Last updated on March 31st, 2017 at 05:02 pm
The first few words of a post are always the most important. They should be the most engaging ones.
Now, how could I summarise in one word the experience I had with the Panasonic Lumix GX850 review. This time it is very easy:
This is the world that came to my mind straight away when I opened the camera box.
This has to be the smallest interchangeable camera in the market which makes it so flexible to carry around during any trip, especially when you travel for a weekend.
This camera is half the size, if not a third, of my Sigma 12-24mm lens, not to mention the weight
Whenever I pack for a weekend away and flights are involved I have to be creative about my camera and lenses. Obviously it is unfair to compare the Lumix GX850 to a full frame sensor camera.
I would not use the GX850 for any studio work, or professional sport photography. But this website is about travel photography and this is where the GX850 is a real winner.
This camera is super small in size, 106.5 x 64.6 x 33.3 mm, and really light, at 269g including the battery. I had it for two weeks and it was with me all the time. I could just put it in my jacket or in my bag and forget about it….till I needed it.
When travelling this camera comes so handy, especially if you do some trekking, walking or you just don’t want to carry around a camera bag, which you do not really need to have with the GX850.
Having a small size camera also helps to build up confidence with street and market photography. When I do a street photo with the GX850 I look like a typical tourist and the people in the photos are generally ok with that.
When I use a DSLR I look more of a professional, a photo reporter, and people are usually concerned with that.
The GX850 actually looks more like a mobile camera, because of its size and the way you will make photos (more on this later)
Ok, so this camera is extremely travel handy, no question about.
But can it deliver on the quality side.
Few months ago I reviewed the GX85, and I loved it. I would have hoped for a smaller size and weight but I thought that I could not have everything in life….till I saw this camera
The GX850 uses exactly the same MFT (Micro Four Thirds) 16MP sensor without optical low-pass filter. This is usually implemented in most of the DSLR to avoid moire (more here on this). This camera implements instead the Panasonic Venus engine to minimise moire, similarly to the latest Lumix cameras.
Moreover the GX850 has exactly the same Contrast Detect AF and the proprietary Depth from Defocu AF.
What does it mean?
It simply means that the fast autofocus I experienced on the bigger brother is still there, on this tiny light camera. One of the quickest in the market.
Another feature I use quite a bit, especially when photographing people in the markets or street, is continuous shooting. With almost 6 frame per second on the GX850, I am happy with that, although lower than the GX85.
Photo quality is as fantastic as with the bigger brother, focusing speed is the same and bursting mode very similar. That is why the GX850 is one of my favourite travel cameras on the market at the moment.
As I said, this camera is very small and the available space for control points is minimal.
On the top of the camera you will find 2 control buttons for the 4k photo functionalities
These buttons can also be reconfigured
On the back of the camera you find other control points, but not as many.
This is to say that most of the camera setting is done through the touch screen. This is a great news if you come from the mobile world as it is quite similar to what you are probably already used to.
If you are instead used to a DSLR you may be a bit disappointed, however once familiar with the interface, setting the camera is really an easy job,
It’s enough to go on the Q-Menu and with 3 touches the camera is ready to go.
I believe that the Panasonic software is the best we have nowadays in the camera market. And it’s getting better and better with any new release
Let’s say straight away that you will not find on this camera the EVF (Electronic View Finder).
I personally do not see it as a deal breaker. In fact I have actually never paid attention to it, or better say the lack of it.
The main reason is that the 3″ monitor is so amazing that I could use it without any issue even with a really bright sunny day.
The LCD is also tilting, 180 degrees, which makes it great for some photography from unusual corners.
Actually Panasonic advertises the camera as having a selfie LCD and special software is provided for that (to detect face and automatically make photos)
I personally loved to use this camera, in any position I wanted, without being a contortionist.
Unfortunately the beautiful bright LCD comes at a cost: battery life. You have just over 200 photos. In this respect, I suggest to buy a spare battery with external charger or the special kit provided by Panasonic with tons of accessories at just $20 difference.
Charging this camera is as easy as connecting it to a PC through the USB port, or the usual power plug.
The external charger is not included, however this package at $14 includes 2 spare batteries and an external charger, which is a no brain if travelling a lot.
The GX850 uses microSD card. The main reason, I guess, is space. Just keep it in mind when buying a memory card
Wi-Fi is built into the camera and you can control the GX850 through a proprietary Panasonic App, one of the best in the market I reckon.
There is no hotshoe on this camera, however, if you need an external flash I would probably suggest to buy another camera all together as you are probably looking into a more professional product.
There is instead a pop-up flash, which could be useful in some occasions.
You can make video in 4k. Keep in mind that there is no plug for external microphone.
Unfortunately this camera lacks internal stabilisation. Optical stabilisation is the alternative provided by the Lumix G lenses.
If you want to step up from the mobile world then the GX850 is one of the best budget option today in the market. At just over $500, including a 12-32 lens, it is a real bargain.
This can easily be a spare camera for anyone already owning a DSLR but thinking to go smaller in that days when a camera bag is a real pain. Honestly during the day, in good light condition, you will not see the difference in photo quality.
In low light, with ISO level over 1600 this camera starts to suffer. In saying that it is quite common in the MFT world.
It’s a pity that this camera is not, at the moment, offered with a body only option. I can see it together with a Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 II ASPH as the smallest package in the market, and still at a wide f/2.5 aperture
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.