12.27.2019

A step up from the point-and-shoot universe but a step down in price. The 16 megapixel GX85 is currently on sale everywhere as a two lens kit. $477.


I read the reviews. I saw the gushing on YouTube. It was 2016 and the GX85 had just been launched. A new shutter mechanism fixed "shutter shock," a condition that reared its head in the much more expensive GX8. The new camera "featured" 16 megapixels on its m4:3 sensor and it was the first Panasonic Lumix camera to forego the anti-aliasing filter on the sensor, which meant it could (and does) resolve more detail than the same sensor as it was used in the GX7 and the Olympus EM-5 mk2.

The camera was never on my radar until about a week ago when my sales pro at Precision Camera, responding to my questions about a $900 point-and-shoot camera, steered me to this camera kit. It's the body and two lenses. One lens is the 12-32mm shown above and the second lens is the venerable 40-150mm kit-ish lens. If you consider the current retail price of the lenses alone the kit is a wild bargain. When you discover that the camera is really, really good it becomes an insane bargain.

I've been playing with the GX85 since yesterday and it's a great "carry everywhere" camera. You might need a couple of spare batteries to get through the day with it but Wasabi Power batteries seem to work just fine and you can get two and a charger for about $20 on the interwebs. Maybe it's just the nutty way I overshoot that makes me so battery sensitive.

If you're toting around a Lumix S1R and the Lumix 50mm f1.4 S Pro lens all the time (or a Nikon D850 and the 24-105mm) you might want to get one of these kits to make leisure time with photography just a little bit less daunting....

But then again, if you are training for the USMS National Swim Championship in San Antonio in April in 2020 then the weight training with the bigger camera, and the lens with the glandular problem, might be part of your training regimen.

I bought the kit partly because of the low price, partly to use as a platform for my beloved Pen FT half frame lenses (from the 1970's) and mostly to have something decent to shoot with while running out for groceries, to the pool, and in situations where discretion is called for.

At least this time it's all in the same (menu) family.

What did you get yourself for the holidays? Just curious....

I don't do links but if you want one of these you might head over to Michael Johnston's site: https://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/blog_index.html
and order one from there. He'll get a small $$$ and that's cool because he does a wonderful job entertaining me with his writing about photography.....and diet....and addiction.....and (sadly) the game of snooker.

27 comments:

Bob F. said...

Always the late adopter, I came to m4/3 and this camera about 8 months ago, attracted by the amazing price for the kit you mention. My Nikon APS-C system wasn't nearly as burdensome as full-frame, but the GX85 is still a featherweight. I threw away the neck strap and carry it around my wrist. The images look great to this semi-serious amateur, but the complexity of the "buttonology" drives me nuts. I frequently find myself in a weird operating mode without knowing how I got there and how to recover. We're going on a bucket-list trip next spring and I'm taking my Nikon for the safari where I can't afford to miss anything and the GX85 for the cruise where I'd like to be less obtrusive during shore activities.

Keith said...

Hi Kirk,

I smiled at reading that you too succumbed to the sellout GX85. I did the same recently when I saw one going out at a remainder price. Supposedly a ‘demonstrator’, but the battery had not even been put in the body. It’s one of my favourite little carry around cameras and my old one I bought when they came out has a rear dial that refuses to move the exp. compensation marker or zoom in on a preview. But otherwise it still works well.

Some of my favourite images have been made using it (including metre-wide canvases) and the amazingly good and light kit lens that came with my first body — the 14-42mm f3.5/f5.6 ASPH MEGA OIS II. As you say it makes a lovely easy to carry travel camera.

My heavier and bulkier GX9 and Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens often languishes in the cupboard while my little and light GX85 gets shoved into my travel bag.

Cheers, Keith

Vu Le, DDS said...

Kirk, the gx-85 was my go to dental camera...lots of portfolio shots came out of it. I pointed a lot of dentists to it. It is indeed a fantastic walk-around camera as well.

Lately I've been steering my colleagues towards the gx9. It's mostly the same body, but there's three very important changes that make it worth the jump to $800 imo: 1) a 20mp sensor that gets one stop and change better noise and significantly better color fidelity espnij the reds. 2) a superb kit lens that is serviceable for basic dental close-ups, 3) a handy AF/MF switch in the back.

I've designed and printed a grip plate to make it more one hand friendly. If you'd like one LMK.

Andy said...

Hi Kirk,

What did I get.... a Nikon Z 6 to go with my Z 7 for video that I’m going to have a play with, inspired in part by you and the 50 f1.8 S.

Now, how does this video thingy work 🙁

Andy

FoToEdge said...

I used my GX85 for over a year before I had LifePixel convert it to a Deep B&W Infrared (830nm) camera. At that time I looked for an upgrade and looked at the Olympus cameras and the Panasonic Lumix GX9 and G9 cameras. Because of Size, Weight and the Flip Up Screen, I picked up a GX9 which uses the same battery as my Infrared GX85. This has been a great combo and the Infrared GX85 hasn't had any Hot Spot issues with any of my lenses. I will probably buy another GX85 on sale in case they discontinue them. But they are a hell of a buy!

MB.Kinsman said...

I took advantage of the sale on the Fujifilm X-H1 body only back in September as an early gift to me. However, December found my eyes perusing ebay and found an XF90mm f/2 being sold from someone that bought an X-H1 bundled kit in late November and had no need for the lens. Arrived just in time for the holiday portraits of family. Loved the lens when I tried it at a Fujifilm event and couldnt be more pleased with the lens. One of the gems in a line of excellent optics from Fujifilm.

MB.Kinsman said...

I took advantage of the sale on the Fujifilm X-H1 body only back in September as an early gift to me. However, December found my eyes perusing ebay and found an XF90mm f/2 being sold from someone that bought an X-H1 bundled kit in late November and had no need for the lens. Arrived just in time for the holiday portraits of family. Loved the lens when I tried it at a Fujifilm event and couldnt be more pleased with the lens. One of the gems in a line of excellent optics from Fujifilm.

Bruce Rubenstein said...

My first 35mm camera was a Konica C35, which was one of the ubiquitous Japanese compact, fixed lens rangefinder cameras. Really liked that camera and along the way picked up a Minolta 7SII & a Canon QL17 G-III. They both have very good 40mm/f1.7 lenses. A few month ago I got a real Jones to come up with a modern digital version and bought a used Panny 20/1.7 II lens (faster focus on the current bodies than the original) and a GX9. It's just about the same size and slightly lighter than the Canon. I know lots of folks really like the GX85, but in addition to the better sensor assembly, there are dedicated controls for exposure compensation and AF mode. The image processing is significantly better than the GX8 or LX100 with more accurate color. In the US the GX9 only comes as a kit with the Lumix 12-60/3.5-5.6 lens. Perfectly acceptable, if not exceptional lens. Nice camera

dinksdad said...

I got a Panasonic G9 when B&H offered it to me for $847. Hard not to buy something this time of year with such crazy prices. Sobriety returns in January.

Unknown said...

Dang Kirk there you go again showing candy to the sugar addicted.
But a fine addiction it is.
Have a happy, healthy new year.

crsantin said...

A few weeks ago I picked up a Fuji XT-1 for well under $500. I'm really very happy with it and inspired by it. It works and feels just like all my old film cameras that I never wanted to give up. Wonderfully huge and detailed EVF. I've managed to set up my jpeg profiles so that I basically don't have to do any post-processing which is a new experience for me. The Fuji jpegs from this camera are rather nice. Classic Chrome is lovely and Fuji black and white is exactly what I want it to be. It shoots squares too which is an absolute must for me in a digital camera. 16mp is plenty. I'm using the Fuji 35mm f2 and it's my only lens at the moment and that's fine for now. I think I'll stick with the small, lovely Fuji primes for this system. The 23mm f2 and 50mm f2 are up next for me. I've no real need for a 1.4 lens.

Ray said...

I have the little PZ 14-42 lens attached to my GX 85 and I think it's a very nice combination for all the conditions you describe, but it just doesn't feel quite right in my hand. My biggest issue is that I can't seem to keep my right thumb off of the Playback button. No complaints about the IQ though.

Unknown said...

I got $2500 for Christmas by selling my Leica Q. Just didn't like the pics as much as those from my RX1RII.
But the RX1 is becoming a bit problematic - viewfinder died so I'm using the detachable one, it's given errors that require whacking the lens a couple of times to resolve . . .
So I'm passively in the market for something, but can't figure out what. Hard to go back to APS-C or m4/3 with ~25mp after full frame 42mp and its crop to zoom capabilities, out of the habit of carrying around a bagful of lenses and bodies. These 1st world problems are killers ;-)

J R said...

I’ll stick to my Fuji XT2. It’s all the camera I’ll need for awhile. I did add the 16-80 f4 lens recently that has helped produce some nice photographs.

Kurt Friis Hansen said...

The GX80/85 has some bidden heks.

1. The micro-HDMI out Can deliver power to manybadapters. I used a HDMI adapter to VGA with simultaneous analog 3.5 mm audio out (can drive many headphones - YMMV). Suddenly you can monitor sound live (and avoid the worst noises). Use Gaffa-tape ora mount for the available SmaalRig cage. Adapters connecting straight to Mikro-HDMI will cost less than $20.

2. There’s a relatively simple hack available (sending simple html control messages) to enable log-mode (2) video recording. And you can save your selection in one of the 3 custom presets. I guess Panasonic overlooked something ;-)

3. This third point, I haven’t had a chance to test for myself, but it seems, that the hdmi our signal has 10-bit quality for external recording.

The camera is actually a small gem, with one major PITA - no decent audio in, and the built-in microphones are horrible, diplomatically spe@king ;-)

Have fun. And a happy new year.

Jim Tardio said...

I couldn't send this camera back to B&H fast enough. The viewfinder is horrid.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

OMG Jim, It has a viewfinder? Kidding, kidding. I know the viewfinder was.....dated....when I bought it but so far I haven't run screaming from the room...

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Kurt, If you run the video into an Atomos via HDMI you can record the audio directly to the Atomos, using XLR mics and bypassing the camera audio. It works great.

granitix said...

That's the 45-150 kit tele, Oly does the 40-150 btw.
I should have loved the GX85 but instead fell back into my rightful place with the GX7. I wanted 4k, new shutter and the like, but felt overpowered by the added features. Yes of course, just ignore them.. like I do with mosquitoes in a swamp, and don't scratch the next day either. Sounds easy, until it isn't.

I had been thinking this was the proper camera for an S1 user seeking a smaller form factor but a familiar environment, nice to see that - as of today at least - you agree!

Kodachromeguy said...

Wow, you guys bought some nice equipment. I really need to keep the GAS under control because my wife and I may be moving soon. But I did splurge on a Bay 60 yellow filter for the Hasselblad - finally found one at a semi-reasonable price. Bay 60 color filters have become unobtanium. Where did they all go?.

MO said...

got 2 gx85 and 2 lx100 bodies. for me they are the perfect cameras size/iq wise. I have a combination of canon and sony fullframe gear for jobs. but i grab the panasonics most of the shooting i do for my self and even som jobs.

Jason Hindle said...

In the U.K, this season’s bargains have included the Panasonic GX9 (95 in the US?) and Fujifilm XT-100. I’m partially familiar with the Fujifilm.... I have the XF10 (picked up in last year's Boxing Day sales). Expect slightly sluggish performance with great image quality - it leaves me not entirely sure why Fujifilm persists with X-Trans. The GX9 has the best sensor available for M43 and great 4K video. Erm, I’ve bought a couple of Echo Shows and some smart sockets in the sales. Photographically, I’m happy with what I’ve got and can’t really justify what I desire :-/.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

That's it? Nobody else got anything photographic for themselves over the holidays? I don't believe it.....

Unknown said...

The holidays aren't over yet, Kirk.
Maybe Zeiss will release the ZX1 within the next two days.

theotherme said...

I picked up my 3rd GX85 when I saw it on sale. Originally got one to be a small walk-around shooter. Used it as a 2nd camera for youtube, and loved the video it produced. Now running (3)GX85s and down to (1)70D in the 4 cam setup. It took a LOT of restraint not to order yet another one at the discounted price to have all 4 cams for the show the same. Love that little panny.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Hi Theotherme, I'm loving it. I guess I never thought about this camera back when I bought the G85 but it's basically the same guts in a different orientation. I'm hooked on it for personal stuff. Can't go wrong if you can make it work for what you do. Are you using an external recorder for audio?

Jim Tardio said...

Regarding the viewfinder...I really wanted to like this camera but I just couldn't get past this. It's small, blurred and streaky.

I really wanted the LX100ii, but guess what...same lousy viewfinder. When Panasonic finally runs out these parts and starts putting a decent VF in their stuff I'll get one.