For its August show, the Art League of Ocean City is sponsoring a photography competition called “A Week in the Life of Ocean City.” Competition rules specify that only “photos taken the week of July 10 thru 16, and within the town limits of Ocean City, Maryland” are eligible for the show.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to try out my new Panasonic GX85 camera, which I bought along with an Olympus E-M5 II to see if I could get along without my big Nikon DSLR’s—actually, to see how life would be without having my spouse telling me to “suck it up” whenever I complained about the weight of the D810. I had already tested the GX85 in the backyard with the Panasonic 100-400mm telephoto and was very impressed with the effectiveness of the dual image stabilization using that pairing. Now I wanted to try the camera with the tiny little 35-100mm f/4-5.6.
I arrived in the old southern part of Ocean City before 7 AM, hoping to use the morning light and (relative) lack of crowds to my advantage. I took a lot of pictures and came away from the experience with some opinions regarding the GX85:
1. There is/was an issue with quality control at the Panasonic factory. It wasn’t evident on most of my pictures, but on the ones with big expanses of light background, like a blue sky, I later noticed that there was a spot that turned out to be unattributable to any of my lenses or to visible external dust on the sensor. The camera has been sent back to Panasonic for repairs.
2. The EVF is going to be disappointing for anybody coming over from a good DSLR. It works, but it would be a real stretch to call it a joy to use.
3. The camera could use a bigger grip and overall, better ergonomics for somebody like me with big hands. I kept hitting the playback button with my thumb by mistake, and the itty-bitty AF/AE Lock button that I had assigned for back-button autofocus is just too itty bitty. But I’m going to put up with that stuff and try a thumbs-up type grip and go back to shutter-button autofocus, because…
4. This thing makes really, really good images, and it doesn’t feel like you’re carrying a concrete block around your neck. In particular, the GX85 and the little 35-100mm are a marriage made in heaven. I left that lens on for the whole shoot even though I had a 20mm and a 12-32mm in the bag. Loved the focal length range. Loved the way it balances on the camera. I look forward to getting the GX85 back from Panasonic so I can take it on more adventures.