Sunday, December 18, 2016

LUMIX G85 a BETTER GX85?

In September at the 2016 PHOTOKINA, Panasonic announced 4 new 4K capable cameras, the compact DMC-LX10, the Hybrid Bridge camera FZ2500, the GX85, a DSLR look alike system camera and a mock up, not yet completed, super duper, advance system camera the GH5.

My interest was with the DMC-G85 which inherited the same 16 MP, AA filterless sensor of the more compact GX85 which I reviewed and love.  As a matter of fact, I almost bought a GX85 until I found out what the G85 have and the GX85 do not!

I was trying to get the G85 from Panasonic New Zealand for a review, there was a nearly two months delay because someone else was having the camera. Also, some oversea reviewers discovered there was a "jitter" or "jump" during video filming.

Panasonic have to come out with a new firmware update to fix that jitter problem and again that delayed the reviewing a bit.

The photo on the left show the "range-finder" styled, compact DMC-GX85 and the much thicker and taller "DSLR style" DMC-G85.

Apart from being bigger, the G85 have more dials and buttons than the GX85.

However, the most important difference that G85 got and GX85 do not are...

*The new Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS lens.

* I.S. DUAL 2 image stabiliser.

* Weather tight and dust proof seals.

* Full Tilt Swivel Screen.

* Much quieter shutter.




Lets take a look at these new features...



The "Kit Lens" for this new camera is the new 11 elements 12-60mm F3.5-5.6  (24-120mm
equivalent) zoom with Power O.I.S., the lens is weather sealed!

I like the solid construction of this lens, I have a feeling that optically, this is a really good "general" lens. I am happy that finally, 12mm is accepted by kit lens designer!


The 12-60 captured my fav Oriental Bay vistas on both the G85 and GX85. As expected, both images look identical (same type of sensors).

These were shot on the 12mm (24mm eq) setting.

The image below was at the 60mm end, it is sharp as tack and I cannot see any blue fringes! The contrast, colour saturation of this kit lens is outstanding!


I decided to take a walk at the CBD and take some shots of buildings, looking at the images, I think you will realise why  you need a minimum of 12mm (24mm eq) while you are travelling.  Believe you me, the 14mm (28mm eq) is just NOT WIDE ENOUGH!







Notice the lack of BARREL DISTORTION at this very wide 12mm setting!  Love this lens!



While still in the city, I walk pass this gift shop, I just took a quick snap of this display through a thick glass window....

The close-up of the green puppy is a 200% enlargement from the same shot! And look at the WHITE RIBBON, see how detail are retained?


KIT LENS is getting to be frightening good now, once upon a time we use to call them KID LENS because of their so so sharpness.  A great kid.. oops, kit lens (Lumix 12-60) on the new G85 can do wonder!



Why do I need full-frame? Ha!

Dynamic Range...

Digital camera sensors can capture a wide range of brightness values, but there is a limit. If you're faced with a scene that has a really wide dynamic range (or brightness range) than the camera's sensor can cope, you may have a problem!

When I requested a staff of Little Penang to take a "wefie" of our catching up with our dear friend, and as I pass her the Lumix G85, she look at me and say, "you guys are BACK LIT, you sure?" Wow, she KNOW about BACK LIGHTING!

I told her to go ahead and after she click, she look at the camera preview and from her look, thinking may be I gone loco...  just look at the extremely dark picture!

What she did not know, I wanted the picture to be heavily UNDER EXPOSED to test the DYNAMIC RANGE or the RECOVER-ABILITY of details of the G85!

Now look at the "After" picture.

Detail galore!

This test is to separate the man (G85) from the boys (small sensors, mobile phones) ;) Ha ha ha..



What about pictures of the yummy food?




Like GX8, Dual IS (Image Stabilisation) is feature in the GX85. With selected lenses you are able to enjoy SEVEN axis improved image stabilisation!

The new G85 is even better, it come with version 2 of the DUAL I.S. known as DUAL I.S. 2 or DUAL 2.

Alas, DUAL 2 is only available to Lumix lenses that are compatible or lenses that have the updated firmware loaded. You will be able to confirm the operation of DUAL 2 if you can see the icon on your rear screen.



I understand that DUAL 2 is even more effective than the one in GX85 and you are able to get sharp picture with even slower speed!  Really?

Lets try my "telephone test" ;)

The same test was pioneered in my GX85 review.



Both cameras were using the same 12-60 lens and 5 pictures each were taken at speeds of 1/4. 1/2 and a FULL SECOND.  The sharpest pictures were picked.

As you can see, the G85 with DUAL 2 is sharper at one second than the GX85 which only have the earlier version of IS DUAL.

I find it mind boggling that you are able to HAND HOLD and capture a SHARP, ONE SECOND exposure!!

Image stabilisers has come a long way, in the near future, "camera shake" will be a phenomenon of the past!  ;)

When the new G85 was reviewed in October, some reviewers discovered when recording video using Dual I.S. 2, there are issues which may arise that reduce the smoothness of the video recording, there were noticeable jitter and "jump", particularly during panning movements.

Kudos to Panasonic, they issued an official statement when the problem was reported...

"Less than a week ago, Panasonic became aware of some reports that the G85's image stabilization wasn't delivering the same level of smooth performance that the GX85 does while slow panning in video mode. Panasonic is working to solve the issue with a firmware update as soon as we can. Panasonic appreciates all the valuable feedback and always focuses on meeting or exceeding our customers' expectations."

Panasonic NZ informed me the latest firmware has been loaded before they ship the camera to me, two weeks ago.

By coincidence, my wife's line dancing group was having their year end party and I reckon it is a good place to check out the DUAL 2 video steadiness!

This Holly Jolly Christmas line dance was shot hand held with the kit lens (12-60). 
Look pretty steady to me and the latest firmware update seems to get rid of the "jitter".




The G85 also do a good job of grabbing stills frame during videoing.

Wet,wet.wet...

There were 5 rainy days during the two weeks the G85 was with me, not that I love taking pictures in the rain but when it  was spitting down this afternoon, it got the Lumix G85 review camera pretty soaked!

No harm done! 

The G85 is completely WEATHER SEALED (better be!), even the 12-60 kit lens that came with it.

This bring back memory of the time I was working for The Star newspaper in Penang and just got my brand new NIKON F3 SLR.

Took it to a football match (at night) and it started to drizzle, BOOM, the so call PRO Single-lens-reflex film camera WENT DEAD!

I found out later that the very expensive camera inherited a deadly design flaw, even if a DROP of water enter the cable release hole will short out the RM1,400 (lots of money then!) camera instantly! 

It was much later that Nikon brought out a F3P (P for PRESS, not Pro, ha ha) that included a fix, they COVERED the shutter release with a rubber cap! 


The G85 also come with tons of "Creative Exposure Modes", some give you strange effect that I find weird, it is not for me, but for some, it is there if you like "effects"!

However, there are some subtle ones that I like.




In the short two weeks that I have the G85, I took pictures of different subjects, one location I love is the California Garden Centre in Miramar.  The vast colour hues and shades allow lenses to show their best.


I love panoramic mode on digital camera,  the first time I try to take a pano with the G85, I was shock that the Pano Mode is NOT on the mode dial!  I found out after a quick Google_ing that Panasonic have "hide" this mode in the "SCENE" mode, No 25 to be exact.




An afternoon of BEE WATCHING at the California Garden Centre, Miramar.

Early summer, the NZ BUMBLE BEES are still very tiny, they seems to love the LAVENDER flower at the centre. Photographing them are easy with the Lumix G85 but getting a SHARP picture is very, very hard! By right, I should have a fast MACRO lens but I am reviewing the G85 with the 12-60 kit lens.

However, if you are able to get that razor thin depth-of-field in line, this kit lens might just surprise you!

The close-up are 100% from the larger picture.





Did I not tell you I am very impress with this 12-60 kit lens?  :)

You can actually buy this weather sealed lens by itself, a quick check at our local Photo Warehouse told me it cost a whopping NZ$598.00!

To get the G85 KIT with this lens will cost you NZ$1,794.00,  since a G85 BODY alone  is costing NZ$1,499.00. The lens on the kit is only NZ$295.00.

Does that make any sense?  ;)

Here are more images taken with the G85, the birds was shot with the G85 with my 45-175 X zoom.






Famous Last Words...

In many ways, the G85 is a BETTER camera than the GX85, it got more features and it is weather sealed.

I will not hesitate recommending this camera if you don't mind a slightly larger camera than the GX85.

Me?

I was DREAMING of a weather sealed GX85 with DUAL I.S. 2 and FULL articulate screen!

Bring it on, Panasonic!

Thanks to Panasonic New Zealand for the review G85 and GX85.

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