Field Test: Panasonic Lumix G85

g85body2_2I was pleasantly surprised at both the handling and the image quality of the G85. It is probably currently the best value in a 4K mirrorless camera. The G85 has less noise than the GH4, the images are cleaner. Skin tones, while still unmistakably Panasonic, are improved over the aging GH4. I struggled for years to get pleasing color from my many Panasonic cameras; the G85 looks from my first outing like it will be significantly easier to get white balance correct. In fact, the best colors I’ve seen with the GH4 have been with V-log, but why should I have to jump through hoops just to get the most fundamental requirement of a sensor? User interface: menus are pretty much the same – if you’ve ever handled Panasonic cameras before, the menu will be familiar, and is a breeze to navigate. Ergonomics: the G85 is more compact, but has a nice grip; it is very solid feeling; the layout and feel of the dials, buttons and wheels is improved: Panasonic may not make very pretty cameras, but they’re reliable. Battery life: one battery with the G85 lasted me an entire morning of shooting. The electronic viewfinder is gorgeous, especially coming from the GH4 – it’s large and bright, and it is possible to see the entire frame with glasses on. GH4 EVF – not so wonderful. Stabilization: with the G85, you can just pick the camera up and begin shooting without a rig, impossible for me to do with the GH4. Files: the G85 shoots MP4, the GH4 shoots MOV. No difference when importing to Final Cut, you can import and begin editing immediately, or transcode if you like. From all the stuff I’d seen and read online, I really half-expected the images from the G85 to be grossly over-sharpened, with hideously aggressive noise reduction, clipped highlights and crushed blacks. In fact, if that turned out to be the case, I was even prepared to sell off all my micro four thirds lenses and bodies and stick with my Fuji X-T2. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and I intend to use both systems.

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