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Author Topic: Panasonic GX1 Fiasco  (Read 8331 times)
stever
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« on: February 19, 2012, 10:04:42 PM »
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After my dissapointing experience with the Fuji X10, i anticipated the GX1 with X-zoom should provide printable resolution combined with acceptable high ISO performance (based on a brief test of the G3 with kit zoom) - at higher cost of course.

i finally found a GX1 with X-zoom and immediately compared high ISO to my 7D - less than 1 stop worse than the 7D at 3200 - okay.  Got out the Imatest target and compared to 7D with 17-40 and 24-105 indoors at base ISO (long exposures) - not as good as the 7D, but good enough for 13x17 prints with very little cropping - okay. 

No Serious issues with controls and menus - okay.  A fairly heavy, sharp-edged lump in a (robust) jacket pocket - not unexpected.  No provision for lens hood and exposed front element - need a UV filter slightly extending thickness.  Cheap hood from Amazon wouldn't screw in to lens, but worked fine into filter. As an alternative, a 37-46 step-up ring provides some protection without as much bulk. EVF is as much of an ugly lump as i expected and certainly won't go in a pocket attached to the camera, but i can see the whole image and read the settings and it tilts. So there are two user modes - camera and lens in pocket, or camera and evf with lens and hood or step up ring carried and ready to go -- sort of okay.

Now i take some images.  Crap, they're all blurry.  I read the DP review test carefully - the lens doesn't work from 1/60 to 1/200 (mine doesn't work at 1/40th either).  How can a camera manufacturer ship lenses that won't work at normal exposures? (and why doesn't DP review highlight this in their conclusions?).

 Now for plan C - a GIX - but i'm not ordering until after i see the test results.
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Fips
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2012, 04:28:47 AM »
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Pardon my ignorance, but what does it mean exactly that "the lens doesn't work from 1/60 to 1/200"? How does can a lens - given that it's properly focused - cause blurry images at certain shutter speeds?
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2012, 05:34:30 AM »
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How does can a lens - given that it's properly focused - cause blurry images at certain shutter speeds?
The cuprit may lie in a mechanical resonance in the lens barrel, making the lens elements move to the shutter's vibration. Some sort of lens un-stabilisation, in a way.
The phenomenon had already been spotted in some other collapsible zooms (eg the MZuiko 14-42 IIRC, even if my 14-42L does not show the problem), and seems not that practical indeed.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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Fips
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2012, 05:52:01 AM »
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I just read the review on dpreview and they claim the issue is most likely due to the stabilization and not the collapsibility. If that's the case there's a slight hope that it can be fixed by a firmware update for the lens.
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stever
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2012, 11:17:24 AM »
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i do not think the problem will be cured by software.  since the blurring occurs with OIS turned off, i think it is likely a resonance involving the OIS element(s) in the lens.  the loudness of the shutter suggests that it provides significant energy to shake things up

i hope Panasonic is forthcoming about the issue and doesn't try to side-step it with a bogus "fix" as Fuji has done for the X10 orbs - which were not even my main issue with the X10 - but believe to be symptomatic of fundamental sensor/processing problems

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 10:17:36 PM »
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Another example of the increasing difficulty camera manufacturers have to fully validate the range of usage of their systems in ever shortening time spans.

Cheers,
Bernard
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 08:44:19 AM »
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I would certainly like to see some examples. I have never heard or seen anything about shutter vibration causing lens elements to move.
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Fips
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2012, 09:05:50 AM »
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You can find an example here in this aforementioned review: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicdmcgx1/page16.asp.
 
It would be interesting to know how the IS in that Panasonic lens works. My understanding is that the in-lens image stabilization is performed by a floating element which is literally floating, i.e. the lens is kept hovering by electromagnets. By using some acceleration sensors movement is detected and a feedback loop controls the magnets to do the same movement with a phase shift of pi. If this feedback is not working properly and the phase shift is something else one might get constructive instead of destructive interference which causes the image to become even more blurry when IS is turned on. This seems to be the case, if I understand the review correctly.
Now it is mentioned that the blurriness is only marginally reduced with IS off. I would take that as evidence that in that case the floating element is not locked in place but instead only the feedback loop of the magnets is turned off. That would indeed make the floating lens prone to shake as it effectively becomes a (harmonic) oscillator.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2012, 09:27:51 AM »
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Thanks for the link. That is surprising.
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BJL
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2012, 10:46:35 AM »
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This is a pity: I have been hoping that the GX1 will meet my desire for a coat-pocketable camera that also allows me to extend its abilities by swapping lens on days when I am wiling to carry more gear, but that evidence of lens wobbling at certain shutter speeds has for now put on hold my interest in it. I do have some hope that it is a problem that can be fixed, even if requiring a change in manufacturing of the lens.

But while I am waiting, I am wondering if I would be better off spending a bit more on a two-camera solution:
a) a more truly pocketable compact with a wide end reaching 24mm equivalent and 4x or 5x zoom range, so more flexible that the GX1 with its 14-42 X lens: say a Canon S100.
b) a somewhat bigger, better, interchangeable lens system for when I am wiling to carry more than a pocketful of camera gear. Probably an "EVF system camera" like an OM-D E-M5, Panasonic G3, Nikon V1 or NEX7.
(I already have all the SLR gear I need or want!)

On item (a), are there any suggestions to compare to the Canon S100? Its relatively large 1/1.7" CMOS sensor is appealing.


P. S. As stever also hints below, I now have fear that this problem is a symptom of a longer term risk, that the extreme downsizing efforts of designing this highly collapsable zoom lens introduce risks of further mechanical problems that show up later on.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 11:29:47 AM by BJL » Logged
stever
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2012, 11:23:30 AM »
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there are people on the DPReview board who say they have no problems with the lens, and i emailed Jeff Keller at DCRP who confirmed he did not see the problem in his GX1 test.  So it looks like some combination of marginal design/ manufacturing defect which cab be resolved.  the problem is that the severity varies from barely noticeable (did i get the focus wrong) to yuk! and without a full understanding of the problem and the fix there remains a concern about long-term reliability of the lens.

from my experience with the S90, i expect the S100 to be about as good as a point and shoot gets.  my desire for a high-quality "pocketable" camera was reinforced over the holidays by the lack of quality of the family photos i shot with the S90 - really want better than point and shoot image quality all the time.

aside from the X-zoom issues, i like the GX1 a lot (and B&H now has a $200 rebate deal even though they aren't in stock) and the G3 has the same IQ and good built-in EVF in a very light but bulky package and the same big choice of compact mft lenses - which other systems are going to lack for some time

i'm hoping to give the GX1 another go if the X-zoom issues are resolved
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AFairley
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2012, 12:10:13 PM »
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Just to add a data point, I did extensive testing with my newly arrived X14-42 on an Oly E-PL2 this weekend, and could not duplicate the problem either handheld with Oly IBIS on, or on tripod with IS off, at medium and far distances.  So it seems to be a crap shoot whether you get a "bad" lens or not.
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byushooter
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2012, 03:17:14 PM »
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I have a GH2 with the standard 14-42 kit lens (not the X version) and it does the same thing.  Inconsistent.  Sometimes sharp, sometimes horribly blurry, with IS on or off.  I sent it back to Pansonic TWICE and they tested it and returned it to me saying it was within specs and was ok.  I bought the Panasonic 14-45 lens and it is perfect, no issues at all.  I took comparison images and sent them, repeatedly, to Panasonic so they would finally replace or repair the lens.  After several weeks of trying, I have gotten no reply back from them.

I am a long-time Canon shooter with a 5D and bag full of consumer as well as L lenses.  I love the GH2, 14-45, and 20mm but am anxious about buying into a system with such terrible customer and repair service.  I am hopeful they will be able to resolve their issues with the lenses and their customer support but am going to sit tight (or buy Olympus) until things settle out.
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scooby70
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2012, 10:11:14 AM »
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I have Panny 14-42mm (not the x) and 20mm f1.7 and have no complaints with either although my most used lens by far on MFT is the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 and if I get the focus wrong with that it's 100% user error  Grin
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jmichael-m
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2012, 10:11:26 AM »
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Reading this thread I had to comment. It's important to point out that the DPReview of the 14-42x lens, and numerous comments on their Micro Four Thirds forum, makes the point that the blurring in question typically happens only at the long end...42mm...when shooting between 1/60 and 1/200. Saying that the lens is no good throughout its length is not correct...at least as far as what I have experienced and have read is concerned. It's definitely NOT a fiasco in my opinion.

I recently bought a GX1 with 14-42x lens and have taken over 300 images to test this out. I do see some very slight fuzziness at 42mm but only when shooting at the noted speeds, still it's not that bad. My copy of the lens came with the 1.1 firmware installed already...maybe that made it OK...don't know. All other focal lengths produce sharp images...if I do my part and make proper settings and use proper technique.

My take is that people tend to worry too much about things that may not really matter when taken in context to the advantages of having a very compact lens, that makes this outstanding camera generally more pocketable, than having the regular 14-42 or 14-45 lens attached. If the X lens produces sharp results at all lengths except 42mm, and if those results are still not that bad at 42mm, then why worry about it. Frankly, in two weeks of daily shooting inside and out, less than 5% of my images were taken at 42mm. I tend to shoot wide, and if I want to get closer, I move my feet. I am not dismissing this issue, and Panasonic needs to take a hard look at it...but maybe in my case the 1.1 lens firmware fixed it, or at least made the fuzziness acceptable at 42mm. From what I have read, many others have this same view. For me, I'll accept a bit of softness at 42mm at certain speeds...which in most cases I can change to get above 1/200 or below 1/60. It's the flexibility of the lens and its compactness that matters most to me.
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stever
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2012, 05:51:57 PM »
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i think the variety of experiences that this is a design/manufacturing defect that does not seem to affect all lenses equally (and i had the up-dated firmware in camera and lens).  when the problem occurs it worse at (but not limited to) 42mm and is a consistent blur that seriously degrades the image (and appears to be consistent when multiple images are shot)

i was willing to trade a bit of IQ for the convenience of the compact lens (which was the prime reason for buying the camera/lens combination) and the X zoom seems to give up a bit of resolution compared to the standard 14-42 when carefully tested at long exposures on a tripod even though it is priced much higher than the standard zoom

However, since the camera and lens is about convenience i do not see avoiding 1/40 to 1/200 shutter speeds as an acceptable solution for a camera and lens at nearly $1000.

My lesson re-learned is not to be the first (or even second) in line for any new camera and to test everything thoroughly - although having to do a shutter speed series at various focal lengths still seems a bit extreme
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Pelao
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« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2012, 01:23:56 PM »
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So it's not really a GX1 fiasco, but a lens fiasco.

It seems the camera is actually pretty good.
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RichDesmond
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« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2012, 05:38:47 PM »
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So it's not really a GX1 fiasco, but a lens fiasco.

It seems the camera is actually pretty good.

Exactly. Here's a thread from the m4/3 forum about problems with that lens:

http://www.mu-43.com/f38/panasonic-14-42x-poor-quality-21785/

A bit of a shame, as the GX1/14-42X combo was what got me interested in m4/3 in the first place. However, I went out and bought a GF1 an some lenses just to see how I liked the form factor and the IQ, and I've been very happy with both. So while the original plan didn't quite work out I have no complaints. Smiley
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AlexSchwarz
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2012, 07:01:27 AM »
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Hi,

the camera itself works great.

The new X-Lenses are the problem, not only the X14-42 also the new X45-175 has the same issues.
Regardless of the fact if OS is turned on or off, both lenses show a significant amount of ghost-images between shutterspeeds of 1/60 and 1/200.

Handheld I could get better images with OS turned off and 175mm and 1/40 than with 1/200 and OS turned on.

I gave up using these lenses at this speeds.

With prime lenses or older zooms I never had a problem.

Alex
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richarddd
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« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2012, 04:20:59 PM »
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The new X-Lenses are the problem, not only the X14-42 also the new X45-175 has the same issues.
Regardless of the fact if OS is turned on or off, both lenses show a significant amount of ghost-images between shutterspeeds of 1/60 and 1/200.

Handheld I could get better images with OS turned off and 175mm and 1/40 than with 1/200 and OS turned on.
I've read a lot about these lenses. The 14-42 clearly has issues in many samples.

I've yet to see any pictures showing a ghost image problem with the 45-175.  The vast majority of the complaints I've seen are that OIS does not work as well as hoped, rather than it showing the blurring shown by the 14-42.  Many people are very fond of the lens and believe it is at least as good optically as its competition (the Olympus 40-150 and Panasonic 45-200), depending on focus distance and some other factors.

Do you have pictures that illustrate the problem with the 45-175?
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