Friday, April 15, 2016

LUMIX GX85 Did Panasonic GET IT RIGHT?

MY FRIEND ask me why I am excited about the recently launched PANASONIC LUMIX GX85, well, let me count my way...

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.

I love the GX8, but personally, I feel it is a bit BIG; mind you, I can live with it but now we are having the baby GX8... time to replace my GM1?

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 GX85 have a BUILD IN FLASH, just like the GM1, which you can BOUNCE!  Big brother GX8 lack that feature! The usefulness of the tiny build-in flash CANNOT BE UNDERESTIMATED!  I would be using a GM5 if it come with the same type of flash!

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 :)
I devised a simple test by photographing our new cordless Panasonic answer phone in room light, the phone was shot with the same 14-42 zoom at F5.6.  A series of shots were taken with both camera at reducing shutter speeds from 1/30 downwards. 100% crops were examined to find which speed show excessive blur.

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.
They both look similar, lets look at the 100% crops...

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!


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
USB charging
Tilting touch-screen
Noticeably quieter shutter

I was not impress with..

Short battery life

Would I recommend the camera?



Shooting Video With GX85


Mark H. said...

If you do not compare the sensors with the Same lense you cant judge if there is any difference here.
I would like to know more about it, is the missing aa an real advantage Ohr not?

cy.leow said...

As I stated in my review, all the comparisons were done with the SAME lens. The missing anti alias filter seems (visually) gave a SHARPER result.

Jai2yeux said...

Thanks for your review! Since you will next review video, could you please tell us if auto ISO is present while shooting? I'm also curious about the sound quality, since there is no mic input.
Also, what happened to picture 11 in your review? Your watermark is blurry?

MattH said...

Thank you for your review.

Some of the samples seem to have very high levels of edge sharpening. (for example along the edge of he finger in the food shot there is a black outline.) I don't know if the sharpening was added by yourself but I feel that I have to say that it actually makes the pictures look lower quality than they would be.

If you have chance in the next part, please could you take a photograph on a tripod, then switch to 4k video without changing anything so we can see how much crop there is in video mode.
That would be exreamely useful.

cy.leow said...

Sorry guys, camera has been returned, I am NOT a professional reviewer, I do this for fun and hobby. No string attached. You get what you see and I do not entertain requests.

Hope you understand.

Jai2yeux.. sharp eyes :) picture 11 get a double doses of the watermark "action", fixed. Thanks.

The sound was ok, GX85 is not a camera optimised for movie ... you want the GH4.

mikeselsewhere said...

Interesting review. I have to agree with the comment by Mark H regarding the aliasing filter test though. In future please use the same lens for comparison photos. Your comment under the "Chaffers Dock Apartments" photo suggests you used different kit lenses to try and compare sensor sharpness.

Georg said...

Thank you very much for your review.
I'm also pretty excited about this new Lumix camera.

Two comments on the touchscreen issue:

- Do you actually touch the screen with your nose, when you look through the EVF? When I use the EVF on my GM5 my nose goes beside the camera. (Of course you have to use your right eye, like with every rangefinder-Style camera.)

This is a picture of a man using the GX85`s EVF that shows how it should look like:

- It looks like you have not actually understand the great usability of the "touch pad AF" function. You can easily choose the AF-point with your right thumb while looking through the EVF. Works with your GX8 as well. Try it. It is so fantastic, i never want to miss it on a camera again. Fortunately Olympus is starting to implement this feature as well (Pen-F).

cy.leow said...

Dear Georg.. I cannot use my right eye for viewing the EVF because only my left is in working order, what works for you and what you think is fantastic might not be for others. I NEVER take others for granted ;) Regards - CY

Georg said...

Hi, thank you for your answer. While it is of course a explanation for your (now very understandable) frustration with the "touch pad AF" function, I think you should have mentioned in the review, that you use your left eye for the EVF. I don't want to be rude, but after all the EVF of a rangefinder-Style camera is especially designed for using it with the right eye.
Of course I understand that you just write down your own personal impressions of using the camera. But given the fact that your GX85 review is one of the first worldwide, such information would have been nice to understand the problem and decide if it would be a problem for me too.
Regards, Georg.

Andrew D. Lossing said...

I'm really curious about the materials - you mention a plastic body. Is the top plate also plastic? Is there any alloy/metal to this body?

cy.leow said...

Hi Andrew D. Lossing.. I asked Panasonic New Zealand and they confirm the full body is made from high grade plastic. But like I mentioned in the review, it was so well made, you swear it is alloy! Regards - CY

cy.leow said...

Dear Georg... Thanks for your kind words and pointers! I will keep it in mind when I do my next review! :) Regards - CY

Anonymous said...

Hi CY, thanks for your review. Could you please tell us do you experience any heat/warm issue on the camera body during your review (especially when you shoot 4k video, is the the camera body getting warmer?)

Unknown said...

How short exactly is the battery life?

cy.leow said...

Hi.. Regarding the heat issue, two of my 4K video test were as long as 12 minutes each, the camera did feel a little warm but I was not worried. I put that question to Panasonic NZ ahd this is their reply...

"As for heat I have not done any extended recording on but during extended recording the camera may generate some heat and depending on the ambient temperature/usage case the camera may get warm and if it exceeds its operating temperature will shut down. So far I have not seen any tests/reviews of this but we do have a good history of making cameras that handle their thermal load well so I don’t foresee this being a problem."

Regards - CY

cy.leow said...

Hi Steve Rix,

As for how long or short the battery last...

I cannot give you an EXACT answer because it depends how often you use the EVF and if you are shooting 4K video more or just JPEGS only.

During my test, I managed to shoot 200 JPEG+RAW stills and 3 pieces of 4K video (average 6 mins each). Not bad but I wish it can be longer! ;)

Regards - CY

Anonymous said...

Hi does the camera have issue supporting larger lens such as 100-300mm (does the lens protudes below the camera body after it is mounted)

cy.leow said...

As far as I know the camera work with the latest 100-400 super zoom, does the 100-300 protrudes below the camera body? I won't know, I only review what were given to me to review, I do not have all the lenses to try on. Best check it out at your photo gear supply.

CB said...

Thank you, I came by your review via a Goigle search on th "nose issue" that I encountered as well, trying outbthe GX80 (as it is known here in Europe) in a camera store.

Georg, saying one HAS to use the right eye for EVF is ninsense and very assuming. My dominant eye, is my left one. Can't help it, despite surgery and glasses. However, even with the right eye I had the same issue when the cheekbone touched the screen. So maybe on cameras with auto-EVF, Panasonic should offer a custom setting on which functions to deactivate on the screen when EVF activates?

CB said...

I was a bit suprised how enthuasistic you were about the popup flash. What usefulness can you get out of a tiny guide number 4 flash, esp. when bounced? Isn't all the light gone by the time it bounces back from say the ceiling?

Also, I am disappointed that the flash cant even serve as a remote control master for TTL off-camera flashes.

cy.leow said...

Hi CB.. Thanks for comments, yes, you are absolutely right that Panasonic should give the photographers like you and me to deactivate the touch screen when EVF activates!
I agree the tiny flash is very weak in power, it can be useful when you absolutely have no other choice ;)
Regards = CY

Unknown said...

Dual I.S. does not use 7 axes. It combines 2 axes from lens and 3 from body's IBIS.