Video shooters were excited about Panasonic’s Lumix G7 camera when it launched last year as an $800 alternative to the lovely, but pricey GH4. Just over a year later, the company has launched a successor, the G85. Like the last model, it captures 4K video, has an OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), a 16-megapixel sensor and a tilt-and-swivel screen. The big change is a new shutter that cuts vibration 90 percent, along with a 5-axis optical image stabilizer that further reduces the odds of blurry photos or shaky video.
The design mirrors the previous model’s DSLR-like look, with a chunky handle and similar button placement. However, it looks a touch more compact than the G7 with fewer sharp angles. As before, it has dust- and splash-proof construction, a 3-inch 1,040K-dot free-angle LED screen, a 2,360K dot EVF and max 25,600 maximum ISO. The contrast AF system can focus in .07 seconds, allowing burst capture up to 9 fps.
If you’ve already got a Lumix G7, the G85 probably isn’t different enough to justify an upgrade. However, folks who were looking to buy a G7 will probably want the new model now instead, since it has a better shutter and 5-axis OIS.
The camera is arguably aimed less at photographers than videographers. Those folks can shoot at 4K with 30fps (either in 8-bit 4:2:0 to a high-speed memory card, or 8-bit 4:2:2 to an external recorder via the real-time HDMI output), or 60fps in 1080p. All video modes have full time, continuous autofocus. Like the G7, the G85 has a 3.5mm microphone input, but no headphone output, unfortunately.
Panasonic has tried to make its 4K video useful for still photographers, with several 4K Photo modes. The function lets you shoot 4K, 8-megapixel images at 30fps for five seconds, giving you a wider choice of potential images. By stacking the images, you can also use the “post-focus” feature to select a different focal point after you’re taken the image, or change the depth of field.
If you’ve already got a Lumix G7, the G85 probably isn’t different enough to justify an upgrade. However, folks who were looking to buy a G7 will probably want the new model now instead, since it has a better shutter and 5-axis OIS. It’ll arrive in October for $900 (body only) and $1,000 with a 12-60mm lens.