Panasonic G85 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly lower than average mean saturation levels, with slightly better than average mean hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
100
200
400
800
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare results at different ISOs, and click on the links for larger images.

Saturation. The Panasonic G85 produces images with slightly muted colors compared to most cameras at default settings, though saturation levels in general are still pleasing. Mean saturation is 108.2% (8.2% oversaturated) at the base ISO of 200, which gradually falls to a minimum of 101.6% at ISO 25,600. The Lumix G85 pushes dark red and dark blues moderately and some other colors slightly, but undersaturates yellow moderately, and aqua and cyan slightly. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, the Panasonic G85 does fairly well, producing natural-looking Caucasian skin tones with a slight push towards pink when Auto or Manual white balance is used in simulated daylight, giving a healthy appearance. Darker skin tones have a small nudge towards orange, but overall results are pretty good. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Panasonic G85 shifts orange toward yellow, yellow toward green, and cyan toward blue moderately, but most other hue shifts are quite minor. The yellow to green shift along with the desaturation can unfortunately produce some dingy-looking yellows as we've seen from some prior Lumix models. The G85's mean "delta-C" color error after correction for saturation is 4.22 for JPEGs at the base ISO of 200 (100 is an extended ISO). That's a bit better than average these days, and color error remains fairly stable throughout the ISO range. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Somewhat warm colors with Auto and Incandescent white balance setting. Good color balance with the Manual setting. Average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance is a little warm and reddish with the Auto white balance setting, but results here are actually better then most cameras. Results with the Incandescent setting are warmer, with a stronger orange-yellow cast. The Manual setting produced the most accurate results, though slightly cool. The Panasonic G85 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation here, about average for this shot. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

Outdoors, daylight
Natural colors overall, with a tendency toward high contrast under harsh lighting. About average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Panasonic G85 performed well, with natural-looking though slightly cool color in the Far-field shot. Skin tones are fairly realistic in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, with a healthy-looking push of pinks and reds when Auto or Manual white balance was used, which is preferable to too flat or yellow. Exposure accuracy is about average, as the camera required +0.7 EV compensation for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot to keep facial tones reasonably bright. That's typical for this shot. Despite the bright appearance, only a few highlights were actually blown in the mannequin's white shirt which is quite good, though there are some very deep shadows that are pretty clean, but discolored and posterized. The default exposure is just slightly dim for the Far-field shot, however as a result there are almost no blown highlights, though again there are some very deep shadows that are discolored and posterized. Default contrast is on the high side, but that's how most consumers prefer their photos.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
~2,350 to ~2,450 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
~2,450 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,350 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,450 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW
Strong detail to
~2,350 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW

An in-camera best quality JPEG of our laboratory resolution chart reveals sharp, distinct line patterns up to about 2,450 lines per picture height horizontally, and about 2,350 lines in the vertical direction. (Some might argue for higher, but aliasing artifacts start to interfere and lines begin to merge at these limits.) Complete extinction of the pattern occurs between 3,200 lines and 3,300 lines. We weren't able to extract significantly more high-contrast resolution by processing the Panasonic G85's RW2 file using Adobe Camera Raw, and the ACR conversion also shows much more color moiré which is practically nonexistent in the camera JPEG.

Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very good sharpness overall, with minor edge-enhancement artifacts on high-contrast subjects. Mild to moderate noise suppression visible in the shadows even at base ISO.

Very good definition of high-contrast
elements, with just slightly visible
sharpening artifacts.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The Panasonic G85 captures sharp, detailed images, thanks in part to the lack of an optical low-pass filter. Some minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible in high-contrast subjects such as the sharpening "halos" along the lines and text in the crop above left, but default sharpening is not too overdone. Please be aware that because there is no optical low-pass filter, the G85 will be more susceptible to aliasing artifacts such as moiré patterns and false colors, however we didn't notice a significant increase in them in camera JPEGs of our standard lab shots, so the G85 appears to be doing a good job at suppressing them. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows the effect of noise suppression in the form of smudging of individual strands together in the darker areas of the model's hair, as well as in areas with low local contrast, although chroma noise is well-controlled. This is good noise versus detail processing performance for a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds model, leaving lots of fine detail intact instead of blurring much of it away in an attempt to hide noise. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Panasonic G85 produces sharp in-camera JPEGs with good detail. As is almost always the case, better detail can be obtained from carefully processing RAW files than can be seen in the in-camera JPEGs, with fewer sharpening artifacts to boot. Take a look below, to see what we mean:

Base ISO (200)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to a matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 via DNG Converter 9.8 using default noise reduction with some strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (300%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

As you can see, the in-camera JPEG contains very good detail, however ACR extracted additional detail, particularly in the red-leaf fabric where it managed to resolve some of the fine thread pattern. The ACR conversion however shows much more luminance noise after sharpening, especially in flatter areas with little detail. You can always turn up the luminance noise reduction (default of zero was used here), or process the files in your favorite noise reduction program or plugin if you find the noise objectionable. Bottom line, though, as is usually the case shooting in RAW mode provides better detail, color, and control than in-camera JPEGs when using a good converter.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good high ISO performance for a Micro Four Thirds model.

Default Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600

The Panasonic G85's images are very detailed and clean at ISOs 100 (extended) and 200, with only minor luminance noise detectable in the shadows. ISO 400 is also quite detailed, though a touch more noise and blurring from noise reduction can be seen. ISO 800 shows stronger noise reduction, blurring some very fine detail in the process, though overall detail remains very good and chroma noise is low. ISO 1600 is of course a little noisier, but fine detail is still pretty good and chroma noise is still well-controlled, but the G85's area-specific noise reduction does start to leave some edges a bit rough and noisy. ISO 3200 shows a larger drop in image quality with softer detail and more noise reduction artifacts, though overall the image is still quite usable. At ISO 6400, noise starts to take on a rectilinear crystalline effect as a result of noise reduction and sharpening, chroma noise in the form of subtle purple and yellow blotches starts to become objectionable, and a lot of fine detail is blurred away. Image quality drops off quickly at ISO 12,800 and above, with stronger noise and noise reduction artifacts leaving little fine detail intact.

We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

Note that we now shoot this series at f/8 instead of f/4, for increased depth of field (at f/4, it was very difficult to focus for maximum sharpness in the crop area while maintaining consistent focus between models).

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Somewhat high default contrast but with decent dynamic range. Excellent low-light performance, able to capture images and autofocus in very low light.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Panasonic G85 did fairly well with the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. Contrast is a little high at its default setting, but dynamic range is decent in JPEGs. We felt the +0.7 EV exposure is the best compromise here. Although skin tones around the eyes are a bit dark, we prefer it to the +1.0 EV exposure overall, because there are fewer clipped highlights. It's really the photographer's choice here as to which direction to go in. For those Panasonic G85 owners that are going to want to just print an image with little or no tweaking, the +1.0 image would probably produce a better-looking face uncorrected. The bottom line though, is that the Panasonic G85 performed fairly well with the wide dynamic range of this shot, though not as good as most competitors with larger sensors. See below for how the Panasonic G85's sensor performs (RAW mode) in terms of dynamic range.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Face Detection
Aperture Priority, 0 EV, f/8
Face Detection Off
Aperture Priority, 0 EV, f/8
Face Detection On
iAuto, 0 EV, f/2.2

Face Detection. Like most cameras these days, the Panasonic G85 has the ability to detect faces (up to 15 in a scene), and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. As you can see from the examples above, face detection improved exposure in both Aperture Priority at f/8, and in iAuto mode where the camera chose portrait mode and used a much wider aperture of f/2.2 to help isolate the subject from the background.


Far-field Highlight/Shadow Examples

Highlight/Shadow Adjustment
The above shots are examples of Panasonic's Highlight/Shadow adjustment at work on our high-contrast Far Field subject, with no exposure compensation. There are four settings: Standard (default), Higher Contrast, Lower Contrast and Boost Shadows, along with 3 Custom settings which allow you to modify and recall custom tone curves. As you can see, it's a nice feature that offers much more control over highlights, midtones and shadows than the camera's basic contrast settings.


Far-field Intelligent D-Range Examples
Off
Low

Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range
The above shots are examples of Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range Control (or iD-Range) at work, with no exposure compensation. Note that the camera does not take multiple shots and merge them as HDR mode does (see below). It's a system that adjusts local contrast and exposure more akin to Nikon's Active D-lighting, Canon's Automatic Lighting Optimization or Sony's Dynamic Range Optimization.

There are three levels of iD-Range available on the Panasonic G85: Low, Standard and High, plus Auto and Off. It's automatically invoked in iAuto and some scene modes and manually selectable in PASM modes. Here, you can see darker midtones and shadows were progressively boosted as the strength was increased, without blowing many highlights in the process.


Far-field HDR Examples
Off

HDR mode
Here, you can see the Panasonic G85's High Dynamic Range mode at work with our Far-field shot. HDR mode takes three images at different exposures and combines them to increase dynamic range. Mouse over the links, and click on them the view the full resolution files.

Auto did a good job, producing results similar to +/-1 EV which was arguably the best for this scene. The +/2 EV setting was similar, while +/-3 dimmed the entire image. Notice the double images and ghosting of some of the leaves or the flag moving between frames. Also notice the angle of view is narrower in the HDR images, likely because the images have been cropped and upsized during the optional auto alignment process.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we compare the Panasonic G85's (known as the G80 in Europe) dynamic range (in orange) to its predecessor, the GX7 (yellow), and also to the Sony A6300 (red), a state-of-the-art APS-C mirrorless camera. While the GX7 is not technically the G85's predecessor, DxOMark did not test the G7 however they share the same sensor, so the GX7's results should be very similar.

As you can see from the above graph, the G85's dynamic range is similar to the GX7's overall, but slightly better at low ISOs, peaking at about 12.5 EV at ISO 100 versus 12.2 EV for the GX7. Interestingly, the predecessor catches up at ISO 3200 setting and actually does a little bit better at higher ISOs, though you'll likely be hard-pressed to see a difference in real-world shots.

Unsurprisngly, the 24-megapixel APS-C Sony A6300 scored better across the board, with a peak dynamic range of 13.7 EV at base ISO, and the lead increases to a peak of about 1.6 EV at ISO 25,600, and the G85 doesn't even offer an ISO 51,200 setting.

Still, dynamic range is very good for a Four Thirds sensor, though obviously not as good as the best APS-C mirrorless rivals.

Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Panasonic G85 for more of their test results and additional comparisons.


  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
No NR
ISO
200

1.3s, f2.8

20s, f2.8

20s, f2.8
ISO
3200

1/13s, f2.8

1.3s, f2.8

1.3s, f2.8
ISO
25600

1/80s, f2.8

1/6s, 1 f2.8

1/6s, f2.8

Low Light. The Panasonic Lumix G85 performed well in our low light tests, able to capture bright images down to the lowest light level we test at. The darkest level equates to about 1/16 the brightness of average city street lighting at night, so the Panasonic G85 should be able to take well-exposed photos in almost any environment in which you can see well enough to walk around in.

Using default noise reduction setting, noise is low at ISO 200 and well-controlled at ISO 3200 with a very fine, tight noise "grain", though as you'd expect, noise is high at the maximum ISO of 25,600 which should probably be avoided except in emergencies or for small prints.

We didn't notice any significant issues with hot pixels, though with long exposure noise reduction turned off (rightmost column) there were a lot of slightly brighter pixels in the shadows at ISO 200, as well as a few hot pixels. We didn't detect any issues with heat blooming or fixed pattern noise, but be aware that the maximum exposure supported by the G85 is 120 seconds, which doesn't make it a good camera for long exposures.

Automatic color balance was fairly neutral at 1 foot-candle, just slightly cool, but it warmed up a bit a the lower 1/16 foot-candle level, becoming a little reddish.

Low-light AF: The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on both our high- and low-contrast AF targets down to well below the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted with an f/2.8 lens (0.04 lux or -6.0 EV), which is excellent, especially for a camera with contrast-detect autofocus. The Panasonic G85 also has a focus-assist light which allows it to autofocus in total darkness, as long as the subject is within range and has sufficient contrast.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to their phase-detect AF systems, digital SLRs tend to do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects. The G85 uses contrast-detect autofocus, as is found in most point & shoot cameras, so its low-light focusing ability may be less than that of some SLRs with phase-detect systems. That said, though, the larger, more sensitive pixels of the G85's sensor do better under dim lighting than do the tiny pixels of most point & shoots.

Output Quality

Print Quality

Terrific 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 100/200; A good 13 x 19 inch print at ISO 1600 and a good 4 x 6 at ISO 12,800.

ISO 100 and 200 prints are terrific at 24 x 36 inches, with excellent color reproduction and crisp fine detail throughout. Larger prints are certainly possible for wall display purposes, depending on your intended viewing distance.

ISO 400 prints are also very good at 24 x 36 inches. These display virtually no trace of noise from ISO gain, and only the slightest drop in overall sharpness from base ISO prints. For critically sharp prints here, the 20 x 30 inch images are excellent.

ISO 800 yields a 16 x 20 inch print that's really pretty good for this sensitivity, and fairly large at that. There's a mild softening in the red channel and a trace of noise in flatter areas, quite typical for this sensor size at this ISO, but still a very good print overall.

ISO 1600 delivers a 13 x 19 inch print that most definitely passes our good seal of approval, with very good color reproduction and a respectable amount of fine detail remaining. Anything larger shows signs of noise reduction strain, but the 16 x 20 inch prints will likely pass for less critical applications.

ISO 3200 makes a decent attempt to produce a "good" 11 x 14 inch print, but there's just a bit too much noise and a bit too little in the way of contrast and fine detail remaining. The 8 x 10 inch prints here do pass our good seal of approval, with good color reproduction as well.

ISO 6400 prints are good at 5 x 7 inches, with noise well-controlled at that size, but the 8 x 10 inch prints are just a bit too soft and noisy to warrant our good seal.

ISO 12,800 images at 4 x 6 inches just barely pass our good grade. They are a tad on the muted side and there is a bit less contrast detail, but we can still give them a good seal at this small print size.

ISO 25,600 images are not usable for prints and this setting is not recommended.

The Panasonic G85 delivers a solid performance for print quality, and can be counted on to produce quality prints up to ISO 3200. After this the sensor size begins to show its limitations, so we recommend setting the limit at ISO 3200 and below for any printing needs of 8 x 10 or larger. Given its reasonable price point this is an impressive performance in print quality.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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