Image Quality

Our latest test scene is designed to simulate both daylight and low light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget allows you to switch between the two. The daylight scene is shot with manually set white balance aimed at achieving neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low light tests (except Raw, which is manually corrected during conversion). We also offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Comp', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons to more fairly compare cameras of differing resolutions by using matched viewing sizes. The 'Comp' option chooses the largest-available resolution common to the cameras being compared.

JPEG Performance

The GX85 uses (probably) the same 16MP sensor found in the GX7, but skips the anti-aliasing filter - a first for Panasonic Four Thirds cameras. Overall,  JPEG performance is very similar to that of the GX7, with some slight differences.

This absence of an AA filter is evident even in JPEG images, which show greater detail capture than the GX7. Sharpening is also slightly more aggressive to an extent that can sometimes result in a noticeable stair-stepping pattern, most visible in the sharp edges of the siemens star.

Colors at base ISO appear slightly less saturated compared to the Olympus E-M5 II. Yellows in particular have more of a greenish hue than Olympus yellows and reds also look a bit less saturated. Compared to Canon skin tones (our favorite), the GX85 looks washed out and skin tones have a yellow tint. The GX85 does offer very pleasant blues, even when compared to Fujifilm's likeable results, though Panasonic oranges and greens can not compete. Overall, the GX85 offers very similar JPEG color to that of the GX7.

As the ISO is increased, differences between the GX7 and GX85 are more evident. What appears to be a different noise reduction system can give improved detail retention in some areas, but in other areas it completely obliterates detail. The green sponge is a good example the GX85 confusing texture for noise and smoothing over all detail. It is also noticeable in the brown sponge. This points to context sensitive noise reduction that at its best, hangs on to detail  better than the GX7, and at its worst, smooths over detail and desaturate/skew colors at very high ISOs.

Shutter shock or not?

The big question we had when it came to image quality from the GX85 was whether or not shutter shock issues that have plagued previous Panasonic Four Thirds cameras have been neutralized by a redesigned shutter mechanism, as Panasonic claimed.

Looking at a comparison of the mechanical shutter side by side with the electronic shutter you'll notice slightly less aliasing when using the mechanical shutter, meaning it is ever so slightly less sharp. But the difference is negligible, meaning shutter shock is effectively a non-issue on the GX85. This is a serious improvement over the GX8 and G7.

Raw Performance

Raw performance from the GX85's 16MP chip is largely unchanged in most aspects from that of the GX7. When shooting in low light, using very high ISOs, noise levels appear nearly identical.

However the one area you'll see an improvement is in resolving power (again thanks to the lack of an AA filter). Not only does the GX85 out resolve the GX7, it also out-resolves the Olympus E-M5 II, albeit at the cost of more aliasing. So while the GX85 may use what some would consider to be an 'older' sensor, it really makes the most out of it by skipping the AA filter.