Nikon 1 J5 vs Panasonic GX85
The Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 (labelled Panasonic GX80 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2015 and April 2016. Both the J5 and the GX85 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an one-inch (J5) and a Four Thirds (GX85) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic GX85 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The J5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the GX85 is available in two color-versions (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX85 is considerably larger (47 percent) than the Nikon 1 J5. Moreover, the GX85 is substantially heavier (84 percent) than the J5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the J5 nor the GX85 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Nikon 1 J5||98 mm||60 mm||32 mm||231 g||250||n||Apr 2015||399|
|Panasonic GX85||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529|
|Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|Nikon 1 V3||111 mm||65 mm||33 mm||381 g||310||n||Mar 2014||799|
|Nikon 1 J4||100 mm||60 mm||29 mm||232 g||300||n||Apr 2014||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Panasonic GX9||124 mm||72 mm||47 mm||407 g||260||n||Feb 2018||849|
|Panasonic G85||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429|
|Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|YI M1||114 mm||64 mm||34 mm||281 g||450||n||Sep 2016||349|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The J5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the GX85, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon 1 J5 features an one-inch sensor and the Panasonic GX85 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GX85 is 94 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 2.0. The sensor in the J5 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GX85 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon 1 J5 offers a higher resolution of 20.7 megapixels, compared with 15.8 MP of the Panasonic GX85. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.37μm versus 3.77μm for the GX85). Moreover, it should be noted that the GX85 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the J5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon 1 J5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the J5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GX85 are 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The J5 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon 1 J5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the GX85 has a markedly higher DXO score than the J5 (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|Nikon 1 V3||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||384||52|
|Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Panasonic GX9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic G85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|YI M1||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the GX85 provides a faster frame rate than the J5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 4K/15p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the GX85 has an electronic viewfinder (2765k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the J5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon 1 J5 and Panasonic GX85 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|Nikon 1 V3||optional||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0||1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the GX85 and the J5 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The GX85 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the J5 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The J5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the GX85 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic GX85 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the J5 and the GX85 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon 1 J5 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Nikon 1 V3||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the GX85 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The J5 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
The GX85 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the J5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the J5 from Nikon. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon 1 J5 or the Panasonic GX85 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon 1 J5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.7 vs 15.8MP) with a 17% higher linear resolution.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (98x60mm vs 122x71mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 195g or 46 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2015).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/30p versus 4K/15p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (290 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX85 comes out slightly ahead of the J5 (10 : 9 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic GX85 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the J5 and the GX85 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Nikon 1 J5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399|
|Panasonic GX85||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|Canon SX720||+||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|Canon G9 X||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529|
|Canon SX710||+||..||4/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|Canon 1200D||+||..||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|Nikon 1 V3||..||76/100||4.5/5||3/5||4/5||Mar 2014||799|
|Nikon 1 J4||..||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Apr 2014||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Panasonic GX9||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||849|
|Panasonic G85||+ +||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX7||+||79/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|Panasonic GH2||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|Sony HX90V||+ +||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429|
|Sony A5000||+||..||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|YI M1||..||69/100||..||2.5/5||..||Sep 2016||349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Nikon 1 J5 vs Panasonic GX85
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic GX85|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon 1 mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2015||April 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic GX85|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.37 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.79 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/15p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||22.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||12.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||479||662|
|Screen Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic GX85|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2765k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic GX85|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||60 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic GX85|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic GX85|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
98 x 60 x 32 mm
(3.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
122 x 71 x 44 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||231 g (8.1 oz)||426 g (15.0 oz)|
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