Last updated on February 14, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, travelling and making photos for 20 years. Read more Gear Review

I was waiting to review the Panasonic Lumix GX85 since it was announced, end of April 2016. On paper this camera was looking fantastic. On paper, a great combination of high end features and low end cost.

How did it go??

Read on!

Table of Contents

When people ask me how do I score a travel camera, I usually answer with 5 important characteristics:

  • easy to use
  • light
  • small
  • interchangeable lenses with a good selection to choose from
  • possibly with 4K video

Than it comes the price, which is usually related to the quality of the components.

With the Panasonic GX85 we have all of the above, and we have also an amazing competitive price.

This review covers some of the most important characteristics for a travel photographer looking to buy a new camera for the future trips and/or the occasional excursions in the city or the surrounding areas

View to Southgate Melbourne (1/320sec at f3.5 12mm ISO800)
View to Southgate Melbourne (1/320sec at f3.5 12mm ISO800)

If you are interested to the full list of specs of the Panasonic GX85 click here (Panasonic website).

If you are in Europe this camera is sold as Panasonic GX80. I would have to investigate why Panasonic has a different naming convention for Europe.

The Micro Four Thirds sensor

The GX85 is based on a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor (17.3 x 13.0 mm). If you are not sure what I am talking about just compare the sensor to a human eye.

If I am in a closed environment, like a room, I can better distinguish things and details when there is more light into the room.  In a camera, at the same aperture of the lens, the sensor will receive different amount of light based on the sensor size. As a general rule, the bigger the sensor the more light it will get.

The GX85 sensor is half the size of a full sensor camera, like the Canon 5D

Does it mean that the Canon 5D is twice as better than the GX85?

Things do not really work this say. In fact, in an environment with good light, you will hardly distinguish the difference in the photos made by these two cameras. Thing however may become tricky in a environment with poor light and you will start noticing differences.

The Penguin Parade at the St.Kilda Pier (1_25sec at f4.5_ 12mm ISO200)_GX85_GX80_Revew_20160626_075-min
The Penguin Parade at the St.Kilda Pier (1/25sec at f4.5, 12mm ISO200)

Moreover if you print up to A4 you  will hardly distinguish any dissimilarity. On the bigger formats, your eye may start seeing some differences.

If you travel and you want a camera to document your trip, post photos on the web and eventually print a nice A4 format book, then I would not even consider to buy a Canon 5D, so heavy to carry around!! Instead the GX85, as well as most of the mirrorless cameras, will do everything you need without the weight of a DSLR

Build Quality & Portability

The design is quite retro, with a mix of metal and plastic.


The plastic looks almost as leather which gives quite a cool looking to the Panasonic GX85.

The camera is very small (122 x 70.6 x 43.9 mm), which is great for travelling. The weight is only 383gr (body only). Basically you have it in your backpack and you will not feel it.

I have small hands and the camera was a beauty to manage.

In-body stabilisation for the Panasonic Lumix GX85

In my travel Photography courses I always suggest to shoot with a shutter speed at least equal to the inverse of the used focal length otherwise the photo may be not that sharp

For example if you are taking a photo with an equivalent focal length of 50mm you should have a shutter speed of at least 1/50 of a second. As a precaution I also suggest to avoid shooting with a shutter speed longer that 1/40sec.

Of course these suggestions apply only when you make hand-held photos. With a tripod you can work for as long as you like. Also these suggestions are strictly related to your body and hands stability. They are averaged indications.

Now, with the Panasonic GX85 these rules should be re-written.

This new Lumix camera has 5-axis in-body image stabilisation which give a superior performance with stable imaging in situations where that was not previously possible.

Add another important change.

The GX85 has an electromagnetically driven shutter mechanism instead of the market standard spring driven.  This new solution helps to avoid the annoying shutter shock and also to decrease the weight of the camera itself (the less we carry with us the better it is;))

Now, how long can we go with our exposure using the Panasonic GX85 hand-held?

Can we move into a 1 second exposure? Not quite that stable LOL however we can definitely break the rule for at least 3-5 stops I think. I had some great sharp photos at 1/10 of a second with 50mm equivalent focal length.

What is the new limit?

I really suggest to start shooting, go longer and longer, and see what your hands can manage. From there you build your rules.

The last thing to notice is that these suggestions apply to equivalent focal length (full sensor). With a Four Thirds Sensor, as in the GX85, you need to double the focal length you are using (example, if you are shooting at 30mm you should use at least 1/60 sec)

And look at the details when shooting at a more reasonable shutter speed

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)

How important is to have an EVF?

Of course a lot. If you come from the mobile world you are probably used to shoot using the monitor of your phone.

This is absolutely fine however it may not work that great because your eyes may be distracted by the nearby environment.

The EVF helps your eye to concentrate on the composition, on what you will see in your photo.

St.Kilda Pier (1/20sec at f4.5, 12mm ISO200)
St.Kilda Pier (1/20sec at f4.5, 12mm ISO200)

When I tested the viewfinder of the bigger brother, the Panasonic Lumix GX8, I was blown away, especially in low light condition. Just amazing.

When I tried the GX85 I soon noticed the difference. The quality is still good but not as amazing. Obviously there is a difference in price between the two models which  explains also the difference in quality of some of the components and the EVF is one of them.

The EVF of the Panasonic GX85 looks also smaller and that is because it is a native 16:9 cropped to 4:3 aspect ratio. This means that if you shoot 4:3 you will have two black stripes on the side.

However if you shoot mostly with a 16:9 aspect ratio the EVF becomes suddenly great and unique.

As you may have noticed in this blog, I mostly shoot with 16:9 aspect ratio and I believe it is actually the best way to show your photos on monitors, tablets and mobile phones.

If you are a blogger or run a website, having a 16:9 EVF is actually a benefit. If you print most of your work, this may be a concern, however I do not think it is a deal breaker.

Why not some night photography with a tripod (30sec at f5.6, 12mm ISO 200)
Why not some night photography with a tripod (30sec at f5.6, 12mm ISO 200)

Auto focus

The auto focus works on the area contrast. Therefore if you try to focus, let’s say, on a black panel, the camera most probably will not be able to focus, as easy as that.

There is a trick, which I usually explain in my course.

If auto focus does not work, try to focus on another object with more contrast and similar distance between you and the subject. Once ready, lock your focus and recompose.

The other possibility is of course to go manual.

When does auto focus start having more problems? When it becomes darker and in night photography.

I have noticed that the GX85 has a tremendous auto focus even in the darker environments, just after sunset. I was very pleased by that.

I almost feel that the auto focus has been actually improved since the GX8

I was really happy with the outcome of my photographic session (1/100sec at f3.5, 12mm ISO400)
I was really happy with the outcome of my photographic session (1/100sec at f3.5, 12mm ISO400)

Tilting touchscreen

I usually use a Nikon D610 and a tilting monitor was never my priority. I always thought that I could do without it

It may be just me however I find also that the tilting LCD is never well integrated in the design of a camera, it clashes slightly with the body lines.

When I opened the Panasonic GX85 box I though I received a prototype without the tilting monitor. Than I noticed that it was so well integrated that the tilting mechanism disappeared.

The touchscreen is also a bonus.

You can also use the EVF and select the subject to focus through the LCD, quite an handy option to have.

Having fun with some street photography (1/15sec at f3.5, 12mm ISO800)
Having fun with some street photography (1/15sec at f3.5, 12mm ISO800)

Video capability

As I said in most of my reviews, I do video only rarely. Sometime for interviews or during the travelling.

For the interview, the 4K is a game changer. I can produce full HD videos with half body and close-up using the same video track and just cropping the part of the image I want.

Stability has been always a bit of an issue with most of the cameras however the 5-axis in-body stabilisation is actually a great feature to have when shooting video handheld.

If you run a blog or a website and you are thinking of including videos as well, then I would definitely take the Panasonic GX85 into great consideration.

There is however a possible deal breaker if you shoot lots of video, the lack of a microphone and headphone ports.

With a GX85 you can however do in-camera time-lapse, which is great when you want to document the city, or a sunset at the beach, without much hustle and bustle (PC, photos, software etc)


I love the way you can charge the GX85, you just need a USB cable, no need to have an external charger or converter. It’s all built it into your camera.


What is the benefit of it when you travel?

When I rent a vehicle I always take with me a USB charger to connect to the car (I use the Maxboost one with 2 ports and it’s great). I use it to charge my mobile, especially when I need to use a lot the maps. The second port can be used to charge the GX85, as easy as that.

This does not mean that you need the battery in your camera to charge it. You can still use an external charger to for the spare battery in your bedroom (check for example this great value $20 deal from Amazon). This external battery charger is not included with the Panasonic package.


To be honest with you, I believe that the new Panasonic Lumix GX85 is one of the best value camera ever produced by Panasonic and one of the best mirrorless with interchangeable lenses in the market at such a great price (check out the best price in US and in Australia).

I also need to mention that this camera supports both Post Focus (Focal point selection) and 4K Photo technology as the the big brother GX8

The EVF and the lack of microphone and headphone ports may be an issue to someone. However if these are not a deal breaker then the GX85 is really a unique buy.

The Panasonic GX85 comes with a 12-32 lenses (f/3.5-6.6) which is actually a great starter lens for travelling.

This camera is small in size (122 x 70.6 x 43.9 mm) and very light too (383g) however it is not environmentally sealed.

It supports both WiFi and NFC and it can be controlled through your smartphone, for example as a remote controller.

If you are thinking to buy a camera for your trips with interchangeable lenses then the GX85 may be just for you. I may only suggest to buy a second lens to cover the focal length 32-70mm if you need a bit of zoom capability.

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Stefano Ferro - Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

7 thoughts on “Panasonic Lumix GX85 review for travel and city photography”

  1. Just bought the GX85, and can’t get to transfer images to my MacBook Pro laptop either via Wi-Fi or with the supplied cable. My old ZS30 transfers via its cable just fine, so that eliminates the laptop as the problem, correct?

  2. How do you get the most highest resolution/ sharpest photos out of the gx85?

    Do people picture stack a lot using photos programs like photo merge

    • Hi Bob,
      thanks for your email. Photo stacking is sort of common for landscape photographers that want to print in a very big format, I mean 1-3 meters wide.
      For small jobs Lightroom does a pretty good job, considering it’s not its main feature.
      About the sharpest photo, this is not related to resolution. stable hands help of course as well the right shutter speed for the subject you plan to make a photo. The tripod helps a lot, in case of landscape photography.
      I hope I was able to help

  3. Thanks for the very nice review. After reading this I have bought GX85 and very happy with the stunning performance at such a price point.

  4. Very late to the party of course BUT “The GX85 sensor is half the size of a full sensor camera” it’s actually more like a quarter the size. It’s around half the width and half the height which makes it a 2x crop sensor but a quarter the area of the sensor. BTW I love my Gx85 after all these years. Cheers.

    • You are correct Samuel. I must admit I worded it quite badly…I will change the post accordingly. GX85 is my favourite all-round small camera. Almost same size as a compact however so powerful. Great choice


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