The Panasonic Lumix G85: the best inexpensive video camera?


I’ve been a longtime Panasonic Lumix shooter, and while it may seem like Micro Four Thirds may be a standard in its twilight, there are still plenty of great deals to be had for low-budget filmmakers: witness the Panasonic Lumix G85.

Filmmaker Nigel Barros sings the praises of the camera on his high-end Lumix GH4. While you just lose a bit of cropping factor (2.2x vs. 2x on a GH4) and there’s no headphone jack to monitor audio, the low-end camera adds an incredibly useful feature: image stabilization based on a sensor.

As someone coming from an unstabilized Panasonic GH3 which has been my video mainstay for the past few years, being able to shoot clips without the need for a gimbal or tripod has been a revelation. I can travel much lighter than before, as Barros also points out. As a bonus, Olympus lenses, which are usually not stabilized because this company has always gone the body route, now gain stabilization with this camera. There are stellar lenses on the Olympus side that allow for bokehlicious videos, like the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f / 1.8 lens, still one of my all-time favorite lenses for any system.

There is also something to be said about the waterproofing and construction of the top models, but as Barros says, the G85 is quite well built with a grip that is as deep as the GH series cameras. I can personally attest to the weatherproofness of the G85. My son blew up the camera with a hose the other day, and it still works perfectly fine.

But to Barros’ point on a newbie filmmaker who loves this camera, I would add that even experienced filmmakers with older gear will love this camera. For me, I needed something that shot 4K videos, but only occasionally, like in all other respects, was happy with the GH3, as I suspect many people using this generation of cameras. This camera gives me slightly better image quality, much better autofocus (I finally have eye detection in one of my Micro Four Thirds bodies), and records some great videos to boot. I certainly hope the controls hold up a bit better than the GH3 as well, as service from Panasonic is a nightmare.

What do you think of the Panasonic G85? Are there better cameras for budding filmmakers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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