First Impressions: Panasonic Lumix G85

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

The confusingly named Lumix G85 has been called by some, “just a GX85, wrapped up in a new body” and while I’m a happy owner of a GX85 I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s the best camera design Panasonic has produced since the original GX1.

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The G85 looks and feels like a real camera and is dust and moisture-sealed. Using a 16MP MOS sensor, omitting the once ubiquitous optical low-pass filter, should produce better sharpness and resolution and my initial test shots were impressive, to say the least. It has 5-axis image stabilization and pairs with select lenses for Dual IS. The camera’s sensitivity ranges from ISO 200-25,600 with continuous shooting up to 10 fps with single-shot AF, or six fps with continuous AF, as well as up to 40 fps when using the electronic shutter function and 30 fps at 8MP with 4K Photo Modes.

The camera has a 2.36m-dot EVF and 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD, with a swivel design that some people hate but if you saw my post Making a Hail Mary Shot: Rat Rod,” you know I love. Like any thoroughly modern camera, it has built-in Wi-Fi for wireless image transferring and remote camera control from smartphones or tablets. See Barry’s post “My iPad: An Important Piece of Gear” for a real world application. There’s a built-in pop-up flash too.

For video shooters: The G85 also supports UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) video with either 30p or 24p frames rates at 100 Mbps. Full HD 1080p/60 is also supported at 28 Mbps in the MP4 format, along with HD recording and Full HD in AVCHD. There’s a built-in stereo mic and an external mic can be used via a built-in 3.5mm jack.

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The camera has three 4K Photo Modes: 4K Burst allows you to continuously record 8MP images at 30 fps for up to 29 min. 59 sec, to make European tax collectors unhappy. 4K Pre-Burst records 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. And then there’s 4K Burst (S/S) that lets you playback your video, pause at the chosen moment and use the shutter button to mark a frame to save as a single 8MP frame.

4-wayThere are several bracketing modes for shutter speed, aperture, and white balance settings. Focus bracketing is possible for up to 999 images with focus steps set in five levels for focus stacking. There’s a whole bunch of Creative Control modes ala Olympus and the expected Photo Styles for either stills or videos, and include Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, L. Monochrome, Scenery, Portrait, Custom, along with the Cinelike D and Cinelike V that I’m excited about using. Quibble: The four-way controller that’s part of most (all) Lumix cameras has stylishly thin tabs that were difficult to use for me. Female shooter might have a problem if they have longer finger nails (I think.)

The lithium-ion battery should provide 330 shots per charge when working with the rear LCD, 320 shots with the EVF or 800 in Power Saver LVF mode. And the G85 includes a real battery charger, unlike the GX85 that does not. I requested a DMW-BGG1 Battery Grip for review but it was not delivered with the camera. I hope it arrives in time to use for the field test. My initial feeling about of the battery grip, without holding it in my paws is that it seems overpriced but I reserve judgment on its usefulness until I actually shoot with it.

lumix-g85With an introductory price of $897.99 for body only, I don’t see the G85’s price tag as prohibitive. The Lumix GX85, which is a heckuva camera, costs $797.99 with kit lens. Users who like the G85‘s size, shape and ability to add a battery grip to will prefer it. But if you treasure compact size, the Lumix GX85 is hard to beat.

Coming Soon: Field Test of the Lumix G85.