I Chose the Panasonic GX8
By Tim McCleary
I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog, reviews, and the wide assortment of Daily Inspiration postings. I figured I’d add in my learnings about continuing to pursue this photography while dealing with physical disabilities.
I’ve enjoyed photography as a hobby for about 25 years, progressing through various camera types from Disc, Advantix, early P+S digital, Nikon Coolpix P5000 with screw-on adapter lenses, to a Canon S95. Each change of camera brought an increase in equipment capability and the resultant image quality. Along with the equipment advancements, my skills increased and I progressed from snapshots to manually controlling shutter/ISO/aperture settings to get the desired image.
About two years ago, I noticed slight shaking of my right hand, which got progressively worse. About a year ago it got so bad that it was affecting my ability to do my work, so I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. While medication does reduce the tremors somewhat, it’s progressive and there is currently no cure. Needless to say, my lifestyle has changed radically. I am no longer working and am on a disability program.
Earlier this year, I went on a trip and found that while taking photos the shaking necessitated using shutter speeds of at least 1/125 in order to get clear shots even with image stabilization turned on, which made evening/night shooting difficult. I decided to upgrade my camera and attempt to find workarounds for the shaking.
After a lot of research, I decided on the Panasonic GX8 due to its combined in-body and lens image stabilization. My second choice would have been the Olympus with its extraordinary 5 axis IBIS. Here’s the list of lenses I chose:
Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm f/2.5 II ASPH
Panasonic H-X025 Lumix G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm f/1.4
Panasonic H-NS043 Lumix G Leica DG NOCTICRON 42.5mm/F1.2
Panasonic X Series H-HS12035 Lumix G 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH
The 14mm mostly gets used in bright areas, and when I want a really compact lens. The zoom lens is image stabilized, so it gets used if I need a wide angle in low light. If I were doing it again, I would probably go with the Lumix/Leica SUMMILUX 15mm/F1.7 rather than the 14mm.
My right hand shakes pretty badly at times, but my left hand is still quite stable. So, I wanted a way to take pictures without my right hand touching the camera. As with most cameras, the GX8 is not designed for lefty usage. The best solution I have found is a cheap wireless shutter remote control (Pixel Oppilas/RW-221/L1). The shutter release is operated by my right hand while my left hand holds the camera. This works really well. When I want to use a flash at night, I let the camera portion of the remote dangle from its cable (it’s very lightweight). Of course, I use either a neck strap or wrist strap so that I don’t drop the camera.
When my left hand isn’t able to hold the camera steady enough (my left arm does get tired after holding the camera for a while), I can attach the camera to my monopod (Sirui P-326 6 section carbon fiber monopod). Holding the monopod with my left hand and remote triggering with my right hand provides that little extra bit of stability. I also have a GorillaPod that comes in handy for static shots where the camera can be in a fixed position.
Lastly, I have a compact tripod (Sirui N-2205) that I can use if I need a really stable platform. So far, I haven’t needed it, but I can foresee in the future gradually shifting to tripod based shooting if/when tremors develop in my left hand.
Overall, I have been extremely satisfied with the images I’m getting with the new equipment, and I am having a great time taking pictures and improving my technique. Using workarounds, I plan to keep enjoying photography as a hobby for many more years.
Last month I traveled to Thailand, and my girlfriend and I went to her family reunion. Her family will be supporting the local Buddhist temple for this year, and there were several ceremonies which provided excellent opportunities to get some great shots. And yes, it was an awesome vacation. The monk is my girlfriends uncle, the praying man with the beatific expression is her cousin, and the dog wearing finery was in the back of a truck that we walked past on the way to the temple.