Panasonic GX80/GX85 review

Panasonic's latest gives you an electronic viewfinder and lots more, in a compact rangefinder-style body

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Although I found the ergonomics and menu system of the Panasonic GX80 a little frustrating at times, there's no doubt this is a thoroughly capable little camera, great fun to use and one that I'm sure will tick a lot of boxes for enthusiasts, and perhaps for those looking for a smaller second body.

The excellent high-resolution viewfinder and touch-sensitive tilting screen make the GX80 easy to use in all kinds of conditions, and most features can be accessed quickly and easily using the touchscreen. The autofocus system is also very accurate and responsive, even when using the inexpensive kit lens.

The inclusion of so many features, and the fact that you can set the camera up in so many different ways, is in most respects advantageous; that said, it can take quite a bit of experimentation and consulting of the manual before you get the camera set up to suit your needs, although of course you can also fall back on the many more automated modes, should you require.

Panasonic's decision not to include an anti-aliasing filter means the GX80 produces very clean and detailed files. While some may see having 'only' 16 megapixels as a disadvantage, in reality this is more than most users will need, and it helps the camera perform well at higher sensitivities. JPEG files look particularly natural and pleasing, which will appeal to those wishing to minimise post-processing time.

The GX80 seems competitively priced at £509/$700/AU$1,100 (body only); it performs well in all areas, and has more functions and features than some of its competitors, in particular the 4K video and three 4K burst modes for action stills. No doubt other manufacturers will be offering 4K video and photo modes in their future mid-range line-ups, but right now Panasonic has the edge in this respect.

However, those who are less interested in 4K video may prefer the more stylish Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk II, or the X-T10 or X-E2 from Fuji. The Fuji cameras also have the advantage of a slightly larger sensor, which will be of interest to those wanting to produce much larger prints. In the end I suspect much will come down to personal preference regarding handling, and also the system in which potential users are already invested.

We liked

The image quality from the GX80 is superb. It may only be a 16MP camera, but this is as much as many will need. It's packed with useful and fun-to-use features, and its excellent screen and EFV, as well as its good AF performance, mean you can get great results in most conditions.

We disliked

The GX80 is perhaps not as stylish as some of its competitors, and the ergonomics and menu system are not up there with the best in class, although personal preference will come into play here, as well as hand size. The lack of a minimum shutter speed option for Auto ISO is disappointing.

Final verdict

The Panasonic GX80 consistently performs to a high level. It's compact in size but with an excellent EVF and tilting screen, is packed with useful and fun-to-use features and is extremely well specified. Image quality and high ISO performance are very impressive.

Its ergonomics may be awkward for some hands, but it would make a great second smaller body and would also make a fine main camera for many. The optional inclusion of a compact and pretty good utility kit lens make the GX80 a tempting proposition for those wanting a capable compact camera for travel and day-to-day use.