Last update on the GX85

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Just before July 4th, I had to send my GX85 in for servicing. For some reason, the shutter blades locked and left the camera in a perpetual loop asking I power down and restart. After some initial problems logging my repair request in, I was able to move forward and even got a response and quote back fairly quickly. Here’s how it all went down.

The Quote Process

After shipping my camera to Panasonic’s repair center in Texas, I awaited to hear something back. Given the fact that it was sent close to a holiday, I didn’t stress when I did not hear back within that first week. I was just happy knowing that the camera was on it’s way and would (hopefully) soon be repaired.

A week after having originally sent the camera, I still had not heard back. I began worrying that I didn’t send it to the correct facility or worse yet, that USPS may have lost it somewhere. After verifying that the package indeed went to the correct location, I checked the Panasonic website – my repair order was marked as canceled. No other information was available. I immediately hit the “Chat Now” button from the Service Request page, as prompted by a pop-up, in hopes that I could get some info on now canceled service order. Various redirecting from the chat representatives and a phone call later, I found out the status of my camera – it was received and sent to the repair facility awaiting a quote number and amount; which is represented in their system as a canceled service order.

Totally not confusing at all. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)

Quoted and Waiting

It’s now mid-July, I’ve finally received the service quote – a reasonable amount just south of $400. So I quickly filled out my credit card info and approved up to the quoted amount. The previous breakdowns in communication prompted me to follow up regularly (one email a week after receiving acknowledgement of signed quote); I was not going to lose track of this new service order. For two weeks the camera sat awaiting a second authorization – the PDF document I had previously emailed was apparently missing information. I will own this one and say that I may not have properly saved the info using Preview (Mac OS’s PDF viewer/editor for you PC people) but having the order hold without contacting the customer falls squarely on Panasonic. It required a third call to Panasonic Customer Care and once squared away I was given some good news, the repair would only cost $225 plus the labor fee ($100). The initial tech’s diagnosis was that the camera only needed a new shutter unit and bracket but the image sensor was undamaged – great news indeed.

The good news would not continue into the following week. The first email I’ve received from Panasonic’s service department was one notifying me that they would need a revised authorization for over $600 in repairs or cancel the order and pay diagnostic and labor fees. A month and a half after having started the process, what I was assured would be a simple and reasonably priced fix became a complicated far more expensive repair that involved replacing the camera’s sensor unit and various other parts.

The End of the Road

At $600 I had to make a decision – sink more money on this camera or cut my loses and try to off-load some of the lenses I’ve picked up for this format. After some deliberation, I had to cut my losses. I asked Panasonic to cancel the order and return the unit. Two bills and some change later, I received my busted camera.

A few things to keep in mind: The GX85 is not a professional body and would not qualify for professional repair service. I was not expecting any kind of white glove service for this repair. I bought this camera at a discount – sales are your friend – but $600+ would’ve been like me buying this unit twice. When the camera was received, the unit powered back on but it still would fail POST about every 3rd or so time it was powered on. After some tinkering and coaching from a fellow DIYer, I managed to have the shutter blades work though there are some focusing issues when shooting video, mostly when using tracking AF.

In the GX85 Panasonic made a very capable entry-level mirrorless camera that can hold its own doing some professional work (and if you go back and read my previous post on the GX85, you’ll know that by no means would I make this my primary camera for commissioned shoots) but the repair service leaves much to be desired. I would strongly recommend that anyone sending their camera in for repair be mindful of the somewhat convoluted ticketing process and the lack of response once the repair process has begun. If this post makes its way in front of the powers that be at Panasonic, I hope you guys can make note of my experience and make some changes that will make this a more seamless process.

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Samsung’s Beast Mini aka the NX500

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The NX500 is a 4k shooting Beast that's easy to carry all day.

The NX500 is a 4k shooting Beast that’s easy to carry all day.

It’s been a little over two months since I first got the NX500 in my hands. After long NY winter shooting with the NX1 on a near daily basis it was refreshing to have a camera that was light enough to drop in my messenger bag and forget it’s there. Just because the camera lost some of its size, it by no means lost any of its power. Read on for some of my impressions on the NX500 and some sample images.

Disclosure Notice: I’m part of Samsung’s Imagelogger program in which they send me shiny new cameras to try and take many, many pictures with. This is not a paid placement; all opinions from here on are my own. 

NX500 ProductWhen I first took the NX500 out of the box I was absolutely floored by how light it is. Sure, I absolutely get that it is a (relatively) tiny camera but I still can’t get over the technology that powers it. Inside the small and svelte frame is a 28-megapixel back-side illuminated APS-C sensor and DRIMe 5 image processor – the very same sensor and processor combo found in the larger (more expensive) NX1. The NX500 is capable of capturing 9fps in full resolution and comes with a gorgeous 3-inch AMOLED touch display and boasts 209 auto-focus detection points. When combined with the NX500’s Hybrid Phase Detection AF system, those 209-phase make for speedy changes in focusing that make shooting 4k video on the NX500 a dream.

NX500 w/ NX-45mm f/1.8 2D-3D at ISO3200

NX500 w/ NX-45mm f/1.8 2D-3D at ISO3200

Ultimately the biggest reason that I’ve fallen in love with the NX500 is that much like the NX300, the NX500 has allowed me to disappear into the background and capture those fleeting moments of city life without drawing too much attention to myself. For my style of shooting, I’d gladly give up a viewfinder for a chance to capture my subjects without drawing too much attention to myself. The NX500 is my current favorite camera for my street photography and it’s clear to see why; you don’t have to take my word for it, check out the gallery below for more photographs made with the NX500 and be sure to leave a comment. NX500 

If you’re ready to dive into the world of 4k video and pick up one of the best APS-C cameras under $800 consider shopping via the link below. It helps me keep the lights on and writing more posts like this one. Thanks again for your support.

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Camera bag of the moment – Lowepro Urban Report 250

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I've been using the Lowepro Urban Reporter for most jobs over the last few months; here's how it holds up.

I’ve been using the Lowepro Urban Reporter for most jobs over the last few months; here’s how it holds up.

At last year’s Photoplus Expo in New York City I got a chance to chat with the folks at Lowepro and check out some of their latest gear. I’ve long been a fan of their products but had recently been wooed by my Brenthaven BX2 backpack for covering events, but I often found myself wondering if I really needed all that space as I’ve learned to pare down the gear I took to these shows. I was ditching excess weight in my kit bag, maybe it was time to reconsider what my event bag should be.

The Lowepro Urban Reporter 250 in this review was sent over by Lowepro; they wanted me to review their bag so they sent a sample to keep. These are my impressions from real every day use of this bag.

Styling and function

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The first thing that pops into mind when I received the bag was – “this is bulkier than I remember.” It’s not that it’s a big bag, for a camera bag it’s pretty compact and ultimately you want the foam cushions that protect your gear to get the job done. Specifically, the Urban Reporter 250 measures 41.5 x 17.5 x 28.5 cm with the camera compartment measuring 34 x 10 x 24.5 cm. The bag weighs a little over 2-lbs. without your gear so it won’t add necessary bulk on your trips.

If you’re looking for a bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag the fact is that there far more discrete options available on the market. That being said, the Urban Reporter 250 is a good option that looks like a slightly pudgy messenger bag. It’s a good option for taking along for a specialized shoot or event – one that may not require much gear – but you’ll definitely skip this one if you’ll be in need of additional gear or tripod/monopod (the Urban Reporter 250 doesn’t have a compartment for a tripod).

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The Urban Report does maximize the space that it does have with plenty of room for personal carry-alongs. The clasps on the saddle pockets can fit additional batteries, a flash gun, snacks, or a bottle of water. Meanwhile the main compartment features a main padded insert with two dividers for customizing the main pocket for your specific load out. Just behind the main padded compartment is a discrete laptop sleeve that fits up to a 15-inch laptop or full-sized tablet. The rear of the bag has a zippered faux pocket that can be used to carry documents or can be unzipped to be stacked onto your rolling luggage.

The Urban Reporter is a fully functional bag that’s ideal for day trips or commuting but may not be the most stylish option out there. That said, it’s a great bag for event photographers that are looking for a no-nonsense bag that gets the job done.

Urban Reporter Series- Street-smart messenger bag from Lowepro on Vimeo.