While DSLR cameras might still be found in the hands of every photographer out there, the preference towards mirrorless cameras is slowly growing strong. Once available at a hefty price tag only, mirrorless cameras are now bracing the mid-range market as well. With plenty of options now propping up in the market, the competition is getting quite tough. One of the better cameras in this market has been the LUMIX G7. The camera has been critically acclaimed for being a star performer and is the number one choice for many photographers and videographers alike.
That being said, Panasonic has now introduced a refined version of the G7. Called the LUMIX G85, it shares the same body as the G7, but is now weather-sealed with a magnesium alloy front plate, and offers a new electromagnetic shutter to combat shutter shock, an upgraded electronic viewfinder and 5-axis in-camera IS. It features 4K video capture, 2nd-generation 5-axis image stabilization and a 16MP Four Thirds sensor with no optical low pass filter. But at a price of $844.95 (Rs. 98,488), does the camera manage to improve upon the success of its predecessor? Let’s find out as we take a deeper look at the Panasonic LUMIX G85 in our in-depth review:
Panasonic LUMIX G85 Specs
The Panasonic LUMIX G85 is one of the most affordable yet high-performance mirrorless cameras in the market. Before we get started with the review, let us get the specs out of the way:
|Micro Four Thirds (17.3mm x 13.0mm)
|LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 II ASPH./MEGA O.I.S.
|200 - 25,600
|100 - 25,600
|1/16000 - 60 seconds
|5.1 x 3.5 x 2.9 in. (128 x 89 x 74 mm)
|25.7 oz (728 g)
What’s In The Box
The Panasonic LUMIX G85 comes with a lot of accessories, that should be more than enough for the average user. Along with the camera and the kit lens, you also get a pair of straps and caps. Here’s the full list of the box contents:
- Panasonic LUMIX G85
- LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6
- Lens Hood
- Lens Cap
- Lens Rear Cap
- Body Cap
- Hot Shoe Cover
- Cover for the Battery Grip Connector
- Battery Pack
- Battery Charger
- AC Cable
- USB Connection Cable
- Shoulder Strap
- Owner’s Manual
Design and Build Quality
Yes, I may not be a regular in the photography team at Beebom, but my hands have certainly used plenty of cameras. In my opinion, the LUMIX G85 is easily one of the most lightweight mirrorless cameras that I’ve used. Even with the kit lens on, the camera feels so light and compact in hand, it’s as if it was tailor made for one-handed usage.
Wrapped inside a rubber-like material, which is the same as its predecessor, the camera offers just the right amount of grip to your hands. The positioning of the dials is done while keeping the grip in mind, so as to allow for easy access to the buttons without compromising on either the grip or the overall design of the camera.
There are multiple dials on the camera for controlling the shutter speeds, exposure, aperture, and more. The dials themselves are pretty big, allowing for easy interaction. While it does take time to get used to the positioning of these dials, especially if you’re coming from a camera of a different brand, the learning curve is quite low, and one can easily get the hang of the placement. In fact, I personally fancy the design language of Nikon’s cameras, but the LUMIX G85 felt just as pleasing.
All in all, the G85 is a very easy camera to operate. It is built quite well, and despite its lightweight, feels quite sturdy. I had no complaints with the positioning of the dials or the buttons.
Considering its price point and the design language, the LUMIX G85 is easily one of the best mid-range mirrorless cameras for amateur as well as aspiring professionals.
For a mid-range mirrorless camera, the LUMIX G85 ends up offering a lot of features, as compared to its counterparts. For starters, the LUMIX G85 offers a 4K Photo Mode, which is a pretty useful feature. It basically works by capturing a short 4K clip (in a choice of aspect ratios) and allowing users to extract ~8MP stills. Think of it as iPhone’s Live Photos or Google’s Motion Photos. Personally, I find it to be a great feature since it lets the photographer easily capture the perfect moment. Now, while one might argue that you can always resort to a burst mode capture, the 4K Photo Mode appears to be more versatile and allows you to shoot in a wider array of lighting conditions.
Another great feature that the LUMIX G85 takes from the existing Panasonic models is the Post Focus mode. In fact, the G85 takes things up a notch, by including a ‘Focus Stacking’ mode. Basically, while a standard image shot by the camera under default settings would capture just a specific focal length, the Focus Stacking mode allows you to capture everything in the frame, even at various focal lengths. This, however, does come at a cost of a crop factor, with the final image extracted from the 4K video, resulting in a JPEG only format.
Speaking of 4K, the LUMIX G85 is one of the most affordable mirrorless cameras to offer 4K video recording. While the videos are capped out at a decent 30 fps, the video quality is pretty good and competes with the very best cameras in the business.
Considering that the LUMIX G85 is a mid-range camera device, my expectations from the device weren’t really that high. That being said, the G85 turned out to be a pleasant surprise, appealing me in every way. Like I said, the in-hand feel of the camera is so darn good, that you just never feel like putting it down. Then there are the plethora of features it offers.
Whether it’s your first camera or your tenth, you’d all be aware of the various user interfaces that a camera offers. While I’ve always felt Canon’s UI to be the most user-friendly out there, the Panasonic LUMIX’s UI comes pretty darn close. In fact, I gave the camera to a few members of the Beebom team who had just the bare minimum experience with a DSLR, and even they were able to use the device quite easily.
The LUMIX G85 comes with 3 focus modes, namely the AF (Auto Focus), AFC (Auto Focus Continuous), and the MF (Manual Focus) modes. Additionally, the G85 also has a 49-point Contrast Detect AF system and Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus technology. Altogether, the G85 allows you to capture images in full detail with great focus. Even in videos, the camera almost never loses track of the subject.
Another major concern for many users is the expected battery life of the camera. The general rule is that a mirror-less camera offers comparatively lesser battery life when put up against a full-fletched DSLR, which holds true in this case as well. That being said, the plethora of features and the super-portable design of the LUMIX G85 make up for it. The camera offers a battery life of merely 320 shots, which, although is right on level with the standard for mirror-less cameras, is quite low when put up against a DSLR.
Now that we’ve covered all features that the camera has to offer, let us see how it fares in real-world performance. In a nutshell, the performance offered by the Panasonic LUMIX G85 is absolutely great and offers a lot more than what you’d expect from a camera at this price range.
The LUMIX G85 captures scenes with crystal clear details and the color reproduction is also pretty good. That being said, the system does modify the colors a tad bit, adding a warm or a cool tone by itself depending on the subject and the scene captured. But it manages to do it so subtly that the difference is almost uncanny, and in fact, does make the picture look all the more appealing.
As we’ve seen, with mid-range cameras, manufacturers usually like to showcase a smart engine into the camera to make the end-user experience all the more easier. While the system on the LUMIX G85 does make the colors look better, it also offers its users the ability to capture images in RAW format. In fact, it is one of those cameras that capture RAW images with such superior quality that even after tons of post editing, there hardly seems to be any loss in the picture quality.
With the new LUMIX G85, Panasonic has showcased how much they’ve improved in the image stabilization department. Even while working around the 1/5 mark, a steady hand was able to capture the images easily without any noticeable blurring. While I don’t recommend shooting from your hip with the shutter speed so slow, it’s nice to see that the camera is still able to assist you in capturing your favorite scene.
As for low-light photography, the camera manages to keep the noise as minimum as it can. However, moving upwards the ISO 2,500 mark does allow the noise to start creep in, and then the hole just keeps getting bigger as you move to a higher mark. Now while one can still remove major portions of the noise in post editing, it does come at a cost of detail, which I personally would never prefer. For me, the low light performance of the LUMIX G85 is decent and should get the job done for most users. However, if you plan on shooting a lot in the dark while being on a tight budget, I don’t think I can recommend the G85 to you.
Considering the video performance, the LUMIX G85 manages to record videos at a 4K resolution with 30 frames per second. Ironically though, Full HD footage is a little softer by comparison, so it’s best to record 4K footage if storage space is not a concern. Also, while the video in itself is captured with great quality, the mic on the device is rather disappointing and prone to picking up a lot of wind noise. Considering the camera is super lightweight and ultra-portable, it is a great device for Vloggers. As such, I’d honestly recommend getting a wind filter or just getting an external microphone for better results.
All things considered, the performance of the LUMIX G85 is pretty darn good. The levels are mostly balanced, the system’s onboard processing is quite helpful, and if you’d like, the RAW mode is quite powerful too. For videography fans, the lightweight along with the amazing 4K quality should aid you in most cases. That being said, if the above images weren’t enough for you, make sure to check out our entire gallery of images captured by the LUMIX G85:
Panasonic LUMIX G85: Should You Buy It?
At a price point of $844.95, the Panasonic LUMIX G85 is one of the best mid-range mirror-less options on the market. Similar to most products these days, the LUMIX G85 is more of an iterative upgrade over its predecessor, but still manages to give the user a lot to like about it. For most users, the simple fact that you can use sensor-based stabilization on its own, albeit to a lesser advantage than with a stabilized lens, is also a bonus for lenses that lack their own systems. Image quality is great, with colors mostly accurate, and an added RAW format for the more advanced minds. As for the video, the 4K at 30fps is a pretty standard spec for most cameras, but the video quality is quite pleasing on the G85.
- Excellent Image Quality
- Multiple Focus Modes work great
- Customizable interface, including physical buttons and touchscreen
- 4K@30fps works well
- No headphone port
- Desaturated colors in JPEG at high ISO
Panasonic LUMIX G85: A Great Camera for its Price
All things considered, the Panasonic LUMIX G85 is a great camera for its price. The performance offered by the device surpasses the expectations that one might have from a mirrorless camera at this price point. The LUMIX G85 is an ultra-portable camera, that should appeal to photographers and videographers alike. Whether you’re a newbie or a semi-professional, the Panasonic LUMIX G85 has a lot in store for you.