Micro 4/3 Initial impressions of the GX85

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
I like this camera. A lot. It seems “right sized” to me . . . not too big, not too small. It fits in my 11” x 9” x 3” shoulder bag with the 12-32 attached and the 45-150 next to it with room to spare. The “rangefinder” form factor seems right to me as well. It’s designed in such a way – essentially a rounded-off brick with a lens attached – that I can pull it from the bag without it snagging on anything, or any wheels rotating and changing settings. The electronic viewfinder is at the upper left on the back of the camera body. Since I am left eye dominant, I turn off the touch screen so that my excellent nose doesn’t activate unwanted functions.

The GX85 has made me realize something about myself as a photographer. To wit: my approach is much more like Henri Cartier-Bresson than Ansel Adams. By that, I mean that my total attention is on composing the shot and taking the shot and not really concerned with how I am going to process the image after it is taken. It’s my understanding that HCB did not develop or print his own images. He said: “A photograph is neither taken nor seized by force, it offers itself up. It is the photo that takes you.” I agree. I am a wandering eye, looking for the next image that begs me to capture it. So long as I am getting results that are pleasing to me, I am content to let the camera make the decisions. The GX85 will allow you to treat it as a point and shoot, and so far, I am very happy with the results.

Just to complete the thought, I’ve seen interviews with Ansel Adams where he said that he knew how he was going to print the shot at the time that he made the exposure. Somewhere on the Internet, there is a video that shows the original negative for “Moonrise over Hernandez.” It is, in my opinion, thoroughly unremarkable. But then the video shows the printing instructions which transform it into the image we know and love. The point is that Adams had complete control of his entire photographic process, and he knew what he was doing from start to finish. I am not that guy. But if I ever want to become that guy, or attempt to become that guy, the GX85 has all the goodies to take control of the creative process.

In fact, as I have researched tips for setting up the GX85, it becomes readily apparent that the GX85 has more tricks built into it than a bridge tournament, including the ability to shoot 4K video and extract stills from it. If I am not mistaken, our very own John Flores used this capacity to shoot an image that became the cover of a magazine.

The GX85 has built-in image stabilization. The two lenses included in the kit I purchased also have stabilization, and the combo is designed that the two stabilization systems can work together.

The 12-32 lens is so tiny (you have to rotate a ring to get the working bits to extend) that it makes me want to tickle it under the chin and inquire: “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” My only complaint is that there is no manual focus ring. There is an in-camera work-around for manual focus with this lens, but it is clunky in the extreme.

Fortunately, autofocus with either lens is lightning quick in almost all situations. The 45-150 has a manual focus ring if you need it. And if you need more reach in a hurry, the GX85 has 2X and 4X digital zoom.

To date, I am happy with the results I am getting from GX85 with the 12-32 and 45-150. It is small enough, light enough, and handy enough that the small shoulder bag, with everything in it, sits on my desk, ready to go when the promise of photographic possibilities present themselves.

Cheers, Jock
 
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
OOH, I didnt realise the 12-32 didnt have a manual focus ring. I'm still contemplating buying one of these GX85s, they are back on the refurb store I often frequent... but no lenses included, just the body. So... I wont get that 12-32. No focus ring makes me crazy with the nikon1 system.
 

theoldsmithy

Hall of Famer
Jan 7, 2013
124
Cheshire, England
Martin Connolly
OOH, I didnt realise the 12-32 didnt have a manual focus ring. I'm still contemplating buying one of these GX85s, they are back on the refurb store I often frequent... but no lenses included, just the body. So... I wont get that 12-32. No focus ring makes me crazy with the nikon1 system.
It’s still a brilliant little lens, Sue, and cheap as chips anyway. Well worth its cost even without a focus ring.
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
123
No focus ring to keep it small, but that is the issue.

GX85 is a fun camera. Very few weakness, with the biggest being the EVF, maybe the second being battery life. The rest of it is solid kit.
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
No focus ring to keep it small, but that is the issue.

GX85 is a fun camera. Very few weakness, with the biggest being the EVF, maybe the second being battery life. The rest of it is solid kit.
I've seen a lot of comments about the EVF, but I can't figure out why . . . I've had no problems with it.

Cheers, Jock
 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
It's a fantastic camera, and you have to really nitpick to come up with cons to buying it at the current price point for the two-lens kit. I've had the camera since Best Buy released it earlier than other retailers in 2016. It's been a faithful friend and very capable tool the whole time. A couple of tweaks I like, which you may find useful:

  • The custom multi AF pattern is very useful for street shooting. I set mine to be an H-shape with the "posts" near the rule of thirds areas so it will always AF somewhat near those areas.
  • If you like shooting B&W, check out the L. Monochrome mode, with color filters that can be set in-camera. I particularly like the look of L. Monochrome with the green filter. Often the results are so nice I don't do additional processing. Alternatively, shoot in RAW and edit in-camera and apply the L. Monochrome filter there.
  • This camera is a terrific way to experience the 20mm f1.7 pancake lens, which is a legend in the format. The results are awesome.
 

theoldsmithy

Hall of Famer
Jan 7, 2013
124
Cheshire, England
Martin Connolly
Would a GX85 with 12-32 be significantly better than an LX100? I ask as I have had the 12-32 twice in the past and thought it was a cracking lens. The LX100 slow zoom is starting to wind me up again :(
 

mnhoj

gee aahrr
Jan 27, 2012
103
Los Angeles
John
I really really like the 12-32 on the GX85.
And the 35-100 F4-5.6
And the 15mm 1.7
And the 42.5 1.7
And the Samyang Fisheye.

Sorry. Got carried away.
Did I mention the GX85 is pretty amazing? ( :
 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
Would a GX85 with 12-32 be significantly better than an LX100? I ask as I have had the 12-32 twice in the past and thought it was a cracking lens. The LX100 slow zoom is starting to wind me up again :(
Yes, definitely. The sensor performance is better without that crop, and the operation of the 12-32mm lens with its simple zoom ring is far better than a slow power zoom. The power zoom is what keeps pushing me away from the LX100.

Of course, with a GX85 you have the option of adding a Panasonic 20mm f1.7 and experiencing one of the best camera/lens pairings out there. So good it almost removes the need for a zoom ( but you can bring along a 12-32mm without any noticeable addition to your carry!).
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
Would a GX85 with 12-32 be significantly better than an LX100? I ask as I have had the 12-32 twice in the past and thought it was a cracking lens. The LX100 slow zoom is starting to wind me up again :(
Martin,

I owned the LX100 and loved it. BUT . . . it developed a dust spot on the sensor which is an expensive thing to clear ($100US at a camera repair shop), and there is no guarantee that it won't occur again. (I like to take pictures of the epic grandeur of the sky, and dust spots are seriously annoying.) The GX85 has all the operational goodies of the LX100 (like time lapse), plus the lens can be removed to clean the sensor if necessary.

Cheers, Jock
 
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
I keep coming back to this thread (thanks for kicking off my GAS, Jock :)) I can get that GX85 as a refurb for $499AU (but no lens) or a GX7 with a kit lens. Any recommendations for the GX7 over the GX85? Same price for either.
 

mnhoj

gee aahrr
Jan 27, 2012
103
Los Angeles
John
I like the GX85 Sue. It'll cost you the difference of a 12-32 but well worth it imo.

Pro GX7 -
EVF articulates but has the same specs.
Front grip looks larger. May be better?
I use the HGR2 which works great on the GX85.

Pro GX85 -
2.5 years newer - operational speed benefits
No AA filter - excellent detail
5 axis IBIS/Dual IS
Improved AF
L monochrome
 
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
I like the GX85 Sue. It'll cost you the difference of a 12-32 but well worth it imo.

Pro GX7 -
EVF articulates but has the same specs.
Front grip looks larger. May be better?
I use the HGR2 which works great on the GX85.

Pro GX85 -
2.5 years newer - operational speed benefits
No AA filter - excellent detail
5 axis IBIS/Dual IS
Improved AF
L monochrome
Thanks for all that, John :) Its going to be replacing my Pentax gear (which I'll probably store, rather than sell)... GX85 then, plus the 12-32 to start with. *Checks finances*
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
Thanks for all that, John :) Its going to be replacing my Pentax gear (which I'll probably store, rather than sell)... GX85 then, plus the 12-32 to start with. *Checks finances*
Just a heads-up, Sue: good as the GX85 is, the GX9 is even better. I'm not sure how they compare price-wise in your area, but since you have working gear, I'd consider saving up for the GX9; it adds a newer 20MP sensor, better controls, a tilting EVF and a better JPEG engine to the GX85's goodness.

That said, the GX85 would still be my second choice - even over the E-M5 II and the PEN-F. It's a great camera, especially for the price. So, if your mind's made up, go for it - you won't be dissappointed.

M.
 
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
Just a heads-up, Sue: good as the GX85 is, the GX9 is even better. I'm not sure how they compare price-wise in your area, but since you have working gear, I'd consider saving up for the GX9; it adds a newer 20MP sensor, better controls, a tilting EVF and a better JPEG engine to the GX85's goodness.

That said, the GX85 would still be my second choice - even over the E-M5 II and the PEN-F. It's a great camera, especially for the price. So, if your mind's made up, go for it - you won't be dissappointed.

M.
I guess once the lens is added in, the price difference isnt massive (a few hundred AUD) but anyway, I still need more impetus to do it. Not there yet.
 

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