Why I Decided on the Panasonic G85 over the GH5 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 II

Updated: March 21, 2017  – Hey just wanted to update this post from September ’16, I did end up buying the G85 and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite cameras, checkout my review above. 

I know what you’re thinking. Before the barrage of internet hate strolls though, let me explain.

The Panasonic G85, probably one of the quieter announcements at Photokina. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

According to a DPReview poll, with 29% of the vote, the Fujifilm GFX 50s stole the show, and rightfully so. An “affordable” medium format mirrorless camera is quite the feat.

Coming in 2nd was the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II with 18% of the vote. They’ve long set the gold standard with In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), now they’re improving it and you can now use it with 4k video. But that’s not all. 60fps sequential shooting in RAW (electronic). Shooting sports? How about 18fps with continuous auto focus. A feat that tops the latest full frame Nikon D5 (12fps) and Canon 1Dx Mk II (16fps). Add to that an improved sensor, auto focus and high-res mode, and you’ve got the camera many have been waiting for.

With a meager 3.3% of the vote, the Panasonic G85 floats pretty low on the list. But it’s completely understandable. It doesn’t really have any new features per se. But what it does offer is the improvements the GX85 needed. The GX85 is a great all around camera and to have 4k with Dual IS was a first for Micro Four Thirds. However, even amateur vloggers couldn’t even take the camera seriously because the lack of a mic input, articulating screen, among other things. The G85 remedies that and much more.

So why G85 over the E-M1 II? 

My reasoning is quite simple:

1. The E-M1 II now has a Dual IS like technology called “Sync IS.” For me, the problem is that there are only two Olympus lenses that have IS, and there’s no word on whether this technology will work with Panasonic OIS lenses. I’ve talked about my favorite µ43 lenses in-depth, my current lineup is all Panasonic lenses (even though my main body is Olympus). Staying with Panasonic means I can take advantage of Dual IS.

Update: Love the Dual IS so far, Olympus still reigns king my a nudge (against my EM5 II anyway). However, without a Dual IS compatible lens – it’s not even close. Review upcoming. 

2. I seldom ever shoot in burst mode. So while 60fps or 18fps with C-AF is a class leader, it’s something I personally don’t use.

3. I’ll probably wait for the E-M5 III as the next Olympus camera to add to the collection, I like the aesthetic a little more.

Those are the two big reasons for me, and I’ll create a comparison chart below for anyone else that needs help deciding between the G85, GH5 or E-M1 II.

What about the Panasonic GH5?

The GH5 is for videographers who also shoot stills. I’m a photographer who’s dabbling in video. Plus people are talking about May 2017… I’m not waiting that long. 🙂

Comparing the Panasonic GH5 vs G85 (G80) vs Olympus OM-D E-M1 II

The Panasonic GH5 side of the table will be rather blank as limited details have been released. I’ll fill it out as more more information comes out, until then checkout the Panasonic GH5 press release for more info.

Update: These are the general specs, there’s a lot of other things that might tip the scale for you. Checkout the full specs list on Amazon: Panasonic GH5, Panasonic G85, and the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mk II

Panasonic GH5 Panasonic G85 (G80) Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II
Price $2000 for body only $1000 with 12-60mm kit lens
$900 for body only
$2000 for body only
Sensor  

20MP w/ 6k photo

16MP w/ 4k Photo 20MP w/ High Res Mode
AA Filter  No No No
Stabilization Dual IS Dual IS Sync IS
EVF  3.68M-dot OLED (.76x) 2.36M-dot OLED (.74x) 2.36M-dot LCD
AF  225-points with DFD 49-points with DFD 121-point cross-type phase detection AF and 121-point contrast AF
Burst w/ C-AF 9 fps 6fps 18fps
LCD  3.2inch, fully articulating 3-inch, fully articulating 3-inch, fully articulating
ISO  Base 200, expandable to ISO LOW 100 Base 200, expandable to ISO LOW 100 ISO LOW expandable to ISO 64
Mic/Headphone Port  Yes/Yes Yes/No Yes/Yes
Max Video 4k 60fps, 1080p/180fps

2:2 10-bit 4k recording

4k/30fps, 1080p/60fps

2.2x Crop at 4k

4k/30fps, 1080p/60fps
Flash Sync Speed  1/250 1/160 1/250s
Battery Life  410 shots 320 shots (optional battery grip) Couldn’t find exact numbers, but Olympus did note a 37% improvement
and faster charging. Likely 450-500 shots.
Weight  725g 453g 498g
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  • Coloradocameraguy

    I totally agree with you Jay. I have a G85 on order in fact. I do wish it came with a 20mp sensor, but that’s probably the biggest shortcoming of the G85 in my opinion. It’s a fantastic value at 1/3 less in price than those flagships. The battery grip accessory helps make it more of a pro level camera too. I think it’s a step up from the OMD EM5 Mark II and is probably meant to compete directly with that camera. Looking forward to getting mine in a few weeks!

    • Jay Soriano

      I’m excited to get mine too!

      With regards to MP, some people have pointed out that the GX85 and G85 actually out resolve the 20mp GX8 because of the lack of an AA filter. Here’s a recent preview from TCSTV:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDkSjVnLq6w

      • Coloradocameraguy

        These guys are great!

  • I just simply want to see what the AF system from Olympus can do. I want to see how well it tracks (don’t need crazy FPS). I know Panasonic has DFD, but it’s somewhat limited, on top of the fact I have mostly Olympus lenses.

  • Colin Bent

    I got mine a week ago and I love it. I am an old guy and mostly love it for the weight. Traded in my Canon 5D and the lenses and got the G85 with the kit lens and the 100-400. A learning curve but I want it around me more because I can lift it without too much effort. Plus it’s a damn good camera!

    • Jay Soriano

      I love mine so far (review coming soon)! Back button focusing is not a feature I’ve used, though the setup should be similar to any late gen Panasonic, try this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpJUwKdGaFc

      • Colin Bent

        After my original thought I realized that the G85 has continuous focus. Doesn’t this make back button focusing unnecessary?

  • Colin Bent

    Question for you. Can we do the back button focus on the G85 and if so how do I set that up?

  • alanmcd

    Retracted.

    • Jay Soriano

      I always say that if the gear is my worst problem, that’s a good problem to have. I’m the same in that I’m extreme self critical of my work.

      With regards to MP, personally, I don’t think the 25% upgrade is that huge. Heck even 50%, comparing my Micro Four Thirds cameras to my Sony A7 (24mp) there’s not that big of a difference even when pixel peeping.

  • Do you know if the GH5 has improved stabilization? I think IBIS is a big deal, but after testing the G85 I didn’t think it was nearly as good as the Olympus EM1 Mk II , so I’m waiting to see if the GH5 ibis is better

    EM1 sample footage
    https://youtu.be/LTSjZQBzVRw