Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PC can... (fold in ways Macs cannot)

You've probably seen all these new PC can... advertisements from Intel.

They're almost all extremely accurate.  In fact, Lenovo's Flex and Yoga lines of laptop computers have been extremely interesting to me.

I have a Flex 14 on the way.  (Flex is apparently Yoga on a low cost diet.) US$749.99 doesn't seem bad for a dual core i7, 1920x1080 touch-enabled display with Intel 520 graphics, 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB hard drive.  I've already seen this one work and it seems reliable, and a good (but not great) performer.  It folds into multiple different configurations, including a convertible/tablet much better than the original IBM ThinkPad from the 1990s.  It's about 1/3 the price of something refurbished I'd be buying from Apple.  I'm not saying that they would be equivalent machines, though.

Lenovo Flex 3 14

Now, I haven't been a Windows user, by choice, since Windows 3.1 on an IBM L40SX.  I used Windows 98SE for a while because I had a machine given to me.  I was like the PC manager in the Mac advertisements who went home to his Mac after an unhappy day handling Windows problems.  24 years is a long interval between a desire to use Windows but things have changed.  To me, Microsoft had always been a pain, with their sloppy coding, anti-competitive attitude, and unwillingness to take care of bugs and security problems.  With Windows 7, they started to change all that, and I considered what they did to be an opportunity to switch.

Windows 10 is good.  Is it great?  I'll let you know.  What's not great is Apple's attitude toward my productivity.  I'm currently using a machine that was introduced in mid-2012, a 2.6 GHz Quad Core i7 MacBook Pro.  I immediately replaced the hard drive with a 480 GB SSD and put 16 GB of RAM into it, as well.  Today, it's a good machine but three years is quite a long time for a computer.  When I'm working it hard with hundreds of photographs or video processing, the CPU is reporting that it is hot enough to boil water.

That's not the real problem, though.  Apple's attitude toward software quality changed quite a while ago during Mac OS X 10.5 when Avie Tevanian left the company.  They became sloppy and careless.  They didn't care about security.  It has continued and has been exacerbated by the iPad and iPhone, and in the last week or so, there was an announcement from Blizzard/Activision that the latest game would not be available for Mac, unlike previous dual operating system releases from Blizzard.  Part of the problem is that OpenGL has not been updated for a very long time.  Apparently, the Metal game functionality is not friendly, ready, or perhaps, it just has a big learning curve.

I don't expect this newer 2.5 GHz dual core i7 in the Lenovo laptop will be faster than that of my 2012 MacBook Pro but it has the Turbo mode, even though there are only half the cores to compete against the older quad core i7.  Considering that I want to use this for video creation and light gaming, it should be enough.  Applications have certainly become more complicated.  I need to learn whether it will accept a 16 GB RAM card in its single slot.  I suspect it may need the extra working space, although Windows 10 should be efficient even though it is early in its commercial existence.

It should be interesting to see the various games from Valve Software that I have on Steam, work on Windows 10, if they're even compatible yet.

I was helping the person who got it first to get some extra browsers, register the machine, and get started with a video project.  I was really unhappy with the trackpad because I would try to click and the cursor would move each time.  He said to double tap the trackpad and that worked incredibly well.  I'd seen reviews complaining about the trackpad, so maybe there isn't a real problem.  Let's see how right-click works.  Two finger scrolling works almost as well as with my Macs.

We'll see how I like it when I get it Wednesday or so.

Update 2015.11.18: Everything is here.  I've downloaded Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, as well as loading Sony Movie Studio Suite.

I'm enjoying some frustration.  Things have not worked as well as I would have expected but there is a new computer and a new operating system, plus the keyboard and trackpad are surprising me.  I suppose that I will survive.

It seems that Lenovo isn't happy with the inbuilt Intel graphics hardware.  I don't know if this is a problem with the diagnostics or if the graphics hardware is actually broken or just lacking.  Another of the Lenovo applications was trying to download an update for their photo application and it wasn't able to do it for whatever reason.  The good thing is that I checked for Superfish and it didn't exist.

Mathematical Operations?

I've used about 4 GB today getting updates.  What's strange is that Windows says that it's getting critical updates but then, McAfee LiveSafe (I think that's what it is) managed to find 4 other updates, including 2 that were marked critical.  Flash was included in those, but that's a weekly security update anyway.  Die, Flash, die!

I'm guessing that this probably wasn't the whole big update that is available, so that will take more bandwidth from my monthly allowance.  It's always tough getting a new machine going, isn't it?

I'm thinking about ditching McAfee for Bitdefender, especially since the McAfee suite is just a trial package.  I know that none are perfect but there can be so many exploits that I need something truly strong.  Bitdefender and Kapersky have the best ratings. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is suggested to be an excellent companion to anti-virus.  It's not cheap to be safe but why let your machine be compromised and have it helping the bad guys take what they want and slow you down?

Update 2015.11.19: Software Update found system version 1511, I believe it was--the big one.

It used another 3 GB but completed.  Hopefully, the stability will be improved and they didn't introduce too many new problems.  It's a new Microsoft, right?

Actually, it didn't.  I used an approximate total of 7 GB since I powered on the machine.  That would be a lot of updates.

Update 2015.11.20: Switching between shapes/orientations is interesting.  I wasn't able to use it in tent mode yet.  It was sliding quite a lot, possibly because the rubberized material around the computer half was not used around the display half.  It has a harder finish, continued from the cover.

I was able to use it in convertible/tablet mode.  It is effective, but having used an actual tablet, using a 14 inch convertible is not comfortable.  Using it in display only mode, with the keyboard upside down worked the best.  The only real problem is that the on-screen keyboard is not automatically activated when needed.  However, this is sometimes a problem with my 2013 Google Nexus 7 tablet.

The physical keyboard has been a problem and is a problem as I'm trying to write this.  It isn't necessary to jam so many keys in so little space.  If the cursor keys would have been moved lower, they wouldn't be so actively in my way.  Backspace either works amazingly quickly or the computer beeps at me.  However, this is a new user problem.

Similarly, the split trackpad has a learning curve.  I've been using a Mac trackpad since 2005.  That one had a single button.  The newer, mid-2012 model had no button.  Both use 2 fingers to right-click.  Accidental cursor movement while starting to type has been a problem.

One thing that works quite well, unexpectedly well, is the Windows Store.  I have been unhappy with Apple's Mac App Store and sometimes, the iTunes store.  The Mac App Store software often has a problem with downloads and purchases, for me.

e.g., I went to download One Drive, and it immediately failed.  It suggested that I retry the operation from the Purchases page.  The same thing happened.  (It was interesting to see the word "Error", as this was forbidden in the early days of Mac.)  I waited a couple of hours and after two times, the download and installation was successful.  Using the Windows store, updates worked immediately.

It's good to see that Microsoft has seen enough competition to re-think their desire to survive.

2015.11.27: Having bought the Malwarebytes Premium Anti-Malware, Anti-Exploit package, installing it was necessary, and slightly painful.  The Anti-Exploit application was installed easily.  The Anti-Malware kept saying "Downloading" but it never finished.  The company gave me a link to a download and after this was installed, clicking "Activation" allowed me to enter the licensing information.

I've been noticing that the display is economical.  Sure, it has a resolution of 1920x1080 but the refresh rate is 60 Hz.  It has ten touch recognition. which is great, if you happen to use ten at once.  Perhaps, two people could finger paint at the same time or play finger twister.  The real trouble with the display is the depth of the color.  I put up one of my photos from around sunset and there is nasty banding that isn't in the photo itself.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Volkswagen, who knew what?

I am directly affected by the diesel emissions controversy.  I am disappointed, not upset.

Many people have pointed out that the cars are pouring out 40 times the legal limit of emissions but I often pass cars and trucks from the 1960s, which are probably worse.  There are also boats, which don't seem to be restricted at all, and trucks have been given a virtual pass for years.  Even trucks in the 1990s pollute quite heavily, as I recall.

What is important to me is who knew that this software was in place.  Was the engineering team as far as the involvement went, or did it go from there all the way up to the CEO?

I know that the CEO wanted some incredible goals reached.  They were possible but at the cost, where they achievable?  I don't believe so.  If that was the case, wouldn't Mercedes-Benz be using the cheaper controls over Bluetec?

So, now, there are something like 11 million cars that are affected, including some that use gasoline.

Another question I have is how many other companies have cheated?  Considering how many companies tried to cheat safety goals, should we consider any company beyond suspicion?  I don't believe so.

I was sadly amused that former General Motors boss Bob Lutz made some nasty comments about Volkswagen on CNBC.  What got me most was that he said that GM never meant to kill people with their ignition switch design cheapening.  His tone told me that all those deaths were not even important to him.  That's just so CEO-like.

I would not be surprised if GM, Ford, Chrysler, Fiat, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda, and others will be found to have cheated on emissions and fuel economy tests.  We only know from Volkswagen that their cheating was real.

Hopefully, this will push regulatory agencies to develop better ways to deal with everything.  Laziness is unacceptable.

As far as VW is being pushed, they have developed a Customer Goodwill Package to calm their customers:

Monday, November 9, 2015

First Impressions of my 4th generation Apple TV

I bought a 4th generation Apple TV yesterday, along with a Steelseries game controller.

I've been waiting a while, since the Ouya Android-based game micro-console.  The Nvidia Shield micro-console looked particularly good recently.  I have an Apple iPhone 6 and a 2013 Google Nexus 7 tablet, so I'm familiar with both mobile operating systems and their games.

However, as far as connecting anything to the TV, I've only connected my old DVR, DirecTV DVR, and my Blu-Ray player.  The TV and Blu-Ray player have many connections to the outside world, so buying an older Apple TV, Roku, or Google box had no appeal.

Connecting the Apple TV wasn't difficult.  I wanted to connect it to the computer first, so it would take my current iTunes library of movies, TV episodes, music videos, and music and store them in the extra storage the 64GB model would have.  There is no such connection.  In fact, the only cable was a USB to Lightning cable for the remote control, for charging.

So, the actual connections are power and HDMI, and they don't include the HDMI cable.

As it was starting, I had some extra "fun" with my TV complaining that the signal didn't match the Deep Color that was expected.  I had to make some setting changes on the TV that most people will not have to make.

It wanted to connect to my phone but they could not meet in the middle.  It detected my phone over Bluetooth immediately, but since I didn't have the phone connected to the local network over my mobile hotspot, it wasn't able to grab the settings from my phone.  (They haven't found each other over Bluetooth since then.  The phone is on iOS 9.1 and I wonder if it's just too buggy still.)

The Apple TV wanted to connect to the internet, which I did through the odd keyboard.

You have to slide across the keyboard and select by clicking on a character.

The keyboard was alphabetical, which I suppose is easier than showing QWERTY, AZERTY, QWERTZ, or whatever pattern each country uses, but it made entry slower for me.

There really wasn't much to set up.  I selected my country and language, and it did some configuration.

There wasn't much included except for the apps to buy music, TV episodes, or movies and those apps to connect to the computer and get other apps.

I immediately downloaded the YouTube app, but couldn't decide on games or anything else.  Later, I bought and downloaded the Galaxy on Fire Manticore game, as I've been playing the series since the original iOS version of Galaxy on Fire.

The YouTube app required a link through an activation code to connect to my YouTube account.  The game wanted to connect to Game Center, of course.  It also downloaded more content, much like the Android-based version of Galaxy on Fire 2 HD does.  Perhaps, the iOS version does this, but it doesn't mention it or make you wait.

The game uses the remote control.  It is both simple and frustrating.  It seems to lose calibration easily, and it is much easier to go left than to go right.  The game is quite amazing looking, as with their previous games.  For playing only a few minutes, I feel as though it will be a great game with more familiarity, and with fixes.

When I was in an Apple Store, I tried the Geometry Wars game and it seemed to work well with the remote, but I had no idea how to play the game.  I think the games that use the remote, and using the remote to play them will take acclimation time.

I have a Steelseries game controller and I have yet to pair it to anything.  There is a companion app on iOS, and I downloaded that.  I'm currently charging the controller, which uses a Lightning connector.  The box has graphics indicating that it works with iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, and Mac.  US$50.00 doesn't seem that much.

As Asphalt 8 Airborne is available, I'm thinking that the controller will be very useful.  I've got the game now and it not only works well, but it looks great.  The game controller is useful but the control scheme isn't yet comfortable.  The best thing about the game may be a bug--my purchases from the handheld game are available, as I downloaded the iCloud data.  This was another that downloaded more content quite often.  Given that the iOS/Android app runs about 1.5 GB and the tvOS app was about 450MB, I would expect every unplayed course will have to be downloaded, as well as cars.

I was intrigued by the Pangea games' 3D capability.  I haven't played any of those games for years, but Bugdom was a bit of fun.  I have 3D capability on my TV, as well as 4K resolution, so this should be interesting.

Oh, and this version of Apple TV does not support 4K.  I get the feeling in a year, they'll put out a version with upgraded hardware capable of 4K, especially since the Nvidia Shield already supports the resolution.

I'm looking at potential more than anything else right now.

Update 2015.11.11: The minor software update to the operating system was minor.   I haven't noticed any differences.

Update 2015.11.26: How is it that the remote control is worth US79.00 when the Wii Remote Plus is only US$49.99, and the Steelseries game controller Apple is selling in their stores is only US$49.95?

You'd think that it would be easier to grip since it is meant to be used with games.  You'd think that there would be a strap included instead of being available for another US$12.99.

You might also think that the remote might have a headphone jack, so you could listen remotely.

I like the latest Apple TV.  I'm just annoyed that it seems to be experimental at this point.  I expect Google to sell products in this way but Apple should know better.  The MacBook Air took a long time to become desirable to me, and then, they brought out the MacBook that was even more extreme.

As this year is ending, they will most likely push out some small change and a bigger change around February.  Eventually, it will feel good and all other products will feel ancient and clunky.  Right now, it works, just.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Four-Thirds and micro Four-Thirds family portrait

I've been working with serious digital equipment since 2004 when I bought an Olympus E-1, ZD 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5, and ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5, and it at times has been a struggle.

Today, as you'll see, I have a lot more equipment, having added micro Four-Thirds equipment from both Olympus and Panasonic.  I also have the latest APS-C based dSLR from Nikon, the D7200.

I'm quite pleased to say that the E-1 is still working and the initial lenses are quite useful, especially after photographing out in three hurricanes.  The specifications of the E-1 aren't great for 2015, but there was some concern about the E-1 from the beginning anyway.  It worked just fine.

As of now, my equipment lists are as follows:


  • Olympus E-1
  • Olympus E-5
  • Olympus HG 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5
  • Olympus HG 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
  • Olympus HG 50mm f/2.0 macro
  • Olympus SHG 14-35mm f/2.0
  • Olympus SHG 35-100mm f/2.0
  • Leica/Panasonic 25mm f/1.4

micro Four-Thirds

  • Olympus E-M1
  • Panasonic GH4
  • Panasonic GX8
  • Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8
  • Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8
  • Panasonic/Leica 15mm f/1.7
  • Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye
  • Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8

Of course, the Four-Thirds lenses can be used with the Olympus MMF-3 adapter, which is also weather-sealed to match the Olympus ZD HG (high grade) and SHG (super high grade) lenses.

There was a flirtation with the Panasonic GH3, and I got the MMF-3 because there just weren't many native mount high quality lenses, and I wasn't exactly thrilled with thrilled with the 35-100mm f/2.8 lens.  Truly, the 35-100mm f/2.8 seems to have been the product of another, lesser company, even differing from the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens.  The GH3 is technically great equipment.  It was just a pain for me to use.  The GH4 changes most of that and improves and expands the video capabilities.  I pull out the GH4 first.

Most of my video work has been done with the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens on the GH4.  This is not a stabilized lens and it isn't on a stabilized body, but I've done well with the combination.  I've not had much success with the 35-100mm f/2.8 lens but used it at a recent skate park competition and it was sufficient.  (At a previous competition, the video is practically bouncing, after the latest lens firmware update.)  The 12-35mm f/2.8 works well enough but that extra 5mm of reach with the Olympus lens makes a huge difference.  You can tell me that 24-70mm f/2.8 is sufficient on a 135 Format camera, but when it comes to video, it isn't.  A 3x or 4x zoom would do wonders here, even if it didn't have a constant maximum aperture.  The Panasonic-designed 15mm f/1.7, approved by Leica to wear its name, has been good, even in the dark and the Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye lens has been useful in such conditions.

Four-Thirds behind micro Four-Thirds

Even though the Panasonic GH4 may seem large, it's smaller than the Olympus E-1, which was right-sized, for me, at least.  The grips of the dSLRs and the GH4 are very good, while the E-M1 is uncomfortable and the GX8 is good.  The E-M1 is dwarfed by both dSLRs.

Each of the bodies is weather-sealed, and most of the lenses are, also.  This apparently added bulk (as did the heat handling) to the GX8 over the GX7, but the handling is better with the size increase though the battery power is not.

One of the dSLRs and two of the MILCs (mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras) have sensor-based image stabilization, and the GX8 has the Dual I.S. to coordinate with the lens' OIS, when available.  I wish Panasonic added Power OIS to the 15mm f/1.7 for better work in bad lighting.  The new 42.5mm f/1.7 has it.  I'm still looking for great lenses and haven't found any for micro Four-Thirds, but these will do, and the MMF-3 will allow me to use the ZD 14-35mm f/2.0 and 35-100mm f/2.0 when necessary.

Batteries: Nikon D7200, E-M1, GX8, GH4, E-5

The E-M1 and GX8 batteries at 1220 mAh each and the GH4's battery has 1860 mAh of capacity.  The E-1 battery has 1500 mAh and the E-5 battery, 1620 mAh.  For comparison, the diminutive D7200 battery can hold 1900 mAh.

The GH4, like the GH3 can last quite a long time, and I only have two batteries, one I used to use on the GH3.  For the E-M1, I have three batteries, and I've got two for the GX8.  The E-5 batteries last quite a long time, probably because there is no electronic viewfinder.

Strangely, having got the Nikon D7200, I'm still finding the micro Four-Thirds equipment quite useful while learning the digital Nikon way of doing things.  People have commented in the past that using Canon or Nikon equipment was the only way to go.  There are advantages, but I haven't experienced any of them yet. Since the sensor of the D7200 has a similar pixel density to the 16MP sensors in the GH4 and E-M1, I couldn't expect much better image quality.

If Panasonic could work with Olympus to implement Olympus' auto focus and face recognition for stills, it would be a huge improvement to still photography in the GH4.  Adding their 5-axis image stabilization would be difficult, given the heat dissipating orientation of the body for video.  They'd probably have to increase the size of the body to make it all work safely.  This would make the resulting camera body practically perfect, for me, anyway.

Update 2015.11.22: I saw an amazing deal on the new Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 lens for US$99.00, which seems to be US$150.00 off the regular price.  Regardless of what I might think of the lens at full price, it's quite good at the discounted price, I hope.  I am a little skeptical.  I had the Panasonic 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 at one time and I got that at the same price.  I didn't have much luck with it, and gave it away.  However, Panasonic has been doing better, at all levels.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why has Sony been using lossy compression in their raw files for the A7 and others?

As a software developer, the loss of data has always been inexcusable to me.

I don't understand who would make a decision to use lossy compression for files that encompass all information about a photo, as others have used lossless compression.  Yes, I understand that the file sizes would be huge because of the amount of information, due to the number of pixels the image sensor contains.

Surely, a person buying a camera with a sensor having more than 24 megapixels would understand what a huge problem it is to store and process the files.  Even the JPEG files would be huge, and they use lossy compression.  (Always keep your original JPEG file from the camera and work from it.)  This last bit is unfortunately impossible with the lossy raw file.  You're not getting all the data from the start.  Sad, that.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Not convinced about the Panasonic GX8 Dual Image Stabilization

I bought the Panasonic GX8 a few days ago, along with the 12-35mm f/2.8 lens.  After the GH3, Olympus E-M1, and GH4, it seems that the GX8 has a couple of interesting features, including the tilting EVF and the Dual I.S.

Previously, the 35-100mm f/2.8 I dislike so much was the only lens I had with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), but I changed that with my purchase of the 12-35mm f/2.8 lens.  With an extra US$200 off, it seemed a useful purchase, rather than buying another Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens.

When viewing video I've taken with the 35-100mm lens, I'm often reaching for dramamine because the OIS doesn't seem to work well, especially compared to lenses that don't have OIS.  It is a compromised design that probably should have been much, much bigger.  Instead of the 58mm filter size, it would probably been sensible to make the lens big enough for a 67mm filter size.  The 12-35mm lens is equally small but feels a better build.

Around 8:30 p.m., earlier than the usual 10 or 11 p.m., I took the GX8 out with the 12-35mm lens mounted.  I wanted to see how the Dual I.S. would work.

I would say that I'm not terrifically satisfied.  Hopefully, firmware will improve the functionality.  At this point, I switched to the Panasonic/Leica 15mm f/1.7 lens.

Hopefully, the in-body Image Stabilization is working well.  I'm not entirely convinced but it probably works as well as that of my Olympus E-5 from 2010.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Panasonic GX8: great second body to GH4, alternative to Olympus E-M1

I'm a long time Olympus user, having used the OM-1N, IS-20DLX, D-300L, C-2500L, E-1, E-5, and E-M1.  My first micro Four-Thirds camera body was the Panasonic GH3.  I traded this for the E-M1 before the trade-in value might have fallen.  About nine months ago, I got the Panasonic GH4.

Today, I bought the Panasonic GX8.  It is quite a bit of money, but it's also a bargain compared to the GH4, giving you a lot of the functionality, plus having a couple of unique items.  I happened to get it with the 12-35mm f/2.8 lens, when there was a US$100 instant rebate on the lens, and an additional US$200 instant rebate on the bundle.  This made the combination about US$1900.00.

For me, the GX8 fills a gap while my Olympus E-M1 is out for repair.  Someone damaged the eye cup mount with a BMX bike, and I apparently passed the 150,000 shutter actuations for which the shutter mechanism is rated.

The GX8 also helps as a secondary 1080p video camera.  There are times when I could put one of the camera bodies on a tripod and let it record separately, while I work the other by hand.  The E-M1 is sufficient for video, but it's hardly great.

Why I like the GX8:

The GX8 may look a bit more technical, with all of the dials on the top panel.

The mode dial is right above the exposure compensation dial.  The mode dial includes 3 custom settings, although the C3 position holds 3 separate sets, just as the GH4 does.

The other dials are similar to any other Rangefinder-like mirror-less body.  There are a number of function buttons, labeled and unlabeled, but the Fn buttons have no numbers.

The fully-articulated rear display is extremely useful, as it is on the GH4.  However, it's the tilting EVF that is so amazing.  The display used seems to be the same one that the GH4 has.  The display is extremely clear, and so is the rear display.  Oh, and the rear display can be turned inward, to save on battery life, and to protect it.

The grip is substantial.  I wish that the battery was substantial but it isn't.  I'm still trying to determine if it's the same battery from the GX7.  (It's supposedly the battery used in the GH2.)  However, the grip feels amazing without being huge.  I have complained about the Olympus E-M1 grip and the tiny battery.  This is what they could have done with the grip.

I'm sure plenty of people will complain about the overall size.  The size is a benefit for me, and I have no pre-determined size limit for micro Four-Thirds, especially coming from Four-Thirds.  The E-M5 is uncomfortably small, and the E-M1 is uncomfortable because of the angular grip.  I never have held the GX7 but I would expect that it is too small for my comfort.  My hands and my use don't represent anyone else: Your mileage may vary.

I took a few shots before the battery died.  (Since it had been out for a few days on the shelf, the battery had been depleted.)

Moon cakes through the window

Update 2015.09.12: Battery life is extremely bad for me so far.  I thought that having the rear display closed would help.  I'm really not sure, but something seems terribly wrong.  I had taken some photos the morning on September 11th, from/to the post office.  I didn't touch the camera until Saturday the 12th.  I took a few photos while walking to a skate park.  Got a few photos there and it complained about the battery.  I didn't have the extra, third party battery, so I turned it off and walked back to the car without taking any video.

On the up side, people may find the shutter sound to be endearing--it's like a leaf shutter's sound.  Hopefully, that doesn't mean that it isn't durable.

Maybe, I've missed some settings.  I found that I had not saved to a custom set after switching to raw files, and I got JPEG files at the skate park today.

As you may have already seen in another blog entry, I'm not sure if the Dual I.S. is working properly.  I expected more from the GX8 + 12-35mm f/2.8.

Update 2015.09.14: Yesterday, I shot at a familiar skate park only with the GX8.  Now that the custom set has been saved, the camera is more likely to do what I want.  As a stills camera, it is quite useful.  However, since December I've been doing video, mostly with the GH4.  It's a tough act to follow.

The GH4 has a good set of physical controls and a great grip holding a great battery.  I can go through three E-M1 batteries and still have a charge left on my second GH4 battery.  The GX8 battery is 1220 mAh, just like the E-M1 battery.  With the GX8's display facing inward, it might not use as much energy, plus you can't easily change the focus point, as you can on the E-M1.

The GX8 defaulted to the same 1080p video parameters that I use on the GH4.  I could go for higher quality but I'm not making films.  I'm making skate park videos.  It has to be fairly steady and you need to be able to keep up with the action.  Naturally, you can do 4K, but I've had around nine months to do that and I've found very little use for it so far.

The real disadvantage of the GX8 is the placement of the video enable/disable button, which is on the top plate.  Yes, I should have a finger up there already, and I do--for the shutter release.  The placement of the video button is inconvenient, but as anyone can adapt, it isn't a serious problem.  It does take a certain acclimation to get it to work reliably, but it's not as bad as my trouble with the GH4's button where I have to almost stab it sometimes to get it to start/stop.

Processing the video files was exactly the same as with the GH4, and it should be easy to mix files from the two.

I also tried the Face Detection and while it works in the strictest sense, it's not very reliable.  It works, but there is a delay, whereas the Olympus E-M1 finds faces almost immediately, and rarely has a false positive.  Considering how poorly the E-M1 does video, the balance is just fine.  Why else would I have Olympus and Panasonic equipment?

Update 2015.09.15: The GX8 works quite well in stills shooting situations, better than I expected.  I stopped quickly last night to get photos of a double rainbow and it didn't take as long (as the GH4) as expected to wake from sleep.

Update 2015.09.30: An ugly EVF problem has returned to me with the GX8.  Using the EVF with sunglasses can often end up with a blackout.  The GH3 was bad and I learned to adapt to the E-M1 and GH4.  Immediately using the GX8 without the sunglasses, it was fine.  The EVF's vertical angle doesn't matter.  It's the angle of the sunglasses to the EVF that causes the problem.  I hope that I can adapt, and the problem lessens.  There is another eye cup available but it's barely available.

The lower frame rate of burst mode can be a problem for skate park photography, but shouldn't be a problem for any other application.  Between the E-M1 (10 fps) and the GH4 (12 fps), I can overdo it, but with the correct timing, I can get almost any shot.  The Nikon D7200 is supposedly a good sports body and at 6 fps, it's a bit slower.  It works well enough, except in lower light, where the D7200 won't allow me to take a photo, except in the extreme ISO Black and White modes.

Update 2015.10.18: DxO Optics have been testing the GX8.  As they're assessing each camera body for their software configurations, the measurements should be accurate but how much it really means, I'm not sure.  Looking at many of their results, I would think a lot of camera bodies are unusable.

GX8 has the best score, but not the Sports ISO figure.  However, I have the GX8, GH4, and E-M1, plus the Nikon D7200.  The D7200 is rated much higher at 1333 and I'm not really seeing the improvement.  It could be the same way I used to look at Olympus E-5 and Nikon D300 photos.  The E-5 photos looked about the same at ISO 1600 as the D300 looked at ISO 2500, better but not incredibly impressive.

There is a bigger difference between the scores than I've seen in real world experiences.

Batteries: D7200, E-M1, GX8, GH4, E-5

Update 2015.10.19: Took a quick photo of the batteries, where the  GX8 and E-M1 batteries are far too small at 1220 mAh, especially since the GX8 has a good-sized grip.  The battery for the Olympus E-5 has 1620 mAh capacity.  The Panasonic GH4 has 1860 mAh and the Nikon D7200 battery has 1900 mAh.  The dSLRs can last a great deal of time on the battery, and so can the GH4, even though it has an electronic viewfinder.  Sadly, the GX8 and E-M1 don't have enough capacity.

Update 2015.11.19: The GX8's 1080p video capabilities are good, and it's a responsive body.  Using video from it and the GH4 is easy and any visual differences, not due to the lenses, seem absent.  I'm ordering a third battery, just in case.

Since the E-M1 is back from repair, it's interesting to have a couple of compatible bodies from different companies.  It's much easier to get the E-M1 to do face detection, so people photography is better with Olympus.  Of course, video is better with Panasonic.  Having smaller cameras is quite good, except for the small batteries, though the GH4 almost always feels like an extension of my hand.

The tilting EVF has been of occasional use, but I wasn't sure it would be an asset or not.  During extremely sunny days, it can eliminate problems at certain angles where I would have to use the rear display but the articulated display is more functional for architectural shots.

Update 2015.11.25: Post focus is included in firmware version 2.0 and it's fun to try.

I'd never tried 4K Photo mode previously, but I held the shutter release and let it do its thing and then, let go.  Since it uses video mode, the electronic shutter is employed and there is no shutter noise.

You then tap the rear display in the upper left hand corner where the icon seems to show multiple layers.  Once in that mode, I selected a point on the display, and it asked if I wanted to save to a photo.  When I confirmed that I did, it saved a file that seemed to be focused where I wanted.

I'm not sure if there is anything more to it.  That seemed so easy to do without instructions.