Panasonic is known for its mirrorless technology and the impressive line-up of cameras they have launched after the technology co-operation deal with Leica. Be it the G7 or the pricier GH5, the Japanese technology giants have impressed with their launches so far.
The G85 takes the specifications of the massively successful Panasonic G7 and adds a 5 axis image stabilisation in a weather-resistant magnesium alloy body. The camera is power packed with a host of new features so let’s see if the G85 is up for challenges from some landmark DSLRs from Canon & Nikon as well as the mirrorless systems of Fuji and Sony, especially 0the Sony A6300.
Build around a 16MP Micro Four Thirds image sensor, the Panasonic G85 offers a brilliant electronic viewfinder based on OLED technology which is almost equivalent to the size of a 35 mm film camera. The high-res viewfinder is an added advantage as it helps to identify the subject in low-light conditions.
In terms of ergonomics, the mirrorless design is compact and a new shutter mechanism with electronic first curtain and a full silent mode adds up to the feel as you can really shoot images with zero shutter noise.
When it comes to the in-hand feel the camera feels rugged with a good grip but it might feel small if you are a DSLR user. Nevertheless, the button placements are superb and the availability of 10 customisable function (Fn) keys take the camera personification to a whole new level. Now you can assign any function to any of the available keys according to your choice.
The flip monitor with touchscreen features work well and live focusing on the touch screen is innovative but needs more refinement. The focus tracking is a bit slow when compared to the dual phase detection systems in advanced mirrorless cameras of Sony like the A6300 or A6500.
The autofocus performance struggles in the AF mode and the camera struggles to maintain the focus, double-checking the object frequently in the middle of the shot.
The battery life is decent that counts up to more than 300 images with a fully-charged cell. The sensor remains the same as G7 but the AA filter is dropped and thus the G85 produces sharper images. However, the larger APS-C sensors of Sony A6300 and Nikon D5500 offer much better image quality though, especially in low light and the G85 struggles a lot in low-lit conditions with softer grainy images at higher ISOs. The images in low light are soft and information loss is significant and a professional output is not possible in such conditions.
Also, on the other end, the ISO does not go below 200 and DSLR users who are known to shoot preferably at ISO 100 might feel betrayed.
The 4k video quality beats every other camera in this price range but the performance lasts till a certain ISO range. After 1600 ISO the quality deteriorates to a significant level. The larger sensors of the Nikon D5500 and Sony A6300 have a lead in lower ISOs and is perhaps the only drawback of the G85.
Verdict: When it comes to the overall experience with the camera it’s tough to criticise this amazing product by Panasonic. The Sony A6300 offers better image/video quality but the Panasonic G85 leaves its competitors far behind in terms of ergonomics and a 5 axis image stabilisation. At a price point of Rs 74,990 (with 14-42 kit lens) the camera is more than value for money for people who are searching a serious option for video production.