The G85 is a DSLR-style mirrorless camera that offers a good balance of physical control points, customizable buttons and touch capability.

In Hand

With the kit lens (or similar-sized/weighted lenses) attached, the G85 can be held and operated comfortably using just one hand. Both front and rear control dial are easily accessible, as are the Fn1 and Fn2/Q.Menu buttons, without jeopardizing one's grip on the camera.

The control dials and shutter button on the G85 have a reassuring stiffness to them, especially when compared to those of its predecessor, the Panasonic G7. This difference is likely a result of the G85's weather/dust-sealing.

The body of the camera is wrapped in the same rubber-like material as its predecessor. It is adequately 'grippy.' From an ergonomic standpoint, the G85 (and G7) are both easier to operate than the rangefinder-style GX85, which shares many of the same internal components but is wrapped in a faux-leather, which we found much slicker; the GX85 also has a much smaller grip.

Overall, the G85 is a very easy camera to operate, its dials are large and the touchscreen interface should feel intuitive to anyone remotely familiar with touch-sensitive smart devices. However, the back buttons are on the small side. And the camera can be difficult to operate in the vertical orientation when the touchscreen is enabled with an eye to the finder. This is because no matter the size of your nose, it will most likely unintentionally change your AF point. That said, I'm exploring shooting exclusively using my nose as my primary means of selecting an AF area.

Compared to the DMC-G7

Many differences between the G85 and the G7 are not noticeable from simply looking at the two cameras side-by-side. These differences include: the addition of weather-sealing, 5-axis image stabilization, the removal of the AA filter, a new magnesium front plate and the use of a new electromagnetic shutter (the last two both help to mitigate shutter shock).

Below we've noted the visible changes:

The top of the G85 (left) looks almost identical to the G7. There are some slight cosmetic differences like in the shape of the faux-pentaprism. The the pop-up flash release switch has also moved.

The eye sensor for the EVF has moved to the top of the eyecup on the G85 (left). The Fn5 button has also moved slightly and the focus mode dial is redesigned.
The G85 (left) gains a dedicated SD memory card door. On the G7 the SD and battery compartment were the same. The HDMI port on the G85 has moved to the other side of the camera.

The G85 (left) still has no headphone port. Its mic port has also moved lower, to a location where its likely to be in the way of the LCD when flipped out. This seems like an oversight.

Joining the awkwardly placed mic port are USB 2.0, remote and micro-HDMI inputs.

New viewfinder optics

The Panasonic GX8, G7 and G85 all use 2.36M-dot OLEDs in their electronic viewfinders, but each has a different magnification and eyepoint. The G85's EVF has a magnification of 0.74x compared to 0.7x on the G7, and an eyepoint of 20mm compared to 17.5mm on the G7. The longer eyepoint should improve visibility for glasses wearers and the higher magnification improves overall visibility. By comparison, the flagship GX8 offers a magnification of 0.77x and an eyepoint of 21mm.

New shutter mechanism & EFS

The G85 uses the same electromagnetic shutter as the GX85. It also has a new electronic first curtain shutter mode that can be used at speeds as fast as 1/2000 sec. The front of G85 is now magnesium alloy, compared to plastic on the G7. This not only helps to reduce shutter shock, it also helps to dampen the sound of the mechanical shutter, making it less audible to those nearby.

Customization options

The G85 has 5 customizable physical buttons and 5 customization slots on the touch interface. Additionally the button located at the center of the back control dial can be setup to change the function of both dials when pressed.

There are separate Q.Menus for video and still capture, both of which can be customized to taste from within the camera's main menu.

Auto ISO

Panasonic's Auto ISO functionality continues to be downright prehistoric by modern camera standards. Users can not specify a minimum shutter speed, range or relationship to focal length at which the camera will increase the ISO setting. Auto ISO also can not be used in Manual mode during video capture. And when using Auto ISO in Manual mode during still capture, Exposure Compensation can not be used. The only option users can control when using Auto ISO is setting an upper threshold.

The G85 also has an Intelligent ISO mode, it also doesn't allow any user input beyond setting the upper limit, instead trying to detect movement in the scene and increasing the ISO to ensure a suitable shutter speed is used.

Battery life

There is a new power saving EVF mode that automatically shuts the finder off after 3, 5 or 10 secs from when it detects an eye has moved away. CIPA rates the G85 at 320 shots per charge, compared to 350 on the G7. However, with 'auto off' set to 3 seconds, Panasonic claims you can get up to 800-900 shots per charge.

The G85 ships with a dedicated charger, it cannot be charged over USB.