Panasonic announces Lumix GX85 with 5-axis IS
Unveiled today, Panasonic’s GX85 is the GX7 replacement the GX8 was not. Confused yet? While the GX8 remains the top of the line GX camera, it’s larger size and higher price meant it may not have been the camera GX7 users wanted to move to. The GX85 returns to the form factor of the GX7, and is in fact slightly smaller, while minor but important improvements have been made under the hood.
The tried and true 16MP MFT sensor returns, which is perhaps the biggest differentiator between the GX85 and GX8 (which uses a newer 20MP sensor). However, one key difference between this and previous Panasonic cameras that employed this sensor is that the GX85 does away with the low-pass filter. Panasonic claims this leads to a 10% increase in sharpness, but one should also expect to see more noticeable moiré when shooting fine patterns, such as textiles, computer screens, or brick walls.
One improvement over both the GX7 and GX8 is that the in-body stabilization now works on 5 axes, compared to the GX8’s 4. This puts Panasonic in line with Olympus and Sony who both have offered 5-axis stabilization for a little while.
However, unique to Panasonic is that 5-axis stabilization remains active during 4K video recording, which may sound like a no-brainer but is actually no small feat of technical engineering: the sensor has to scan a greater area, then read out the lines that are “active” based on what the gyroscope is telling it about its position. Look, I don’t fully understand it, but it’s some impressive tech on a camera at this price point.
Another new video feature is called 4K Live Cropping which, as the name suggests, allows one to crop a Full HD image out of the 4K frame, then set a start and end point to animate the frame to mimic a pan effect. This is something that can be done in editing software pretty easily, but for people who just to capture a smooth shot as easily as possible without the fuss of a computer, it’s a neat feature.
Despite all of the video-specific selling points, the GX85 doesn’t have the professional video features of the GH4, or even the GX8, like a headphone jack or a flat tone curve, so it’s value to videographers is limited. For the average consumer, however, it has perhaps the best video mode out there. It also has the now-standard Panasonic accoutrement of 4K Photo Mode with Post Focus.
At a kit price of just $799, the GX85 is a compelling offer for anyone looking for a compact camera with a powerful feature set.