Panasonic LUMIX G85 Handling & Feel

Review Date: September 24, 2016

Category: Advanced

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 Mount and Sensor

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 Mount and Sensor

Photoxels Gold Award - Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
Photoxels Gold Award – Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera


The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 is a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a DSLR-look. The construction is solid with a deep handgrip. The LUMIX G85 is dust-proof and splash-proof, though not freeze-proof.

The EVF (or Live View Finder, as Panasonic calls its electronic viewfinder) sports a high 2.36M-dot resolution. At 0.74x (equiv.) magnification, the view is satisfyingly large, bright and clear. There is an Eye Sensor as well as a diopter adjustment.

You can purchase the G85 with the LUMIX G VARIO 12-60mm ASPH. POWER O.I.S. F3.5(W)-F5.6(T) kit lens. The 24-120mm (35mm equiv.) lens provides 5x optical zoom, which you can invoke manually with the manual zoom ring. There is also a manual focus ring and, if you switch the AF lever to MF, the image is automatically enlarged as soon as you turn the focus ring.

Of course, since the LUMIX G85 is an Interchangeable Lens Camera, it accepts any of the Panasonic LUMIX, Leica MFT and Olympus ZUIKO lenses, as well as MFT lenses from third-party manufacturers. With the appropriate lens adapter, you can also attach non-MFT lenses from other manufacturers as well as vintage lenses.

The front of the camera has a clean design, with the Self-timer indicator/AF Assist Lamp on the top left and the Lens Release Button on the right. I’m extremely glad to report that the Shoulder Strap Eyelets somehow surprisingly managed to stay out of the way most of the time. Of course, if you jostle them, the noise will be recorded while filming a video. The handgrip is quite deep, providing a solidly safe one-handed grip.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 Top View

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 Top View

On the top of the camera, you’ll find (from right to left, viewing from the back) the Shutter Release button with the Front Dial around it, a dedicated Movie Button, the Fn1 button (which defaults to Exposure Compensation), the Rear Dial with a toggle button in the middle, the Mode Dial with the Power ON/OFF lever under it, the Hot Shoe, the two holes for the Stereo Microphone on either side of the Hot Shoe, the pop-up flash in front of the hot shoe, and the Drive Dial. To the left of the hot shoe, you can just about see the switch that pops up the flash.

The Mode Dial conveniently rotates in any direction and features iA, PASM , Movie, C1, C2, Scene and Art Filters. It is definitely stiff enough so that you won’t inadvertently move it off its setting.

Click the toggle button in the middle of the Rear Dial (which, remember, sits on top of the camera) and you can now use the Front Dial to select WB and the Rear Dial to select ISO.

You invoke Program shift in P mode by a half-press of the shutter button and then rotating either the Front Dial or the Rear Dial. To dial in an Exposure Compensation, press Fn1 and rotate the Rear Dial (or rotate the Front Dial to set Flash Exposure Compensation).

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 with Pop-up Flash

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 with Pop-up Flash

The built-in flash needs to be manually popped up using a switch to the left of the viewfinder. The flash head is fixed and so does not allow bounce flash. It’s meant to be used as a fill-in flash (GN 9.0 equivalent / ISO 200, GN 6.4 equivalent / ISO 100) with a range of 0.5 m (1.6 ft.) to 7.3 m (24 ft.). Flash sync speed is 1/160 s. It will act as a commander to Panasonic’s external wireless flash units. The LUMIX G85 is compatible with the Panasonic DMW-FL200L, DMW-FL360L and DMW-FL580L external flash units for wireless control and LED video light functions.

Startup is fast at less than 1 sec. (from Power ON to LCD ready for capture, i.e. time-to-first-shot). We clocked shot to shot times to about 0.56 sec. (18 shots in 10 sec. in M mode, 1/125sec.) in JPEG. You can take one shot after another, as fast as your finger can click the shutter. Shooting RAW+JPEG, it’s also that fast and the buffer seems to be large enough to allow you to shoot on and on until you run out of card space.

Shooting Burst at 9 fps (using the mechanical shutter), we managed to record up to 50 RAW (or 44 RAW+JPEG) images (Panasonic specs lists only 39). Shooting Burst at 40 fps (using the electronic shutter), we managed to record up to 120 RAW (or RAW+JPEG) images. There does not seem to be any JPEG buffer restrictions when shooting Burst at 9 fps, but we were restricted to 120 JPEG images at 40 fps (Panasonic specs lists 200). Your mileage will of course vary depending on memory card type, aspect, picture size and compression used.

Speaking of electronic shutter, the G85 can shoot silently, with a maximum shutter speed of 1/16,000 s.

At Image Quality = Large Fine, a 16MP JPEG image is compressed down to anywhere between 4.3MB and 8.3MB. A RAW image occupies about 19.8MB.

In good lighting, there is no practical shutter lag and AF is extremely fast. In very low lighting, AF is also fast when the AF Assist Lamp is used; without the use of the AF Assist Lamp, AF may at times require up to 1 sec. to lock focus, depending on the contrast of the subject. However, it all just feels very very very fast overall.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 Back View

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 Back View

On the back of the camera, there is a 3.0-in. LCD (1.04M-dot resolution). The LCD is touch screen, allowing Touch Shutter release, Touch AE, Touch AF, enlargement, Frame advance/backward, etc. It also swivels out, rotates about 220° to face forward, up, back and down, and you can close it facing the body so it is protected.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 with LCD facing forward

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 with LCD facing forward

The EVF has a high 2.36M-dot equivalent resolution. It has approx. 0.74x (35 mm camera equivalent) magnification (with 50 mm lens set at infinity) and the eye point is approx. 17.5 mm from the eyepiece lens. This makes it one of the larger viewfinder you’ll get on a mirrorless or DSLR and eyeglass wearers should be better able to see the whole display. The Diopter Adjustment is a small knob that adjusts from -4.0 to +4.0 diopter. A built-in eye sensor switches the view automatically between the EVF and LCD display screen. Both the EVF and LCD gain up very well in low light.

Above the LCD are the LVF (Fn5) button and the AF/AE LOCK button in the middle of the AF Selector lever. To the right of the LCD are the Q.MENU (Fn2) button, Playback button, DISP. button, MENU/SET button in the middle of the Four-way Selector buttons and the ERASE/Cancel (Fn4) button. You can just about see the seven holes for the monaural speaker on the thumbgrip.

TIP: You can customize whether the Exposure Compensation stays or reset when you turn off the camera [MENU – Setup – Exposure Comp. Reset – ON/OFF].

Wi-Fi functions include Remote Shooting / Viewing using a smartphone or tablet, Easy Share to upload images to social media sites, Instant Transfer to save your shot instantly to an external media and Geotagging using the GPS log of a paired smartphone or tablet. There is no NFC. Just download and install the free Panasonic Image App onto your smartphone / tablet to enable these features.

The Panasonic G85 shoots 4K movies at 24 or 30 FPS, and Full HD movies at 24, 30 or 60 FPS. 4K movie has its own set of features that can be applied to still photography (all 4K Photo features result in a 8MP image). If you find capturing just the right moment challenging, 4K Photo shoots 30 frames in one second and allows you to then extract one 8MP still photo that hopefully captures the right moment. Another practical feature allows you to tell the camera to shoot continuously until you press the shutter release button; the 30 shots before you pressed the shutter and the 30 shots after you pressed the shutter are recorded (i.e., 1 second before and after shutter press). Now, tell me if that won’t help you capture the right moment!

Post Focus mode will also shoot 30 images in one second, but at different focus points. You can then specify which 8MP image to keep. Focus Stacking allows you to specify near and far points in a scene and the camera will select the appropriate images to blend together into an 8MP image.

While shooting a movie, press the shutter release button to take a single picture, and the camera will just keep recording without a break. Two (or more) files will be recorded: the movie and the still picture(s).

Since the zoom is manual, you can zoom during movie recording. The autofocusing and manual zooming are quiet enough that you may not hear them at normal ambience sound level. Continuous AF in movie will relock focus on a new subject; Touch AF makes rack focusing easy.

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G85 mirrorless handles well, is customizable and has lots of practical features to help you capture the shot you’re after. Lighter and more compact that an equivalent DSLR, and backed by some of the best high-quality lenses in the industry, the LUMIX G85 has enough advanced features to satisfy the most demanding enthusiast.

Next: Panasonic LUMIX G85 User’s Experience

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