Panasonic LUMIX G7 Specs
- Sensor specifications: 16-megapixel Micro 4/3rds sized 17.00mm x 13.00mm.
- Special features: 3” fully articulating touch screen, 7.0 fps continuous shooting, 4K video recording (3840 x 2160p), wireless connectivity, Panasonic 4K photo modes
- Current Retail Price: $597.99 body-only
Panasonic LUMIX G85 Specs
- Sensor specifications: 16-megapixel Micro 4/3rds sized 17.00mm x 13.00mm.
- Special features: 3” fully articulating touch screen, 9.0 fps continuous shooting, 4K video recording (3840 x 2160p), wireless connectivity, Panasonic 4K photo modes, 5-axis image stabilization, Environmental Sealing
- Current Retail Price: $897.99 body-only
Camera Size and Ergonomics
The LUMIX G85 has a slightly unfair advantage because it’s the newer camera of the two. While the G7 is not completely outclassed the G85 is definitely a more capable choice. While they share the same sensor and outward appearance the magnesium alloy outer casing of the G85 is entirely weatherized. This keeps out moderate moisture like light rain and dust from penetrating into the camera elements.
The G7 (410 g) is lighter than the G85 (505 g) thanks to the lack of weatherizing and a lower price point. And at 9.3 m vs 6.2m, the LUMIX G7 also has 50% more flash range than the G85. For those who find natural light frustrating the more powerful G7 flash is a boon. Micro 4/3rds camera sensors are on the smaller end of things. Sometimes I find that they can struggle slightly in low-light situations. If I’m using a tripod, open aperture, and/or slow shutter speeds, I can make up for the noise and blur that can result.
But there’s no denying that larger sensors simply gather more light due to their larger area. Therefore, if you prefer working with a flash the G7 is a good bet. Both cameras do also come with a hot shoe attachment, however, giving you the chance to enjoy the extra features of the G85 with a custom flash unit.
Lastly, at 350 shots per charge, the G7 has slightly more stamina than the G85 (330 shots per charge). But not so much that it’s worth choosing one over the other. Mirrorless cameras as a whole have notoriously low stamina due to their design.
While both cameras share the interesting Panasonic 4K photo modes the G85 is the first to include Focus Stacking. Focus stacking is a fun feature sometimes found in much more expensive cameras that are a joy to use with the G85. It is meant to be used specifically with an unmoving subject and a stabilized (tripod-based) camera.
The camera first allows you to select the focus areas of the image you want to use. If you want a focus stacked flower, then you can select all of the autofocus points surrounding the flower and leave out the rest. The camera then takes a series of images with the depth of field adjusted throughout the frame. This works best with as narrow an aperture as you can achieve. The final image will have a perfect depth of field, with the flower in perfect focus and the background perfectly blurred, which can be difficult or impossible with certain lenses and conditions.
The Lumix G85 also comes with a sensor stabilization system that’s well worth the extra money. Image stabilization is a tool I can use whenever I’m shooting handheld. It helps negate motion blur that occurs if my shutter speed is too low. Everyone’s hands shake slightly no matter how still you try to keep them. And if I need to zoom in on your images I’ll see the results of that handshake. Image stabilization helps photographers avoid needing to use a tripod.
Tripods are necessary for every photographer’s arsenal but it’s definitely nice not spending quite so much time setting up and taking one down if I don’t have to. Image stabilization makes shooting handheld much easier and saves me from a potential loss of sharpness. As Panasonic continues to improve its mirrorless line sensor-shift stabilization will probably become the norm for all of its cameras.
The LUMIX G7 and G85 both use a contrast detection based on 49 autofocus points. Contrast detection works by using the image sensor to search for the lens setting that creates maximum image contrast. It does so by searching back and forth, panning or hunting for perfect focus, exactly how older smartphone lenses hunt for focus.
But Panasonic has greatly sped up the pace of its contrast detection systems by including algorithms within the lenses that allow the camera to smartly calculate where max contrast should be faster than normal.
Mirrorless cameras, as the name implies, don’t have mirrors. With DSLRs the complex inner mirror systems that create my view and allow the phase detection autofocus system to work take up a lot of space and give them their bulky styling. With mirrorless cameras, the sensor acts as the autofocus system and also the viewfinder.
The electronic viewfinders (EVF) of the G7 and G85 both clock in at a pleasing 2360k dot resolution for true to life display. However, EVFs do draw additional power from the battery. And because the bodies are smaller the cameras use smaller batteries. While with each year the battery life continues to improve, extra batteries are absolutely essential for the mirrorless camera owner.
Lenses and Lens Mounts
All Micro 4/3rds cameras (Panasonic and Olympus) use the same lens mounts. This lets me use them interchangeably. If there’s an Olympus lens I fancy for my Panasonic body, then it’s no problem and vice versa. Sometimes there can be minor compatibility issues such as the in-lens optical image stabilization of an Olympus not fully stacking with the in-body sensor stabilization of a Panasonic body. But for the most part, they work perfectly together.
Is the Panasonic LUMIX G7 right for me?
The main advantage of the G7 is its price. It can do nearly everything that the G85 can do for about $300 less. If you don’t need image stabilization (hard to believe), focus stacking, or a weatherized body then you’d do well with the G7. The relatively high burst rate makes it a favorite of action and sports photographers in particular.
Is the Panasonic LUMIX G85 right for me?
The G85 is more outdoor oriented and packed with features that have become standard to the Panasonic mirrorless line. The weather sealing is a huge draw and makes the G85 perfect for outdoor nature and event photographers, especially when partnered with a weather sealed lens like the Panasonic f/2.8 12-35mm G.Vario.
The slightly faster continuous firing of the G85 also makes it a better choice for sports, car racing, and other high-speed photographers but the G7’s 7.0 frames per second is nearly as good. Both also have 49 autofocus points on a contrast detection based autofocus system so no gains or losses here.
The biggest draw is the sensor stabilization. Having image stabilization built into the camera is a huge advantage that can’t be understated. It allows me to take photos handheld with much slower shutter speeds than I normally could. If I normally needed 1/1000th of a second to avoid motion blur with the G85 I can instead shoot as slow as 1/30th of a second and have the same chance of blur.
Best of all the image stabilization of the G85 works together with every lens you attach to the camera. And many Panasonic lenses also have optical image stabilization (OIS) built into the glass as well. Panasonic and Olympus both use a similar design.
Both cameras are undoubtedly worthy of the beginner-intermediate photographer. Even professionals will find that both make for fine great second camera bodies. One drawback that neither camera can get around is the resolution and sensor size.
Photographers who need large prints may find 16 megapixels to bit limiting, especially if they have to do any cropping. And because of the size of the Micro 4/3rds sensors, sometimes they struggle in low light settings that a full-frame sensor (36.00mm x 24.00mm) would have no trouble with. But that’s the price I pay for the size and versatility of these two compact powerhouses.