The Panasonic G85 takes the already amazing Panasonic G7 and brings it to the next level by adding 5 axis image stabilization, a weather resistant magnesium alloy body, and some new hardware changes to the mix. But these new features come at a higher price so let's see if this mirrorless camera is up to challenging some amazing DSLRs from Canon & Nikon as well as the mirrorless Sony A6300.
The Panasonic G85 is a definite step up from the Panasonic G7 in build quality and also blows away the current Canon T6i, Sony A6300, and Nikon D5500 also competing in this space. It feels rugged, the grip feels great, and the buttons are superb. Add to that an amazing flip out touch screen, all the major ports, great battery life, and the G85 seems like a winner. The mirrorless design keeps things fairly compact without ruining ergonomics and limiting controls and the G85 uses a new shutter mechanism for quieter shooting with electronic first curtain and a full silent mode.
When paired with the sensors lack of an AA filter and the new 5 axis image stabilization system, the results in very sharp images and video. The sensor remains unchanged and that is mostly fine as it is one of the better micro 4/3 cameras on the market. However, the larger sensored APS-C Sony A6300 and Nikon D5500 offer much better image quality, especially in low light.
Panasonic has left no stone unturned when it comes to features and the G85 is packed full with just about everything you could want. The only weakness seems to be the focus system tracking which again, is among the top compared to most other Micro 4/3 cameras but falls behind the speed of DSLRs as well as the dual (contrast/phase detection) systems in advanced mirrorless cameras like the Sony A6300 and 6500. In video, I found the AF performance slightly worse and the camera struggled to maintain focus on an object and would frequently search or double check itself. One of the best features is customization allowing the Panasonic G85 to be programed with enough controls to make professionals feel comfortable. Paired with Wi-Fi, a great app for remote shooting, and plenty of creative modes, the Panasonic G85 is meant to satisfy everyone.
Image and Video quality remains mostly the same from the Panasonic G7 with just slightly sharper results because of the lack of an AA filter. Thankfully the Panasonic G7 was already amazing and whether shooting photographs or video, you will likely be impressed. Video quality takes things to a higher level with 4k recording and the Panasonic G7 blows almost every other camera out of the water below 1600 ISO. Again, larger sensor APS-C cameras have a lead when it comes to image quality, especially with the Nikon D5500 and Sony A6300 but most of those leads are hardly noticeable unless you are shooting at higher ISOs in the dark.
It's tough to criticize the Panasonic G85 as it really is one of the best M43 cameras on the market today and the features list, build quality, ergonomics, and video quality make it a strong contender with other cameras in this space. On the mirrorless camera side, the Sony A6300 offers better image/video quality and AF performance though at the cost of ergonomics and a 5 axis image stabilization (a feature reserved for the more expensive a6500). DSLRs from both Canon & Nikon also offer better image quality though they fall behind on the video side of things. Autofocus performance is also amazing from these DSLRs but only when using the viewfinder for photographs. For live view and video shooting, Nikon falls behind and only the higher end Canon 80D offers improvement over the Panasonic G85. You will be dealing with some tough choices either way but if features, build quality, and ergonomics are high on your list, the Panasonic G85 is the camera to get.