Why I keep coming back to the clever and elegant Panasonic G85. Especially now that I've found a great companion lens for it.

Tomorrow morning first assistant, Amy Smith, and I will meet at the studio, pack the car and head to Kyle, Texas for a daylong adventure in commercial photography. We've been awarded the assignment of photographing, in detail, the operation of a large radiology clinic there. We'll be photographing architectural documentations, procedures (with actors and technicians, but not with real patients...) and encounters with machines such as MRIs, CT Scanners, Mammography Imaging Scanners and much more. 

In this instance we are NOT taking everything in the studio with you. I'm limiting the lighting gear to only what we can comfortably fit into a rolling case (see above) but that does include: Three Neewer Vision 4 battery powered monolights, one Godox AD200 flash, and two Godox V850s with their rechareable lithium ion battery packs. At first glance this may seem light but I'm really packing two systems; mostly for redundancy. 

My well worn plan is to use the three bigger, monolight flashes for everything. Two bouncing off white ceilings and walls and the other one adding directional fill from a 60 inch white umbrella. But if the schedule drags out and the batteries start in the big units start to falter I'll have the more pixie sized flashes on which to fall back. I may approach it the other way around and start with the pixie flashes and work my way up. 

The power of the flashes hardly matters. The clients and I had a meeting on Monday to discuss creative strategies and the "look and feel" they want to get in the photographs and actually less powerful (but no less controllable) lights might actually be beneficial. We want to shoot as wide open as possible in order to de-emphasize the backgrounds. This means we'll need to work mostly at f2.0 or f2.8 for effect. Even at ISO 200 it means that most of the lights will be operating in the 1/32nd to 1/64th power area and we'll need to be cognizant of "bleed" light from existing fixtures around the facility. No sense getting a great shot if we also get a lot of green tinge.

So, one roller case filled with lighting goodies and one Amazon Basics backpack for all the camera gear. Seems like a recipe for moving quickly while retaining good control of the lights. 

We'll be working with the two Panasonic GH5s and shooting raw format all day long tomorrow. I thought I'd take a day off today and blow off some steam (and lingering anxiety0 by heading out for a walk this morning with what has to be the most comfortable and amiable camera I've ever, ever used: The Panasonic G85. With a whopping 16 megapixels of super-charged pixels and a shutter that's a sweet as an Adele song, the G85 is a stellar traveling companion. Across town or around the world. It's compact, smooth and, with the right lens, it can be a bit of euphoria in your hands. Yes, that's called "hyperbole." But in fact, the camera is a very, very well designed and implemented companion camera. The EVF is transparently invisible, the shutter sounds nicer than the gentle closing on a Bentley door, and the image stabilization is top tier.

My latest engagement with the camera was also an opportunity to test a lens I've had on hand for a while but have ignored, for no good reason. Maybe it didn't seem sexy enough just sitting, forlorn, in the drawer of the equipment cabinet... It's the 25mm f1.7 Panasonic lens that is often on sale for $149 and worth at least a hundred dollars more.

I thought it would be the perfect companion for the G85 and I was exactly right. I used it wide open, and at apertures up to f4.0, and was happy with the sharpness at every f-stop. It was a lens that instantly helped me channel my "Henri-Cartier-Bresson-Robert-Frank-Lee-Freidlander" classic vision. A vision in which the subject is king and not the visual strutting of unusual focal lengths with all their hysteric frippery. I was so happy shooting with today's combination that I neglected to stop in any of my favorite coffee shops or bakeries, such was my passion to continue on with my addictive photography rig. No visit to Voodoo Donuts. No cappuccino at Medici. No Vegan Lemon Hazelnut Scone at Whole Foods/Amazon. Just walking, shooting, walking, shooting. 

It was 55 degrees and breezy when I started my walk and by the end we were careening toward the high sixties and that sweatshirt that felt barely cozy at the outset was starting to feel overly warm. Ah, winter in Austin. A few days of bluster and weeks of swimmable weather. Below are images I shot this morning.


  1. That is my exact, toss in the car and go, rig. Easy to use, great files. And if ever there was an anonymous looking camera/lens combo, this is it.

  2. It’s all about what works for you. The stand with the Eos M3 in my local camera store because kept calling it felt so nice in the hand. Once the M6 added decent AF and improved handling it was a no brainer. Paired with the lovely 22mm pancake lens it’s a great little walkaround shooter.

  3. I have had my eye on the G85 since it was introduced about a year ago. I have contemplated supplementing or even replacing my Nikon 1 mirrorless gear with something from the Micro 4/3s ecosystem. The G85 has a number of stills and video features that would be extremely useful to me, and has a price that is more or less in my range. I don't have the money for one right now, but might very well pick one up when I do. Thanks for pointing out a good prime lens for it. I would also consider a 17mm wide-ish lens. Any recommendations on one of those would be appreciated.

  4. "hysteric frippery" - Love it

  5. When I was down in Mexico in December all I took was my G85 and the 20mm f1.7 lens. Came back with some exciting, at least to me, images. They were tack sharp where I wanted them to be and the colour rendition very pleasing.

  6. the gx85 with the 20mm 1.7f is my counterpart for this task ;)

  7. The Panasonic 20mm f1.7 plus an Olympus body, as a replacement for the E P1 plus 17mm f2.8) is my choice for 90% of my pictures. Luckily, I rarely need something else.

  8. G85 with a 14 2.5 or a 20 1.7 for my daily shooter.

  9. Speaking of lenses, here’s another example of why keeping your blog archive alive is important. Your review of the Olympus 12-50mm zoom — disparaged by virtually everyone else on the internet as an absolute dog — took exactly the opposite tack. That confirms that I haven’t lost it altogether in ordering a used copy online in order to have a cheap, weather-protected zoom lens which was optimized (for its time) for video. I know the 12-40mm which followed is vastly superior and offers constant f/2.8. But the older kit lens fits my need for a smooth and preferably motorized zoom. Video shot at 1080p...my upper limit, lacking 4K....is relatively low resolution, and at the slow shutter speed needed to match the frame rates used even the aperture limitation shouldn’t be too confounding, at least in daylight. So thanks for keeping the older content alive. We will now see whether this used item lives up to the seller’s claim of being an excellent copy.

  10. Noticed some large portraits stacked on the floor of the studio. Made me wonder how large you would be comfortable printing portraits with the aforementioned rig. Interesting article as always.

  11. i shoot with a g7. i have the 25/1.7 & the 42.4/1.7 & your recommended sigma 60/2.8 as my portraits lenses. i use the 20/1.7 as my daily walk around.

    i have long been interested in upgrading to the g85 for awhile.

    in comparison to the g7, the g85 would remove the aa filter and offer 5 axis stabilization.

    unfortunately, even though the good folks at panasonic have released various new bodies-gh5, g9, gh5s-the price of the g85 new and used has not lowered.

    ugh. don't you just sigh when capitalism doesn't work to your advantage!

    heck, the g85 was not even substantially lower on black friday.

    there are rumors that a g95 will soon be released.

    i'm hoping then a g85 would be in the offering.

    that said, my client's video efforts are satisfied with the fz2500 and the g7 still offers me images that are better than my talents!

    as always, thank you for the effort behind the blog and the sharing of your thoughts.

    be well.


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