Panasonic Lumix GX85 Review
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 is a recently-released camera from Panasonic. Featuring 4K mirrorless interchangeable lens, the camera is priced at around $800. Here’s our review.
What is the Panasonic Lumix GX85?
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 is the little brother to the popular GX8. The camera is also known as the GX7 Mark II (in Japan) and the GX80 (in Europe and the rest of the world).
The camera is smaller and lighter than the GX8 but is still marketed as an enthusiast-level camera. The mirrorless camera comes outfitted with many of the Panasonic technologies we’ve come to know and love over the years – along with a few extra features that make it unique.
Overall, the Lumix GX85 is a powerful budget camera that punches above its $799 price tag. Let’s take a closer look at the Panasonic GX85’s features.
Panasonic Lumix GX85 Features
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 features a lower resolution than the GX8 (the GX8 has a 20 megapixel sensor resolution). On the GX8, we find a smaller 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor, which is similar to the one we first saw on the GX7.
The main difference is that there’s no optical low-pass filter, which is something we’ve seen on every Panasonic camera to date. There’s also a new Venus Engine image processor and a AA-filter-less sensor that should give photographers better per-pixel detail.
Photographers know that the lack of optical low-pass filter can be a mixed blessing: typically, it leads to impressive resolving power. However, it can also lead to an increased risk of moire and aliasing artifacts (especially when photographing interlacing fabrics or man-made structures).
New Shutter Design
Panasonic is tackling “shutter shock” by implementing a new shutter design on the Lumix GX85. That shutter promises to improve sharpness and overall image quality.
One of the biggest improvements is in the new electromagnetic shutter unit, which helps to reduce internal vibrations in the camera. The electromagnetic shutter is surprisingly complex: instead of using a spring-activated shutter (which can produce noticeable vibrations and blurry images), the Lumix GX85 uses a dual solenoid design to control the acceleration and deceleration of the shutter curtains.
In layman’s terms, that leads to a 90% reduction in shutter shock vibrations compared to traditional spring-actuated shutter mechanisms (according to Panasonic).
If you’ve ever struggled with shutter shock on mirrorless and DSLR cameras – especially when using a slower range of shutter speeds or longer lenses – then the Lumix GX85 may be able to solve that problem.
The Lumix GX85 features a similar native ISO range as other Panasonic cameras (200 to 25,600), with an extended low ISO of 100.
As you may expect, the Lumix GX85 offers both RAW and JPEG image capture. There’s also a nifty new on-board RAW development feature that lets you shoot all of your images in RAW before processing your shots into JPEG later on – all from within the camera’s easy interface.
The Lumix GX85’s nondescript exterior design hides a surprisingly powerful interior. Some of the key performance features include Depth from Defocus technology, which is incorporated into the contrast-detect autofocusing system to allow for fast and accurate autofocus speeds.
Panasonic specifically claims that the GX8 should be able to focus in less than 0.07 seconds. They also claim there’s a 200% improvement over the GX7 in terms of AF tracking performance (even though the Lumix GX85 doesn’t have on-sensor phase-detect).
Reviews also praise the Lumix GX85’s low light performance, which has a low-light autofocus sensitivity rated down to -4EV (which is the same as the GX7 and GX8).
Other technical features you’ve come to expect in other Lumix cameras can also be found in the Lumix GX85, including focus peaking, Pinpoint AF, and Full Area AF (which focuses on anything within your camera’s field of view).
You can also access the 49-Area/Custom Multi mode, which lets you manually choose a custom group of autofocus areas in the scene. There’s also automatic face and eye detection that will identify the face of your subject as well as their left and right eyes.
Other impressive tech specs include the ability to capture fast action in 8 frames per second with focus locked at the first frame (continuous focusing will drop the capture rate to 6fps, which is still pretty good). There’s also Super High-speed burst mode (40 fps) or All-Electronic Shutter Mode (10fps). The Super High-speed burst mode doesn’t provide the same high resolution images, however.
The camera makes all of these features accessible on its three inch screen.
The Lumix GX85 is renowned for its powerful 4K video performance. The camera captures video in MP4 or AVCHD formats. If you want to film in 4K, however, then you’ll need to use MP4 mode.
4K is filmed at 100Mbps bitrate, although bitrates bump down significantly for full HD and HD videos. When filming in MP4, you’ll capture 1080/60p footage at 28Mbps and 1080/30p at 20Mbps per second, for example.
One nice video feature on the Lumix GX85 is that you can continuously record video until you hit 4GB, at which point a new file will be created seamlessly without interrupting your video. The camera will continue to record until your storage space is maxed out.
Design and Exterior
If you liked the frame and exterior of the earlier GX7, then you’ll probably like the Panasonic GX85. The GX85 has a smaller, more compact design compared to the GX8 (which was a noticeable increase from the GX7). The GX85 shrinks down from the GX8 slightly and ends up being about the same size as the GX7.
The build quality is the same sturdy feel you’ve come to expect from Panasonic. There’s no creaking or flimsy buttons on the camera, and everything feels stiff and durable. Those with larger hands and fingers may find the controls to be crowded, as the majority are placed into a small area on the right side of the camera. Four customizable function buttons are available as needed.
Lumix GX85 Pricing
The Lumix GX85 is available at a price of $799 from pretty much every retailer we’ve found online.
That price includes a 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. You can choose from black or silver models.
Should the Lumix GX85 Be Your Next Camera?
The Lumix GX85 comes fully decked out with all of Panasonic’s best features – including a full range of 4K photo features, post-focus, and dual stabilization (body + lens). It’s a budget camera for enthusiast photographers, but it really doesn’t perform like a budget camera.
Some of the few drawbacks to the camera include a kit lens that leaves something to be desired (which is why many photographers will buy a third-party lens). However, you’ll need to pay significantly more if you want an official Panasonic lens with Power OIS, which is required for taking full advantage of the dual image stabilization.
If you want a sub-$1,000 camera that is easily able to compete with more expensive cameras, then the Lumix GX85 is a good choice at the $799 price range (with a kit lens).