First of all, the GX85 look like a SMALLER GX8!
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 is also known as the GX80 in some parts of the world, or alternatively as the GX7 Mark II in Asia.
Last week, Panasonic New Zealand let me try out their new baby with three lenses.
The new GX85 is seen here wearing the retractable Lumix 12-32 zoom (the GM1 kit lens), in New Zealand, however, it come with the new LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH with MEGA O.I.S. as the kit lens (the lens in the middle).
Panasonic NZ inform me they decided on the 14-42 because when needed, it can manual focus, the little 12-32 cannot.
Fair comment, but for me, the 12-32 is MUCH WIDER, it is 24mm (equivalent) against the 28mm of the 14-42. When you travel, you will wish your travel camera is "a bit wider", 24mm coverage to me is priceless!
Even though the new GX85 came in a PLASTIC body, it sure do not feel like that at all.. it is very solid and the one I was given came in a titanium like finish, I swear it felt like solid alloy!
I love the simple, minimalist top with just one main dial, with the well placed on/off switch under it.
|The larger GX85, right, have the same type of tiny flash like the GM1.|
The back of the GX85 features dials and buttons is similar to most of the Panasonic models, they are all well placed. Notice the completely flushed LCD screen, you would think it is fixed? It actually able to tilt in two directions. Not as versatile as big brother GX8, but good enough for me.
The GX85 EVF (electronic viewfinder) have a resolution of 2764K dot, 16:9 aspect ratio, 0.7x magnification, and activate with an eye detection sensor. Unlike the GX7/8, the EVF of the GX85 do not tilt.
The 1040K dots 3inch tilting touch-screen is very contrasty and reasonably good under sunlight. You are able to tilt the screen up by 80 degrees and 45 degrees down. This enable you to shoot high or low angle easier.
A very useful feature of the touch screen is you are able to SET THE FOCUS POINT to anywhere on the screen by touching it! This feature however, became a "curse" (I was!) when you switch your viewing to the EVF... your NOSE touch the screen and change the focus point WITHOUT your decision! You miss getting a sharp picture because of your nose! Ha ha ha..
One smart reviewer claim you can switch this annoyance off, well, I cannot find it in the menu. The only way you can stop your nose moving the focus point is by DISABLE the touch screen! This can be done by digging into the menu, what if you want the touch screen active immediately after your nose left it? Go into the menu again!
Come on Panasonic, you can do better than that!
Why can't you made the camera switch off the touch screen when the screen is blank, like when your eye is at the EVF, then automatically switch it to active mode immediately when the screen is on again? This way, you avoid going to the menu all the time!
Until Panasonic "fix" that "curse", this is my work around by programming Fn1 to activate the touch screen on or off.
I still have to switch it on and off, but at least this is faster than going to the menu!
By default, Fn1 was set to do POST FOCUS which I do not use. If you want to know what Post Focus is, watch this clip.
UPDATE on the above issue..
A few minutes after this story was post, I was inform by Panasonic NZ...
"Thank you. for taking the time to write your review.
I just have one thing to point out and that is the main thing you did not like is possible to disable.
Below is how.
The feature that allows you to change the auto focus point while using the EVF is called “touch pad AF” This can be disabled by following the below menu structure (this is the same for all Panasonic cameras with touch screen and EVF)
Custom setting ; Touch settings (page 9); touch pad AF; select off (you can also set it if you want it exact or offset mapping."
The three features that impress me in the GX85 to increase picture sharpness are...
The 16MP sensor WITHOUT the optical low-pass or anti-aliasing filter, Panasonic claimed this improve sharpness by 10%.
GX80 has a new shutter, that is both smaller and quieter, it is designed to dramatically reduce 90% of shutter shock. The GX85 can shoot at 1/4,000 second using its mechanical shutter, or a blazing 1/16,000 second using the electronic shutter!
Like GX8 Dual IS (Image Stabilisation) is feature in the GX85. With selected lenses you are able to enjoy SEVEN axis improved image stabilisation!
This incredible feature works for photos, video, 4K video, as well as 4K photo!
This is the first camera to give 5-axis image stabilisation whilst recording 4K video. Dual image stabilisation is said to be especially beneficial when using telephoto lenses.
Testing the DUAL IS of GX85 against the GM1
|The Test Target... no, we did not get this very nice answering phone from Panasonic; |
we got it "free" with some of our Fly Buys shopping royalty points :)
The 100% crops confirmed the slow speed ability of the GX85, by activating the 5 axes in body and 2 axes IS in lens for a DUAL IS action; shots taken at 1/5 second are still very sharp.
The little GM1, even though it was using the same 14-42 lens with 2 axes IS was blurred at 1/6 second exposure!
This landscape with slight blur might not impress you, what if I told you it was shot with the GX85 and the 14-42 kit lens, handheld, at a very S-L-O-W shutter speed of o.8 second? Impressive?
Is the "filterless" 16MP sensor 10% sharper?
In real world term, can we actually notice the GX85 image SHARPER than the GM1 which use basically the same 16MP sensor but WITH a low-pass filter.
I went out in the real world (Wellington CBD) with the two cameras (GX85 and GM1) to shoot some comparisons...
|GX85 with the 14-42 kit lens at 42mm.|
|GM1 with the 12-32 kit lens at 32mm.|
Looking at the 100% crop samples, the GX85 crop do look SLIGHTLY SHARPER.. below is another test.
This waterfront apartment block was shot with both cameras and the sign "CHAFFERS DOCK APARTMENTS" were enlarged to more than 100%.
Result was inconclusive, the crop from the GM1 was actually SHARPER than the kit lens on the GX85! It seems to confirm how good the 32mm setting on the tiny 12-32 lit lens is!
May be Panasonic NZ should give buyers a choice of kit lenses, the 12-32 or 14-42?
On a Bright Sunny Day...
The day before sending the GX85 home turn out to be a cold but very sunny day, I decided to have a last fling with the Lumix at our beautiful Lady Norwood Rose Garden.
I love the Panoramic mode on the GX85, the GM1 do not have that :(
At the Rose Garden, I was trying to track and photograph a small bumper bee among the Lavender plant, I was on burst mode, shooting both RAW and JPEG. Manage to get a few shot in focus, the RAW file was open in Affinity Photo and export as a TIFF file.
Just for fun, I thought I will zoom in to that little bee, just to see how well the 14-42 kit lens retain the fine image detail...
WOW! And that is a 200% crop of a RAW file produced by a NZ$200 KIT ZOOM on a 16MP M43 sensor, I am sure the LACK OF a low-pass filter contribute to the enhanced resolution ability of this new sensor!!
The very quite, very fast shutter...
Still in the Rose Garden, I noticed a small convoy of Men In Black admiring the roses, I realised they were VIPs staying at the Chinese Embassy across the street from the garden. I decided to record their presence, inconspicuously.
Still shooting with just the 14-42 kit lens @ 42mm (84mm equiv.), the new shutter of the GX85 was really quite and the burst mode sound like a heavily muffled, silenced machine gun ;)
Brr.. Brr.. Brr...
Food For Thought...
I concluded my testing of the GX85 by photographing some of my favourite subjects, YUMMY FOOD!
FAMOUS LAST WORDS...
Thanks to Panasonic New Zealand..
It was a fun fill 5 days with the Lumix GX85, what I like about the GX85..
5-axis image stabilisation
Dual I.S. capable
Image stabilisation works for 4K and Full HD video
Excellent image quality with the filterless sensor
4K Photo / Video ability
Noticeably quieter shutter
I was not impress with..
Short battery life
Would I recommend the camera?
Shooting Video With GX85