Panasonic has been pumping out a healthy range of cameras over the past years, going from the novice units to more advanced models. The Panasonic Lumix G85, or known elsewhere as the G80, is a mid-range mirrorless offering with a lot of features packed into the box.
The camera is certainly not the only player on the market. Plenty of competition from not just the mirrorless market, but also feature-rich DSLRs. In this regard, let’s dig in and see what the camera has to offer.
The Panasonic Lumix G85 is wrapped around a 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor. There is no optical low-pass filter on the sensor, but the camera does have the Venus processing engine and this time around, features 4K video at 25p.
Extras for the video guys include being able to take eight-megapixel images from footage and an included microphone socket and HDMI port. Other video features include zebra patterning and manual focus assist.
As for the overall build, the body of the Panasonic is very much like the older G7 in looks. However, the G85 has arguably more user-friendly features such as the memory card slot now being accessed from the side for easier use. The buttons and dials have been slightly reconfigured to be more logically placed.
The hand grip is chunkier and feels decidedly more DSLR like. If that’s not big enough then there is an additional DMW-BGG1E grip available which is also weather resistant.
The camera is splash and dustproof which is a definite advantage as the body is mostly made of hardened plastic, with a magnesium front plate. The overall weight of the camera comes in at a respectable 505g.
The camera benefits from a sensor-based Dual I.S. Mark II stabilization system, which coupled with lens stabilization, should give a healthy five stops when used handheld. Other tasty features include the 3-inch rear screen, which is fully articulated and has touchscreen controls for things like setting focus points. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has been increased in magnification from 0.7x to 0.74x.
If postprocessing isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of inbuilt photo styles that can range from Monochrome to Cinelike gamma presets for both stills and video. In other words, lots of options for a complete workflow, with cropping and resizing, which can be applied to both JPEG and standard RAW files.
Panasonic Lumix G85 in Use
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix G85 packs a lot of features into the box which should appeal to the enthusiastic photographer. Let’s see how this works out in the real world.
The Panasonic’s autofocus system is definitely fast. It utilizes the Light Speed AF system, with Depth From Defocus (DFD) which can analyse two images to determine sharpness. The 49 AF points can be selected with a variety of options, which include automatic subject detection, 1-Area, Face- and Eye-detection, and Pinpoint.
Tracking can also be used and adjusted with various sensitivity levels, with a post focus function and even focus stacking to add to the mix. Basically, there are a lot of helpful options to make sure you always nail the focus.
The rear LCD screen is very useful for selecting focus points. Bright with a good degree of contrast and the usefulness of the touchscreen facility can’t be underestimated. The EVF is also clear and bright. It doesn’t suffer from any flicker effects and although I still have a preference for a DSLR optical viewfinder, the EVF here isn’t overly distracting and represents an accurate view of the world.
As for the image stabilization system, it gives an overall range of 4.5 stops, but this will also depend on which lens you use. The metering options are generally accurate but can suffer from underexposure. It’s easy to dial in a little exposure compensation via the Fn1 control and a brief look at the histogram can sort things out quickly.
When it comes to overall image quality, the camera has a range of ISO 100-25,600 and unlike cheaper units, noise doesn’t really start to creep in or gets hit with noise reduction until over ISO 1,000. Things do start to get a little noisy over ISO 3,200, but the images are perfectly usable. If you don’t mind balancing the noise reduction levels in-camera or doing a little postprocessing, images are still usable up to the top range.
Colors are rendered in both RAW and JPEG formats with a faithful look and in general, with the white balance in-camera doing a good job of keeping things faithful. This can be thrown off with a bunch of different artificial light sources, but the different white balance settings can usually solve most problematic scenarios.
For the video side of things, the 4K footage is the high quality you would expect from a Panasonic. Recordings come out smooth with lots of detail and it’s only when you do fast panning that the rolling shutter effects start to creep in. The 4K setting is much more defined than full HD overall and although the camera has a built-in microphone, it’s advisable to use an external unit to stop external wind noise and the like.
How Does It Compare?
At this point in time and space, a 16MP camera may not seem like a lot, but for the majority of situations, it’s ample enough to produce reasonably sized prints. It also provides a good deal of quality for the money.
The Fujifilm X-T10 may be an older unit, but it still has a lot going for it and is an ideal line-up against the Panasonic. The Fuji has a 16MP sensor but also sports a magnesium body with a very retro design. It doesn’t have a touchscreen or 4K video, but the Film Simulation modes are useful and very adept at capturing good quality video, although it is only HD.
The same can be said for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. A 16MP sensor, built-in stabilization, touchscreen, and has access to some nice Four Thirds lenses. Very retro looking and still a solid performer.
|Panasonic Lumix G85||Fuji X-T1|
There’s a lot to like about the Panasonic Lumix G85. A very pleasing to use camera body with a lot of packed in features. The autofocus system is fast, efficient, and generally good at locking onto both static and moving subjects. The image stabilization system helps out loads in this area for both stills and video and is a definite advantage when your chosen lens isn’t stabilized itself.
Image quality is also very pleasing with a strong rendition of colors and even the 4K video is high quality with lots of options for the video guys.
The camera isn’t however without its caveats. The controls aren’t as intuitive as they could be with some being more convoluted than necessary. But, for such a feature-rich camera, it’s worth spending the time getting used to its particular system and ways of working.
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix G85 has a lot going for it as a mirrorless camera and although the pixel count isn’t as high as the latest units, it still renders very good images which you will only complain about if you have to print them up to the size of a billboard. The added bonus here is that the camera is now a few years old and can be picked up for a more reasonable price than ever before.