A Quick Update on the Panasonic GX85

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A while back I wrote my thoughts on the GX85. Unfortunately, since the last time I posted something on the GX85 it started having an issue where it’s stuck in some kind of startup loop requiring me to shut it down and then turn it back on (Error code: 1D10T). After some deliberation, I’ve decided to send it in for repair; this post will help chronicle the process. Spoiler alert: It’s annoying to say the least.

I’ve done some research on this issue and though nothing comes up specifically for the GX85, other cameras (mainly Panasonic’s line of superzoom point-and-shoot cameras) have had these issues. From what I’ve been able to dig up there’s a two-button combination that should bring the camera into a kind of maintenance mode but from there it gets murky. Rather than risk bricking my camera, I decided to send back to Panasonic for repair.

First, I strongly recommend that you register all your products (especially the pricier ones) with the manufacturer. Having all your info in before something goes wrong will help. Especially when you get to questions like “date of purchase.” In the event that this information isn’t readily available you can guesstimate when it was purchased but without proof of purchase your warranty may not be honored. This goes for every manufacturere and not exclusive to Panasonic.

I started the repair request process on my iPad fully aware that an iPad is not a full laptop but I had hoped that there would be a way to go back into an existing request after saving or entering the necessary information. I learned the hard way that this was not the case and all the information I had previously entered ended up on Panasonic servers with no way for me to update any of the previously entered data or to reprint a confirmation page (which is required when sending back the product). After getting some direction via their live chat option (two days later mind you), I had to go back and start a second repair request to make sure I print out a copy of the confirmation page.

Panasonic, please accept the following bit of constructive criticism: If a copy of the confirmation page is a requirement for any service order, make it available either by logging into your account or automatically sending it to the email you requested in the service order ticket. This should not be aside that a customer has to figure out or wait for regular working hours to have a rep explain this. Yes, I accept responsibility for not printing my confirmation the first go-round but sending an email should be standard. The package will be on its way to Panasonic tomorrow morning, hopefully this will be the only hiccup in getting my camera working again.

About Nepotism and Misplaced Hate

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In my career I’ve worked various jobs for different sized organizations. I’ve worked for a mom & pop shop to a major global corporation and everything in between; office politics were always a part of the day to day. Whether it was management with questionable credentials or outright hiring family members, nepotism and cronyism are such a part of the business world that you’re bound to come across it at some point or another and the Photography world isn’t any different.

Earlier this week, Brooklyn Beckham, spawn of former Spice Girl turned designer, Victoria Beckham and football star, David Beckham, announced the release date of his first Photobook published by Penguin. It wasn’t long before the Internet was up in arms about how “unfair” and “unjust” it was that Brooklyn was “given” a book. It was yet another toll in the death knell of Photography as an art form – after all, Brooklyn has no formal training; he hasn’t paid his dues like every photographer that’s come before him. The Internet in it’s collective wisdom had decided that this one of the worst cases of nepotism in the history of modern art. Truth be told; we’re all full of shit.

As of this post, Brooklyn Beckham as over 10 million followers on Instagram – which is to be expected of a celebrity account. His followers (from my quick 5 minute glance of his page) are engaged and though mostly not art critics, many can appreciate his interpretation of Photography. While Brooklyn may not have a day’s worth of formal training under his belt he not only practices the craft but has managed to carve out an audience for the images that he’s creating. Would he had gotten his Burberry spread had his parents not been the internationally known Beckhams? Probably not, but he still needed to take the opportunity.

And that’s what we’re really talking about here; we’re not upset that Beckham has a book but he got an opportunity. Consider this: his being born of rich and famous parents has garnered him various opportunities that those of us who weren’t born with such privilege might never see. It’s a privilege that many Photographers abuse when we look at new Photographers of non-famous backgrounds; denying them the opportunities to professional practice their craft because they’re not a part of inner circles. Friends, we’re not mad at nepotism, we’re mad at privilege.

How many times have we overlooked privilege when it’s benefitted us? As long as it’s been good to us, we’re likely to turn a blind eye. Too often we allow our own conceit to trick us into believing we’ve earned every opportunity presented. It’s never about the connections that some of us were born with or the financial circumstances that allow us to pursue the work that we do. Before passing judgement let’s try to remember the last time we’ve extended an opportunity to someone just getting started in this industry. Maybe, just maybe, the next generation of photographers will be discovered based on talent alone.

If you’re looking for a photo book with black and white images of daily life but Brooklyn Beckham isn’t quite your speed; consider picking up A Beautiful Ghetto by Devin Allen. A Beautiful Ghetto beautifully displays the spirit of Baltimore through the stories of its residents, their struggles and the beauty of their resistance against racism in America.  Allen’s work has been featured in on the cover of Time, New York Magazine, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and may other print and online publications.

Return to the Oculus

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After taking a job in Queens I found myself not returning to Lower Manhattan very often. Aside from putting me out of my way, I often don’t get off work early enough to capture the hustle and bustle of life Downtown. As luck would have it, I found myself near the World Trade Center last week and took advantage of the opportunity to walk around and do some shooting. 

Nothing fancy here – just some snaps I thought I’d share.

The lines of the Oculus’ architecture make for an interesting subject. It’s all about “working the scene” until you find something unique about what/where you’re shooting.

Holding up the wall.

There’s something to be said about finding yet a new way to look at a familiar place. 

Last Call: Your New York Minute 2016

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Photo by  Andrew Hetherington

With the PhotoPlus Expo coming up in a little over a month, expo organizers, PDN, are looking for both professional and amateur submissions for their first PhotoPlus Expo photo contest. PDN and PhotoPlus Expo are looking for slice-of-life images captured in New York City. To sweeten the pot, PDN is giving away over $13k in prizes to the winners including a Nikon D500 with 16-80mm lens (pro division) and Nikon D7200 18-140mm VR lens kit (amateur division).

The contest is straight forward, enter in one of five categories within the pro or amateur divisions; the categories each reflect one of the city’s five boroughs and outlying islands. There are no limits on the number of entries you can submit however there is a fee of $30 (pro) $25 (amateur) per submission. Aside from the chance to win some great gear, Grand Prize and First Place winners will have their work featured at this year’s PhotoPlus Expo where an estimated 25,000 people will see it; best of all, photographers retain all rights to their work.

The contest deadline is today so be sure to hit up the link in the featured image for full contest details and registration info. I hope to see you all at this year’s PhotoPlus Expo.

LUMIX Loungin’ – a review of the Panasonic LUMIX GX85

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It’s been a couple of month’s since I’ve picked up the Panasonic LUMIX  GX85 and in that time I’ve put some miles on the camera shooting a couple of church events, my typical street photography, portraits, and tried some product photography to boot. In the GX85, Panasonic has created an ultra-compact, 16-megapixel, micro four-thirds camera that can not only handle 4K video but also has a no-compromises 5-axis stabilization system – something that puts its spec sheet in the class of cameras like the slightly larger (definitely more expensive) Panasonic GX8 and Olympus PEN-F. After getting acquainted, here’s what I’ve found.

Ergonomics

The first thing that stands out about using the Panasonic GX85 is just how small it actually is. I don’t have extra large hands but it initially took some time to get readjusted to the smaller camera body (if you’ve been keeping up, I’ve been shooting with the Samsung NX1 and NX500 up to this point) and found myself searching for the rear command dial as my thumb was resting too far to the left. After a few shots things became a lot more familiar.

I can’t stress enough the compact size of the GX85; its small size definitely may be of concern to people with larger hands as things can get cramped but I’m genuinely impressed the shear number of Function buttons that are available to you. Going back to my days shooting with the NX500, I did miss the availablilty of physical buttons for certain actions over soft buttons (software buttons) found in the camera’s menu system. Best of all each of the 5 physical function buttons on the GX85 are customizable to provide you with shortcuts that better fit your workflow. At the time of this review I had changed the third function button to trigger WiFi sharing instead of the default Trash/Delete function – definitely would’ve preferred that WiFi had its own button by default.

Despite its deminutive size, the GX85 has a very comfortable faux leatherette finish that’s grippy without feeling like cheap plastic. It’s a design cue we’re seeing more and more in mid-range price point as it alludes to better materials and differentiates from more budget options. It’s worth mentioning that the leatherette finish has been a hit-or-miss touch depending on who you ask, personally, I’m a fan of it especially when it’s subtly used and enhances the overall look of the camera.
Portraits

DJ Benhameen; Panasonic LUMIX GX85 with LUMIX G VARIO 12-32. 12mm 1/1000 at f/3.5 ISO1000

One of the most basic, bread-and-butter jobs most photographers find themselves on is a portrait shoot. If you’ve got a willing subject, decent lighting, and a big fancy camera – you’ve got a shoot! Well you can nix that last one, the LUMIX GX85 looks like an advanced compact camera like a Sony RX100 from afar but thanks to it’s larger micro four-thirds sensor and lens availability you have everything you need for a quick portrait session like this recent one with DJ Benhameen from the FanBros Show podcast.

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DJ Benhameen; Panasonic LUMIX GX85 with LUMIX G VARIO 12-32. 12mm 1/1000 at f/3.5 ISO1000

We shot in the Ft. Green section of Brooklyn on a relatively bright and hazy day. Ducking into the shade provided by a tree-lined park, we got to work putting the GX85 through its paces. Even with its kit lens, a LUMIX G VARIO 12-32mm we were getting consistently sharp images across the focal length range with little focus hunting. In other words, although the LUMIX GX85 may not have been intended to be marketed or used as professional kit, thanks to its fast AF responsiveness, ability to produce good dynamic range – especially working with RAW files, and a strong lens selection thanks to its Micro Four-Thirds mount you may just find yourself carrying one around as a B camera.

 

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Taking to the Streets


What I love doing the most is shooting life in New York City; I’m a bit biased but there’s no better place if you’re a street photographer and I love capturing the small moments of a large city. My personal style of shooting leans towards candid shots of daily life so you’ll probably never see me walking around with a Canon 1DX and 85mm lens (though they have their place); I prefer keeping my gear bag light opting for a small body with one lens. The GX85 gives me the chance to keep things light and minimal without having to sacrifice image quality or being constricted to one focal length like with many advanced point-and-shoot cameras.

These days a lot of my street shooting is done with the GX85 and Olympus 25mm f/1.4 giving me a 50mm full-frame equivalent focal length and what many consider the human eye’s natural field of view. There’s a reason this combination is consider an all-around allowing me to get up close or disappear into the scene as needed. Anecdotally, New Yorkers don’t mind seeing photographers all around them but no one likes the barrel of lens in their face; going smaller has allowed me to keep a very chill appearance and in return my subjects have been a little more at ease around me and the camera. Again, for my slice of life style of shooting street images, the GX85 fits neatly into my every day commuter bag, adds no bulk or much additional weight – put simply it’s a pleasure walking around with it.

WiFi Transfer and Remote Control (and other features)

As any modern enthusiast level camera should, the Panasonic LUMIX GX85 has the ability to transfer images (JPEG only) and the ability to be used remotely via an ad-hoc WiFi connection and the Pansonic Image App (iOS and Android). These days I consider this less of a feature and more of a standard item – we’re not printing photos as often these days (we should though) and sharing a whole lot more. The camera allows you either transfer to your phone or if connected to a WiFi hotspot, directly share using Panasonic’s software.

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DJ Benhameen; 8 megapixel still from 4k Video processed in-camera.

On the video side, the GX85 allows you to capture 4K Ultra-HD footage in standard MP4 files. Granted you’ll definitely want to get a large capacity Class 10 SD card and you will be longing for a dedicated 3.5mm mic jack, but for the intended user the GX85 offers the Ultra-HD standard at a camera priced well below $1k USD. Easily one of my favorite features is the ability to shoot 4K photos – a 24 frame-per-second video clip that allows you to select the best image from the 24 frame burst. If you’re looking to capture a candid moment or ensure you nail the focus on some quick action, the 24 8-megapixel JPEGs offer you the ability to ensure you get your once-in-a-lifetime shot.

Conclusions

The Panasonic LUMIX GX85 was my return to the Micro Four-Thirds format system, one who’s primary appeal is the lightweight and small footprint of the cameras and lenses while still being able to deliver great results. In picking the LUMIX GX85 I was mostly looking for a blogging camera that can go to press events and record some high quality video. I mostly got what I was looking for but the truth is if you’re looking for something that can handle video primarily, you’re better off spending a little more cash for the GH4 or similar as they include a dedicated mic jack That said the GX85 performs fantastically as a stills camera and is ready for wherever your travels may take. If travel or personal photography is what you’re into, the GX85 will tick off many of the same boxes that the Olympus PEN-F does without having to spend over $1,000 USD.

Quick take: The Fujifilm X-Pro

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As I mentioned in last night’s post, I’m currently in the midst of trying out a new every day camera system. The truth is that a lot of my paid photography work will continue to be done on the Samsung NX cameras, I am starting to try out some new cameras in hopes that I find one that fits my style of shooting and personal style as well. Enter the FujiFilm X-Pro (the original).

The Fujifilm X-Pro was originally released in 2012 and has since been updated by the X-Pro 2 but with a $1700 body-only price tag, I decided on spending far less for the older version before making such a large commitment. So here’s what I bought (specs):

Fujifilm X-Pro 1

  • 16-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 3-inch fixed LCD display
  • Native ISO range from 200-6400
  • EXR Pro Image Processor
  • 1/4000 second maximum shutter speed
  • hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder
  • rangefinder style mirrorless body
  • Fujifilm film simulation mode for JPEGs

The gallery above is a small compilation of images taken over the past couple of days with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1. I’ve mostly spent the couple of days getting a feel for the camera, learning where everything is and where all the menu commands/settings can be found. Although I don’t recommend anyone rely too heavily on filters (Instagram or VSCO) they definitely have a place and Fujifilm’s film simulation mode allows you to create processed-in-camera JPEGs that look very close to some of Fujifilm’s iconic 35mm films.

So far my favorite aspect of the X-Pro 1 is the overall construction of the camera and its rangefinder style. In my heart of hearts I want a Leica M but the way my bank account is set up, the Fujifilm X-Pro makes for more than a capable alternative. The camera is solidly built without being too heavy or bulky despite it’s dimensions. Though it’s not fully pocketable, it’s nowhere near as obtrusive as a full-sized DSLR making it a great performer out in real-world use.

I haven’t gotten around to working with the RAW files yet though I do intend on working on those this week. I’m confident that a modern 16-megapixel camera can handle a little bit of pushing in Lightroom; look for my full break down in a future post.

Breaking up is hard to do

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One of the most important feature on any camera for 99% (pardon the hyperbole) is familiarity. Knowing where everything is. Knowing how everything works. Knowing how your gear reacts in various conditions is absolutely crucial for making great photographs. I’ve been shooting with Samsung cameras exclusively for over 2 years and I knew my cameras down to their most obscure detail. As you’ve guessed from the title to this post and my constant use of the past tense, I will no longer be shooting with Samsung cameras – and it’s not by choice. Continue reading