Image Quality

Our latest test scene simulates both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget switches between the two. The daylight scene is manually white balanced to give neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests. Raw files are manually corrected. We offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Comp', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons by using matched viewing sizes. The 'Comp' option chooses the largest-available resolution common to the cameras being compared.

JPEG Performance

It's likely the Panasonic G85 uses the same 16MP sensor as the G7, but without an anti aliasing filter. The removal of this filter doesn't make a huge difference in terms of detail capture compared to the G7, but it also doesn't mean too much additional moiré or false color. Sharpening is a bit more aggressive on the G85, this occasionally results in a stair-stepping pattern along edges as well as slight halos, noticeable along blocks of solid color. The king's sword is a good example of overaggressive sharpening crunching away details.

The G85 uses an updated JPEG engine and color at base ISO appears slightly punchier than that of the G7; yellows also seem to have less of the nasty greenish tint. As the ISO increases, color remains slightly more accurate and vibrant than that of the G7. JPEGs appears similar to those from Panasonic GX85 (which also uses a 16MP sensor sans AA filter), with no noticeable color improvements as base ISO. The same can be said at high ISOs.

The camera's noise reduction also appears very similar to that of the GX85: aggressive at both mid and high ISOs. It does offer advantages over that of its predecessor, the G7 though. For instance at ISO 3200, the G85 holds on to detail in the leaves better than the G7 (though it still smooths over the detail in the sponge). But at both camera's top ISO, the G85's leaves have been completely smoothed over, while the G7 still retains some detail. This suggests a context sensitive noise reduction system that's often not quite clever enough at recognizing the context, resulting in aggressive levels of NR being applied.

Shutter Shock

Shutter vibrations resulting in soft images were a real problem for the Panasonic G7. With the G85, Panasonic used a new electromagnetic shutter mechanism and swapped the previously-plastic front plate for a magnesium one. They also gave the camera an electronic first curtain shutter option. So did all this work to mitigate shutter shock? You bet.

Whether using simply the mechanical shutter or the EFC shutter mode, there is no noticeable softness from vibration (sharpness is indicated by alaising in the star).

Raw Performance

Raw performance from the G85 is largely unchanged compared to that of the G7. The removal of the AA filter does result in slightly improved resolving power. You can expect near identical Raw performance to the GX85.

Because the G7 is best used in E-shutter mode due to shutter shock, the G85 offers some serious advantages in terms of Raw noise levels over its predecessor as high ISOs. This is because there is a noise penalty when using the e-shutter; files are 10-bit as opposed to 12-bit (as is the case when using the mechanical shutter). It's worth noting that this noise penalty is not an issue when using the new EFC shutter mode on the G85.

Raw files also look similar to those from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, which also uses a 16MP Four Thirds chip with no AA filter, with nearly identical high ISO noise levels. However the G85 appears to out resolve the EM-5 II. In fact, detail from the G85 is only a bit behind the APS-C Sony a6300. Of course, it only takes pushing the ISO to see the advantages of the a6300's larger sensor when it comes to noise levels.