Last updated on December 16th, 2020
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 comes close to giving the best mix of image quality, practicality, speed, and size in our book, packing a ton of advanced features and performance into a compact, well-built body, all at a fair value. If you’re looking for a Panasonic Lumix GX85, See our Panasonic Lumix GX85 Review for all the details!
What is the Panasonic Lumix Gx85?
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 is the company’s newest compact system camera, and is intended to be a pared-down version of the lot of advanced GX8; it sits simply higher than the GF6 in Panasonic’s lineup. It has a 16-million pixel four-thirds sensor and uses the Micro Four Thirds mount, making it compatible with a huge number of lenses from Panasonic as well as Olympus and third-party manufacturers.
As with alternative current Panasonic releases, 4K is one in every of its headline features. Not only can you record 4K video, but you can also use 4K photo modes to extract stills from recorded video, or to change the focus point of your image after it’s been taken.
- Excellent shutter
- Electronic viewfinder
- Small size
- Pinpoint AF
- Tilting touch-sensitive screen
- No ISO 100 option
- The screen doesn’t articulate
- Small viewfinder
- Continuous autofocus still not quite there
- Review Price: $597.00
- 16-megapixel four-thirds sensor
- 4K video recording
- The built-in 2.8m-dot electronic viewfinder
- Tilting touch-sensitive TFT LCD monitor
- 12-32mm kit lens included as
Panasonic Lumix GX80/85 review – Screen and Viewfinder
One of the benefits of the GX85 over the GF range of Panasonic cameras is the addition of an electronic viewfinder. While the one here is smaller than the viewfinder on the GX8, it still offers a bright and clear view, and there’s an electronic sensor to automatically switch it on (and the screen off) when the camera is lifted to your eye.
While you’re using the viewfinder, it remains possible to use the screen to set AF points via Touch Pad AF. Simply use your finger to touch the point you need; it’s much more intuitive than trying to guess which button you need to press. On the downside, however, you may find that you occasionally accidentally set the AF point with your nose.
The GX85’s screen is tilting, rather than fully. This is useful for many awkward angles but is less usable when shooting in portrait format. It doesn’t face forward in the way of the GF6’s screen, so fans of selfies may be disappointed. However, as already mentioned, it’s touch-sensitive and particularly useful for setting the AF point and navigating through menus. It’s responsive in use and is implemented well.
Panasonic Lumix GX80/85 review – Design and Handling
Panasonic’s GX7 was popular. It was replaced with the GX8, which was bigger and far chunkier in size – lots of people lamented the loss of the smaller body of the GX7. Less than a year after the GX8’s launch, Panasonic introduces the GX85, which is considerably more similar to the GX7 and should, therefore, prove popular.
The GX85 is a slim giving, especially when combined with the default 12-32mm kit lens. The camera has a textured coating, which helps your fingers sit comfortably on its surface on both the front and rear of the camera. The front also has a raised grip to make it feel secure in your hand.
There are fewer buttons and direct access dials on the GX85 than you’ll find on the GX8 – no surprise considering this is a cheaper alternative. On the top sits a mode dial for quickly moving between the different shooting modes that are on offer here. Next to it, you’ll find the shutter release button, which is surrounded by a scrolling dial. This controls different settings, depending on the shooting mode you’re working in. For example, if you’re shooting in aperture priority mode, then it will alter the aperture.
On the rear of the camera is a second dial, which again controls different settings depending on the shooting mode. If you’re still in aperture priority mode, it will continue to control aperture, but if you switch to manual mode, then the top dial will control aperture, and the rear dial will control shutter speed. If you’re shooting in either aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode, if you push the rear dial in slightly, you can use it to adjust exposure compensation.
There’s a good number of customizable buttons on the back of the camera, to which you can assign functions that you need access to quickly. By default, the Fn2 button accesses GX85’s quick menu, which contains direct routes to commonly used settings, such as white balance, ISO, and others.
4K photo modes are, by default, accessed via dedicated buttons too. There are 3 modes on offer: 4K Burst, 4K Burst (Start/Stop), and 4K Pre-Burst. 4K Burst records 4K video at 30fps for as long as you hold down the shutter release. Start/Stop, as it suggests, will start recording when the release is pressed, but stop when you press it again.
Pre-Burst records only two seconds of video, but one second is before you press the shutter release (the camera is constantly buffering when in this mode), and one second after you press it. No matter what 4K exposure mode you employ, you’ll extract 8-megapixel stills in playback, in-camera.
Also making use of 4K video is Post Focus mode. This basically creates a video that shoots a different focus point per frame. You can then choose from any of these focus points in playback. It’s quite a useful function for some subjects, but it’s pretty gimmicky and something you’ll probably use rarely.
Panasonic Lumix GX85 Review – Lens
In many respects the Panasonic Lumix GX85 may be a more desirable purchase option than its GX8 big brother: it’s smaller, for starters, has the core viewfinder and tilt-angle LCD make-up included, adds 5-axis image stabilization, and, critically, is more affordable. The GX85 comes with a 12-32mm kit lens. Although this is a reasonably short focal length, it makes for a decent walkaround lens – its biggest appeal is its small size. The lens collapses in on itself, making the overall size of the camera when not in use very small.
That said, if you’re in any way serious about your photography, it’s likely that you’ll want to invest in other lenses. The good news is that there’s a huge range available, certainly more than other compact system cameras out there. Since Panasonic shares the Micro Four Thirds format with Olympus, lenses between the two brands are interchangeable.
Panasonic Lumix GX85 Review– Video
Many cameras – and phones – are capable of shooting 4K video now, so it’s no longer the super-exciting feature it once was. Nevertheless, it’s still a decent addition on a device that may be bought by someone just starting out in photography.
It’s unlikely that the GX85 is going to be the video camera of choice for anybody with a serious interest in videography, but it can capture some great videos all the same. You can tap the point on the screen to change the autofocus point mid-recording, which it does gently and smoothly. You also have the option to shoot in HD (1,920 x 1,080) if you don’t need the ultra-high resolution that 4K offers.
Panasonic GX85 Review – Performance and AF
Panasonic cameras have a decent reputation for quick autofocusing, and the GX85 doesn’t disappoint here either. Focusing is accurate in a good range of conditions, with a focus lamp providing assistance when the light drops. In perfect light, the lens snaps into focus almost instantly, with slightly slower speeds if it’s particularly dark.
Start-up time is quick – but note that if you’re using the bundled 12-32mm kit lens, then you’ll have to extend that before you can use the camera.
Processing speeds are also great, with rapid shot-to-shot times. There’s no lag evident when looking at images in playback under normal shooting conditions, either. It can take a few seconds for the camera to process images when using the 4K photo modes, but considering this is a pretty intensive task, it isn’t too long a wait.
As well as using the 4K photo modes to record fast-moving action, you can also shoot in burst mode. The burst depth is comparatively limited at 13 frames in raw format, or far better in JPEG with 100 frames available.
As a result, it’s easier to capture a split-second moment using 4K photo modes, which can shoot at 30fps for many minutes at a time, and then extract. Of course, you’ll only get an 8-million pixel file if you do that – so if you want to utilize the full 16 million pixels of the sensor, burst shooting may be the preferable choice for you.
Panasonic Lumix GX85 Review – Image Quality
Most of the time, the GX85’s all-purpose metering system works to produce well-balanced exposures. In addition, an electronic shutter option enables you to utilize super-fast shutter speeds when shooting at wide apertures to prevent overexposure.
Looking at JPEG images directly from the camera, colors are pleasingly saturated and vibrant, retaining a good degree of realism. The corresponding raw files are a little more muted, but that’s good news for editing your shots in post-production.
Colors tend to be a tiny bit on the yellowish side when shooting under artificial light, but it isn’t too dramatic a shift – if you want 100% accuracy, it’s a good idea to use a specific white balance setting.
For the primary time during a Panasonic G-series camera, there’s no anti-aliasing filter. As a result, the detail is very impressive, with plenty visible when looking at images throughout the camera’s native sensitivity range.
At the higher end of the sensitivity range (from ISO 3200 upwards) you’ll begin to see a touch of image smoothing when examining some parts of an image at 100%, but this should only represent a problem if you want to print at huge sizes, or you want to crop heavily into the image.
If you’re a fan of digital filters then the GX85 offers an excellent choice. Some are great, some are tacky – it will come down to personal preference. Most useful of all, you can shoot in raw format when using digital filters, giving you the option to work with a clean version later down the line should you need it.
Optical image stabilization is now 5-axis, which basically means that you can shoot at slow shutter speeds with greater protection against image blur. It’s an effective system and meant that I was able to achieve sharp shots even at speeds of 1/5 second.
Should You Buy the Panasonic GX85?
Having been in the compact system camera game longer than many, Panasonic really should know what it is doing by now – and with cameras such as the GX85, the company proves it’s capable of listening to customer feedback.
While the GX8 has a great set of specifications, many people missed the smaller body size of the GX7. The GX85, although offering not quite the same set of advanced specifications as the GX8, is a great compromise and an attractive small CSC for just about any user.
Image quality is fantastic, especially when it comes down to detail thanks to the removal of the optical low-pass filter. JPEG images are bright and punchy, while low-light shooting is impressive, too.
If I was being picky, then the viewfinder is on the small side, and the screen doesn’t fully articulate or tilt upwards enough to face the front. Both features are usable, though, and many will find that it’s a fair price to pay for a smaller and neater overall body size.
When it comes to value, right now the GX85 is a little more expensive than its closest rival, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 III. However, it’s worth remembering that of the two, only the GX85 offers 4K video recording.
If you’re looking for something to move up to form a compact camera, or perhaps even your mobile phone, then you should be more than happy with the GX85. It will make a great travel camera, thanks to its small size, and is also likely to appeal to photographers who are currently using much larger models as their main camera.
Overall the GX85 is a solid mid-level compact system camera. Just because it’s smaller and more affordable than its bigger brother doesn’t mean it’s scrimped on the features front at all – indeed it’s added many that other Lumix G-series models lack. And that makes this one may yet mini camera. Panasonic has produced a true winner with the GX80, making it one of all the most effective mid-range CSCs on the market.
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