I was recently asked for my thoughts on Panasonic’s newest camera, the GX85.
To get the full feel of this camera, I took the Panasonic GX85 to a local park initially to get some landscapes. The viewfinder proved invaluable. The sun wasn’t very bright that day, but the screen on the GX85 was still difficult to see in some situations, even with the tilting function. That being said I love the tilting screen, it’s not too tight to move, and is very sharp and I used the touch screen function a lot more than I thought I would.
One of the handiest features of the GX85, which is actually in a lot of the newer Panasonic cameras, is when you are looking through the viewfinder you can move your thumb on the touch screen to pick your focus point. This is incredibly handy for when your subject is between trees or you want a particular flower in focus or changing composition, much like choosing your focus point on a DSLR, but quicker and easier.
The camera has very good low light capabilities, much better than I thought a M4/3 sensor should perform. I felt like 3200 ISO was very printable and surprisingly clean, and I think that with a little post-processing 6400 should be usable as well. And the built in 5-Axis in-body stabilization was incredibly helpful as well in some of the lower light situation.
The dynamic range seems very good. I cannot process the RAW files yet in Lightroom, but when processed in the camera the shadows and highlights both retained moderate detail.
After the park, I took the camera into the studio.
In the studio the camera handled very well, with the small size of the camera I did not feel encumbered by it, even when I used the larger and heavier 42.5mm f/1.2. Again, the touch to focus and tilt screen helped greatly for focusing exactly where I wanted to. The focus is also incredibly fast, even in lower light, and very accurate and reliable and predictable.
As much as I loved using the 42.5mm lens, the kit lens (12-32mm f/3.5-5.6) did a wonderful job. It is very sharp for a kit lens, the variable aperture is kind of annoying, but I usually use an aperture of f/5.6 or f/8 in the studio so that did not bother me too much.
The camera, just like a lot of other Panasonic cameras, has a couple unique features: Post Focusing and 4K Burst modes. With the Post Focusing, the camera takes a photo focused at every single focus point (that can achieve focus) and you can chose where you want the focus to be after the picture is taken. This feature I think can be very helpful in macro photography or portraits where what is in focus is very critical. The 4K Burst mode allows you to take 30 images/second for up to thirty minutes. This feature works best for sports or for other very fast seemingly instantaneous actions (sparks, bubbles popping) or making sure you get the exact expression that you want on your subject’s face.
This camera also has built in Wi-Fi. Without a doubt, the easiest set up out of any manufacture’s Wi-Fi application. Very little delay between the APP and what the camera sees.
At $799, I feel that this camera is a tough contender in the mirrorless world and can still compete with DSLRs within the price range or even the next tier up.