Panasonic GX85 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Panasonic GX85 image quality to its predecessor, the GX7, as well as against several models at similar price points or in similar categories: the Panasonic LX100, Fuji X-T10, Olympus E-M10 II and Sony A6000. (We realize the LX100 is a fixed-lens camera and all the others are ILCs, but it's currently offered for less than the GX85 kit and also supports 4K video, so it's a viable alternative for those that don't need or want interchangeable lenses.)

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All interchangeable lens cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Panasonic GX85, Panasonic GX7, Panasonic LX100 Fuji X-T10, Olympus E-M10 II and Sony A6000 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Panasonic GX85 to any camera we've ever tested!

Panasonic GX85 vs Panasonic GX7 at Base ISO

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 200
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 200

Here we compare the Panasonic GX85 to its predecessor, the GX7, at base ISO. While resolution has not changed, it's immediately apparent the GX85 delivers a sharper, crisper image with slightly better detail, thanks to the lack of an optical low-pass filter which the GX7 has. However, the GX7 does show fewer aliasing artifacts whereas moiré and jaggies can be more easily seen from the GX85. The GX85's image is also slightly cleaner, with lower noise in flatter areas. Colors are also slightly more pleasing from the GX85 with less of shift to green in yellows, however the GX7 does a better job with pinks as the GX85 renders them a bit too magenta.

Panasonic GX85 vs Panasonic LX100 at Base ISO

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 200
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 200

We decided to compare the Panasonic GX85 to the LX100 as the latter has been discounted to less than the price of the GX85 at time of writing, despite its fast f/1.7-2.8 24-75mm equivalent fixed lens (the GX85 is kited with the much slower f/3.5-5.6 24-64mm eq. interchangeable lens). The GX85 does resolve more detail than the LX100, partially because the LX100 only uses about 12.7 megapixels of its 16-megapixel sensor (which is why objects appear smaller from the LX100 when viewed at 100% like this). The LX100 also has an optical low-pass filter which softens the image very slightly compared to the GX85, though some of the difference can likely also be attributed to the lens. Color is more pleasing from the GX85 and noise is also a little lower.

Panasonic GX85 vs Fujifilm X-T10 at Base ISO

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 200
Fujifilm X-T10 at ISO 200

At base ISO, the Panasonic GX85 captures more detail than the Fuji X-T10. There are a least a couple of reasons for this: 1) The Fuji' X-T10 3:2 aspect ratio sensor actually has fewer pixels on the vertical axis, giving the 4:3 GX85 a slight advantage in resolution when framed vertically like this, and 2) The demosaicing required for the X-Trans sensor's unique color filter doesn't do as well with certain types of fine detail. The Fuji X-T10 also applies less aggressive default sharpening which gives its images a softer look. Colors are however more pleasing from the Fuji, noise levels (particularly chroma noise) are lower, and the X-T10 manages to resolve fine detail in our tricky red-leaf swatch better, though contrast is lower.

Panasonic GX85 vs Olympus E-M10 II at Base ISO

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 200
Olympus E-M10 II at ISO 200

Like the GX85, the 16-megapxiel Olympus E-M10 II also does not have an OLPF to maximize sharpness at the risk of higher aliasing artifacts. Here at base ISO we see both cameras offer very similar resolving power, but the E-M10 II's default processing is a bit more aggressive, with stronger sharpening, higher contrast and brighter, more pleasant colors, giving the Olympus image more "pop". The E-M10 II's noise reduction also appears to be slightly stronger, producing slightly lower noise but at the cost of reduced detail in some areas, such as in our red-leaf swatch.

Panasonic GX85 vs Sony A6000 at Base ISO

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 200
Sony A6000 at ISO 100

The 24-megapixel Sony A6000 with its APS-C sized sensor out-resolves the 16-megapixel Four Thirds sensor of the GX85, while producing a crisper image with fewer sharpening artifacts thanks to a very weak (or no) optical low-pass filter combined with Sony's more advanced JPEG processing. Overall color and contrast are a little better from the Sony as well.

Panasonic GX85 vs Panasonic GX7 at ISO 1600

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 1600

The Panasonic GX85's OLPF-less sensor continues to pay dividends here at ISO 1600, producing a sharper image than its predecessor, with fewer sharpening artifacts and less visible noise, likely because default sharpening was dialed back. However, minor aliasing artifacts continue to be more evident from the GX85.

Panasonic GX85 vs Panasonic LX100 at ISO 1600

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 1600
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 1600

The GX85 continues to resolve a bit more detail than the LX100 at ISO 1600, but the difference is more subtle now. Noise levels remain lower from the GX85, as does its improved color reproduction.

Panasonic GX85 vs Fujifilm X-T10 at ISO 1600

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-T10 at ISO 1600

The Panasonic GX85 continues to resolve more detail in most areas of our Still Life target, though the Fuji continues to deliver a smoother image with more pleasing colors, and fine detail in our tricky red-leaf swatch is much better from the X-T10. Luma noise levels are roughly comparable, but the Fuji continues to produce lower chroma noise.

Panasonic GX85 vs Olympus E-M10 II at ISO 1600

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M10 II at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the Olympus E-M10 II produces a crisper, smoother, more vibrant image but noise reduction artifacts in the form of mottling or blotches are generally more evident. The GX85 produces fewer artifacts in areas with fine detail, but its area-specific noise reduction does leave some edges a bit rough and noisy. Both cameras struggle with our tricky red-lead swatch, but the GX85 retains a bit more detail.

Panasonic GX85 vs Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 1600
Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

The A6000 is still able to resolve more detail at ISO 1600 with slightly lower noise, but the image looks more processed compared to the GX85, with stronger noise reduction artifacts and more obvious signs of areas-specific noise reduction along high-contrast edges. The A6000 gives the impression it does better in the red-leaf swatch, but much of the detail is distorted and false instead of just blurred.

Panasonic GX85 vs Panasonic GX7 at ISO 3200

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 3200

At ISO 3200, the GX85 manages to produce a slightly sharper more contrasty image, but revised noise reduction impacts fine detail a bit more than the GX7. Chroma noise in particular is much lower from the GX85, which has the side-effect of smearing fine detail in our red-leaf swatch more than the GX7.

Panasonic GX85 vs Panasonic LX100 at ISO 3200

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 3200
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 3200

The GX85 still manages to capture a bit more detail than the LX100, but the more obvious resolution advantage we saw at lower ISOs is somewhat diminished due to noise. The GX85 continues to produce brighter, more pleasing colors.

Panasonic GX85 vs Fujifilm X-T10 at ISO 3200

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-T10 at ISO 3200

Here at ISO 3200, the Fuji X-T10's rendition is more faithful than the GX85's, with better detail, fewer noise reduction artifacts, and brighter, more pleasing colors, though its image still looks a bit softer overall in comparison.

Panasonic GX85 vs Olympus E-M10 II at ISO 3200

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M10 II at ISO 3200

Similar to what we saw at ISO 1600, the E-M10 II produces a smoother, more contrasty and vibrant image at ISO 3200, but fine details are more mottled by strong noise reduction that doesn't appear to be area-specific.

Panasonic GX85 vs Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

Panasonic GX85 at ISO 3200
Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

The Sony A6000's resolution advantage is still evident at ISO 3200, and overall color and contrast are still better, but stronger noise reduction artifacts give the image a more artificial, processed look, particularly in flatter areas.

Panasonic GX85 vs. Panasonic GX7, Panasonic LX100, Fujifilm X-T10, Olympus E-M10 II, Sony A6000

Panasonic
GX85
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
GX7
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
LX100
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X-T10
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M10 II
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A6000
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. Here, the Panasonic GX85 performed slightly better than its predecessor in terms of fine detail, particularly at higher ISOs, though contrast is similar or perhaps even a bit lower . Contrast and detail are however better than both the Panasonic LX100 and Fuji X-T10 at all three ISOs. The Olympus E-M10 II produced noticeably higher contrast, though detail suffered a bit at ISO 6400. The Sony A6000 easily out-performed this group in terms of detail and contrast, however at ISO 6400, it produced more obvious false colors.

 

Panasonic GX85 Print Quality Analysis

Excellent 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 100/200; Good 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 800; and a nice 8 x 10 at ISO 3200.

ISO 100 and 200 prints look excellent at 24 x 36 inches, with rich colors and very good fine detail and sharpness. At 16 megapixels, pushing the size to 30 x 40 inches will work fine for wall display prints, but the resolution isn't high enough to warrant our good grade at that size for critical uses.

ISO 400 is also quite good at 24 x 36 inches, displaying virtually no evidence of ISO strain at this print size. The 20 x 30 inch print here looks excellent, with terrific fine detail.

ISO 800 delivers a print of 20 x 30 inches that is fine for less critical applications, with only minor issues such as typical softening of fine detail in certain areas of our test target and a mild trace of noise in some flatter areas. The 16 x 20 inch print tightens this up nicely and delivers a print that definitely warrants our "good" seal.

ISO 1600 yields a 16 x 20 inch print that comes close to passing our good grade, and is certainly fine for less critical applications. A reduction in size to 13 x 19 inches does the trick and produces a very good print for this ISO, with full color reproduction and nice fine detail for this gain setting.

ISO 3200 shows a marked decrease in image quality for available print sizes. While the 11 x 14 inch print here can be used for less critical purposes or in a pinch, a reduction to 8 x 10 inches is recommended to assure a good quality print that's reasonably untainted by noise reduction artifacts. Contrast detail is now mostly lost in our tricky red-leaf fabric swatch, which is typical for most crop-sensor cameras at this point, but noise is well-controlled at this print size, and there's plenty of fine detail still present elsewhere.

ISO 6400 images pass our good rating at a fairly modest 5 x 7 inches. The 8 x 10's here are not too bad, but there's not enough fine detail left after noise processing to pass our good grade. They're usable for less critical applications though.

ISO 12,800 prints at 4 x 6 inches are just a bit too muted and soft to pass our good grade for prints, though they're certainly usable for general purpose printing.

ISO 25,600 does not provide a usable print and this gain setting is best avoided.

The Panasonic GX85 performs solidly as expected in the print quality department, yielding useful print sizes from low extended and base ISO up to ISO 3200. After this the quality falls considerably, so for critical printing, setting the ISO limit in the menu to a maximum of ISO 3200 will ensure you can count on good prints depending on the desired print size and how much you crop your image before printing. At 16MP, the GX85 isn't able to compete with the 20MP GX8 which can produce 30 x 40 inch prints at the lower ISOs, and it loses to its popular big brother at a few ISOs as the gain rises. But at a lower price point and a trimmed down size, this is understandable and the Panasonic GX85 still packs a good I.Q. punch up to ISO 3200.

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.)

 



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