Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85
Resolution: 16.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
(17.3mm x 13.0mm)
Kit Lens: 5.00x zoom
12-60mm
(24-120mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 200 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 100 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/16000 - 60 seconds
Max Aperture: 3.5 (kit lens)
Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.5 x 2.9 in.
(128 x 89 x 74 mm)
Weight: 25.7 oz (728 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
Availability: 10/2016
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic G85 specifications
16.00
Megapixels
Micro Four Thirds 4/3
size sensor
image of Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85
Front side of Panasonic G85 digital camera Front side of Panasonic G85 digital camera Front side of Panasonic G85 digital camera Front side of Panasonic G85 digital camera Front side of Panasonic G85 digital camera

Panasonic G85 Review -- Now Shooting!

by
Preview posted: 09/19/2016

Updates:
09/19/2016: First Shots posted

11/03/2016: Field Test posted
: Performance page posted

The Lumix G7 successor is here, and despite a rather friendly, mid-range price point, the new Panasonic G85 sports a new weather-sealed body, offers image quality and performance upgrades, and includes more video features that overall, puts it more closely related to the flagship GH4. Now, writer and photographer Jeremy Gray has returned with his highly detailed G85 Field Test. Based in Maine, he spent time outdoors gathering lots of nature and wildlife images, but he also trekked down to New York City and tested the camera's performance in low-light situations. Overall, his shooting experience was a positive one, and while there are sticking points to watch out for, the G85 overall offers a lot of bang for your buck. Read on below for all the details.

For those looking for our detailed overview that explores all of the cameras features and specs, please click here.

 

Panasonic G85 Field Test

The Panasonic G85 is a weather-sealed, faster G7 and it's great

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 11/03/2016

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/640s, ISO 320.
This image has been cropped. Click for full-size image.

Introduction

It wasn't all that long ago that Panasonic introduced the world to the GX85 mirrorless camera. They're back with the G85, which is armed with the same image sensor and processor pairing that the GX85 launched with in April. However, rather than opt for a rangefinder-style camera body, the G85 has a compact DSLR-style body and is considered the successor to the G7. This Micro Four Thirds camera has an impressive list of specs, but does it deliver equally impressive results in the real world? Read on to find out.

Key Features

  • Compact, lightweight DSLR-style camera body
  • Weather-sealed, improved shutter mechanism
  • 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor without an optical low pass filter (OLPF)
  • Native ISO 200-25,600, expandable to ISO 100
  • 1/16000s-60s shutter speed range
  • 3-inch tilt/swivel touchscreen display
  • 49-point contrast-detect autofocus system with 0.07 second AF speeds
  • 4K Photo and 4K video features
  • Eco mode to improve battery life to 800 shots
  • Dual I.S. 2 image stabilization, providing 5 stops of correction with compatible lenses
  • $1,000 price ($900 street)
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Product Image Front

G85's DSLR-like body is compact & light with a great touchscreen

Externally, there's nothing much of note to differentiate the G85 from its predecessor, the Panasonic G7. However, when you take a peek under the hood, so to speak, you find considerable changes. The G85 has a new version of Panasonic's hybrid sensor-shift image stabilization technology, Dual I.S. 2, which combines lens and sensor-shift technologies to provide up to 5-stops of correction (at least to an equivalent focal length of roughly 280mm). When you shoot at longer focal lengths than that, the amount that the sensor can physically shift becomes a limiting factor. The new image stabilization technology is not compatible with all lenses, however, but with the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that I used, it worked very well. The 100-400mm lens that I also got to shoot with will be getting an upgrade to function with Dual I.S. 2 in 2017, but in the meantime the 1st-gen Dual I.S. stabilization with 4-stops of correction will work with the 100-400mm on this camera.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Product Image Top

In addition to the new sensor shift image stabilization technology, there's also been a change to the shutter mechanism compared to the G7. The G85's new shutter mechanism is the same electromagnetically actuated mechanism found in the GX85, which causes less internal vibrations than previous shutter systems. In addition, even compared to the GX85, the G85's shutter is quieter thanks to the body's weather-sealed design. If you need ultimate silence in operations, you can use an all-electronic mode, which has some downsides such as increased rolling shutter.

As mentioned, the Panasonic G85 is also fully weather-sealed, a very impressive feat for a camera at this price point and a move that brings the G85 more in line with the Panasonic GH4. The G85, with these new changes, weighs in at around 1.1 pounds (505 grams), which is still quite light and very manageable to carry all day with a light or medium-weight lens.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Product Image Top

The G85 has DSLR-like controls to go with its compact DSLR-style body. Despite being a mirrorless camera, DSLR users will feel very comfortable with the G85. It employs a moderately chunky front grip with twin control dials. The dials rotate smoothly but still have a pretty distinct click when making adjustments. In the center of the front command dial is the shutter release, which I didn't like the feel of but I got used to it with time. It has very little travel distance and felt overly sensitive. Looking at the rest of the top panel, the mode dial and drive mode dials rotate with considerable force, meaning that they won't be accidentally rotated but that also means that one finger rotation is slightly more difficult.

The back of the G85 has a fairly standard control layout. The buttons sit close to the body and can be difficult to press when wearing gloves, which is unfortunate when shooting in a cold climate, but the layout is good and I don't have any major complaints about the buttons. It's worth mentioning that I really like the rubber grip that covers the rear of the camera and the front grip. It's soft but has a nice textured finish that felt good to use and provided me with a bit of security when holding the camera.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Product Image Front

The Panasonic G85 has a 3-inch rear touchscreen display with 1,040,000 dots of resolution. The display is plenty sharp, but what is most impressive is its tilt swivel motion. The display rotates well and is very versatile in real-world situations. During my time with the G85, its tilting and swiveling screen proved useful on a number of occasions. The G85's touchscreen functionality works well too, particularly with regard to its handling of autofocus point movement. Even when looking through the viewfinder, you can use the touchscreen display as an autofocus touch pad. This feature is highly useful when shooting with the viewfinder, as I often like to do, particularly when shooting with a long lens such as the Panasonic 100-400mm telephoto zoom.

On the topic of the viewfinder, the Panasonic G85 has a 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder that offers 100% frame coverage and a 35mm-equivalent magnification of 0.74x. The viewfinder works well in bright light, although it can get very choppy when shooting in low light. It is big and bright and works well in most cases, as does its eye sensor (although the tilting screen can trick it with reflections and shadows at times).

Overall, while the camera isn't necessarily inexpensive with a street price around US$900, it has a very solid feel that surpasses its price point. The tilting display and electronic viewfinder are both excellent and despite buttons that are a bit too close to the body and a trigger-happy shutter release, the Panasonic G85 body feels well designed.

The G85 can be purchased with a versatile kit lens, the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 at 12mm (24mm eq.), f/9.0, 1/250s, ISO 200
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

In addition to being sold as a body only configuration, the G85 can also be purchased in a kit with a weather-sealed lens. The kit comes with a 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Power OIS lens which offers an equivalent focal length of 24-120mm. The lens has 11 elements in nine groups, including one ED element and three aspherical elements. It's a moderately compact and lightweight lens that balances nicely with the G85 camera body. I enjoyed using the kit lens. It adds only $100 to the cost of the G85, so if you are buying your first MFT camera, I highly recommend taking a long look at the kit because it is a versatile, solid optic.

The Panasonic G85 captures sharp photos with updated sensor

Unlike the G7 before it, the Panasonic G85 forgoes an optical low pass filter on its 16-megapixel Live MOS Four Thirds sensor, but otherwise maintains the same resolution as the earlier model. Panasonic states that the G85 includes their sharpest 16-megapixel sensor ever, and while we need to wait for full testing results to verify their claim, it is definitely a sharp sensor. It's self-cleaning too, so that's nice.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 at 39mm (78mm eq.), f/9.0, 1/320s, ISO 200
Click for full-size image.

Image quality: Very sharp, fine-detailed images

Straight from the camera, images can be a bit bland, which was an issue we had with the G7 as well. Nonetheless, the removal of the optical low pass filter leads to very sharp, detailed images, particularly at low ISOs. RAW images need quite a bit of sharpening to bring out the sensor's detail, but it's a worthwhile task as the sensor is capable of capturing sharp images. Colors are mostly handled well by the G85, although dark purples are pushed a bit and lose some fine detail.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image

Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 at 12mm (24mm eq.), f/9.0, 6s, ISO 200
I performed extensive editing to this image, including bringing up exposure and shadows a considerable amount while reducing highlights. I was impressed with the flexibility of the G85's RAW files.

This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Artifacts and moiré can be problematic from the Panasonic G85

While removing the OLPF means sharper images, it also means that G85 is more susceptible to moiré when shooting subjects with small, repeating patterns, such as feathers. Moiré is typically very difficult to remove in post-processing, so it is worth keeping in mind when shooting certain subjects. There are a few things you can do to avoid moiré, although it is not always feasible to do so. You can change the focal length or your distance from the subject, you can slightly adjust focus, shoot from a different angle or stop down your lens far enough that you get diffraction, which can soften the image enough to eliminate the artifact. If you're photographing a subject that you think will cause problems, be sure to view your subject at 100%.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/640s, ISO 800.
This image has been cropped. Click for full-size image.
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
When viewed at 100%, you can see some jagged edges on some very finely-detailed lines.
Click for full-size image.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/500s, ISO 1600.
Click for full-size image.
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
This 100% crop shows the moiré that the G85 can occasionally produce due to its lack of an OLPF.
Click for full-size image.

Image quality at high ISOs: G85 delivers decent high ISO results

Despite its somewhat small sensor size, the G85 does quite well at high ISOs. When considering JPEG images, I found that it produces usable files through ISO 3200. At ISO 6400, noise reduction starts to become excessive and fine details are lost and edges become riddled with artifacts. At ISO 12800, JPEG images are bad even when viewed at small sizes and ISO 25600 is basically useless, in my opinion. When viewing images at 100% or making large prints, I think that ISO 400 is probably where I would stop for larger, critical prints as there's a noticeable increase in shadow noise by ISO 800, although both ISO settings look very good.

Panasonic G85 Noise Comparison
100% Center Crops from JPEG images with Vivid Picture Style and otherwise default settings
(Click for full-size images)
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 200 Full Scene
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 200
ISO 400
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 800
ISO 1600
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 12800
ISO 25600

Looking at RAW images, ISO 1600 is where image quality really takes a turn for the worse. Nonetheless, with a bit of noise reduction, ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 images are both what I would consider usable. Beyond that, balancing the sharpening that RAW files need with the noise reduction that has to be applied to the files becomes very difficult.

Overall: Sharp images, decent high ISO performance from the Panasonic G85

The Panasonic G85 captures sharp images overall. Its high ISO performance is pretty good, although not outstanding, and images can be a bit dull straight from the camera at default capture settings. RAW images need a bit more work than other cameras, in my experience, to bring out their best, but nonetheless, the G85 includes an impressive Micro Four Thirds sensor.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/60s, ISO 3200.
Click for full-size image.

Panasonic G85 user experience: feature-rich, fast AF, deep buffer

The Panasonic G85's somewhat compact form factor and excellent display help it be a very user-friendly camera. However, there's more to a camera's user experience than ergonomics. Fortunately, the G85 excels in other areas as well, including its variety of shooting modes, autofocus performance and video features. I would like to also point out that the camera's menu system is pretty good, but there's also a very neat playback feature. When you are playing back images on the G85, if you zoom all the way out (using the rear command dial) to view more images. If you keep scrolling, you can zoom out to get a calendar view, allowing you to view all of your images and videos from a particular day. Neat! You can also zoom-in to a single photo, by scrolling the rear dial in the other direction.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 at 33mm (66mm eq.), f/9.0, 1/125s, ISO 200
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Wide assortment of shooting modes

The Panasonic G85 has a lot of photo modes, including the standard program (P), aperture priority (A), shutter speed priority (S) and manual (M) modes. On the mode dial, there are also intelligent automatic, creative expression, scene and user-customizable C1 and C2 modes. For movie shooting, there's a manual movie shooting mode on the dial as well.

Regarding the creative expression mode, there are a variety of filters that can be applied to your images, including, retro, high key, low key, sepia, monochrome, and much, much more. Scene mode, rather than applying a filter, selects settings appropriate to a chosen "scene." There are numerous different Scene options to pick through, which includes typical subjects options like clear portrait, handheld night shot, and panorama. There are also some oddly specific Scene modes, too, such as 'sweet child's face,' 'romantic sunset glow,' ' soft image of a flower' and 'cute dessert.'

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Miniature filter effect

Metering performance is reliable

I found the Panasonic G85's 1728-zone metering system works well in most situations. There are three metering modes: multiple, center-weighted and spot. The latter of which is tied to the AF point, which is nice. The function button on the top of the camera (Fn1) works as an exposure compensation button during regular shooting, in case you need to quickly change exposure metering behavior. However, I didn't need to utilize exposure compensation very often as the camera did a good job in real-world use. More importantly, it was consistent. White balance metering was similarly good, although white balance can be quickly adjusted by pressing the 'WB' button on the back of the camera.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/640s, ISO 2000.
This image has been cropped. Click for full-size image.

Autofocus performance is snappy, capable in low-light and impressive overall

The Panasonic G85 utilizes a 49-point contrast-detect autofocus system that performs particularly well in low light situations. In fact, the camera can autofocus down to -4 EV, which is very impressive and rivals many of the more advanced DSLR cameras' autofocus systems.

When shooting in AF-S mode, the autofocus system is quick to acquire accurate focus. 49 points proves to be plenty on the Four Thirds sensor. By far my favorite autofocus feature of the G85 in real-world use is the ability to use the touchscreen display as an AF touchpad. When looking through the viewfinder, it's possible to move the AF point around the screen with your thumb. It may not sound like a big deal, but it is very intuitive and works well. However, you have to be careful to not accidentally hit the screen with your face or thumb when trying to access buttons on the back of the camera, as this can disrupt your focusing and move your AF point to an undesired location.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 800.
This image has been cropped. Click for full-size image.

Despite the lack of on-sensor phase-detect AF, I found continuous autofocus performance is generally quite good on the G85. There is a slight tendency, however, for the camera to hunt in lower light or fail to realize that it has acquired focus on your subject and start searching again. Overall, though, I was impressed with the camera's continuous autofocus capabilities.

It's worth noting that the G85 utilizes Panasonic's Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology, which you can read more about here. Focusing is very fast, acquiring focus in just 0.07 seconds. In my experience, while the continuous autofocus was certainly quick, the single-shot focus is where the G85 shines.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/1000s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image.

Performance remains strong with some improvements, plus a handy battery-saving mode

The Panasonic G85 is a pretty speedy compact ILC. Compared to its predecessor, the G85 offers an additional frame per second of continuous shooting speed with a total of 9fps in continuous high mode. With that said, if you want to shoot with continuous autofocus, shooting speeds are capped at 6fps, which is still pretty quick but not groundbreaking.

The biggest improvement in performance comes in to RAW image buffer depth. The G85 is rated to capture 45 RAW shots before slowing down whereas the G7 maxed out at just 16 frames in our lab testing. JPEG buffer depth has been improved, as well, to a rated 300 frames, although we found it to shoot 240 JPEG frames during lab testing, so it wasn't exactly an area of weakness before. Like the G7 before it, the G85 is UHS-II compatible, which helps clear the buffer rapidly. In my experience, buffer clearing was a bit slower than the G7, compared to the numbers we tested in our lab. However, with the G85, you can start shooting again at full burst speeds while the camera continues clearing out the buffer.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm eq.), f/6.3, 1/640s, ISO 250.
This image has been cropped. Click for full-size image.

What about battery life? During normal shooting, battery life is 330 shots when using the monitor and 320 shots when using the electronic viewfinder, which isn't particularly good but fairly standard for a mirrorless ILC. However, when using the new battery saving eco mode, battery life increases to a very good 800 shots. This is accomplished by using the camera's built-in eye sensor and quickly putting the camera to sleep when it isn't in use. You'll need to toggle the display settings to turn off Live View on the rear LCD and shoot with only the EVF, but it's a great way to drastically extend the battery life.

No NFC, but the wireless capabilities of the G85 are quite impressive nonetheless

Using the Panasonic Image App, you can connect the G85 via Wi-Fi to your smartphone to transfer images and remotely control the camera. The connection process is straightforward, requiring turning on Wi-Fi on the camera, connecting to the G85 in your device's settings and then opening up Image App. Although straightforward, the process would be much faster if there was a dedicated "wireless" button on the camera body rather than require users to go through the menu system.

Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Wireless Application
Screenshots from the Panasonic Image App iOS application.

Once connected, you can select images to transfer to your device. This works fine, but the real draw of the app for me is the ability to remotely control the G85. The connection is reliable and the live view feed is sharp and stable. You can make changes on the camera body itself without disconnecting the camera from the phone as well, which is nice. There are a plethora of options you can remotely adjust, including photo style, filter settings, picture size and quality, metering, flash, bracketing, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO and white balance. It's really a very impressive wireless application and one of the best ones I've used.

Panasonic G85 4K Video and Photo features are excellent

As has become standard for Panasonic cameras, the G85 is very well-equipped in the video department, including 4K video recording up to 30p. Although it doesn't have the same level of pro-video features as the GH4, it does come close. The G85 has a 3.5mm mic input, but no headphone jack, and includes Cinelike D and Cinelike V picture styles for increased dynamic range when recording video that will be post-processed. You can record with a 100Mbps bit rate in the MP4 format as well as AVCHD files at a lower bit rate. Unlike the GH4, there's no MOV format on the G85.

Additional features include fully manual video recording, 4K Live Cropping (which lets you record a 1080p video within a frame that you move around on the display), focus peaking and exposure zebras.

Panasonic G85 4K Video Sample #1
3840 x 2160, 30fps, ISO 200, Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3
Download Original (153.2 MB .MP4 File)

Panasonic G85 4K Video Sample #2
3840 x 2160, 30fps, ISO 200, Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6
Download Original (100.3 MB .MP4 File)

How does the video quality look? Very nice. 4K video is sharp, and the camera handles exposure and focus well. Continuous focus can sometimes hunt a bit, but its transitions are generally smooth and quiet with the lenses I tested. You can record video within P, A, S and M shooting modes by hitting the dedicated movie record button on the top of the camera, but there's also a dedicated movie shooting mode on the mode dial itself that lets you cycle through different movie modes, such as manual and aperture priority, my two go-to choices.

Panasonic G85 High ISO Video Sample
3840 x 2160, 30fps, ISO 3200, Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6
Download Original (153 MB .MP4 File)

Even at high ISO, 4K video quality remains quite good, particularly through ISO 1600. You cannot record video beyond ISO 6400, which given the high noise levels when recording at ISO 6400 makes sense.

Panasonic G85 4K Video Sample #3
3840 x 2160, 30fps, ISO 200, Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6
Download Original (212.9 MB .MP4 File)

Overall, the G85 includes a lot of video features considering its price point, and its performance is very impressive. It can't quite match the GH4, but it comes quite close.

4K Photo: Fast-paced 8-megapixel JPEG shooting

4K Photo is a hugely important shooting mode for Panasonic cameras, and it, of course, is offered on the G85. You can capture 8-megapixel JPEG images at up to 30 frames per second with this mode, making it well-suited for action. There are various 4K Photo modes that let you change focus after shooting, stack multiple images for more depth of field, or save 5-second chunks of 4K burst video (or up to 150 individual frames) for later sorting and editing. You can even set the camera to start recording 4K photos when you half-press the shutter so you can ensure that you capture action as soon as it starts. As has been the case with other Panasonic cameras I've tested, 4K Photo modes work very well. It's disappointing that you can't shoot RAW images in this mode, but that isn't surprising given the technical demands of the feature.

Panasonic G85 Field Test Summary

The Panasonic G85 is a very rugged, fun-to-use and capable mirrorless camera

What I like:

  • Compact, lightweight and weather-sealed camera body
  • Fantastic tilt/swivel touchscreen display and interface
  • Good image quality and sharpness across a wide range of ISO speeds
  • Fast autofocus performance
  • Excellent use of the touchscreen when shooting
  • Impressive continuous shooting performance for its class
  • 4K photo and video modes work well

What I dislike:

  • Moiré and aliasing can be problematic if you're not careful
  • Shutter release is sensitive and has little travel distance
  • Electronic viewfinder can struggle slightly in low light, displaying a decreased frame rate
  • Wi-Fi should have a dedicated button
Panasonic G85 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 at 12mm (24mm eq.), f/9.0, 10s, ISO 200
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Following up on the Panasonic G7, the G85 brings a wide array of improvements and continues to deliver on the best aspects of the G7, including a compact, lightweight DSLR-style camera body and fast autofocus performance. The tilt/swivel touchscreen display is particularly impressive as both a tool for composing images and for interacting with the camera. Additionally, image quality from the 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor is very good, and the G85's performance has received a substantial upgrade in the RAW buffer depth department. Overall, thanks to impressive imaging performance, autofocus and a very good variety of 4K photo and video modes, the Panasonic G85 is not only an excellent camera, but also a great value.

 

 

Panasonic G85 Review -- Overview

by
Preview posted: 09/19/2016

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Back in April 2016, we said hello to the GX85, Panasonic's mid-tier rangefinder-style mirrorless camera -- and smaller sibling to the GX8. Sharing many of the technical upgrades found in the GX85, we now have the new Panasonic G85, its mid-range DSLR-shaped Lumix camera and successor to the G7. Also known as the Panasonic G80 for folks over in Europe, this compact and rugged "field camera," as Panasonic puts it, offers a variety of technical improvements, such as better image stabilization, better construction, better image quality, longer battery life and faster burst shooting. While the exterior design is more or less the same as the older G7, features and performance upgrades, as well as a new exterior accessory, put this camera much closer in line with the flagship GH4 model.

The Panasonic G85 gets a similar 16MP sensor, but no OLPF

At the heart of the camera is a 16-megapixel Live MOS Four-Thirds sensor and updated Venus Engine image processor -- the same pair from the GX85, though Panasonic does state there are some upgrades and improvements to the G85's sensor and processor. And while some might be disappointed with yet another 16MP Lumix camera -- as opposed to the 20MP Panasonic GX8 -- the new G85 does have a trick up its sleeve, just like the GX85: No optical low-pass filter. Like its rangefinder-shaped sibling, the Panasonic G85's filterless sensor combined with its new Venus Engine image processor should offer improved per-pixel sharpness over the older G7 model.

The removal of the optical low-pass filter, as we've seen on some other recent cameras, can result in noticeable improvements to fine detail. There is, however, an increased risk of moiré and other aliasing artifacts appearing in your images that one should be aware of. Objects such as thin repeating lines and meshes, certain fabrics and other man-made structures, for example, are all notorious moiré-inducing objects. Moiré patterns are often difficult to remove in post-processing, so it's important to keep that in mind when you're out photographing with one of these "AA-filter-less" cameras.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

According to Panasonic, the 16MP sensor from the GX85 and G85 displays the highest resolution out of all 16MP Four-Thirds sensors, thanks to the lack of an optical low-pass filter as well as improved processing. These tests were however conducted using respective kit lenses, so results could vary depending on the lens used.

Quieter, less vibrations from redesigned shutter mechanism

And speaking of better image quality, it's not only the G85's new sensor and image processor that should help capture sharper, more detailed images but also the camera's improved shutter mechanism and brand new Dual I.S. 2 stabilization technology. Sharing the same electromagnetically actuated shutter mechanism as in the GX85, capturing an image with the G85 causes less internal vibrations, also known as shutter shock, which should result in sharper photos -- especially at certain slower shutter speeds. The G85 also adds a new electronic first curtain shutter (EFCS) mode, which is usually very effective at eliminating blur due to shutter shock (since any vibration from the mechanical shutter only happens at the end of the exposure).

Furthermore, due to the G85's more durable construction (more on that later), the shutter is also quieter than not only the G7 but also the GX85 by about four decibels. Not only is it sturdy, lightweight and compact, but it's also very quiet, making it an excellent choice for events, ceremonies, and other sound-sensitive environments. And there is also an all-electronic shutter mode for complete silence, if you're willing to live with increased rolling shutter, slightly reduced image quality and other possible artifacts.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image
Quieter and less vibrations: The Panasonic G7's shutter mechanism (left) compared to the G85's electromagnetically-actuated shutter mechanism (right).

Panasonic G85 introduces Dual I.S. 2 with up to 5-stops of stabilization

The Panasonic G85 features a new version of their hybrid lens + sensor-shift image stabilization technology, dubbed Dual I.S. 2. Using a new, high-precision gyroscopic sensor and all new algorithms, Panasonic is claiming up to 5-stops of image stabilization correction, besting the 4-stop, first-generation Dual I.S. system of the GX85. According to Panasonic, the new system, by way of the Venus Engine processor, controls both the lens' optical I.S. system and the sensor-shifting mechanism simultaneously for better angle compensation. This new stabilization system should provide up to 5-stops of correction all the way out to an equivalent focal length of about 280mm.

Going to longer focal lengths, you run into issues with the amount of compensation for which the sensor shift mechanism can account. For example, at 14mm a 0.5 degree of angular blur only accounts for 0.94% of the frame (or about a 1.3mm shift). However, when you increase the focal length into supertelephoto territory, say 300mm (600mm eq.), the same 1.5-degree angular blur accounts for a whopping 20% of the frame. In other words, the amount of shake and the effect of angular tilting of the camera and lens become magnified the longer the focal length grows. The longer the focal length, the more correction the sensor and lens stabilization systems need to correct for, and the sensor can only move so much (approximate 1mm). Plus, the image circle for the lenses would need to be larger to compensate more if the sensor was designed to shift around to a higher degree. For optical stabilization, the compensation angle is almost the same from wide angle to telephoto, at about 0.5 degrees. Body-based stabilization shifts the sensor very little at wide angle to about a maximum of 1mm at 100mm. In the end, the Dual I.S. 2 system coordinates the amount of shifting and correction between the optical I.S. system and sensor-shift system to produce the optimal amount of stabilization correction.

Given this brand new image stabilization technology, it's currently only compatible with a small selection of lenses: the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 and the 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6. In 2017, the Panasonic 100-400mm Leica lens will also gain Dual I.S. 2 compatibility through a firmware update. Aside from those lenses, ten other lenses will offer compatibility with the first-generation 4-stop Dual I.S. system when used with the G85.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Panasonic G85 offers slightly faster burst rate, deeper buffer

Compared to the G7, the new Lumix G85 is said to offer some helpful performance increases, especially concerning RAW buffer depth. For starters, the G85 is spec'd for up to 9fps continuous burst shooting with the mechanical shutter, which is 1fps faster than its predecessor. In the lab, the G7 tested a hair quicker at AF-S burst shooting than Panasonic's spec, so we're hoping for similarly impressive performance for this new model. As before, the G85 slows its continuous shooting rate to around 6fps when using continuous AF mode, which isn't fantastic compared to higher-end cameras, but still rather nice given the camera's price point.

Similar to many recent Panasonic cameras, the G85 supports very fast autofocus with DFD technology. Like the G7, which also included DFD-capable AF, the G85 offers a claimed AF speed of just 0.07 seconds, despite lacking any on-sensor phase-detect. Furthermore, the camera's autofocus system works in both good lighting and dim -- and we mean really dim. Like the earlier G7 and GX85, low-light autofocus sensitivity is rated down to -4EV, which are remarkably dark conditions. The G85 also includes Panasonic's Starlight AF mode, which can detect the precise, small contrast differences in stars compared to the night sky for easy focusing.

As mentioned, one of the big improvements is with RAW buffer depth, with a claimed 45-shot RAW buffer capacity. On the G7, we were only able to manage 16 RAW frames before the buffer filled. For JPEGs, the Panasonic G85 claims a 300+ shot JPEG buffer capacity, which shows a slight increase compared to the 240-frame lab-tested capacity of the G7.

The G85 is also stated to be UHS-II compatible, which should result in fast buffer clearing performance. For the G7 which also claims UHS-II support, we ran into performance issues when testing its buffer clearing times with our 280MB/s UHS-II SDHC card, with increased clearing times and reduced buffer depths compared to our 95MB/s UHS-I card. We were unsure of the exact reason for the decrease in performance for the seemingly faster-performing card, but we hope the issues have been cleared up for this new camera.

As mentioned and also true of other recent Panasonic cameras, the G85 offers both mechanical shutter and electronic shutter options, which together offer a combined shutter speed range of 60s all the way up to 1/16,000s (1/4000s maximum for the mechanical shutter). When using the new electronic first curtain shutter mode, the exposure times are capped at 1/2000s. Flash x-sync remains at 1/160s.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Shoot all day long with cool power-saving mode

One very exciting performance improvement on the Panasonic G85 is a very handy power saving feature. While smaller and lighter than most DSLRs, mirrorless cameras tend to have smaller batteries as well, which leads to limited battery capacity compared to DSLRs. Now, add in either an EVF or rear LCD display that is needed for framing as well as other power-draining features like contrast-detect autofocus, and you get 300, maybe 400 shots per charge on a battery pack.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

The Panasonic G85 is CIPA-rated for around 330 shots/charge with the LCD or 320 with the EVF in default power mode. Buried in the "Economy" sub-menu of the "Wrench" settings, the G85's "Power Save LVF Shooting" options will auto-sleep the camera after either 3, 5, or 10 seconds. Setting it to a 3-second auto-sleep offers the most power-saving benefits. To get everything working correctly, though, you'll need to make sure the EVF's eye sensor is enabled, as well as toggle through the LCD's various screens to the settings display option (as opposed to any number of live-view screens). Once set, the eye sensor will automatically detect that the camera is away from your eye after the specified number of seconds you selected and puts the camera into a sleep mode. The camera is not completely powered-off, however, and the camera quickly jumps back to life by half-press the shutter button. According to Panasonic, this power saving mode (tested at the 3-second auto-sleep duration) extends the battery life out to a whopping 800 shots per charge! Nice.

Unlike the GX85, in-camera charging via USB is not supported by the G85 and a dedicated battery charger is included in the bundle.

4K Photo: Now with the ability to bulk-save shots for later editing

Of course, given Panasonic's expertise in the video arena, the new G85 sports an array of 4K PHOTO image-capturing amenities. Going beyond the usual burst-shooting capabilities, the Panasonic G85 offers the same range of 4K burst shooting modes at 30 frames per second as the GX85 with the fast DFD continuous focusing. The 4K Photo modes let you easily capture fast action by simply recording a 4K-resolution video, in a sense, and then offer an intuitive user interface to select the optimal frame post-capture.

One brand new 4K Photo feature that's making its way into the Panasonic G85 for the first time is a new Bulk Saving feature. In addition to shooting a standard 4K Photo Burst and then selecting the desired frame(s) right away, or later, all in-camera, you can now bulk-save up to 5-second chunks of a 4K Burst "video" or up to 150 individual frames. Even better, you can save multiple 5-second chunks from a longer 4K video sequence, but you can't save all frames of a long 4K Photo burst all at one time. Then you can import those frames onto a computer for later viewing, culling and editing. For those users who are more accustomed to the camera-to-computer image sorting/editing workflow, this is a very handy additional feature that expands the usefulness of 4K Photo even further.

For something like sports, motor sports or any other subject where timing is critical, you usually need to be really precise and exact with your timing when firing off a burst of frames with normal continuous shooting modes. Here, with 4K Photo, since you're capturing at 30 frames per second rather than the typical 9fps in standard burst mode, you get more freedom and latitude to capture the moment you want. The caveat here, as with other Panasonic 4K Photo-capable cameras, is that you are left with 8-megapixel JPEGs as opposed to full-resolution 16MP images, without the option of RAW capture.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image
Post-Focus, Focus Stacking modes for enhanced creativity

In addition to 4K Photo, the new Panasonic G85 also includes their clever Post Focus and Focus Stacking technology. Also based on 4K video technology, the Post Focus feature captures a photo -- which in actuality is a 4K video clip -- while shifting focus across a predetermined distance range. Then upon playback, you can simply tap on the LCD screen to pick the area or object you want to be in sharp focus and save that still image as a separate file.

Similarly, the Focus Stacking feature works in much the same way. Here, however, you select a predetermined range of focus as before, but then you can just choose the focus range you want to merge. Once selected, the camera will automatically combine each "slice," for lack of a better term, together in a single JPEG image with a deep depth of field. This mode is excellent for macro photos and other still life subjects such as food.

The big caveat here to Post Focus and Focus Stacking, just like it is with 4K Photo, is that you're ending up with 8MP JPEG files. There's no RAW, and no 16-megpixel full-resolution image files. By comparison, Olympus also offers in-camera focus stacking but offers full-resolution images for its burst of focus-shifted frames. The Olympus method, while nice for those who want higher resolution images, is only compatible with a select few Olympus lenses, whereas the Panasonic method (with both Post Focus and Focus Stacking), while lower-res, is compatible with all Panasonic lenses. In the end, with 8MP images provide enough detail we think for general usage, especially for those who like to quickly and easily share images on social media -- and the G85's built-in Wi-Fi makes even easier work of that task!

Panasonic G85 video options cater to more advanced cinematographers

Given its array of 4K Photo features, it almost goes without saying that the Panasonic G85 includes 4K video recording as well. Offering 4K at both 30p and 24p framerates, as well as 25 for PAL regions. According to Panasonic's specs, the NTSC region G85 only has NTSC-specific framerates, whereas European model, dubbed the Panasonic G80 or G81, will support in-camera frequency switching between 25p and 30p/24p. For Full HD video recording, the G85/G80/G81 offers up to 60p (PAL models also have a 50p frame rate option). For the US-bound model, there will not be a continuous video recording time limit, so you can setup the camera and record video continuous until the card fills, the battery dies, or, of course, unless the camera's heat warning kicks in.

Thanks to its 4K video support, the G85 also includes Panasonic's handy "4K Live Cropping" feature, which lets you animate panning and zooming all in-camera while recording video -- simulating the effect of zooming or panning with a motorized slider, all without needing any extra equipment. Using the larger 4K video frame, the resulting video is in Full HD resolution. Before recording, users are shown an intuitive user interface with the smaller 1080p frame inside the full 4K view. Here, you can set the starting and end points for how much zooming or panning you want as well as the duration of the effect. Then, once you start recording, the camera uses that 1080p cropped frame to pan and zoom automatically.

While the G85 shares a lot of features with its bigger GH4 brother, the G85 only includes a choice of MP4 or AVCHD video formats, no MOV. 4K video, which is offered only in MP4 format, is recorded at a 100Mbps bit rate, while AVCHD tops out at 28Mbps for 1080p.

What the G85 does have in common with the GH4's video options includes Cinelike D and Cinelike V picture styles for increased dynamic range in videos and easier color grading capabilities. There's also focus peaking, exposure zebras as well as an adjustable luminance range (except the 16-235 range option is not present, unlike the GH4). The G85 also sports a 3.5mm microphone input plus a hotshoe on top to attach a microphone, but no headphone jack.

Full-time continuous autofocus, with DFD support, is also available for video recording, as expected.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Rugged, weather-sealed construction that matches the GH4

At first glance, you'd be hard-pressed to see any noticeable design differences between the new G85 and the G7 predecessor. With a practically identical size, shape, and control layout, the G85 offers only a few minor tweaks compared to the earlier G7. The big story here is that unlike the G7, the Panasonic G85 is now fully weather-sealed much like its big GH4 brother, which is pretty impressive for a camera in this price category.

In the hand, the Panasonic G85 feels extremely solid and very well built. If feels a bit heftier than the G7, too, which makes sense given the updated weather-sealed construction. Body-only, the G85 weighs in at about 1.1 pounds (505g) with battery and SD card, whereas the G7 with its 14-42mm kit lens and battery only weighs a small amount more (approximately 40 grams or so). The front face of the camera's chassis is solid magnesium alloy, while the top and back panels are both polycarbonate. According to Panasonic, all the joints, dials and buttons on the G85 are sealed, making the camera as weather-sealed as the GH4.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Panasonic G85 Hands-On Tour

As mentioned, while the design is similar to the G7 predecessor, it's helpful to give the new camera a thorough once-over to spot any changes or new features.

Beginning with the top of the camera, you can see that if you compare it to the G7, there are not a lot of changes on this new model. We still have the convenient dual control dials at your thumb and forefinger, as well as a customizable function button and a movie start/stop button. As before, the rear thumb dial has a button in the center that allows for quick access to on-the-fly settings changes. For instance, by default, pressing this center button temporarily assigns white balance adjustment to the front control dial and ISO to the rear dial. Once changes are made, half-press the shutter button to return to normal shooting. These temporary quick-access settings can, of course, be customized to a number of different options to suit your shooting style or needs.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

One of the first changes is to the G85's exposure mode dial, where we see the return of two custom C1 and C2 options that we saw in the G6 -- the G7, on the other hand, had minimized the custom modes into a single 'C' mode. To make room, the dedicated Panorama mode has been removed from mode dial and is now tucked within the main Scene mode.

The other noticeable change to the top of the camera is a redesigned pop-up flash. Unlike the G7's simpler flip-up design, the G85 now has a smaller two-part hinged design that's situated further forward on the camera's EVF housing. The pop-up switch itself is located on the left side of the EVF now, rather than on the back panel of the camera.

The left-hand rotating drive mode dial is unchanged from the previous model. Both it and the exposure mode dial are not locking dials, as we've started to see on some higher-end cameras. However, both dials have a rather stiff, sturdy feel to them, with nice knurling along the edge, making it difficult to bump the dials accidentally.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Moving down to the back of the camera, we, again, see very little by way of changes compared to the earlier model. The hinged construction on the articulating LCD screen is different, but the screen itself remains unchanged with a 3-inch touch-sensitive panel with 1,04K dots of resolution.

The rear cluster of controls and the general layout of buttons and dials all remain largely unchanged, with the standard setup of a 4-way control cluster and a smattering of dedicated buttons, including four custom function buttons.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Along the sides of the camera, we do, however, see a number of changes. On the right side, we now have a dedicated memory card door, similar to that on the GH4. Likely due to the enhanced weather-sealing, the memory card is now conveniently located on the side of the grip as opposed to the G7, which had it on the bottom, inside the battery compartment.

On the left-hand side, we now have two flaps that reveal a number of ports, while the G7 didn't sport anything on that side. The G85 features a Micro-HDMI (Type D) port, Micro-USB 2.0, a 2.5mm remote jack and a 3.5mm microphone jack. Unlike the GH4, there is no headphone jack.

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image

Lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, the Panasonic G85 gains its own battery grip accessory -- the first non-GH-series Lumix camera to sport a battery grip. Matching the rugged durability of the G85's construction, the accessory grip is also fully weather sealed. Similar to the GH4, the optional grip supports a spot for an additional battery pack, but unlike the GH4's the new G85 grip ships with an extra battery at no additional cost.

As we mentioned earlier, the new Power Saving feature on the G85 should help extend the camera's battery life by an impressive amount, but if you factor in this extra grip, you should have a camera that lasts you all day long between charges, if not more. At default power settings, the additional grip and battery should get you about 640 shots, but in the power-saving mode, you'll get around 1600-1800 shots, according to Panasonic!

Panasonic G85 Review -- Product Image
Get a grip: The Panasonic G85 gets its own battery grip accessory. This weather-sealed attachment offers portrait-oriented controls and a second battery (included with purchase) that can extend the battery life to around 1600-1800 shots when used with the G85's new power-saving mode.

Pricing and Availability

Set to go on sale in October 2016, the new Panasonic G85 will be sold body-only or in a couple of kit configurations, depending on the region. For U.S. customers, the G85 will be sold body-only for an estimated retail price of US$899.99. The U.S. kit, which includes the weather-sealed 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, will retail for just US$999.99. For the European market, the Panasonic G85 will also be offered in an additional kit configuration with the 14-140mm f/3.5-6.6, for an yet unannounced price. The price of the optional battery grip has also not been announced as of this writing.


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