Panasonic G85 Black Body Compact System Camera

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The LUMIX DMC-G85 is the latest member of the LUMIX G Series mirrorless family. Designed for field photography, the camera’s weather-sealed splash and dustproof design protects all joints, dials and buttons against extreme conditions. When life's adventures take you places, you need a camera that can keep up. Photographer, Mitchell Kanashkevich chose the LUMIX G85 on his recent journey to Romania. Perfect for outdoor shooting, the Dual Image Stabiliser helps you take crisper, clearer images in difficult or fast-moving environments, while the weather-sealed compact body allows for huge flexibility wherever your trip takes you. Make moving images, not blurry ones When life's adventures take you places, you need a camera that can keep up. Photographer, Mitchell Kanashkevich chose the LUMIX G85 on his recent journey to Romania. Perfect for outdoor shooting, the Dual Image Stabiliser helps you take crisper, clearer images in difficult or fast-moving environments, while the weather-sealed compact body allows for huge flexibility wherever your trip takes you. Change the Lens, Expand your creativity The LUMIX G85’s high-precision gyrosensor and new algorithm increase the compensation power of the 5-Axis Body I.S. This awesome power corrects hand-shake for all lenses, including classic lenses not equipped with O.I.S. Shutter shock reduction The LUMIX G85 employs an electromagnetic drive in the shutter unit. The shock caused by the movement of the shutter diaphragm is dramatically reduced and the shutter sound is minimised. Together with the use of solid magnesium for the front panel, this reduces shutter shock by approximately 90% compared with the predecessor G7. This shock reduction lets you use the mechanical shutter even in situations where there was previously no choice but to use the electronic shutter. Never miss the perfect shot The 4K PHOTO feature on the LUMIX G85 allows you to capture the perfect moment by selecting a frame from a video sequence (shot at 30fps) in camera, and saving it as an individual high-res image. Simply shoot, select and save, to make those fleeting moments unmissable in every sense. Sealed body and Lens Design Rugged enough to withstand even the most challenging environments, the LUMIX G85 boasts a splash/dustproof body and kit lens. With the latest features condensed into a compact and mobile design, it gives you the flexibility and freedom to never stop exploring. What you see is what you shoot The LUMIX G85's Live View Finder with 0,74x (35mm equiv.) magnification ratio gives you the freedom to frame your shot and capture everything you see. Plus, the 2360K-dot high resolution and approximately 100% colour reproduction gives you high visibility under any circumstances. True-to-life detail The G85's 16-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor with no low pass filter helps you capture sharper images with more detail, wherever your journeys take you. Your adventures have never looked better With the highest quality of 4K Video, LUMIX G85 lets you record every twist and turn of your journey in up to 4x the resolution of Full HD. More detail, in more clarity, means more memories to look back on, in perfect quality. Venus Engine - Impressive colour reproduction Shoot high-quality, true-to-life images with excellent resolution, high contrast, and impressive colour reproduction. Removing the Low Pass Filter, the limiting resolution is improved by approximately 10%* while detecting high-frequency components to suppress the generation of moiré by the Venus Engine, which is designed for the LUMIX G85. Combining the Digital Live MOS Sensor and Venus Engine renders clear images with minimum noise even in low-light situations and a maximum sensitivity of ISO25600. Focus Bracket / Aperture Bracket Focus Bracket and Aperture Bracket are newly added to the conventional Exposure Bracket and WB Bracket. Focus Bracket shoots a maximum of 999 images with different focus points, and Aperture Bracket lets you take multiple shots with different depths of field. Select the mode to match the situation or conditions, then choose the best photo after shooting. Adjust the Focus Area after shooting The Focus Stacking function enables you to adjust the focus area after shooting by combining multiple images. You can get an image with exactly the kind of defocus you want or pan-focus the image by simply selecting the focus area after shooting. This is beneficial when shooting macro shots of insects, small accessories and so on. L. Monochrome L. Monochrome is a new option added to the Photo Style for more creative photography. It produces impressive monochrome pictures with deep blacks and rich gradation like that of a B/W film.

Sample Images

Megapixel16 Megapixels
Video Type4K Video Recording
SensitivityAuto, 200-25600 (Extended Mode: 100-25600)
SensorLiveMOS Sensor
Shutter SpeedType: Mechanical Speed: 60 - 1/4000 second Type: Mechanical Speed: 2 - 0 minute in Bulb Mode Type: Electronic Speed: 1 - 1/16000 second Type: Electronic & Mechanical Speed: 60 - 1/2000 second
FlashBuilt-In Flash
Memory CardSD/ SDHC/ SDXC Memory Card
Screen Size3.0" LCD Screen
Power1x Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery Pack, 7.2 VDC, 1200 mAh
Dimensions128.4 x 89.0 x 74.3 mm
Exposure SystemModes: Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority Metering Range: EV 0.0 - EV 18.0 Compensation: -5 EV to +5 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
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  1. "...arguably the most complete Lumix G camera so far"
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    The message, says Panasonic, is starting to get through to the traditional buyers of higher-end D-SLRs. That message, of course, is that mirrorless cameras can be just as capable, but a lot more compact and lighter in weight… which is particularly true of the Micro Four Thirds sensor format. It’s the same message that we’re hearing from Fujifilm, Olympus and Sony as all these brands increasingly target higher-end users… both photo enthusiasts and professionals. Mobility is the new buzzword in camera design.

    Let’s face it, if a mirrorless camera can do the same job – and there’s now really no doubt that they can – why put up with lugging around a bulkier kit? And, as we’ve noted before, there are a number of external factors that make carrying a more compact camera system more desirable, including more rigorously applied airline restrictions on carry-on baggage weight (usually set at around seven kilos), and the desirability of being less conspicuous when taking photographs in many more places around the world.

    Panasonic already caters pretty well for the enthusiast-level shooter, but it’s continually refining its Lumix G cameras so the new G85 (called the G80 or G81 in other markets) is primarily designed to combine the SLR-type styling of the G7 with higher levels of features and specifications. It’s not quite the SLR-lookalike equivalent of the RFstyled GX8, but not far off it, and perhaps not surprisingly, Panasonic sees it as having particular appeal for the serious travel photographer. For the time being at least, the G7 remains available and at a keener price point.

    The G85 shares the same more angular styling as the G7, but with a fully weather-proofed bodyshell which employs a combination of GRP and magnesium alloy covers so it should also be stronger.

    The control layout centres around a main mode dial with front and rear input wheels, and a second dial for setting the drive modes which also includes the ‘4K Photo’ functions (more about these shortly). The viewfinder housing is slightly wider and flatter than before, but still houses a pop-up flash, behind which is located the hotshoe. No doubt in response to user requests, there’s now a separate compartment for the memory card – located in the side of the handgrip – so it can be accessed when the camera is mounted on a tripod. There’s an optional vertical grip – an accessory previously only available on the top-of-the-line GH models – and it comes complete with the additional battery pack.

    The LCD monitor panel is adjustable for both tilt and swing – so it can folded away with the faceplate facing in when not in use – and has full touchscreen operability. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is apparently new, although it’s still an OLED-type panel with a resolution of 2.36 megadots, but the magnification is increased to 1.48x (equivalent to 0.74x in 35mm format terms) and there’s a higher, 20 mm eyepoint plus an energysaving mode which can be set to automatically switch off the display after you stop using it with delays of three, five or ten seconds. It’s re-activated by a half-press of the shutter release. A proximity sensor – now above the EVF eyepiece rather than below it – allows for automatic switching between the viewfinder and the monitor screen, but either can also operate individually.

    Rather more has changed on the inside compared to the G7, starting with an updated version of Panasonic’s ‘Dual IS’ sensor-based image stabilisation with correction across five axes of movement and for up to five stops of camera shake (at focal lengths up to the equivalent of 250mm).

    It uses a new gyro sensor now located in the camera body (rather than on the sensor) which detects angular velocities. ‘Dual IS II’ kicks in when using the Panasonic Lumix G lenses equipped with either the ‘Power OIS’ or ‘Mega OIS’ optical image stabilisation, and is designed to allow for much smoother handheld shooting when recording video clips. Most lenses will require a firmware update to be fully compatible.

    Also new is the provision of a sensor-based shutter to supplement its physical one (the latter confusingly always referred to as being ‘mechanical’, although it’s still electronically controlled), although the GX8 and GX85 are already similarly equipped. The main advantage of the sensor shutter is that it operates silently, but it also allows for a faster top speed of 1/16,000 second (compared to 1/4000 second for the conventional focal plane shutter). It also enables a slightly faster top shooting speed of 10 fps (with the AF/AE locked to the first frame), although the G85’s focal-plane shutter still delivers 9.0 fps. If you want AF/AE adjustment between frames, the top shooting speed is 6.0 fps regardless of the shutter in operation.

    The G85 also has the same sensor as the GX85, namely a 16.84 megapixels ‘Live MOS’ device which goes without an optical lowpass filter (OLPF) to optimise its resolution. Correction for moiré patterns and aliasing artefacts is handled by the ‘Venus Engine IX’ quad-core processor which the G85 also shares with its RF-style cousin.

    The maximum image size is 4592x3448 pixels, and the sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 200 to 25,600 with a one-stop ‘pull’ expansion setting for ISO 100. JPEGs can be recorded in one of three image sizes, four aspect ratios and two compression levels. There are two RAW+JPEG settings which append either a large/fine or large/ standard compressed image to the RAW file. RAWs are captured with 12-bit RGB colour. The G85 has a single memory card slot for the SD format with UHS-II and UHS Speed Class 3 support as required for recording 4K video. It has a bigger buffer memory than the G7.

    Panasonic has been passionate about promoting its high-speed photography functions – under the banner of ‘4K Photo’ – based on recording 4K resolution video clips which yield 8.3 megapixels still frames. It’s been surprisingly successful too, paving the way for ‘6K Photo’ in the up-coming Lumix GH5 flagship (and presumably all subsequent models) which yields 19 MP stills, and on to ‘8K Photo’ by 2020 which will give 33 MP stills.

    For the time being, the G85 has some further refinements of the ‘4K Photo’ offerings which all work by capturing clips at 30 fps with the primary objective of improving the success rate when shooting sports and action. The three standard ‘4K Photo’ modes are called ‘4K Pre- Burst’, ‘4K Burst’ and ‘4K Burst Start/Stop’. In the Pre-Burst mode, a sequence of 60 frames is captured in two seconds, but importantly, 30 are recorded before the shutter is fully released and 30 after so you can select the frame which absolutely nails the action. The Burst mode is more conventional and will shoot at 30 fps for as long as the shutter button is held down… up to a duration of 29 minutes and 59 seconds. Alternatively, the Start/Stop mode does the same thing, but one press of the shutter button starts the sequence and a second press ends it. Usefully, you can now batch save ‘4K Photo’ sequences of up to 150 frames (so multiple saves will be needed for longer sequences).

    Following the GX85, the G85 also gets the Light Composition mode which again records at 30 fps, but only registers the brighter new pixels in each frame. These are subsequently combined into a single image and this process is primarily designed for subjects such as fireworks or star trails.

    The G85 also has the nifty ‘Post Focus’ function which again records a high-speed burst of 4K video frames, but this time changing the focus point each time – which represents a burst of 49 frames in this case – so you can subsequently select the one with the desired plane of focus. You simply touch – on the monitor screen – the subject matter in the image that you wish to be in sharp focus, and the camera finds that frame. Alternatively, you can have multiple versions of an image with different focus points, but also usefully there’s now a Focus Stacking option so that frames with different focusing points can be combined to, for example, create an image that’s absolutely sharp from foreground to background (no matter what lens aperture has been used). Automatic correction is applied for any misalignment of the frames. Just imagine how powerful all these functions are going to be when you can have 19 MP stills… although Panasonic has already proven that eight is enough for many applications.

    In a similar vein – but now shooting stills at the sensor’s full 16 MP – the G85 has the focus bracketing function which was introduced with the GX85. Focus bracketing can be programmed for sequences of up to 999 frames – which might be a bit of overkill– with the focus shifted in each using one of ten preselected step sizes (up from five on the GX85). Additionally, you can vary the sequencing order. There’s also an aperture bracketing function – for varying the depth-of-field – which can be set to a sequence length of three or five frames, or probably more usefully, ‘All’ which captures a shot at every aperture setting available on the attached lens (again at the full 16 MP, of course). The more conventional auto bracketing functions for exposure and white balance are also provided, but logically, all these modes are located together in a ‘Bracket’ sub-menu.

    The in-camera processing options for JPEGs start with a set of six ‘Photo Style’ picture presets, but curiously, the GX85’s new L Monochrome enhanced B&W setting isn’t on this model. The colour presets have adjustable parameters for contrast, sharpness, colour saturation, hue and noise reduction. The monochrome preset replaces the colour-related parameters with a toning adjustment (adjustable from sepia to blue) and a set of B&W contrast-control filters (i.e. yellow, orange, red and green). You can store one modified preset as a custom ‘Photo Style’.

    Like the GX85 (and the GX8 for that matter), the G85 has a collection of 22 ‘Creative Control’ special effects which are available as either stand-alone shooting modes or, more usefully, can be applied to the ‘PASM’ exposure control modes. Quite a number of these effects are adjustable in one way or another, and they can also be combined. Additionally, you can simultaneously capture an image with the effect applied and one without which is handy.

    As with all the higher-end Lumix G cameras, Panasonic doesn’t leave much off the menu, so the G85 has a multiple exposure facility, in-camera panorama stitching, an intervalometer and multi-shot HDR capture. The multiple exposure facility has an overlay function and auto exposure adjustment while the in-camera panorama stitching can be set to either 180- or 360-degree sweeps, either horizontally or vertically. The intervalometer can be programmed for time-lapse sequences of up to 9999 frames which, in the ‘Stop Motion Animation’ mode, are turned into a movie clip. The HDR capture function allows for the manual setting of the exposure adjustment between frames – from +/-1.0 to +/-3.0 EV – as well as automatic correction based on the scene’s contrast range. Again, there’s an auto align function to correct for any misalignment from frame to frame caused by movement of the camera.

    Dynamic range expansion is available with either three manual settings (called Low, Standard and High) or auto correction based on the scene’s contrast range. There’s also long exposure noise reduction, in-camera lens corrections (switchable for vignetting and diffraction, automatic for chromatic aberrations), resolution enhancement and the ‘Highlight/ Shadow’ adjustment control which is now a feature on quite a few Lumix G models. It works in a way to Photoshop’s Curves, with adjustments applied to a tone curve that’s displayed in the monitor screen. The front input wheel adjusts the highlights while the rear one adjusts the shadows. There’s a selection of four preset curves (Standard, Higher Contrast, Lower Contrast and Brighten Shadows), and up to three custom settings can be created and stored. If you don’t want to do everything manually, the G85 again has an extensive suite of Panasonic’s ‘Intelligent Auto’ (iA) functions so many of these overrides can be automatically applied as determined by scene analysis.

    The iA controls also include backlight compensation, sensitivity adjustment, focus tracking, face detection and recognition, long exposure noise reduction, redeye removal and automatic scene mode selection. Additionally, if deemed necessary, ‘iHDR’ and ‘iHandheld Night Shot’ multi-shot capture will automatically activate. There’s also the option of selecting an ‘iAuto+’ mode which is a bit like a set of training wheels. All operations are still fully automatic, but basic manual adjustments are provided for image brightness, depth-of-field and colour balance. These are applied via touch control using onscreen sliders which are accessed via a tabbed menu located along the right edge of the screen.

    All the mirrorless camera makers are actually working hard to improve autofocusing performance – the one area where D-SLRs can still claim some superiority – and Panasonic is no exception, but rather than developing a hybrid system, it has found a way to make contrast-detection AF go faster. It’s developed a system called ‘Depth From Defocus’ (DFD) which analyses multiple frames captured at very high speed (actually at 240 fps) to determine the lens’s out-of-focus characteristics and then work out the subject distance. From here the lens is driven directly and continuously – similarly to the way phase-difference detection AF works – to that distance with only minor fine-tuning then required to complete the process. Low light sensitivity extends down to -4.0 EV and the G85 has the ‘Starlight AF’ mode – originally introduced on the G7 – which employs a much smaller focusing point which is better suited for applications such as astrophotography.

    Similarly to the GX85, the G85 AF system employs 49 focusing points with either automatic or manual selection, the latter configurable in ‘Pinpoint’, ‘1-Area’ (adjustable to one of eight sizes to vary selectivity) or ‘Custom Multi’ area modes. Custom Multi provides choice of point patterns – either horizontal or vertical arrays, or a diamond-shaped central arrangement – which are subsequently moveable. Alternatively, it’s possible to create a custom pattern, three of which can be saved. Additionally, there’s the option of using the touchscreen to move the focusing zone – and autofocus at the same time – by simply tapping on the desired part of the scene. Alternatively, ‘Dynamic Tracking’ automatically switches the focus points as the subject moves within the frame, and Face/Eye Detection does what it says on the tin.

    Single-shot or continuous AF operation can be selected manually via an external switch with the option of automatic switching if the ‘Auto Focus Flexible’ (AFF) setting is preselected in the main shooting menu. You can also set the priority in either mode to Focus or Release. Manual focusing is assisted by a magnified image, a simple distance scale or a focus peaking display which is available in a choice of five colours, each with two intensity levels. You can have the magnified image shown either full-screen or as a picture-in-picture (PIP) inset panel. AF+MF operation is also available, providing a fulltime manual override, again with whatever assistance device has been preselected.

    Loaded with our reference 128 GB Lexar Professional SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) ‘2000x’ memory card, the G85 captured a sequence of 238 JPEG/large/fine frames in 26.301 seconds which represents a shooting speed of 9.05 fps. That this speed matches the quoted spec isn’t so amazing, but the burst length is… well over twice what Panasonic quotes and the longest we’ve experienced with any digital camera ever. Our timing rig is set to stop the clock the moment there’s the slightest hesitation, but the G85 simply rattled on at a steady 9.0 fps for over 235 frames! For the record, the test files averaged 6.0 MB so that’s around 1.4 GB of data in transit. Once again, Panasonic’s ‘Depth From Defocus’ autofocusing impresses with both its speed and accuracy which are comparable with the best hybrid phase/contrast detection systems. The low light capabilities are also excellent as is the reliability of the focus tracking.

    Best quality JPEGs exhibit excellent colour fidelity, plenty of crisply defined details, nicely smooth tonal gradations and a reasonably wide dynamic range. The colour reproduction is pleasingly accurate across the spectrum. Of course, there’s plenty of scope for tweaking the way JPEGs look via the ‘Photo Style’ parameters and the dynamic range expansion processing, but the Standard preset delivers a very good starting point.

    Noise is very well managed up to ISO 1600 which still maintains good definition and well-saturated colours. Some softening starts to become evident at ISO 3200 as the noise reduction processing gets more aggressive, but the image quality is still good overall so this setting is still quite useable without too many compromises. Noise increases noticeably from ISO 6400 and above so these top-end sensitivity settings are not really in play unless you only require very small image sizes. Nevertheless, the G85’s high ISO performance is still very good and now at the point where there’s very little difference here between these latest Micro Four Thirds sensors and ‘APS-C’ devices.

    There’s little doubt one of Panasonic’s objectives with the G85 was to match the capabilities of Olympus’s OM-D E-M5 Mark II – its closest MFT rival – particularly in terms of image stabilisation, continuous shooting speed and weather-sealing. It does all this and more; particularly with the 4K video and ‘4K Photo’ functionality, but also the focus and aperture bracketing, bigger buffer memory, the DFD autofocusing’s performance and a built-in flash. More widely, the G85 is now better equipped to deal with the increasingly stiff competition from ‘APS-C’ newcomers such as Canon’s EOS M5 and Sony’s A6500. And unlike the GX85 – which has the GX8 to contend with on the Lumix G home front – the G85 easily distances itself from the G7 so it represents a much more straightforward purchasing decision.

    The bad news for any rival – mirrorless or reflex – is that the G85 is arguably the most complete Lumix G camera so far, even more so than the GX8 despite its many attractions. The G85 hits all the right notes with its handling and ergonomics, operational efficiencies, customisation options, performance (both camera systems and image quality) and a long feature list that’s packed with really useful, well-thoughtout stuff. And what’s more, this is true for both still photography and video-making. Panasonic’s still/ video convergence in the form of the ‘4K Photo’ modes is only going to become more relevant in the future, but it’s already proving pretty handy, especially with the further enhanced functionality offered here.

    It’s the balance of responding to users’ demands, but also thinking ahead that’s enabling Panasonic to mount a compelling argument for its Lumix G mirrorless cameras and, right now, the G85 is the most compelling of them all.

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