Saturday, December 3, 2016

Get in the "pro" side with the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8



The original (and first) Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens actor on compact photo task with Daniel M.

We know already all the big advantages of using a so-called "Pro" lens. Better construction, larger controls and grip, better quality glasses, constant aperture (most of the time), all weather protection, etc. But "pro" lenses are also larger, heavier and... more expensive. Usually their variable focal length latitude is narrowed compare to the "amateur" counterparts.So it can be tricky to suggest or moreover to recommend such an exclusive product. And I am not a big fan of "bazooka" lenses that are intimidating the subject by their lack of discretion. The only add credibility you can expect from other people when using this type of lenses usually came from persons without real knowledge of photography (especially press credential personal).

So you can be rightly suspicious when I decide to bring you this specific and modest personal review about the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8 lens.


The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F\2.8 is in fact a big lens. It is true to say that it is a smaller lens compare to its equivalent in larger image actor format such as APS-C or 24X36mm so-called "full" frame format. Its focal length latitude offers a practical range starting with an interesting wide angle up to a modest telephoto setting. Its constant maximum aperture of F/2.8 is the usual standard for this kind of "pro" product.

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8 is an impressive piece of glasses in particular if you apply the compactness standards of the m4/3 format. To properly use it you may need a camera model with a greater potential handle grip to be able to handle it with confidence and confort. But I must add that the lens is still usable  without add-on grip. As a "Pro" design lens its primary destination is without a doubt the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (in both variations). With the OM-D E-M5 (again in both versions)  the optional grip will help you  in certain situations like studio or action shooting sessions. That can be said also when you are using the OM-D E-M10 (again and again ... original or Mark II models).

The feeling of the 12-40mm F/2.8 lens reveals its high class all weather construction especially in comparaison with the kit zoom lenses such as the M.Zuiko 12-50mm or the diminutive 14-42mm. Control rings for zooming and focusing are fairly larger and can be easily distinctive by the touch. We appreciate that the lens hood is part of the included accessory packaged with the lens.

One of the big advantage of the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8 is surely its focal length variation starting with a real wide setting of 12mm (84 degrees of angle of view) up to an extended normal angle of view ( 30 degrees) at 40mm. I really consider that telephoto designation should start at 60-75mm focal length in M4/3 format which represent an angle of view of 20-15 degrees to make a visual difference. At that point you get a magnification ratio of 2.5-3X compare to your naked eye. The Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F/1.8 should be an excellent complement to the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8.

Like I have said earlier the bigger dimensions of "Pro" lenses is often generating intimidating reactions from many spontaneous subjects. It is a price to pay and you may have to earn the confidence of the people you want to photograph prior to the shooting itself. Even the non-initiated person in photography will be aware of the "pro" level of your photo taking device.

The performance of the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens is on the upper lever flirting with the stellar performances seen on the prime (focal fix) lenses. It is a good substitute product to the 12mm, the 17mm, the 25mm and the 45mm prime lenses although all theses models offer a much larger maximum aperture (F1.8-2) which support a better depth of field control.

The extended focal range of the M.12-40mm qualify it as a good urban traveller optic to keep at hand. more than on your chest. And yes it can be a good action lens.



If you are looking for a basic "pro" setting the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 will be a strong contender to fill the task. And the image results will speak by themself.






Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Superior Lens: The Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F/1.8 ED

It sometime arrive that a new product is becoming a fetish item right from the start and it was effectively the case for the beloved Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, the "made in Japan" state of art optic for M4/3 format cameras.
It is a purely indecent and expensive piece of glass that everybody want to touch, try and ... adopt if they can afford to pay for this majestic device.
Carefully crafted the Olympus 75mm is also a beautiful collector jewel especially in its silver version. The short and fat design of the lens can be still assimilated as a compact design considering the fact it is a real telephoto with a fairly large maximum aperture. The focus is sumptuous and using it in conjunction of the Auto-focus/Manual option of the camera is a charm. When you turn manually the focus ring you will easily feel and ear the by-wire mecanisism of the lens coupled with a lighter turning resistance compare to some prime lens models. For my personal point of view I have seen it more as an avantage than an inconvenient.

Plumage (OM-D E-M5 II / M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8)
A short word about the lens hood
The dedicated and factory lens hood of the Olympus 75mm F/1.8 is not part of the included accessories that come with the lens. In fact the Olympus policy regarding lens hood availability is not really clear. It seems that most of the "polymer-made" hood are included with the lens and the "metal-made" ones are optional accessories. For the Olympus 75mm lens, the gigantic metal lens hood (and expensive) has to be bought separately. Considering the hood large dimension it is really an occasional  add-on accessory that will bother more than be practical. It's up to you to "invest" or not.

With 16 degrees of (narrow!) angle of view the Olympus 75mm F/1.8 is the first real telephoto that will give you an equivalent three time magnification compare to your normal eye sight. Combined with its maximum aperture of F1.8 it can be a very discriminating lens considering its reduced deep of field.
Because of its great selectivity the Olympus 75mm F1.8 is more an off-contextual lens than the others lenses doted with a wider angle of view. Perfect in doing portrait or such related subjects this small and fast telephoto can be also used in cultural (such in theatre or musical scene) and sport events.
You may consider the Olympus 75mm F/1.8 as a true "project" lens that will ask a greater sense of study of your subject. In fact working with the optic will allow you to really discover different aspects of your subject.

What to add more about that optical marvel from the Olympus M4/3 line-up except its outstanding performance. Yes this a superior optic even if it is a specialize piece of glass. But using the Olympus 75mm may transform you in an addict of this focal length with a narrow angle of view.
Urbascape with the Olympus M.75mm F1.8

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II: The Caméléon Camera!

Back in 2012, Olympus has announced and preview its first OM-D  a sort of digital emulation of the classical SLR film camera series named OM. Apart the general aspect and dimension of the E-M5 model it was a complete new design very different from the other digital M4/3 Olympus line, the PEN series. Since the beginning of digital cameras as the new photographic mass media Olympus has been innovative and very productive of different concepts and model series. The Camedia and E-X series can be rightfully reckoned as one of the most serious effort to produce very effective photographic digital tools.


The first OM-D E-M5 declination has been a true success story among photographers and reviewers that simply salute Olympus with a very strong endorsement of the product. Furthermore the E-M5 has been also one of the first M4/3 format model really used on a professional base around the world although it was remaining more an exception and a curiosity. Olympus eventually have responded by offering a new OM-D E-M1 for a more specific pro use.

In 2015 Olympus issued the second version of the E-M5 tagged Mark II with is an upgraded product in many ways (with the exception of its menu interface presentation...!).

Rotative LCD Screen (versus Tilt-able original version): A video reminiscence imported to OM-D
The LCD screen of the EM5 Mark II is a beauty to use ether as a live "full" scale viewfinder or as a reviewing tool. As a live viewfinder (LVF) it is a better choice for evaluate exposure and color rendition of the picture. If the situation allow you to do so the LVF will be a very productive option. I am not a big fan of LVF at the beginning but more and more especially with the "mobile" device event the photographer ... and the subjects are getting used to it and felt more comfortable now than by holding the camera the traditional way.

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF): Shut down (or rotate back) that LCD screen!
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is doted of a very fine Electronic ViewFinder (EVF). Fine details can be easily observed and all the infos are present (but without the automatic vertical rotation feature). Manual focusing can be done accurately through the EVF and dont prevent yourself to do it.
In strong lightning context the EVF may seem to be more contrasty than for low light subject. This caracteristic has been addressed from the early EVF and tend to be corrected gradually but there is still place for improvement. As for the delay between the image seen on EVF vs real-time situation. For action photography I will suggest you to stay and rely on EVF in preventing misinterpretation of the "pic" of the image or subject action.
The presence of the LVF (LCD screen viewfinder) couple with the automatic switch over option between EVF and LVF can be annoying for people who mainly EVF users. By entirely rotating back the LCD screen you will facilite the exclusive EVF use with a better battery life (at the expensive of the fast access to the LCD screen we must add...).

Enhanced Dials
One of the most noticeable difference between the original E-M5 and the new E-M5 Mark II version are the dimension and the nature of the direct control dial that are now bigger and offer better adherence. Adding the optional grip will give you the same arrangement for front handling but in vertical holding you will recover the "old" dial design which is a disappointment in my sens even if the original controls stay efficient in every way.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a small ILC compact camera and because of that all fonction buttons and dial are accordingly cramped for this type of device. You may accidentally change setting and falsely working with a non voluntary configuration. So the best way to counteract these effects is to verify time to time all the basic information showed on the viewfinder EVF or LVF.

New "more" grip ( More proimenent front hand grip for secure and confortable handling and appreciable vertical shooting ability)
The Olympus HLD-8 grip &battery holder combination is an upgrade version of the previous HLD-6 model offered for the original E-M5. Dimensions and control dial of the grip by itself (HLD-8G) have been revised ans a earphone plug for monitoring the recorded sound has been added. Using the HLD-8 with or without the additional battery had a lot of confort to the handling of the E-M5 Mark II.
Vertical shooting is more secure and easier. Weight and dimension distribution between camera and lenses are better served when you are working with bigger lenses such as the "Pro" series. If you anticipate doing action or outdoor photography the extra battery autonomy will be an appreciated advantage. And it stays a relatively compact package compare to the similar D-SLR combos. Finally having an additional power unit with the extra battery can be a precious help for intensive shooting sessions.

Lot of Personnalisation ... if you remember their functionalities...!
Since the event of the first OM-D (E-M5 original version), Olympus has always offer to the user  extended possibilities of camera personnalisation. Again with the E-M5 Mark II there is a lot of different setting available though the various dials and push (function) buttons present on the camera. For sure you will have to memorize all these personal setting but that can be a real advantage to fine-tune a product configured for "your" specific needs. It add speed and convenience for those who are willing to invest on learning the system.

Mini Flash (less bits and parts, marginally better height, orientable bounce and side-tilt options)
Many photo enthusiasm over the years are knowing already that Olympus has been a pioneer of TTL flash metering since the seventies especially with the original OM-2 24X36mm film camera model. Commun sense dictate the manufacturer to offer a very sophisticated dedicated flash system starting with the mini unit FL-LM3 which is part of the accessories included in the box and that can act as a master unit for controlling multi-flash (from Olympus) arrangement.
The diminutive FL-LM3 unit can be consider as a good fill-in flash option for on the spot situations. Thanks to Olympus to have simplify the attachement of the flash to a single flash  hot shoe port (no more multi-fonction bottom port) since I am not a big fan of potentially losing parts to protect these ports. The addition of the bounce and side-tilt head orientation option is another good value but you have to kept in mind the limited power of the unit. As a master remote flash indirect lightning is a welcome feature.
Olympus pro photographers on assignation like wedding, journalism even sport are considering  the flash option as a obligatory feature to compensate deficient or uneven lightning over the subject. Olympus has just release (October 2016) a new FL-900R powerful unit addressing that demand.

Vintage Flash unit arrangement using PC sync cord and camera sync port.
PC Sync Port ("The" studio vintage feature!)
A PC outlet has been added to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It is a past feature seen in most ancient film and traditional SLR and other camera models. For studio or flash work the use of a PC (trigger) sync outlet is inducing that you accept to use flash devices and camera/lens combination over their manual setting without relying on the automated TTL functionalities. In my sens it stays a curiosity more than a practical advantage. Yes you can still do flash photography by using a flash meter for balancing your light units but more and more professionals will prefer to rely on interface setting devices or by using the in-board camera fonctionalities.

Extensive but complex menu settings are an Olympus trademark.
Olympus Interface Presentation or "Learn your lessons!"
What can I add to the many "pro" reviewers that have already point out so many times for almost every new Olympus models that their interface presentation is hard to comprehend and assimilated. The E-M5 Mark II is not a different beast and will ask you to get use to the many aspects of the extended menu options. A quick menu option available by pressing the OK button is may be the best way to access to the fondamental parameters of the camera.

Lens combinations: Prime's vs Pro Zoom Optic Battle: Small & Discrete Size vs Focal Versatility
By nature there is always the question of the lens choice when you decide to work with ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera). In general the Olympus prime (fixed focal length ) lenses will give the best optical quality result. Furthermore the fixed focal lens are faster (larger maximum aperture) less bigger and heavier than the zoom lenses. For better results when you are selecting zoom lenses Olympus offer you their "Pro" line but with the expense of a more modest maximum aperture, larger dimensions, more weight and for...more $$$! These Pro lenses will appeal to photographers that are working on assignations, in rapid action photographic situations including intensive studio shooting and specific outdoor subjects. If you like to contextual photography you may prefer the prime lenses selection.

Same not the same 16MP Image Captor
Every manufacturer has its distinctive image "signature" that will translate with an overall specific color reddition, contrast, accentuation and exposure distribution identity. Yes you can alter in many ways the original bias of the camera that will invalid the first setting but it remains sometimes a very tedious exercice for non initiate people like many actual camera users. The Olympus color palette is very distinctive with slight blue tonal (or cold color temperature) color imagery representation.

Zig Zag Over Dome (Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II)
Olympus B&W own interpretation
It is now a standard feature over the mirrorless camera offer to get easy access to a monochrome B&W option along with the different color palette interpretations. For those who have first learned photography by using B&W material or simply by consulting the classic B&W works of earlier photographers it always a pleasure to be able to produce monochrome imagery right from the camera and because of the EVF feature you can get the final result right from the start on screen. Another interesting direct functionality is the possibility to adjust the High and Shadow Light curves on the spot although it has certain limitations compare to post processing treatment. With strong lightning I will usually cut down the exposure by 1 to 2 EV factor (stop) to privilege the highlight detail over the shadow area. For sure it is up to each photographer to find its own setting bias.

Apple Eye by Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II / M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8
About cropping
Dont prevent yourself to do extensive cropping of your original picture if the camera image sensor can maintain an acceptable photographic quality. And dont forget that it is the nature of the human sight (i.e. eye view) to select portion area of the total pano view to be able to register a partial composition of the entire picture. You can assume that the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II will deliver you pleasant result even with a pronounced crop.

OM-D E-M5 Mark II compact outfit configuration recall
 the original OM series of the film era
A discrete and versatile camera
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a discrete compact ILC camera with its small size and smoothness of operation. Its All-Weather construction allow you to use it with more confidence in many various situations with moderely adverse conditions but dont forget to select a lens model that have the same feature. Furthermore it is common knowledge that some professional photographers are choosing the mirrorless cameras for different manners such as the overall size of the system, or the lens selection, the interface, the video possibilities, etc. The "Pro" involvement of these manufacturers like Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Sony is just proving the serious of them.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a very modular camera with grip and power options.
The shutter release of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is exceptionally smooth. It is always a great pleasure to do photography with such discretion and elegance. The environnemental sealing of the camera body is another serious advantage for all condition utility of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I also salute the modularity of the model with or without the HLD grip combo option which is transforming the E-M5 II into a small "E-M1" of its own. Flash system is well deserved with the in-house TTL system and none-wired external flash units control via the FL-LM3 mounted unit.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is not cheap as for many Olympus products. If you are intend to keep the camera model for a shot period of time you will lose a significant amount of money but on a long run (3 years +) it wort the expense. Otherwise you can wait to end-of-life deal like it has been observed in the case of the original version of the E-M5. For a professional use, you may also consider the new OM-D E-M1 Mark II option but keep in mind that it will required a significant larger budget.

If you intend to do street photography the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II alone coupled with one small prime lens give a very "petite" camera. In action photography the camera will behave on the average level asking from you a good preparation and a sense of anticipation. In that field (Action) it is more a pro-active than a reactive camera like the big D-SLRs.

Out-In Light (OM-D E-M5 Mark II / M. 45mm F/1.8)
About the Future of M4/3
At first you have to consider that the primary 4/3 digital format has been set in 2006 as new standard endorsed by various major photographic compagnies such as Kodak, Fujifilm , Leica among others. Two years later the original format has been evolve into the new Micro 4/3 especially designed for more compact mirrorless camera. In the battle to survive into the classical photo market the M4/3 format has been mainly supported by the combine effort of Olympus and Panasonic production. For Panasonic their strong video knowledge has been successfully  incorporated into their flagship GH4/5 models that have been adopted by many. Olympus really intend to design cameras firstly for their still photography capabilities. Both Olympus and Panasonic have developed a very fine line of lenses in a smaller package compared to the Canon and Nikon bigger production for example. In this small mirrorless world with Fujifilm (and Canon) APS-C format and Sony so-called "full" format (ancient 24X36mm mini film dimension) the long term future viability of these alternatives stays on balance.

For sure the user loyalty may be part of the answer but more than that the dedication of the camera manufacturers can make the final outcome. And Olympus even considering their recent internal difficulties never really downplay their contribution. As a fan, a user ans an appreciator of their line of products (both cameras and lenses) I hope they will successfully maintain their dedication for the M4/3 format for a long time.

Final Note: Since the venue of the E-M5 Mark II Olympus had also upgraded their E-M1 (Mark II) & E-M10 (Mark II) models and extended their lens offer by adding short, long and Pro lens models.






Home improvised tabletop photo session 









Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8: the "Pro" Still Photographer ...




The Panasonic Lumix GX8 in its nice silver delivery.
A more discrete black version is also available

My first impression was that GX8 fit like a glove to me. The handling, the control and the interface are easy to comprehend and you have the feeling to hold and to use a very pro oriented M4/3 format still camera.

The very confortable
 and secure front grip
 of the Lumix GX8
The grip factor is really one of the strongest points of the Lumix GX8 that is giving a very secure and confortable way of working with the model. Many times I have used the GX8 without bothering to put my wrist strap since I was feeling fully confident about the handling. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is large and very informative of the picture output result you can expect. Direct dial options are easy to learn and reach if needed. As usual push bottoms are handy and fast to react but can be accidently activated during shooting if you are not aware of your palm hand position. The LCD screen is also a very fine viewing tool and can be fully oriented in many ways.

The very beautiful and classical design of the Panasonic Lumix GX8 upper deck. An interesting mixture of classical presentation and modern direct dial functionality attributions
The Panasonic Lumix GX8 is a bigger camera than the previous GX7 (original). It appears as a design choice by Panasonic study board rather than a technical constraint especially with the venue of the new Lumix GX85 / GX80 (Japan GX7 Mark II) that has a significaly smaller size despite its similar features. For a full time photographer (dixit so-called pro) the dimensions of the GX8 are still smaller compare to traditional DSLR even more if you add the equivalent lenses. So it confirms in a way the “Pro” orientation of the model.

The tilt able electronic viewfinder (EVF) of the Panasonic 
Lumix GX8: a Chest level alternative that can preserve parallel 
vertical lines or help you for low level point of view
Is the Lumix GX8 an action camera? For spontaneous photography you can say without a doubt yes. For sport or very moving subject it cannot in any way compete with the modern DSLR that are the most advanced autofocusing system available on the market. Using the faster prime lenses will give you a more reactive GX8 in the view o my modest experiences. So doing action photography with the Lumix GX8 can be more challenging for the user. You have to rely on a more pro-active approach (Anticipation) than a reactive watching.



No in-board flash is available on the Lumix GX8. Again it seems to be a voluntary designer choice. Panasonic has often been joggling with that feature like in the case of the diminutive Lumix GM5. Without in-board a flash option you need to bring an external flash unit of some kind to perform at least fill-in flash operation. So it represents an additional device to think of but the advantage came by the fact that most of the external flash units are self-powered saving the camera own battery life. Again no in-board flash unit is reflecting a traditional “Pro” design approach.



The Panasonic Lumix GX8 is delivering beautiful image outputs. The exposure system is very accurate and you can rely on it on every operating modes offered by the GX8. Color rendering especially in the “Natural” mode is respecting the reality of the scene. The exposure direct control dial is handy.
You can produce rich black and white pictures that as always a big advantage of using a camera equipped with an EVF that is showing you on the spot the final image output prior to the picture taking.  In a strictly personal point of view using the new 20MP image captor didn’t represent a strong departure from the usual 16MP sensor used on many others M4/3 models. I am sure that the new 20MP will give some edge advantages on specific picture taking situations or in performing particular image post treatments. But for a Web diffuser like myself the difference will appear marginal at the most.
In combination with the Lumix Vario G 12-60mm lens the 
Panasonic GX8 can deliver very pleasant colours and fine details.

Using the monochrome option on the GX8 is producing 
excellent black and white results

After a few days of companionship the Panasonic Lumix GX8 had proved to be a very solid still camera. Its larger size will give you confidence to bring it everywhere on every circonstances even in bad weather. But you must remember this is not a very compact model such as the smaller Lumix GX85/80 model. Lens combination with the GX8 are better served by selecting the "Pro" lens version like the 12-35mm f2.8 and the 35-100mm f2.8 or the versatile 12-60mm. 

As a professionally oriented model, some aspects of the Lumix GX8 such as its generous grip, the add-on external flash option, its 20MP image captor and its titl-able EVF for example will be well received for everyday and intensive photographers.



On the road with the Lumix GX8

Although the Panasonic Lumix GX8 is a very well crafted camera it cannot be assimilated as an impressive model such as to be the previous Lumix GX7 (first version) which had many interesting features in a more smaller package. Even considering the improvement of the image sensor this redesign won't necessarely seduce everybody. Paradoxically Panasonic has already done better with the new GX85/80 (Japan GX7 Mark II) but with the sacrifice of the weather sealed body feature.

Now (August 2016) the current selling price of the camera combined with the Lumix Vario G 12-60mm lens is representing a better quality-price ratio for this quality level of product.


Special thanks: With the complicity of Panasonic Canada and my kindly representing contact person I was able to work with the GX8 model equipped with the newest Lumix Vario 12-60mm Power OIS lens.






Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80 (Japan GX7 Mark II): TheTraveller Successor


The Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80 or GX7 Mark II (Japan):
A very classical rangefinder style digital modern camera
My first introduction to M4/3 image captor format was with the Olympus Pen EP-3, The camera and lenses dimensions were just perfect in my sense for an everyday compact camera. The only irritating omission was the absence of a traditional viewfinder and using the add-on EVF accessory simply destroy the homogeneity of the basic idea. Later the coming days of the OM-D series solved partly the problem by integrating a workable EVF and by offering in-body stabilization.

Panasonic have developped over the years a complete series of rangefinder style cameras such as more recently the GX7, GM5 and GX8 models all cameras doted with a good EVF and in-body stabilization. It reunited other successful features such as standard 16MP image sensor or the moe recent 20MP sensor for the GX8, touchscreen and tilt-able or fully orientable (GX8) LCD screen. The GX7 was a near perfect size model and the GM5 was a real traveler camera.
Many still photographers prefer the tilt-able screen
option over the fully orientable side-screen alternative
designed more for videographers
.

Now Panasonic have decided to refresh the GX7 by presenting the new GX7 Mark II (in Japan market) relabelled GX85 or GX80 into the other world markets. The "Mark II" designation clearly indicate the filiation with the previous and original GX7 version.

Many factors are differenciating the original GX7 from its successor, the Lumix GX85 / GX80 / GX7 Mark II. I will review some of them that I have found more determinant.

Less grip compared to the original
GX7 but more than the GM5
The Grip Factor
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 / GX80 have not the same grip volume as the original GX7. It results in a smaller prehension confort. Since the camera is more on the moderate heavy side for its overall dimensions it will ask you a more careful attention in bringing, holding and manipulating the model.  But compare to the previous and diminutive Lumix GM5,  the Lumix GX85 / GX 80 offer a more secure way to work with its body. It  is always possible that in the near future an add-on accessory grip will be proposed for some of of us  who are asking for a better grip.

The Switch Factor
The On/Off switch is is located on the upper right side of the body of the camera but reaching it with your thumb may ask you a strong contorsion exercice. All the other operating dials and fonction buttons are classically presented. No more direct dial for the the automatic and manual focusing setting is present on the Lumix GX85 / GX80 model. That absence can be compensated by using the autofocus with manuel correction option.

Reactivity and Focus Factors
In general the Panasonic Lumix GX85 / GX80 is a very reactive camera fast enough to capture spontaneous pictures of acting subjects. If you have chosen to work with larger aperture prime lenses such as F1.7 or more the auto focus adjustment seems to be faster and on target most of the time. Screen touch focus selector can be another option easy to reach when you are more selective with less usual subject target (that option can be also desactivated on demand).

The Monochrome Factor
Some of my previous viewers know already my love affair with black and white photography and the Panasonic GX85 / GX80 will perfectly respond to that task by offering two monochrome photography options: MONO and MONO L. Ether versions give you a tonal palette from black to gray to white which is rich and detailed. Black and white photography rendering with digital still camera is now a mature feature. Professional results are obtained right from the start preventing that way more destructive post-treatment manipulations.

The Sensor Factor (16MP vs GX8's 20MP)
Panasonic have chosen to maintain the commun standard 16MP sensor for the GX7 Mark II. Quality  output of the picture using this sensor has been already demonstrated several times over the past. A marginal improvement can be observed by the fact of the absence of an anti-aliasing filter initially used to prevent  the moiré effect. These changes may offer you better image cropping factor ability without noticeable quality decrease.

Severe cropping is possible without altering the overall quality of the picture.
None retouched original picture


The Viewfinder Factor (Tilt GX-7 EVF vs Fixed GX85/GX80 EVF)
The Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80 s doted with an in-board EVF without the previous option of upper tit-ability present in the original GX7. That option has been offered with the newest rangefinder style Panasonic flagship model the GX8 which is in fact a larger camera with all-weather sealing and maybe more capability to resist from intense using. Apart from the tilt-able option, the previous (GX7) and the newest (GX85/GX80) EVFs are behaving in the same matter giving a good but more contrasty representation of the actual image. The big advantage of using EVF is its direct relation with the final result registered by the image captor. It is an almost perfect tool to preview black & white results. Moreover the EVF allow you to do instant review of your last picture taken without losing contact with your subject.

The Design Factor (Angular vs rounded GX7)
The Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80 is marginaly a more boxy camera compare to the first version of the GX7. It represent a certain drawback in term of ergonomic design of the model. Body style is more classical which is a popular present trend among many camera manufacturers. On a daily using basic sharp angular design camera are less confortable to work with to say the least but it is partially compensated by the more discrete presence of the device in face of the subject.

The Stabilization Factor (GX85/GX80 more in-board Axis)
Modern cameras need to be stabilized for many reasons. They are smaller and lighter packages and we are facing most of the time faster subjects or contexts that need to be adequately  stopped or freezes. The Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80 offers the two stabilization options with in-board stabilization sensor and the possibility to combine lens stabilization (if offered by the lens model used) and sensor stab. Most of the time the stabilization factor will increase the definition of your picture output in a decisive way. Dont prevent yourself to use it extendely.

The Lens Factor (Panasonic G lens system + Zuiko M. options)
One of the decisive factor of selecting to work with M4/3 ILC format cameras resid in the the very interesting choice of lenses available on the market. These lenses can be versatile, fast or specialized and their overall dimension stay compact and lightweight. For sure my preference goes for the prime (focal fixed) lenses with moderate larger aperture such as the Panasonic Lumix G 20 F1.7 or G 42.5mm F1.7 OIS models. There are perfect matches to bring you good to outstanding results from the camera. For a one-lens traveler combination  you can consider the Lumix G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 OIS that is offered at a ridiculous selling price when you decide to buy the GX85/12-32mm package. There are many others lenses that can fit your specific need and the Olympus Zuiko M lenses can be also another option.

Other factors
The in-board flash of the Lumix GX85/GX80 can be a good help for using the fill-in flash technique and you have the possibility to put an external unit if you are a heavy flash user.

As usual for ILC mirrorless cameras an extra battery is clearly a must recommendation. For charging them an external charger seems to me a very practical add-on. I hope in some way that an add-on grip will be in someway available in the near future.







In short the Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80 (GX7 Mark II) represents a very interesting successor of the previous GX7 and GM5 models.