Australian Review: Panasonic Lumix GX850 - Good thing in a small package

Panasonic Lumix GX850
Australian Review: Panasonic Lumix GX850 - Good thing in a small package

Panasonic’s latest compact camera, the Lumix GX850 is a fun little camera with surprisingly good image quality. It’s got a few features from some of the higher end Lumix cameras, but in a tiny package that makes it extremely portable. There is some little sacrifices for its small form factor though.

The controls on the GX850 feel clicky and solid, and overall the camera feels very well made. Unfortunately, having such a small form factor means it can be hard to get a steady grip on it, and the lack of viewfinder makes it difficult to tell whether your framing and composition is correct. All the commonly used manual controls are easily accessed while holding the camera, and others are well labelled and easy to find.

The touchscreen flips out 180 degrees to face forwards towards the subject for easy selfies, but has no other axis of movement, meaning the screen can’t be protected by facing inwards towards the body. Because of this, I would be hesitant to throw it into a bag to take around for fear of scratching the screen.

The 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens offers decent image quality, but the narrow aperture makes for tricky night shooting. The focal length allows you to capture some interesting wider shots and fully extended at 32mm presents a decent length for portraits. Larger aperture lenses for the camera are more expensive than some of their contemporaries - a 15mm f/1.7 comes in at around AUD$699 - but there’s plenty to choose from thanks to the GX850’s Micro Four Thirds mounting system.

While the included lens can zoom in, it can become difficult to hold steady due to the small frame of the camera. I found myself doubting whether the image I took was blurry or not, so I had to shoot multiple pictures to be sure I got a good one. Night shooting with the GX850 was a little tricky and produced some grainy, blurry images. It picks up a surprising amount of detail in shadows, but blows out lights and suffers from slowed framerates. For daytime or other good lighting situations, the camera is delightful to use.

The camera offers stabilised 4K video capture, but the omission of a microphone plug will hinder any serious videography.

100% crop

100% crop

The diminutive size of this camera is the main selling point - if you have pockets on the slightly larger side, it could even be called pocketable, and the collapsible lens makes it very easy to carry around in one hand. You don’t sacrifice many features for portability, although some of those that have been omitted are ones that I would deem necessary for a small camera like this - things like a viewfinder (or at least a rangefinder) and protectable screen would make me a little more confident while using it day-to-day.

At the asking price I would easily recommend the Lumix GX850 to anyone getting into photography needing a smaller form factor than DSLRs offer. It’s a camera that offers plenty of fun thanks to the extreme portability and decent image quality. Other options that might fill a similar role include the Canon Powershot G3X, G5X and G9X, the Canon EOS M series and the Nikon 1 series of mirrorless cameras.

Cybershack Score - rating backgroundrating 4

Compact and portableNo viewfinder
Attractive designLack of screen protection
Solidly built

Related Stories