PANASONIC LUMIX GX85
There’s a lot to love about Panasonic’s GX8 – a finalist in last year’s Enthusiast Mirrorless Camera category – but it’s undoubtedly targeted at photographers looking beyond the design configuration for a tool capable of meeting a lot of demands. So it’s not all that compact, it’s not all that cheap and it’s possibly more camera than many users might need.
Here’s where the GX85 steps in – it has most of the really important stuff from the GX8 packed into a much smaller body that also costs quite a bit less. But it looks just as stylish and is another example of how much performance can be squeezed out of a Micro Four Thirds sensor when it’s married to a super-smart processor. The GX85 is, in many ways, the mirrorless camera exemplified. It leverages the size advantages without compromising on the functionality so you get a decent EVF, a tilt adjustable monitor screen, a built-in flash (and a hotshoe) and body-based image stabilisation which can be teamed up with lens-based optical stabilisation for five-axis correction worth up to four stops. This being a Panasonic Lumix camera, 4K video is de rigeur (with the five-axis IS available for smoother hand-held shooting), but the real party trick here is the ‘4K Photo’ modes which utilise the 30 fps shooting speed to deliver a whole host of nifty photographic features such as ‘Post Focus’ and ‘Light Composition’. Everybody else is just getting onto the idea of grabbing stills from 4K video footage – they’re an acceptable 8.3 megapixels in resolution after all – but Panasonic is well down the track, expanding the feature set with every successive Lumix G model. ‘Post Focus’ is pure genius… a frame captured at every available autofocus point from which you can then select the look you like the best. There’s a focus bracketing function which captures up to 999 frames, or aperture bracketing which runs through all the available f-stops on the attached lens. And we haven’t even talked about how well Panasonic’s ‘Depth From Defocus’ (DFD) autofocusing works. The GX85 is a treasuretrove of goodies, but as has been a characteristic of the Lumix G cameras from the kick-off, they’re all well-conceived and executed. Somebody back at HQ knows what photographers want before they do, although Panasonic has also been great at listening to ideas about how to do things better. For a company with a shortish history in photography, its Lumix G cameras are surprisingly photographer-orientated in look, feel and operation. It’s to be commended. While the GX8 is still a triumph, the GX85 proves that less can indeed be more… except this camera does actually offer more as well. Winner!
CONSUMER MIRRORLESS CAMERA – THE FINALISTS Panasonic Lumix GX85 Panasonic Lumix GF8 Sony A5100