This post today is likely my longest and most picture laden post in Olyallthetime history. I've been shooting the GX85 for about 2 months as my daily camera and in short, I think this little camera is simply amazing. Below are my personal impressions and views. I am a hobbyist and not a professional so please know that as you read this. I paid for this camera with my own money because I love photography.
For much of this review, I am comparing it to the GX8 as that was my previous camera in this category of range finder like mirrorless camera. Much of what I wrote about last year about the GX8 holds true about this camera as well. You can read that review here but for me, the reason I switched to the GX85 is that it is smaller, has improved in body IS and has an quieter shutter than the GX8.
Things I like or love on the GX85
- Touch screen focus point implementation. It works so well to have camera to eye and move the focus point around the screen using your thumb. This is a game changer and something I have appreciated since the GX7 an later on the GX8.
- Manual focus implementation. Again, building on what started with the GX7 moving the focus point to the area you want to magnify with your thumb, releasing your thumb and the area is magnified, focus and shoot. In my opinion, this is how all CSC's should perform in manual focus mode. Simple and effective and quick.
- Shutter. It's quiet and according to the Panasonic, less prone to shutter shock. It's good.
- Placement of the exposure comp where I am accustomed too, at the outer, upper, right hand placements set the thumb. I often struggled with the GX8 as Panasonic had moved it inboard.
- As an on bike camera (see below) I like the placement of the on/off switch as I can mostly operate this camera with one hand. Something important to me.
- Tilt screen as opposed to a flip out screen. I just personally prefer tilt screen compared to the flip out screen.
- In camera RAW converter. This is the best interface for in camera RAW conversions for any camera system. Simple, effective and capable.
- Rangefinder style - That, again, is a personal preference.
- USB charging. Makes my travel kit even smaller to just carry a small plug and cord.
- The overall balance of size, image quality, features and price.
Things I don't like or need improvement
- I wish the mode dial was locking. I frequently pulled the camera from my bag and it was out of place. It needs a locking mechanism or at a minimum firmer clicks so it doesn't move without moving it intentionally.
- Grip - I have been spoiled by the big grip on the GX8 and wanted more so I added a JB Camera Designs wooden grip
- The EVF - Again, mostly spoiled by the GX8, but I would like a bigger/more magnification EVF.
- 16MP sensor - This is a personal thing, but while I recognize ISO performance, DR or image quality isn't that different, I have grown to appreciate resolution and the ability to slightly crop in post. Thus, I just prefer the 20MP sensor as I have shot it in the GX8 and rented/tested the Olympus Pen F. Again, that is a personal preference.
- Still think the wifi functionality isn't very good. I still think Olympus is the best and I also like how Sony prepares and sends small JPEGS automatically from RAW instead of converting. Thankfully Panasonic RAW converter is so good, I want to convert first, but once converted I still think the gui and user experience of the phone App isn't that great.
- I did not test video. I am a stills shooter only
- I did not test continuous autofocus. The single point is more than fast enough and I don't shoot soccer or cycling with this style of camera.
- I do not use flash so I don't care about it's capabilities and can't comment
So...How about some pictures? I used only 3 lenses in this review as they are the only m43 lenses I own; the Panasonic 15mm f1.7, the Panasonic 42.5 f1.2 and the Olympus 75mm f1.8. All absolutely fantastic lenses and the combination of short/wide, mid and long just work perfectly for me.
I broke the images into a few different collections based on how I used the camera. As you can see, I used it in a handful of scenarios. Certainly not all inclusive but indicative of using this camera as my daily shooting partner.
Portraits - All with the 42.5 f1.2, my favorite portait lens.
I took it with me to the city and shot street and architecture while out and about.
I used it as my family snapshot camera. After all, my primary job is family photo journalist!
And I took it on my bike rides. Cycling is my primary passion and bicycle manufacturing is my profession. This is still my number one reason and source of photography inspiration. So size and controls are a critical feature for me and why I love the GX85 so much. The GX85 is a simple, light weight and capable small camera that gives me one handed operation and great results. What is not to like?
All in all I am very pleased with this camera. It has been an incredible daily use camera. One in which I would highly recommend to any and all users. It's simple enough for many novices but advanced enough for more experienced photographers.
The real challenge given street prices is which camera to buy, a GX8 (under $800 used) or a GX85 (Under $700 used). That is a tough one and I will admit I think I prefer the GX8 for the extra resolution, the better EVF and the substantial grip. For those that prefer a smaller body and the improved in body IS, the GX85 is a real winner.