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I'm almost answering my own question here, but wondered if anyone else came across this "feature".

I often have my camera in silent mode as I take quite a few "street" shots.

I am aware that this disables a few features, such as the flash.

However, I've now discovered that this also limits the maximum length of an exposure. In Manual mode I could only dial a maximum of 1 second with f22 and a neutral density filter set at its darkest.

Is this because "silent mode" uses the electronic shutter rather than the "normal" one?

Is anyone aware of any work-arounds for this apart from setting the shutter volume at its lowest?

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This is a limitation of the electronic shutter used in your camera. Actually, it is a limitation of nearly all electronic shutters, some brands cap it at just 1/60s, some more, such as Panasonic with a 1s cap. It probably depends on the generation and these things are relatively new and bound to improve in future digital cameras.

A mechanical shutter is a simply mechanical device. It moves across the sensor rapidly and is bound to make some noise. Since the GX85/GX80 is a Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless, the sensor is smaller than that of DSLRs so is the shutter, so it makes less noise. Still, there is nothing that can be done to change the amount of noise produces. On a DSLR there is a mirror which makes more noise and it can be slowed down or dampened which is what Quiet mode does for Nikon DSLRs but that does not change the shutter noise either.

Some cameras have such quiet shutters that they emit an artificial noise to sound more like it is taking a photo. That can almost always be turned off but shutting off sounds in a Settings menu. Check if you do not have one such sound enabled, since you camera should be comparatively quiet.

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I've now found the answer in the manual...

silent mode          = electronic shutter (no choice here!)
electronic shutter = 1 second longest exposure

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I own a GX85 with the latest firmware (v1.2) and I've seen nothing in the manual or menus to allow me to exceed one second for the electronic flash.

That said, the mechanical shutter in the GX85 is electromagnetic, which makes it much quieter than conventional mechanical shutters while practically eliminating shutter shock.

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