And it's almost silent! Impressive.

- The shutter is soooo quite. Wow, I'm impressed. I have been using a GX85 for a while, but the G85 is even quieter. And and and... there is an EFCS!!! Fantastic, finally. Also, it works up to 1/2000 (compared to only 1/320 on the EM1.1)

The bad

Not much to say here, except...

- The EVF is quite slow to toggle on and off. The EM1 is noticeably quicker. The G85 is even slower than my Sony A7.1. I slowly get used to that, but I already missed some action shots due to this. Now, when I shoot action, I switch the EVF to always on (but the problem is that review also happens in the EVF...)

- I'm not a fan of the fully articulated screen. I am mostly a photographer, and I find it much quicker and handy to use a screen like on the EM1. But that's just me.

And that's it for the bad, I think.

The surprising

- First, the good one. Well, I always thought Olympus had better color and jpeg processing. The GX85 was a disappointment to me (compared to older Panasonic cameras like the GM1 and GX7). However, after spending quite a moment fiddling with the settings, the colors I get from the camera are excellent, and they even seem much more natural than what I get from the Olympus. White balance is generally spot on. And finally, fine detail in jpegs is quite ahead of Olympus (which uses a large radius sharpening and noise reduction of low contrast details. The only shame is that the default settings are so bad. Just for info, my general settings are : Portrait picture style, contrast 0, sharpness -1, saturation -3 and noise reduction -5.

- Now, the (very) bad. Ok, I always considered Panasonic as having excellent autofocus performance, even better than the EM1.1, which sometimes feels indecisive (in low light mostly). My GM1 and GX7 have been very impressive regarding speed and accuracy.
However, I am having some serious issues with the G85 and two of my lenses: the Panasonic 7-14 and the Olympus 75-300. While those lenses focus perfectly on my other cameras, they behave weirdly on the G85. Regardless of camera settings, the lens just focuses with assurance, gives focus confirmation, but completely fails to focus. On the 7-14, it throws the image completely out of focus while on the 75-300, the result is much more subtle, but it makes a huge difference in sharpness.

I have tested all settings and modes, and the results are identical, and quite bad: I'd say about 1 picture out of 5 is out of focus, maybe more, without giving any warning.

Well, there is one mode where focus is perfectly accurate: it's the little cross (pinpoint AF), which is much slower and cumbersome to use, certainly for shooting birds or action). 
So it seems like the new focusing algorithm favors speed over accuracy. That is a shame. Or at least, I would like to have the choice. On my other lenses, AF seems fine, but the 7-14 and the 75-300 are lenses I use quite often.

So finally I'm left with a bitter taste in my mouth. What Panasonic was famous for is where the G85 falls short in my experience. I would love to hear you experience and if you did encounter anything similar. (Oh and by the way, after testing, the GX85 behaves exactly the same...)

Here are some samples illustrating the problem.

7-14

7-14

7-14

75-300

75-300

 photofan1986's gear list:photofan1986's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR Sony RX100 III Sony a7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Panasonic G85 +11 more
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