I Chose the Panasonic GX8 By Tim McCleary

I Chose the Panasonic GX8

By Tim McCleary

Hi Steve,

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:

Prime lenses:

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

Zoom Lens:

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.

The pictures:

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.ย 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.

Monk

BK

Dog

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27 Comments

  1. I’m an aggressive optimist, and I wish you an eventual, if not speedy, recovery. I have found that lots of so-called progressive diseases are reversible. But your body is your business, so I will leave it there. And I wish you luck in finding a physician who can help you.

    BTW I love the tilting EVF in the GX8. And the Micro 4/3 format is quite a thing. It’s a hidden gem among photographic tools, I think.

  2. Hi Steve. I hope you can help me with an odd problem. Recently some of the photos on your site appear very small and don’t change size when enlarged. This Panasomic GX8 entry is an example. The three photos are the size of postage stamps and remain so no matter what I do. Conversely, I just looked at the “White City” post and saw the usual larger images and was able to click and enlarge them further. I can’t find anything wrong with my computer. Are some of your entries posted differently than others? You guys do such a good job of putting up a variety of photos I thought you might have a suggestion to fix this,

    • Hmmm. You must be looking on a device a little larger than a stamp. By default, images are shown at 680 pixels wide, much wider than a stamp ๐Ÿ™‚ You can click on any image in any review or post and this will get you the larger version, with more detail, etc. I just checked the GX8 and for some reason, they were not clickable. So I fixed it. Thanks for letting me know, that is not the norm.

  3. Inspiring. Good work. I plan to share your story with some friends with the same ailment.
    Thanks for sharing your story, camera review and images.

    Best Regards,
    Howard

  4. The GX8 seems a very underrated camera! I own one from start when it came available in NL. The sensor is a (slight) step above the E-M1 sensor for example. Even at higher iso’s this sensor keeps up. A very natural kind of look without banding. Jpg’s are pretty good as well.

    One problem I ran into is it looks like it is not possible to use an external flash with higher frames pers second. Only one pic at the time. I’d tried several flashes. Anyone have this same problem or do I missed a setting somewhere in the menu?

    • No, neither Panasonic Lumix can do it, but don’t ask me why, since Olympus can without any problem. so it seems one can only do one by one manually. which I find embarassing for a company like Panasonic, since all the others can do it!!!

      • Thanks for your answer Christian, Indeed that is embarrassing for a company as Panasonic. It limits my use for the GX8. I need fast fill-in flash very often. So I ended up buying an E-M1 as well. Didn’t plan to.. So Panasonic WAKE-up please with a fix firmware update please.

  5. Thanks for a wonderful inspiring post.A friend of mine has your condition and can still play golf but his photography has been severely affected. He shoots with a Canon DSLR and now only shoots with a tripod. I will make him aware of your input thanks.
    Love the photo of the dog.

  6. Kudos to you: not an ounce of self-pity, but many, many ounces of courage and talent. Thank you.

    • these shots look a hell of a lot better than the guy with the Phase IQ250 and I’m sure he paid a lot less for his gear – just as well since in Thailand “it takes a farang to raise a village”…;-)

  7. Really nice images. And an inspiring story! All the best. I hope to see more photos from you. Do you post on a blog or Flickr or some other photo sharing site?

  8. thank you for your inspiring story which I will onpass to a friend suffering himself from Parkinson. I wonder whether an even heavier camera would have been even better in your case, but you are right: It is amazing how modern technology sometimes can help. I myself (will be 70 this year) decided a year ago to get rid of my complete canon-equipment and go for MFT-Mirrorless. I am working as a stage-photographer, and carrying a very heavy 2,8 zoom lense for, at times, up to 5 hours or more (Eagner operas) was really begining to trouble me. especially, since I am not a tripod-person at all. First I bought an Olympus E-M1. a great camera which I am selling now because it needed service three times in one year for all kinds of problems (defective selection-wheels, EVF etc. Now I have arrived at the Lumix GX8 and am looking forward to the GH4 successor that might be announced later this year.

    I wish you lots of luck and stable health and an ever improving Image stabilizer, AND: Go out and enjoy life as often as possible

    rgds
    Christian

  9. Thanks a lot ( I think), after reading this Daily Inspiration I realize I have simply gotten lazy, if you can get out there and click away so can I.
    Best to you and your family.

  10. I
    am from Thailand too. I am touch by your story and wish you got lot of support emotionally. Thank for sharing.
    Yupa

  11. As the previous poster said – never give up.
    Thank you for the uplifting and inspirational post – I admire both your attitude and your images. I particularly enjoyed the portrait of the pomeranian( it’s the correct breed of dog???)
    Tom.

  12. With the GX7 you can shoot remotely from your phone using their Image App. I assume same applies to GX8. This may be another useful tool.

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