Tuesday, June 28, 2016

More Panasonic equipment--GM5 + 42.5mm f/1.7

The week just past, Mike's Camera had a tent sale at two locations in Northern California.  Sadly, they were rather painful locations for me.  I don't understand why the company avoids the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area.  There is a great deal of money there.

I went to a location between there and the state capital, at Pleasant Hill.  The store is similar in size to the store in Dublin I frequent but is more likely to have equipment, as is the store in the state capital.  Best Buy is ramping up their efforts to sell equipment and have some very useful areas in some stores.  If you were ever in a Circuit City, you know how they really liked to display all of the equipment well, rather than hide it.

Further, the tent sale actually had a tent, but ahead of that they had popcorn and friendly greeters, including someone from the store I visit.  She told me that the salesperson I knew was there and pointed toward him.

Is a sale better with pleasant feelings?  Do you feel more willing to spend money?

They had a lot of equipment, some of which was very inexpensive.  The Olympus E-M10 (not Mk II) was surprisingly inexpensive, not that I would want it since it is rather redundant.  The Panasonic GM5 was there, for US$399.99.  Compared to the original (still on the Panasonic web site) price, that was US$500.00 off.  I've been wanting the body for a while.  It's a great way to get photos indoors fairly easily without attracting much attention.  I have used my phone but the quality isn't acceptable as the light is insufficient.  Yes, the Four-Thirds sensor isn't huge but it is quite a bit larger than a sensor in a phone and it is larger than the 1 inch sensor of similar sized cameras.  I couldn't care less if there is a GM7 coming to replace it.

They had a lens that I wanted--the 42.5mm f/1.7 Power OIS--with an instant rebate of US$100, rather than the US$50 that Adorama was giving.  Photographing at skate parks, bad light is often an issue.  I prefer to use zoom lenses, but there are few lenses that could fit.  Even the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 doesn't work reliably for me for sports.  It's a very good lens, but it is part of the Art line, not the Sport line and hasn't been quick in general, and doesn't always respond in situations with lower light.

The 42.5mm f/1.7 lens seems quite good, and a lot of metal is involved (similar to the 15mm f/1.7), unlike other lenses at this price point.  The thing that concerns me is that there are no switches for auto focus or the image stabilization.  Each body has an AF control but I've never seen a menu item for OIS.

AF is more than sufficient.  The filter size is smaller than the 25mm f/1.7 lens or the 15mm f/1.7, at 37mm instead of 46mm.  It is the same size as that of the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that comes with the GM5.  That is my first kit lens for micro Four-Thirds or Four-Thirds, unless you count the ZD 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 that I bought with my Olympus E-1 in 2004.

No, this isn't the 42.5mm f/1.7

GM5 + SHG ZD 35-100mm f/2.0

Can you find the Panasonic GM5?

I've had a chance to use it a bit.  It's reasonable, especially for the size.

With the 42.5mm f/1.7, 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6, and 15mm f/1.7, it has been good.  I tried it briefly with the Four-Thirds ZD 35-100mm f/2.0, but didn't really give it the full treatment.  It was sufficient, but I wouldn't count on it with Four-Thirds lenses.  The balance between those lenses I have and the GM5 is quite far from good.  However, with the aforementioned micro Four-Thirds lenses, it is definitely balanced.

GM1 with Four-Thirds Leica/Panasonic 25mm f/1.4

GM1 with Panasonic/Leica 15mm f/1.7
When I first saw the GM1 size comparison, I called it micro micro Four-Thirds.  I've recently started calling a lot of the equipment pico Four-Thirds because it is so tiny as to require huge compromises to get the best image quality.  Forgive my attempt at arrogance, but it isn't for everyone.

25mm f/1.7, GM5 with 42.5mm f/1.7, 15mm f/1.7,  12-32mm

I still like a dSLR and I have three at the moment, plus the Panasonic GH4, GX8, and Olympus E-M1.  The latter feels too small, and the batteries of the last two are low on capacity.  Then again, the E-M1 is much bigger than the GM5 and the battery is just shy of 4 times the capacity.

Why would I buy the GM5?  For certain settings, not drawing attention is a good thing.  A camera that can provide very good image quality in a tiny package is useful.  It can be used for 1080p video clips that I can integrate with the GH4 and GX8 video clips.

Having the mode dial furthest right felt odd.  However, I'm beginning to understand the desire to attain balance through careful placement of controls.  The shutter release being further into the top deck means that my hand has to press against the side of the body more firmly.  Since Panasonic didn't have any legacy of film cameras, design is modern and functional without styling cues that can often cause unusual handling problems.

While the GX8 is fairly similar to the GH4, the GM5 is very different.  The controls are very small but I have been able to work them with fingers and thumbs.  A couple of the buttons are recessed but they work as you would expect.  Considering what I've seen from Sony and FujiFilm, I've been pleasantly surprised at how well Panasonic have made this body work.