Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 impresses with image quality, versatility
|Out-of-camera JPEG. ISO 200, 1/1000 sec at F8. Shot at 50mm equivalent using the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm F1.7 lens.|
The GX85 represents a refinement of Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds line. It's not the company's flagship, but in many ways it's arguably the most compelling Panasonic release to date. One reason is that the GX85 is not prone to shutter shock - a major issue in some previous M43 models, and not just from Panasonic. The new electromagnetic shutter mechanism effectively mitigates almost all vibrations that cause this very annoying phenomenon.
Also compelling: The GX85 represents the most effective image stabilization system in any Panasonic camera to date. And unlike the GX8, the GX85 can make the most of its 5-axis system (when using a Panasonic lens with IS) during 4K capture.
And while its sensor is a very known quantity, it represents the first time Panasonic shipped an ILC with no anti aliasing filter. The result: some of the best detail retention of any 16MP Four Thirds sensor around, with little sign of moiré .
|ISO 1600, 1/400 sec at F2.8, -0.33 EV. Shot at a 24mm equivalent using the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 lens.|
Handling & Performance
The GX85 offers a modest number of customizable physical buttons at four, with five additional custom spots on the touchscreen interface. Buttons can be customized to have different functions in playback and shooting modes.
The GX85 handles nicely. It is well-weighted and has a reasonably comfortable grip, though its faux leather skin can prove slippery in moist hands. Offering both front and rear-facing dials, most control points are easy to access, though the rear dial is quite small, as are a lot of the buttons. This didn't cause me any problems during testing but large-handed photographers should take note.
Performance-wise, the GX85 is extremely responsive. Its touchscreen display offers one of the best touch implementations of any camera I've used. Autofocus performance is also outstanding, even at the top burst rate (with AF-C) of 6 fps. The GX85 can track subjects in all 3 dimensions with impressive ease, thanks to subject recognition using its image sensor, and relatively fast focusing with Panasonic's Depth from Defocus technology. Its face detect focus mode is very handy for casually photographing friends and family.
|The GX85's touchscreen interface is outstanding. This image was shot using the touch shutter. ISO 200, 1/80 sec at F2.8, -0.66 EV. Shot at a 52mm equivalent using the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 lens.|
The GX85 is capable of 4K video capture at both 24 and 30p at up to 100Mbps and can make use of its 5-axis image stabilization (when using a Panasonic lens with IS) during capture. In use, we found the GX85 offers similar IS performance during video as the Olympus Pen-F, a class leader. However, the Olympus isn't capable of 4K capture like the GX85.
Adding to its appeal, the GX85 offers ample video tools like focus peaking, zebra pattern, audio level monitoring/adjustment and a wind filter. And users can shoot video in any of the manual exposure modes. Unfortunately, like the GX8, you can not use Auto ISO in manual mode during video capture along with exposure compensation, to adjust brightness.
Video quality looks excellent though, with good detail and color. And while the GX85 does have a built-in stereo microphone, it lacks sockets for an external microphone or headphones.
|Out-of-camera JPEG. ISO 500, 1/125 sec at F2.8. Shot at a 32mm equivalent using the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 lens.|
Image quality from the GX85 is slightly improved over that of the GX7 (its predecessor), thanks mainly to its lack of an anti aliasing filter. The GX85 instead relies on its Venus Engine processor (plus diffraction) to reduce moiré.
This lack of an AA filter has the benefit of allowing the GX85 to capture more detail in both Raw and JPEGs than the GX7. And thanks to the redesigned shutter mechanism, per pixel sharpness is also improved over the GX7 in both Raw and JPEG images (when shooting with the mechanical shutter).
JPEG color is very similar to that of other Panasonic Four Thirds cameras. However when compared to the competition, JPEG color from the GX85 can look slightly desaturated. This is especially true of skin tones which can appear washed out. As with most Panasonic cameras, default JPEG noise reduction can be a little heavy-handed (though this can be dialed down). And while the GX85 seems to have a different noise reduction algorithm than the GX7, it doesn't appear to be any smarter when it comes to retaining detail in low light.
Raw noise levels are equal to the competition throughout the ISO spectrum and Raw files offer similar flexibility to those of the Olympus E-M5 II. This is to say the GX85's Raw files are on par with the best 16MP Four Thirds chips, but behind most current APS-C cameras.
So what do you get if you buy a Panasonic GX85? You get a 4K capable camera that can be used handheld thanks to great image stabilization. You also get an impressive stills camera with good image quality and the ability to shoot fast action with relative ease thanks to its very good autofocus system and burst rate of 6 fps with AF-C. You get a logically designed body with enough custom buttons to satisfy most, a tilting LCD with an excellent touch interface and easy-to-use Wi-Fi connectivity.
What you don't get is weather-sealing, microphone or headphone jacks, an external battery charger or the latest generation 20MP Four Thirds sensor. But most casual shooters can probably live without those things.
|1/320 sec, F5.6, ISO 200, -1 EV. Shot at a 50mm equivalent using the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm F1.7 lens.|
For me, the biggest consideration if I was trying to decide on the GX85 would be whether the sub-par 16:9-format, field sequential EVF is a deal-breaker. The viewfinder is definitely the weakest point of this camera and one of the only things that left me wanting more during testing. But if you can get past the EVF, you're getting a lot of camera that does everything it claims to, very effectively, with support from a large system of lenses and at a decent price.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 (Lumix DMC-GX80 / Lumix DMC-GX7 Mark II)
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The GX85 is a sound choice for those seeking a lightweight interchangeable lens camera offering excellent stills and video quality, good ergonomics and solid autofocus. It is also jam packed with useful features like 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization, 4K video capture, a tilting touchscreen, dual control dials and easy-to-use Wi-Fi connectivity.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Real World Samples
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