G85 w/12-60mm F3.5-5.6 lens

Discussion in 'DSLR Video Discussion' started by VidThreeNorth, Mar 8, 2020.

  1. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    Until now, the most I spent on a camera was on my JVC GS-TD1 3D camcorder. It is actually a really nice camcorder, and as far as 1080P goes, the quality is excellent -- even for 2D video, and the sound was wonderful. The main reason I didn't use it for 2D was because it was quite bulky.

    Lately, I decided that it was time to invest in UHD (4K) video. I have satisfactory equipment for stills and 1080p video production, but so far, I have held back from investing in a 4K video system with substantial capabilities. The Yi-M1 was never meant to be my "end game" UHD camcorder. It lacks basic capabilities. There is no control for contrast, saturation nor sharpening, and so, it is only good when lighting is close to ideal -- at least 50% overcast, and since it is not weather sealed, I could not even chance using it on a day which might rain. A camera that needs clouds but no rain? That's a good definition of a camera that will sit on the shelf a lot.

    Having built a Micro 4:3 system, I decided that the new G95 suited my needs the best, and so I set aside enough money to cover that much and a bit more. But checking the current prices changed my mind.

    Vistek was the only store listing a price, and it was $1,499.99 Cdn (saving $300 Cdn). What? I had been watching the US price (B&H) for the same package -- G95 w/12-60mm F3.5-5.6 lens was $997.99 US (saving $200 US). If you use a $.75 US = $1.00 Cdn conversion, that is ~$1330.65 Cdn. I had set aside enough money, but . . . WHAT? I decided to check further.

    B&H showed the G85 w/12-60mm F3.5-5.6 lens $697.99 US (~$930.65 Cdn), saving $300. Vistek's price for the same package was $899.99 Cdn (saving $300). That's a little better! Actually, more than just a little better. The price difference between the two models in the US is about $300 US. The difference in Canada is $600 Cdn. Definitely a time to reconsider things.

    If I had not bought the Yi-M1, then I might have simply paid the difference and bought the G95, even buying it locally and swallowing the price difference, but I did buy the Yi-M1, and I was keeping it! This changes things. Compared to the G85, the G95 has a better display, it has up to 4x slow motion in 1080p (120 fps), it has a microphone jack, it has V-logL support, it has USB charging, it has a number of added still photo features (like viewing long exposures "live") and it has a 20 MP sensor. The ergonomics in the G95 are also better, but I had not heard terrible things about the G85, so that might not mean anything.

    But keeping the Yi-M1 changes things. I had a 20 MP sensor. In fact, from what I knew, I probably had the exact same sensor as the G95. I never did find out if the Yi-M1 has an anti-aliasing filter. It probably does, but for still pictures, I've had good results. In fact, as I have said, it has been particularly good to use for adapted manual lenses.

    But there is more to consider. The G85 actually has a couple of advantages over the G95. Not entirely ironically, the G85's 16 MP sensor can be better than the G95's 20 MP sensor. The 4K crop for the G85 (yes, there is) is about 2.2x instead of the G95's 2.5x. The 4K crop in the G85 is often treated by users as "ignorable" whereas the G95's 2.5x crop is obvious and significant. Moreover, the 16 MP sensor has a bit better low light performance. And while the G85 might not have a Log profile, its "CineLikeD" profile can be easier to grade and has been used for "Pro" video work for years. The 2.2x crop factor, making better use of my lenses, stands out.
    [2020-03-23 01:09 Above rewritten for clarity. Also:

    According to DP Review, the relative 4K sensor crop for the G85 is 1.1x (compared to the whole M43 sensor). 1.1 x 2.0 (the crop of the whole sensor compared to a 35mm "Full Frame" sensor) = 2.2x, which confirms my estimate of the 4K sensor crop.

    Back when it was first published, I read the DP Review coverage of the G95, and I recently went back over it, along with their previous coverage of the G85. It was all interesting. Here is the page in the G95 coverage where they compared its specs with the G85 and Fuji X-T30 and Sony a6400. Notice also that the 22ms "4K shutter rate" of the G95 gives it the best "rolling shutter" performance while the G85's 25ms is just behind the Fuji. And while I do not get the G95's 1080p 120 fps, at least I still get 60 fps. Looking at the comparison, at the list price difference of $200 US, and even at the $300 US price difference at the time I bought my camera, I feel that the G95 is certainly worth the extra cost. But the cost difference locally, at the time I bought leaves me with no regrets. Besides, as I have noted, I still have the G95's sensor in the Yi-M1.

    "Panasonic Lumix DC-G95/G90 Review"
    Published Aug 13, 2019 by Jeff Keller and Richard Butler for DP Review
    "Panasonic Lumix DC-G95/G90 Review"]

    And what can I buy with that $600 Cdn? Well, for one thing, I can afford the Shure VP83F LensHopper Shotgun Microphone with Integrated Audio Recorder which costs ~$400 Cdn. ($299.00 US), and that creates an interesting advantage over the G95 alone. I was thinking about buying this recorder/microphone eventually anyway. It gives one an interesting "trick" allowing different record settings between the internal camera recording and the external recording. Well, maybe anyway.

    The problem with this "trick" on the G85 and G95 is that these both have worst microphone placement I know of on any interchangeable lens camera. The mics are perfectly placed to record overhead aircraft or sound reflections off ceilings. I guess that having really quiet pre-amps, Panasonic wants to avoid rivalling Sony's reputation with sound. Why else would they sabotage their cameras like this?

    So recording with the built in mics is not all that valuable, but it is possible. And there is the possibility of using the VP83F completely separated from the camera, perhaps on a small grip-pod. It can be placed on or near a stage, or near a speaker, while I wander around and record videos or stills. At least I could do that if I had someone to watch that it didn't get stolen, which has been happening lately. If I do this, I already have a Rode VideoMicro that I can use on the camera. So I actually have quite a few options.

    I also needed a new "main" tripod. All my tripods had significant deficiencies. I won't go into that in this post, but it was on the forefront of my considerations.

    I could also have consider GH4's which are still around new in US (B&H) for $654.95 w/spare battery (no lens) or $694.99 (no lens) w/V-Log activation code, (but no IBIS). This is also a considerable entry level "Pro" grade option, but I wanted to buy locally for service issues, and for now, the G85 would be my only 4K IBIS camera, and that is very important.

    Those were my considerations, and the decision was made, and I am now the owner of a "brand new" G85 with kit zoom, and a new tripod, and a Shure VP83F Lenshopper mic/recorder. Now I just need to practice with all this stuff. . . .

    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
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  2. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    Leica 12 - 60mm F2.8 - 4.0 v. Panasonic F3.5-5.6 and Olympus 14-54 F2.8-3.5 ("4:3") Lenses

    The Leica 12 - 60mm F2.8 - 4.0 lens has been a surprisingly controversial "kit zoom" lens since it appeared around May 2017. It is an expensive lens to buy on its own, and I have not looked into what it costs as a kit. And I still have not actually seen one myself. Why am I mentioning it now? My G85 did not come with that lens, it came with the Panasonic 12 - 60mm F3.5 - 5.6. But I have collected some data for the Panasonic and was curious about whether I might agree with the criticism of the Leica lens.

    "Panasonic 12-60mm f/2.8-4 Review - Why I'm not buying it",
    posted May 4, 2017, by "Max Yuryev"

    First, here are my current findings for the Panasonic (F3.5 - 5.6 lens)

    Some Max Apertures for the Panasonic 12-60 F3.5-5.6:
    12mm F3.5
    18mm F3.9
    25mm F4.5
    40mm F5.5
    50mm F5.6
    60mm F5.6

    The Hybrid Shooter reported the following maximum apertures for the Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4.0:
    [2020-03-18 20:24 rewritten for clarity.]

    Some Max Apertures for Leica 12-60 F2.8-4.0:
    12mm F2.8
    25mm F3.5
    36mm F3.9
    52mm F4.0
    (60mm F4.0 per advertising)

    "Panasonic Leica DG VARIO-ELMARIT 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH Review with Panasonic G9",
    posted Feb 8, 2018 by "The Hybrid Shooter", [Length 7:36]

    Primary Differences:

    There is no doubt that the Leica lens is optically superior. All the reliable tests I have seen confirm that. From the reports I have seen, for optical quality, the Panasonic lens is a very good to excellent lens, and since I am mainly interested in video use, it is unlikely I will see any such difference. The visible difference for video will likely be limited to F-stop, which translates into brightness and depth of field. As is typical of Leica, their lens is significantly more expensive. You can look that up for yourself.
    [2020-03-18 20:24 rewritten for clarity.]

    Aside from the price, the main criticism of the Leica lens is that the optical design causes the maximum aperture to drop immediately when zooming beyond 12mm. Max Yuryev summarized his feeling that this lens is mainly an "F4.0" lens, and as such was not worth his money.

    I have provided a graph that shows the F-stop changes of the Leica and Panasonic 12-60mm zooms and included a comparison to my older Olympus 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 "4:3" zoom lens, which I can use on my G85 using an adapter.
    [2020-03-18 20:25 corrected typo. "F2.4" was wrong.]
    [2020-03-28 21:39 corrected typo. The Olympus is "2.8 - 3.5" -- that was a bad night.]

    The graph I have provided is an approximation. I do not have "Log" based graph paper, so I had to estimate the scales, so it is a very crude graph. But it does show some significant points.

    First, from the data I have, the Leica's apertures do not look that bad. Keep in mind that at the wide end, the F3.5 on the Panasonic is only about 2/3 stop from F2.8 on the Leica, but while the Leica decreases "immediately" it probably maintains at least 1/3 - 1/2 stop advantage over the Panasonic out to around 25mm. I need more data points to be sure of this.
    [2020-03-18 20:15 rewritten for clarity.]

    The Panasonic 12-60mm lens performs more like most photographers prefer, losing brightness slowly out to around 17mm. There appears to be a quick drop out to around 30-35mm (I might test that someday), and somewhere around 35mm to 40mm it is down to around F5.5, and continues to down to F5.6 at 50mm where it remains out to 60mm.
    [2020-03-18 20:15 rewritten for clarity.]

    My older Olympus maintains F2.8 from 14mm out to at least 17mm. The rapid drop is from around 19mm (F2.9) to around 29mm (F3.2) and then flattens out from 40mm (F3.3) to 54 (F3.5).

    The Leica 12-60mm lens graph is probably wrong since all reports say that it drops immediately from 12mm F2.8 "as soon as you touch it". But I have no report of how far it drops. All I know is that at 25mm it is F3.5. But I think it is fair to assume that it does not get darker than F3.5 between 12mm and 25mm, and that it probably follows a gentle curve after the inital drop. I do not expect that if I had more data that there would be any point at which the maximum F-stop for the Leica would be smaller than the Panasonic. Moreover, from around 17mm to around 30mm the gap appears to widen out again, leaving roughly 1-stop difference from 40mm to to 60mm.

    From these numbers (and the graph), the Leica does not look so bad. Considering that it is "par-focus", (and depending a bit on whether there is significant focus breathing), and of course depending on the price, I think it might well be worth buying.

    I have included a capture of a table showing the data from the three mentioned lenses and also the old version of the Panasonic 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 kit zoom.

    My previous reports about the Olympus lens aperture:

    "Zuiko 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 zoom, OM-D E-M10, MMF-3 Adapter"
    "Maximum Aperture Table:"

    "Zuiko 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 zoom, OM-D E-M10, MMF-3 Adapter"

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2020 at 8:44 PM
  3. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    I have not had a lot of opportunities to go out and take pictures or videos since I got the new camera, but I thought I should post some.


    Rough Equivalence:

    For roughly the price of a Lumix G95 w/12-60 F3.5 - 4.0 kit zoom, I bought a Lumix G85 w/the same kit zoom, the Shure VP83f mic/recorder, WindTech Mic-Muff MM-28 for Shure VP83F and a Magnus DLX-363M tripod. Choosing the G95 and kit zoom alone instead is not necessarily a poor decision. I already had a M43 camera with a 20MP sensor (Yi-M1) which reduces the advantages of the G95 for still photography. Photo taken with my Lumiz GF3 w/12-32 F3.5-5.6 zoom

    For this outing, I was using the "Standard" image style for still pictures in order to compare it to the "CineLikeD" style for video. This picture shows the strong contrast of the cloudless sunny day of this project.

    Here is an un-adjusted crop from previous image.

    Here is an unadjusted frame capture from the CineLikeD video. The highly exposed rock in the bottom left of the frame is the end of the rock in the previous crop. The "local" exposure of this section of the scene is higher anyway, but the recovery of the shadow detail is mainly due to the higher dynamic range of the "CineLikeD" profile.

    I have been testing all my compatible equipment on the new camera. This picture and the next are taken with the my Yi Technology 42.5mm portrait/macro lens. The fill flash was calculated automatically by the camera. This image is cropped and resized, but otherwise, straight out of the camera.

    This is similar to the above, but without crop -- just resizing. The colours are acceptably correct. Autofocus works about as well on this body as on the Yi-M1 the lens came with. That is to say, for macro, autofocus can be a bit unreliable. Really, I probably would have gotten more consistent results focusing manually, but the point was to test the autofocus in this situation.

    [2020-04-02 2:41 Added following:]

    More About the First Pictures:

    I thought I would explain a bit about what happened regarding the first demo pictures I posted:

    The first pictures were taken at a park. When I started that set, I took the picture of the tunnel from a point that was a bit far away and I decided I wanted to get closer. So I started walking towards it. But then a small family group -- a couple of kids and their father, entered the area. I generally try to avoid including strangers in my pictures, so I stopped for a while and waited to see if they were going to leave. But the boys started to explore the tunnel, so eventually I gave up on that idea and that is when I took the video of the far bank of the river. After a while, I left and started off in the opposite direction, down-stream. I intended to come back some other day. Maybe someday I will, but it might not be for a while. That is why the compositions in the still and the video are so different, which makes them hard to compare.

    Regarding the auto-focussed macro, I wrote that the autofocus did not work well. I didn't count the "keeper-rate", but I think it was around one-per-dozen. And that is only true if you count any of them "keepers". Even the ones I posted were just marginally acceptable. They were both F3.5, and I think I would have preferred re-doing them at F4.0 and F5.6 if I were being fussy. And I was not really happy with the light balance (a bit too much fill flash). But as far as the autofocus went, they were "good enough". I found "manual focus" in the manual. It uses the "left" and "right" buttons or brings up a horizontal bar along the bottom of the screen that can be used by "dragging". I will try that later.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020 at 1:46 AM
  4. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    About Reviews:

    One thing that I find annoying about reports and reviews (most of them, both written or video) is that reviewers rarely state the versions of firmware that are being reviewed. I do that too, and I cannot say how often, but I do try to report the specifics. Here's why:

    This is the revision list for the G85 firmware version 1.4 which came on my camera:

    " Ver.1.4 1.Improved compatibility with the Panasonic LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 ASPH. (H-X1025) digital interchangeable lens.
    - Smooth aperture control is available during video recording.

    - [Aperture Ring Increment] has been added with which users can choose the control method of the aperture ring from [SMOOTH] or [1/3EV] in photo shooting.

    2.Improved compatibility with the Panasonic Remote Shutter DMW-RS2.
    - The video REC switch on the Remote Shutter can be disabled in the camera's custom menu.

    3.Improved operational stability
    - There were cases where the headphone volume did not change in real time when [Headphone Volume] registered in "My Menu" has been changed. This bug has been fixed.

    Notice for the Change of Specifications

    Ver.1.3 1.Performance of image stabilizer is improved with the interchangeable lens LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S.(H-ES200).
    2.Operation bug occurred in specific conditions when the camera is controlled with external devices are fixed.

    Ver.1.2 1.Reduced operation noise during the shooting standby or the motion picture recording.
    2.Dual I.S.2 function with the interchangeable lens H-RS100400 is available.
    (Firmware update of the H-RS100400 is required.)

    Ver.1.1 1.Improved image stabilizer performance during the motion picture recording."

    One expects that this is a complete list of changes, but sometimes there are errors or omissions. If there is an undocumented improvement, that can be a nice bonus, but on the other hand, a new problem (which is called a"regression" in the programming world) can also occur. So when one looks at a review at version 1.0, for example and finds that the G85's image stabilization is less than perfect, well, that was corrected back in Nov. 16, 2016. And on Dec. 11, 2017 a more specific correction was made for the Leica DG Elmarit 200mm / F2.8 / Power OIS (H-ES200) lens. The date a review was published or posted can tell you if an upgrade was not available, but you cannot be sure that the tester was actually using the latest upgrade unless it is mentioned either directly or indirectly in the review.

    My First Compatibility Issue:

    This is sad but not entirely a surprise: My G85 with its 1.4 firmware is not entirely compatible with my Olympus 4:3 mount 14 - 54mm F2.8 - 3.5. It works well enough in fully automatic mode, but manual focus is not working. I have the body set to "SF + Manual Focus" for both still and video, but only the autofocus works. Not only that but the combination of the camera + adapter + this setting sometimes causes the camera to "lock up" if I try to focus manually. Unfortunately, I am training myself to use "SF + Man" for video because the autofocus can be slow and unreliable. Having to remember that "I can't do that" with this lens (and so far, only this lens) is really going to get in my way because I really want to use this lens!

    My Second Compatibility Issue:

    I am still not entirely sure if I can get around this one: The body does not seem to have a manual focus control, and the Yi Technology 42.5mm F1.8 portrait/macro lens has no focus ring. I am about 2/3'rds through the manual, so I might find something yet, but I doubt it. The screen touch focus should make it unnecessary, but really I would prefer a real manual focus control of some kind -- even like on the Yi-M1.

    [2020-04-02: See my addition to the previous comment. I did find instructions for "manual" focus. I will try that later.]
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020 at 1:50 AM

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