In today’s post, we will compare to highly popular Micro Four Third cameras in the Panasonic Lumix lineup, the Panasonic G7, and the Panasonic G85. Both cameras aim to offer lighter weight bodies with greater versatility and strong video performance, a pitfall of traditional SLRs. The G85 marks the successor to the previously released G7 and aims to offer an improved feature set. However, its improvements now tailor the camera towards a separate demographic of shooters and, in the end, creates a very distinct camera. Each has its advantages. Today we will examine their differences to see which is best suited for your specific needs.
Size & Dimensions
Both cameras are almost identical in dimensions, measuring in at 125mm x 90mm. However, the successors weight has increased nearly 100 g, moving from 410 grams to 505 grams, a distinguishable difference in hand.
Physical Controls & Ergonomics
Both cameras feature very traditional digital SLR like styling, especially in ergonomics, which is unusual amongst mirrorless cameras in this competing price range. The successor inherits a revised, deeper grip, furthering increasing the comfort felt during prolonged use. Outside of that, much of the physical controls remain the same. The only notable differences are the successor now has a dedicated battery slot, which makes quickly swapping SD cards significantly easier when mounted on a tripod. It also features a slightly deeper eyecup surrounding the viewfinder, which provides a subtle, but noticeable, increase in comfort when composing.
Both cameras feature almost identical Live OLED viewfinders, both offering 2.36 million dot resolutions and 100% coverage of the imaging area. However, the successor provides a slight large magnification of x0.74 and better eyepoint, which combine to deliver a larger image for more comfortable viewing.
Both cameras feature 3.0-inch fully articulating touchscreen LCDs with 100% coverage and 1.04 million dot resolutions, no differences there.
Both cameras feature identical 16-megapixel Live MOS sensors. However, the successor loses the Anti-Aliasing filter, which allows it to deliver a sharper image, although at a greater chance of moiré occurring in the shot. Nonetheless, both cameras offer sufficient performance for still shooting with adequate dynamic range, and both suffer from reduced image quality at higher ISOs during low light, a natural pitfall of these smaller 4:3 sensors.
Both cameras are capable of shooting 4K UHD up to 30 frames per second and 1080 FHD up to 60 frames per second. The available video quality is the same, as they have identical sensors. Instead, their differences come in the form of recording times. The predecessor has a recording time of 29 minutes and 59 seconds, however, when shooting in the MP4 format or the AVCHD format in the European variant of the camera. The successor, on the other hand, thoroughly removes these limitations, allowing users to record indefinitely until their SD cards are full.
In autofocusing performance, both cameras are identical. They both feature 49-point contrast-detect AF systems with Panasonic’s DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology. Both cameras offer reliable still shooting performance and hunt during video recording.
Both cameras share identical batteries. Surprisingly, even with the inclusion of in-camera stabilization, the successor offers comparable battery life due to energy-saving and software improvements. In this case, it delivers a 330 shots per charge lifespan as compared to the predecessor’s 360 shots per charge lifespan.
User Interface & Menus
Both cameras feature virtually identical user interfaces and menus. There are not enough significant differences to say one is categorically better than the other here.
The most significant improvement over the predecessor is the inclusion of in-camera image stabilization (IBIS). Panasonic rates this system to deliver 4 stops of stabilization, allowing users to shoot upwards of 1/4 second exposures handheld.
Both cameras have identical continuous burst shooting rates of 6 frames per second.
The successor now has a fully weather and dust sealed body. It’s re-designed magnesium alloy chassis allows it to also be more durable while also provides better stability when using larger lenses.
The successor now offers user the ability to mount an external battery grip, a semi-professional feature not available on the predecessor. The option battery grip increases battery longevity while also providing a significantly more comfortable grip on the camera.
Panasonic redesigns the shutter mechanism of the successor to provide a better dampening to reduce the occurrence of micro jitters and shutter shock.
Both feature microphone input ports.
Both have built-in Timelapse recording.
Both have built-in Wi-Fi to support wireless connection to a smartphone device for automatic image transfer or remote shooting.
Both cameras lack headphone inputs.
So which is best?
Which one is best is going to ultimately come down to whether or not you need image stabilization. Or, conversely, can you live without this feature based on your shooting style? Considering the value that this feature provides for both stills and video recording, it is a critical component to determine whether an upgrade or purchasing the successor is the right fit. Sure, the G85 offers additional improvements and features. But, considering much of the changes are quite incremental, they alone can’t justify upgrading to the later camera. Unless you need weather sealing, unlimited 4k recording, or image stabilization, the Panasonic G7 is still more than sufficient. It still provides excellent value for the money.