Shooting with the Panasonic GX85. Small with a huge punch!

GX85F

Shooting with the Panasonic GX85. Small with a huge punch!

By Steve Huff

Hey guys! I’m back again with a real world look at a little Micro 4/3 camera, the Panasonic GX85. I recently took a look at the Panasonic GX8, and it is a nice, but chunky camera but overall Panasonic’s best Micro 4/3 to date IMO. With the constant competition between Olympus and Panasonic, I often find there are just as many Panasonic fans as Olympus.

My video on the GX85

Some like the look, feel and performance of Panasonic, and others, well, they prefer Olympus. Even though both use the Micro 4/3 format, the IQ differences are there, mostly in color, snap and contrast with the Panasonic line usually being more “BAM, IN YOUR FACE”, which…is good. Reminds me of how the Leica Q renders over the Sony RX1RII.

Sony is more gentle and organic, and the Leica just has that slam in your face POP BAM WOW kind of IQ and presentation.

Debby with the GX85 and Panasonic 25 f/1.7 wide open – click for larger

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So the way I see the two Micro 4/3 brands is sort of the same. Panasonic has that edgy, contrasty sharp pop and Olympus has a smooth, gentle, well…quite different way of rendering the colors. Some prefer choice A, some prefer choice B. I admit, I always fell into the Olympus camp when it came to the color and look but I feel I may be switching, as I feel the Panasonic’s can deliver a bit more “excitement” to the images. Ive noticed it for years, even with the Panasonic lenses, of which there are some amazing choices.

The Color and pop from this camera and the two lower cost lenses, the 25 1.7 and 42.5 1.7 is quite stunning. I mean, I can not get this kind of look with my Sony A7RII, and I like this look!

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When the GX85 arrived, I also recieved the 25 1.7 and 42.5 1.7 lenses, which are SMALL, LIGHT and FAN FREAKING TASTIC. Olympus has the f/1.8 versions of these lenses that have bee legendary forever, but these, I feel, especially the 42.5 take it up a slight notch. Not only is the aperture SLIGHTLY faster these lenses have that snap, pop, bite and color of the more pricey versions. (which is the 25 1.4 and 42.5 1.2)

The little 42.5 f/1.7 is like a baby NOCTICRON (Which is my fave M 4/3 lens ever).

The little 42.5 f/1.7 is light, hollow and tiny but it packs a punch and is affordable at under $400

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So the camera, and two lenses arrived and I was quite pleased when I took the GX85 body out of the box. It was more hefty than I thought it would be, and felt very nice in my hand. It felt better than my E-M10II which I have in my office and I really enjoyed the look and feel. Small, discreet, and like a Mini GX8.

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The little GX85 has a tilt LCD, touch screen at that..it has 5 Axis IS that works STUNNINGLY well. Just as good as the Olympus bodies, so now Panasonic is just as competitive in this area as far as I am concerned. With lenses that have IS, this little guy can function with DUAL IS for even better image stabilization performance. These days, with this type of performance against the shakes, we can shoot in situations that were not possible 5-6 years ago. This is one area where digital imaging has really upped the game IMO. For photos, or for video.

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This camera has 4K video and stills, and while many video based sites will go over the video performance, that is not my thing, so I will only be focused on a few things with this guy…the things us real world camera geeks like to know as this is a real world use report…

  1. BUILD AND FEEL
  2. AF SPEED AND CAPABILITIES
  3. EVF, LCD
  4. ISO PERFORMANCE
  5. IMAGE QUALITY
  6. BATTERY LIFE
  7. ANY PROBLEMS?

So these are what I will focus on, as those of you who know me realize I have never written a scientific over the top geek out review with technical scientific tests. I like to focus on the fun factor, the performance, the bang for the buck and the things that matter to most of us, the use of it as a photographic tool. Yep, this has WiFi just as most middle to high end cameras have today, and yes this has all of the old classics..like photo filters that we will never use and gimmiky features that are lost in the menu.

Me, I’m going to talk about WHY I love this little guy and WHY it has made me take a new look at the bigger brother, the GX8, of which prior I preferred the lovely PEN-F to…maybe..I am leaning back over to Panasonic. As I write this I have visions in my head of a GX8, 12mm f/1.7, 25 1.4 and 42.5 1.2 along with a nice long HQ zoom. Then I snap out of it and realize I am sitting here with 8-12 cameras flooding my office and wonder what I would do with more. GEEZ, I HAVE ISSUES!

The GX85 has no issues with stunning IQ…

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It’s strange, even though I am here with cameras and  gear EVERY DAY, I still dream of owning more. This disease STILL has a hold of me! I guess that says a lot of this GX85 if it is making this jaded reviewer who has worked with cameras DAILY for 8 years now, getting excited about it and the brand. Again.

CLICK THE IMAGES FOR BETTER VERSIONS!

1st image, Olympus 7-14 Pro Zoom, f/2.8 (My fave ultra wide zoom)

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GX85, 25 1.7 wide open

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7-14 Pro

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THE BUILD

So let’s get to it. I will keep this as short as possible, while giving my thoughts in a cleat concise way. As for build, it does not feel as good as my Olympus PEN-F but the PEN-F is also $500 more expensive. This camera should be compared to the Olympus EM10II, which is the same class of camera. When I compare the two of these, I prefer the Panasonic GX85 slightly, as it seems to feel better, respond quicker, and give me IQ I prefer, more snap, crackle and pop.

The build of the GX85 is perfectly in line with its price point and truth be told, slightly better than I expected. It’s solid, and while not a pro level body, we should not expect it to be for the money. To those used to small point & shoot’s, this would be a HUGE upgrade!

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AUTO FOCUS

The GX85 has pretty speedy AF. As in, its fast as I expected it to be and maybe a snap faster. The GX85 has a new mode called “Depth from Defocus Af Technology”. I will post the details on what Panasonic says its does below:

“Depth-From-Defocus AF Technology. For accelerated autofocus performance, DFD (Depth-From-Defocus) technology is employed to quickly calculate the distance to subjects and adjust the focusing position in order to suit working with continuous shooting rates up to 6 fps with continuous AF. This contrast-detection type focus method benefits both still and video recording modes, as well as subject tracking applications where subject color, size, and motion vectors are used to intelligently lock-onto the moving subjects and ensure precise focus. Additionally, supporting working in low-light conditions, a Starlight AF feature enables accurate AF performance down to -4 EV.

Benefitting manual focus operation, focus peaking is available that highlights bright edges of contrast with a colored outline for quickly recognizing your focus point, as well as Touch MF Assist for touch-to-focus operation.”

For me, the AF was excellent, and I missed no shots due to AF speed or inaccuracies. In fact, the only cameras I feel do not have good AF today are the Sigma Quattro series of cameras. Those are DOG slow, but most mirrorless bodies today have very fast AF that is faster than almost all DSLR’s of old. Today, the pro DSLRs still reign supreme for sports shooting, action, etc but Mirrorless cameras have come a LONG LONG way since those early days of the GF1 and PEN.

The first three were with the Olympus 7-14 which allows crazy close focus as well. The only ultra wide one would ever need for Micro 4/3 IMO (though I am lusting after the new 12mm f/1.4 from Panasonic)

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The one shot below was with the 42.5 f/1.7 at f/4.5. This lens is a stunner for the money!

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THE EVF and LCD

The EVF on the GX85 is its weak point IMO, but then again, I am spoiled by the picture window display of the Leica SL.  I prefer the EVF in almost all of my other cameras but when compared with the E-M10II, its a wash. So you get what you would expect in this class of camera. The LCD has a 1 million dot resolution, the EVF 2.7, so technically it is a bit better than the EM10II’s EVF. The LCD is a touch screen which did come in handy from time to time as well. I used it often to set my focus point by using my finger.

ISO

The ISP performance was very good, beating out the Olympus E-M10II slightly at the ultra high ISO’s though from 3200 – 12800 they were pretty close. By the time the cameras hit the max of 25,600 the GX85 took the lead, but then again, who shoots at ISO 25,600? Not many, not very often.

So for ISO, you get very good performance. The shots below were all shot RAW with ZERO noise reduction and zero PP. Take a look:

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GX3200

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OVERALL IMAGE QUALITY

The overall IQ is fantastic. In fact, I could not expect or ask for better from this camera. The IQ is on par with even more expensive Micro 4/3 bodies like the E-M1, PEN-F, etc. IQ is not an issue with the GX85 but there are differences between the Olympus and Panasonic bodies in regards to color, contrast, and overall rendering. As I mentioned earlier, the Olympus bodies seems to pump out a more “fun” color signature, have a slightly softer presentation and have lower contrast, out of camera. The GX85 delivers, IMO, richer color, more contrast and more “bite” which gives a Leica like look (Think Leica Q, Leica T, etc)

The IQ from this camera can get addictive in some situations but remember, it is MICRO 4/3 so you will lose out on Dynamic Range, Ultra low light and Shallow DOF over full frame cameras. If we keep the fight fair, between Micro 4/3 bodies, then this little guy is up there with the best for image quality.

These days most camera over $600 offer loads of dynamic range, highly capable high ISO performance, fast AF and ease of use. The GX85 is no different.

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4K Photo Modes

This camera also allows 4K photo mode, which allows one to grab a still from the 4K video, meaning if you shot this way, you would never miss that “decisive moment” because you would have every frame captured..then you pick and choose your “frame”…here is more on that…

Utilizing the 4K video recording capabilities, a trio of still shooting modes are available for recording continuous 8MP stills at a 30 fps shooting rate:

4K Burst: Just as with video recording, this mode will allow you to continuously record 8MP images at 30 fps for up to 29 min. 59 sec., making it ideal for instances where you need a fast frame rate in order to capture the best moment.

4K Pre-Burst: This mode is ideal for times when you’re unsure of the critical moment to press the shutter button and will record 8MP images at 30 fps one second prior to and one second after pressing the shutter button in order to give you 60 frames to choose from.

4K Burst (S/S): This mode most closely follows the 4K video recording process, and allows you to playback your video, pause at the chosen moment, and use the shutter button to mark a chosen frame from the video and save it as a single 8MP frame.

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COMPARISONS

I did a couple of “Crazy Comparisons” of this camera with the PEN-F and even the full frame Sony A7RII.

See them HERE and HERE

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PROS CONS

Pros

  1. It’s small and light but still well made for the price point of under $800
  2. Touch screen swivel LCD works great
  3. AF is fast, new AF modes work well
  4. 5 Axis IS works just as well as Olympus bodies, this was a hugely welcome addition for me
  5. LOADS of amazing lenses from cheap to pricey. 95% of them amazing!
  6. Video capabilities seem strong
  7. 4K photo modes could be handy for some
  8. IQ is rich, deep and has bite. Lovely.
  9. Has all features one could want from photo filters, to WiFi to everything in between.
  10. Battery life is good, I shot all week on one charge (but I select and shoot carefully and do not chimp)
  11. Price is right at under $800 with a kit lens.
  12. CAN USE Panasonic lenses with the aperture ring (Can not do this on Olympus)

Cons

  1. EVF could be larger, but for this price point its good
  2. Not as “fun” to use as a PEN-F but also $500 less
  3. Could be a tad small for someone with larger hands

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FINAL WORD

I love the Panasonic GX85. If I were starting FRESH, and only had a phone camera or point and shoot, I KNOW I would be so overwhelmed by today’s choices. 1″ sensors, Micro 4/3, APS-C, full frame, even MEDIUM FORMAT is now mirrorless and hand holdable with the new Hasselblad.

But if I was looking for a camera under $1000 with lens, I would take a SERIOUS look at the GX85 with a 25 1.7 Panasonic lens. This would be a small solution, discreet but packing LOADS more power and IQ potential over a 1″ sensor camera or phone camera. It’s a beautiful sleek design that builds on the original GF1 from so long ago.

Today, a camera like this offers so much for so little. Speed, gorgeous IQ, low light performance that blows away 1″ sensors and cel phones and lenses that range from $200 and up, all very good. I feel M 4/3 hits a “sweet spot” in sensor design. Not too large to make  the camera large bulky and sluggish, yet not too small to bring in the noise and lack of dynamic range that most 1″ sensors bring. Micro 4/3 to me, competes with any APS-C out there as it has some cons over it but also some pros.

As one can see here, the IQ is not lacking and I feel I have some better looking shots here than in my full frame camera reviews, and to note, the GX85 does not have a low pass filter (AA filter) which could lead to its crisp photos that truly POP. I am in the camp that no camera should have an AA filter, as every time I use one without I fall in love.  This little guys offers small size, huge lens selection, great IQ and a great price. I mean, what is not to like?

Highly recommended. 

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WHERE TO BUY?

For Panasonic, my fave dealers ever are B&H Photo and Amazon. TWO HUGE trusted shops with great ease of ordering, great return policies and they ALWAYS deliver (I only use Amazon prime for Amazon though). Use the links below  to see more or order, and if you do, it helps this site continue on, and these days I NEED IT!! So thank you in advance if you use my links below to make a purchase, its what you can do to help these free reviews and content to forge on for the next years ahead. THANK YOU!!

Buy the GX85 at B&H PHOTO in Black

Buy the GX85 at B&H Photo in SILVER

Buy the GX85 at Amazon in BLACK or SILVER

Also, the 25 1.7 is HERE and the 42.5 f/1.7 is HERE. BOTH are AMAZING for the $$! The 42.5 is averaging a 5 star review on Amazon, so it is not just me saying it!

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67 Comments

  1. Thanks Steve for the detailed review. I am in the phase of stepping up a class from my bridge Lumix FZ200 to a second camera with a larger sensor and smaller size, mainly for everyday carry and street shots. My questions are:
    1. Is the EVF really uncomfortable? I have seen it as a con in every review but I have no real experience with many cameras (the EVF of the FZ200 is quite usable in my opinion).
    2. How does the kit lens perform? The GX85 is available with a 12-32 lens in the local stores. Is it worth the money or should I stick to the body and choose a lens separately?

    • It really all depends on your and your expectations. By todays standards the GX85 EVF is average. But it’s very usable. As for kit lenses, me, I would never stick with a kit lens as they normally do not offer performance past smartphones. BUT if that is your budget it can be a great way to start and then add a lens later. Would all depend on your budget and needs.

    • Great camera. Most of the pics I post on instagram, facebook and on my website were made with it. The evf is small and uncomfortable especially since I wear glasses. But I’m now used to framing with the screen. I use two very good primes for all my work – Panasonic 20mm (v2) and the 42.5mm. Love them both.

  2. Is it correct that the S-AF of the Pana GX80/85 equals the GH4 and is faster and more accurate than the EM1?

  3. Nice review and photos. I just bought the GX85. I have the Oly 17mm 1.8 and the Pana 35-100 2.8 lenses….and am interested in the Oly 7-14 lens for wide duty. Worried that the 7-14 is a little too big for the camera though. What are Steve’s and others comments on that?

  4. Steve and readers, I have held the Pen F and it is a stunningly beautiful camera.Again IQ only. I was headed that route to replace my tiny GM1. I have a handful of good M4/3 lenses. My question is strickly IQ…how much better is the Olympus IQ or is it possoble the GX85 is about equal. I also care about sharpness. At times I don’t feel like carrying around my RX1r or X Vario.

    IQ Pen F vs GX85 ? Again IQ only.

    Thanks Steve. Love your site.

  5. Eyecup please !
    The evf is very difficult for me with eyeglasses.
    I had no problem with the GX7 (now sold)
    If anyone knows of an eyecup that’ll fit please share the info.
    B&H say they don’t have one for the GX85

    • Here we are over 6 months later, and I’m still looking for the same thing. It *looks* like a GX8 eyecup might fit over the GX85 VF and eyecup (I own both and it appears possible) but I’d prefer a specific design intended for the GX85. I’ve emailed Panasonic and all the sellers I could find, but so far there appears to be nothing made for GX85.

  6. I just bought the GX85 and shot a bunch of images in RAW as I usually did with the GX7, But my version of ACR (8.3.0) cant open these raw files (and I can’t update ACR without purchasing subscription version of PS which I can’t do as it needs a newer OS). I then thought to d/l DNG Converter and found that ver 9.6 supports the GX85 But it too requires OSX 10.9 and I only have 10.6 (can’t upgrade with my old Mac). Can anyone tell me how else I can do this?

    • Does the latest Olympus viewer run on your Mac? If so, convert with Viewer and then open the Jpegs in Adobe. Else shoot in Jpeg.
      How old is your Mac? If 10.6 is your original OS then it’s about 6 years old and should still ba able to run 10.11. Need to upgrade to 10.6.8 with a CD first to get the App Store.
      If you give me your SN and type of Mac I can check for you.

      • Hi,
        @Gerhard Rhinn – That sounds promising – but how do I change the exif data. I can view all the raw data in bridge but don’t see how to edit it?

        @Luna – My mac is an old tower and just had it’s 9th birthday. I can’t update from 10.6.8
        Hardware Overview:

        Model Name: Mac Pro
        Model Identifier: MacPro1,1
        Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon
        Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
        Number Of Processors: 2
        Total Number Of Cores: 4
        L2 Cache (per processor): 4 MB
        Memory: 16 GB
        Bus Speed: 1.33 GHz
        Boot ROM Version: MP11.005C.B08
        SMC Version (system): 1.7f10
        Serial Number (system): G8724226UQ2
        Hardware UUID: 00000000-0000-1000-8000-0017F20AB90A

        • Hi Frank,

          I just checked with your serial number.
          You Mac can officially be updated to OS X 10.7.5 (Lion).
          The way to do that is first get version 10.6.8 on CD (only available at Apple online or an Apple Store, not An Apple Premium Retailer) or have an Apple Store or Apple Premium Retailer update it for you.
          Then you get the “App Store” in your operating system (just like on an iPhone) and there you can do the update to 10.7.5. Or have an APR or Apple Store do it for you.

          Not sure if you can run the version of Adobe you need then, that you have to check on the Adobe site.

          And my advice: never upgrade without a backup. Guess you know that but I’d like to be safe. 😉

          A Mac pro is a decent and expensive piece of equipment but 10 years in computer terms is the equivalent of an eternity …

          Your Machine is also declared obsolete by Apple which means if anything fails no official Apple Support Center will work on it and genuine parts are no longer available through Apple.

          Still, if OS X 10.7.5 solves your problem you’re good for another year or two with your Adobe software.

          Hope this helps …

          • Thank you very much for taking the time & trouble – appreciated. Your findings are a surprise to me as a person at Apple (on the phone) told me I couldn’t go any further than 10.6.8 (installed) with my machine;and the software update doesn’t show anything either. I’ll look into it further. Thanks again.

  7. Is the kit 12 – 32 a decent lens…or body only a better way to go? Thanks for all the practical insights.

    • My opinion (without having owned that lens) is that one the one hand it’s just an f3.5-f5.6 kitlens so not the fastest like the constant f2.8 zooms.
      On the onther hand, it’s a pancake which could be useful for walking around with something the size of a compact camera that fits in your jacket pocket.
      Mind that it only goes to 64mm though, there are two other pancakes that go to 84mm from both Oly and Pana but these have electronic zooms, good for video but unnerving for photo.

      But if I would have to choose a pancake, it would be the 12-32, 64 mm is a decent zoom range for street photography, it has a manual zoom and fits in your pocket with the GX85.

      Check how much you pay for the 12-32 in kit and separately. You usually pay quite a bit less in kit. So then I’d say get it, a pancake can always come of use.

    • Hey Mark,

      I have the 12-32mm lens which came with my GM1. I also have the 12-35mm f2.8 which came with the GH4 and the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 and a few others so I can do some comparison for you.

      When I travel I take the 12-32mm together with the 20mm f1.7. Why? The image quality for the 12-32mm is stellar. I mostly take street and scenes and most of my travel pictures are in the 12-14mm range. I couldn’t be happier with the 12-32, very surprising.

      Again, this depends on what you use it for. If it’s macro, or low light or portraits, it’s not the best lens.

      Good luck!

  8. I would like a real comparison, of lenses, not like now out memory.
    Pana/leica 15-1.7, pana/leica 25-1.4, pana 20-1.7mkII, pana 25-1.7, on this new sensor

  9. Interesting findings. My biggest complaint is that you can’t find panasonic cameras in any retailers. I’d love to try out the GX85….or any of them for that matter. No such luck unless you live in a major city.

    • L. Monochrome is a Photo Style and not a Filter mode. You can use all bracketing available with L. Monochrome. Video also works.

  10. Having a GM5 and just recently added 5 days ago a Pen-F… And having used Panasonic bodies too before, I would say this-

    Olympus JPEG engine color wise to me is still better than Panasonic’s. Panasonic has the issue that some reds can turn magenta. However, they have been improving on this and the GX8 and now GX85 represent a bit of a level up for them. I still think Olympus does it better – in Particular the PenF which to me now has quasi or near identical level of Fuji-class JPEGS which are absolutely fantastic.

    That said the Panasonic JPEG engine for B&W is pretty good.

    AF – hands down Panasonic. My GM5 (consider how old this camera is now) focuses better than my OMD EM5 MKII and the PenF, hands down. And it doesn’t even have the new DFD tech. The GX85 I bet wins the AF contest easily.

    The pin point AF of Panasonic – its usability- is extremely well thought out. Olympus implementation here is quite frankly horrible next to it.

    The GX85 is probably one of the very best values today in cameras. It’s absolutely stunningly capable at the price. Panasonic even added something similar to Olympus multi-cummulative exposure on it if I remember correctly. Also I will have to say the Panasonic lenses seem to be doing better than the lower level and mid-tier Olympus lenses, which as a previous 4/3rds shooter is frustrating because near all 4/3rd lenses were fantastic.

    This is an area where Fuji beats m43rds hands down- lens image quality. Though the Pro tiers of m43rds are good.

    I thought for a while about going GX85 instead of PenF. I actually still think about it for the AF- the PenF has some annoying issues here sometimes and I hope Olympus improves it in a firmware upgrade.

    But there are three things that so far make me think more PenF and keep – the JPEG engine color and the ability to finally do exposure compensation in full manual mode. Panasonic still doesn’t have this which is frustrating. Pentax, Fuji have had this for a while now.

    Finally I am seeing better metering and highlight ease with the PenF new sensor than the old GM5/GX85 sensor. It may be similar but the new PenF/GX8 sensor seems to have a better color and higher iso rendition to me.

  11. To be honest I slowly got rid of my Olympus lenses and went panny for the same reason. For me, the 15mm 1.7 as of today. I had the noticron but it was too big and I felt I had to baby it. I can just imagine what the 12mm 1.4 will be like.

  12. The little 42.5 1.7 has been my favorite lens I own, and it is nice to see it getting some (I feel) deserved praise here! I really think it outperforms its price. The newer 25 1.7 I haven’t been as impressed with, but for the price it’s fine. I will probably be parting with mine and upgrading to the Leica 1.4 eventually.

    There were a few technical points not covered in the review such as the new mechanical shutter design in the GX85 designed to reduce shutter shock and the lack of a low pass filter. In time I’m sure there will be more written about that as more people get and shoot with the camera. There are a lot of things I like that the GX85 incorporates (the previously mentioned items, especially, and that it is a bit smaller) but there are also things I don’t want to give up from my GX8. So I’m not going to make the switch, but I am really looking forward to what they do with the ‘GX9’ in a year or two.

    Best regards

  13. Thanks for the review, Steve. I really enjoy how you dance on the minute 3:08 (the dramatic Look!).

    The EVF is smaller for photos but the magnification on the Panasonic is bigger than the Pen F when you are doing video! Just test it and you will be impressed.

  14. Hi Steve, thanks for the review. Glad that you liked it too as I love it to bits, more than the em10 I tried last year. How about one more crazy comparison-batis 85 against panny 42.5/1.7?

  15. Hi Steve,

    What photo modes were you using on the GX85, and did you tweak them in camera at all (contrast ./ saturation etc).

    Thanks

  16. That pic of debby at full size confirms what i suspected – it is WAY sharper than the one put up in the “crazy comparison” between the A6300 and the two m4/3’s. I don’t think either the Gx85 or PenF quite nailed focus in that comparo.

    Anyway, moving on. Great review Steve. I too think Pana colours are starting to really improve. I have my heart set on a Pen, but at $800 saving (Aus prices) the GX85 is a compelling argument too. What did you make of the Monochrome.L output vs Pen Mono ?

  17. I had the GX7 until a few weeks ago and was going to now get this GX85 but that crazy test blew it for me. The Sony 6300 had so much better IQ that I can’t get the GX85 any longer

    • Compare the portrait of Deb in this review with the one in the crazy comparison. This one is much much closer to the A6300 shot, albeit a tad cool in WB.

      • Thanks Jason for pointing that out. Based on the CrazyComparison the GX85 was hopeless. Here it is comparable (albeit smaller) – I’ve placed the Sony6300 image from the crazy comparison next to the GX85 image from the actual review. The col doesn’t bother me as I shoot raw and can adjust easily. The IQ is so much better – why? Any comment on this Steve?
        http://frankgross.com/temp/GX85_Review_vs_Sony6300.jpg

        • I looked closely at the crazy comparo pic at the time and it seems slightly front focused. The penf shot also seems slightly misfocused too. Thats all i can put it down to because clearly both cameras can produce excellent detail and sharpness.

  18. Is there a comparison between Panasonic 42.5/1.7 and Olympus 42.5/1.8 somewhere on your site?

  19. Hi Steve,

    I moved to Mirrorless years ago with the Panasonic GX1, but soon Olympus OM5 won over as I prefer the colour and rendering of the Oly. When Panasonic launched the LX100, I thought it is a cool 2nd cam to accompany OM1. This GX85 could be a good replacement of LX100, which small zoom lens would you recommend which gives the BAM and POP you show here.

    Thanks Steve for the review, really enjoyable read!!

  20. Thanks for the review. I have been looking at this camera as I have those 2 lenses and some other Panasonic lenses. I notice sometimes I get annoying CA on my Oly camera. Panasonic handles that. Now please talk to my wife and explain to her why I need to spend more than the E-10 II for my 2nd camera. 🙂

  21. Very enjoyable read and video, as usual Steve.
    Three fast questions if I may:
    – Is the silver top plastic like the GX8 or metal like the Pen-F?
    – Is the IS much better than on the GX8?
    – “As I write this I have visions in my head of a GX8 along with a nice long HQ zoom.” You think it’s doable with 100-400?

    • I can answer this as I have both cameras. The silver top is plastic – it’s quite obvious that it is black plastic under the rather thin paintwork, actually, as it shades to a darker tint at the edges and joins. In fact, the whole outer body aside from the milled ring behind the lens mount and the dials is plastic (with a thin leatherette applied for grip, the same leatherette as on the GX8 actually). Incidentally, the GX8’s top, whether silver or black, ISN’T plastic, it’s painted magnesium alloy except on the panel over the hinging EVF. It’s far colder than plastic (and the rest of the bodywork is metal on that model too, even if it doesn’t look like it).

      • Thanks!
        I had the GX8 briefly but returned it and was under the impression it was plastic, but you’re right, it was especially the top of the VF I noticed I think. The Pen-F is really much nicer made.
        Still, I can get a GX85 for under 600€ and would like a Panasonic body to experiment with the Dual IS in combination with the Nocticron and 100-400.
        The camera is small for the 100-400 but I think one can have a good grip when positioning the left hand a bit more under the lens barrel.
        I would buy the body in black then, wasn’t too fond of the GX8 silver though the silver Pen-F is really gorgeous.

        • Yes, the GX85 (or GX80 where I live) is really good value at present and as a result I have one for a few weeks now – though with annoyingly little opportunity to use it fully due to other commitments. It actually doesn’t feel a lot lighter than the GX8 because it’s surprisingly heavy for its size (I believe that’s the IBIS sensor carrier that adds a lot of the weight – it slides around when powered down in a similarly-heavy sounding way to Pentax’s SR system – the Olympus type feels like it doesn’t use such a heavy assembly). However, it’s certainly smaller than the GX8 and has a lot of nice little evolutions and additions over that model, some of which are quite “Olympus-like” (the focus bracketing, the IBIS, the mode that somewhat resembles Live Composite, albeit only at 8MP, and the EVF eye sensor that turns off when the screen is tilted, stopping accidental switches from the monitor). The new low-vibration shutter is good, too, as it seems to work well and is a lot quieter than the GX8, though it sounds oddly “lazy” – a sort of unhurried “ker…..plunk”.

          Yes, I’d recommend the black GX85 body over the “silver”, which is nothing like the GX8 in its silver finish (which at least looks a similar colour to the Pen-F – the GX85 in silver looks really obviously painted plastic – it’s a sort of variable, darker, graphite colour). Of course, many people probably also think it looks great – it’s all a matter of taste. The top of the black GX85 is smooth painted plastic too – the black GX8 has a nice sputtered finish (this finish is found on the rest of the black parts of the GX85 though, and all versions have milled metal dials at least).

          The EVF, I find, is far less good than the GX8’s, though, which for me is very noticeable. I’m a camera nut with far too many cameras and the GX8 has one of the biggest EVFs I’ve seen, very nice and clear too. The GX85’s is obviously smaller, and I do see its “rainbowing” sometimes (though for me it’s mildly irritating only), but I find the rather low-quality optics of the eyepiece a problem – again, many probably don’t. The GX8 has great, very clear and sharp glass optics in the eyepiece, like any Olympus does. So a smaller Olympus EVF like the Pen-F has makes me momentarily think “Oh, a bit smaller than the GX8 (for instance), but still good” and I then I adjust. With the GX85, I adjust to the size, but can’t see things clearly enough on all of it at once, no matter how I adjust it.

          Obviously, like anybody, I find I prefer certain cameras. Overall, I’m not all that fond of the GX8 due to its larger size, the fact that I do get shutter-related vibration in certain circumstances and various other, less important factors. I like the GX85 better in respect of these things and its useful new features, but for me the EVF is quite a negative, and I find the general handling a bit more awkward than the GX8 (the stiff, slippery power switch and the stiff, not particularly prominent rear dial, mainly). The very well-implemented touchscreen is an equal positive on both, of course, and its quality is very good on both. However, I suppose the bottom line (for me) is that ironically enough I actually like Olympus cameras better, overall. But it’s fun to get to know, and use, another brand and Panasonic has strengths in different areas so they are both complementary.

          • Thanks for the elaborate explanation.

            I also prefer my Olympus cameras but an unexpensive Panasonic body would indeed be nice. I have lenses of both brands, I pick what suits me best from their offerings.

            I do not have a problem with a bigger body though, I have large hands and actually prefer it. Which is why I added the magnificent Olympus grip to the PEN-F. Three functions in 1: nice finger grip, rises the camera which is nice with lenses like the Nocticron, Arca-Swiss compatible so you can attach it right to your tripod. I added a RRS base plate to my E-M1, kindof similar but the one they have for the PEN-F doesn’t have the grip so the Olympus one is better designed. You could say a mix between an RRS base plate and JB Designs grip.

            I would not take the GX8 again since it lacks some really useful features compared to the GX80 like you said. Besides, I already had it and found the construction quality well below that of Olympus considering the price.

            The only thing that will annoy me about the GX80 is the viewfinder which is important to me as well. I did like the size and quality of the GX8 viewfinder but it seems like that’s the compromise I will have to make.

            Thank you for all the info!

  22. Whoa, what a change of attitude on Panasonic! I’ve always been in the Panasonic m4/3 camp, and always felt you were a bit of a, well, non-fan. Welcome.

    I actually picked up one of these to replace my GX1. I like it a lot, but do agree that it could use a bit more grip — especially with the 25 1.4 or the 7-14, which are my faves. Also, I can’t stop moving the focus point by accident — I may end up turning off the touch screen.

  23. Thanks for the review Steve. I jumped for the Pen F a while back and am very pleased with it, so no new body for me; but I adore the Panasonic 42.5/1.7 on that camera, what a steal for the price. Attractive bokeh too.

  24. In the ancient days of yore (aka film) you would have used Velvia over any Kodak E-6 film. As did I. History has a way of repeating itself.

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