It must have been at least 4 years since the last WordPress theme change, so high time to put together a new look! This new theme – aside from the obvious changes from the visual part of it – better formats content for mobile phone and tablet browsers. On desktop browsers, text gets neatly wrapped for a single column if the browser width is less than about 1000 pixels too.

I’ll have to look into the .php files though to make further customizations. For example, post categories and tags are are not displayed in the default configuration. Home coding project over the next couple of evenings then.:)

There are plenty of Internet-based ecommerce sites today that support consumer/business to consumer sales transactions. And while I have accounts on a large number of sites, the two that I find myself buying most from remain Amazon and eBay. Between the two, I’ve been on Amazon for much longer – since 2002 in fact, with my first order on that site comprising several research and dissertation writing books I bought to bring along to Perth – and the site remains my favorite place to access a large range of items that aren’t normally sold in Singapore, or sold here but at higher prices. I reckon that’s why Amazon’s reported plans to expand to  South-East Asia and through Singapore excited many here, since it would finally bring to shore Amazon Prime, and also – likely – cheaper delivery.

That said, the number of items I buy off eBay are almost as many as that on Amazon. My first purchase on eBay was from 2008 – and a camera product LOL. The range of items sold on eBay run a crazy range, and it can often be hard trying to find exactly what you want, since each of its country market can offer a different range, with many items typically available from multiple sellers at different prices. With a large roster of international sellers also brings about issues of varying customer quality service levels. Over the years, my general impressions are that:

Sellers from the dominantly western-countries (e.g. UK, US, Australia) offer great service, though you sometimes pay slightly more for shipping. I’ve never had to raise a dispute with sellers based in these countries. Shipping is also often quick, with the turnaround from UK-based ones especially impressive.

Sellers from South Korea: normally quite good too, and I typically get my lens filters from them. Delivery is reasonably quick: usually a fortnight.

Sellers from China: are a huge hit and miss. I’ve received counterfeit items before with their sellers flying aeroplane (‘disappear’ for our Ang Mo bud!) thereafter. Items can take anywhere between a fortnight to six whopping weeks to arrive. On the other hand, their products are often priced lower, and shipping is typically free/incorporated into the cost of the product, or minimal.

Here’s a list of things I’ve ordered recently on eBay that I’m pretty happy about at least.

Leather belts. Alright – so most men do not really care to spend money on apparel. I’ve had pretty bad experiences with under $35 belts that I buy from brick/mortar stores here, with most fraying on the edges within weeks, and the belt material also beginning to disintegrate shortly after that. I assume it’s because the material isn’t genuine but faux leather. I found a UK-based reseller of leather and sheepskin products, and their prices for genuine leather products are routinely cheaper than what one would pay here. And the item takes just a week from point of ordering to arriving in Singapore.

Battery cases and pouches. There’s been revised regulations concerning the transportation of Lithium-Ion batteries on board airplanes, and largely to do with risks of them causing undetected fires. AA battery cases are easily available at camera shops, and I found a seller carrying colorful ones like these, and selling them for cheap at just over a dollar each including shipping. So, a couple were picked up:

How about camera battery wallets? Think Tank sells a pricey version of a 4 battery wallet (USD18!). While on eBay, an almost similar replica can be had for $5:

Four pouch camera battery wallet.

And lens filters! Granted, it’s tempting, and sometimes maybe even necessary, to get a UV filter as soon as you buy a new lens. But if it can wait, then you might save a few dollars by just buying them online. Important though that you get from a reputable reseller, as there are plenty of fakes around.

I’ve been buying from the same South-Korean reseller of Hoya filters for several years now.

More in the next post!

A typical Chinese wedding in Singapore typically comprises several segments: the Fetching of the Bride, Tea Ceremonies, a religious segment (e.g. a church wedding), followed finally by the evening banquet. Wedding photographers are routinely contracted to cover an entire day packed with these events, and it can run from as early as 6AM and non-stop all the way till 10PM, and they are also often even asked to find time in-between to put together a montage of photos taken in the morning so that they can be shown during the evening proceedings.

Dad recently had a fairly lavish 80th birthday celebration banquet at Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant @ Carlton Hotel, the same hosting hotel and also restaurant when we had our own wedding banquet 10 years ago. To be fair though, we’ve been several times to Wah Lok over the years, since it’s one of the larger family’s favorite Chinese dining places, and the family knows some of the restaurant’s personnel well enough that we get pretty good service. All of our closest relatives and neighbors were invited to form four tables, and my role was the designate event photographer. Not a role I’m experienced in at all of course, but it was a fun opportunity to try a few new things, and perhaps also get a small degree of insight in to what banquet photographers do and the circumstances they work in.

The equipment outlay was pretty simple: both the E-M1 and E-M5, and both of the Olympus f2.8 pros: 12-40mm and 40-150mm, and the every trusty Nissin i40 for fill-in flash. The ceiling wasn’t very low, so flash bouncing off the ceiling wasn’t going to work well. Unsurprisingly, the Stofen-styled diffuser was throwing so much light around that there most persons’ faces got harshly lit, necessitating adjustments in Photoshop. Shots taken with the i40’s built-in flip card looked much better.

The two E-Ms are similarly configured, and the outputs of both are basically similar. The almost 5 year old E-M5 has started acting up though – it occasionally takes a couple of tries for the unit to power-on properly. Old age? And of the two lenses, the real champ was the 40-150mm. It nailed focus reliably and briskly, and made possible candid shots from halfway across the room. As for shot parameters: pictures were between ISO400 to 800, and for print and blog display purposes, totally usable, and flash sync was set to 1/60s.

A small sample of the pictures from last evening then.

Peter’s oldest cousin, Danyel, is his favorite. ISO640, 40-150mm @ f3.5, 1/60s.

Shot from across the room. (ISO400, 40-150mm f3.5, 1/60s)

Mobile gadgets to keep groups of kids laughing and engaged. (ISO800, 12-40mm @ f4.0, 1/60s)

Looking out at the evening peak hour downtown traffic. (ISO400, 40-15mm @f2.8, 1/60s)

Peter’s cousins were all wanting to photo bomb each other. (ISO800, 12-40mm @ f4.0, 1/60s)

The extended family from both dad and mom’s side. The wait staff basically cleared half the room just so that we could squeeze all 40 of us into this picture! (ISO800, 12-40mm @ f4.0, 1/60s)

If there’s one other consideration the next time I’m asked to do an event like this again, it’d be that I’d seriously have to think about bringing a second flash-gun. Two camera bodies with two f2.8 lenses great! Having to repeatedly switch the flash gun between the two E-Ms – not so much LOL.

Previous parts of my notes on the GX85 here, here and here.

The out of camera RAWs from the GX85 seem to be very slightly less saturated than the Olympus’ m4/3 cameras I’ve got, but they’re no less pleasing and can be edited to taste in processing anyway. Also, while the camera – like the E-M5/E-M1 – does not use/uses a weak low pass filter, the pictures I get from the trio of primes – 17mm, 25mm and 45mm – also seems slightly less sharp than the Olympuses. Like color, it’s not something that can’t be fixed in processing and I haven’t done enough shooting with this camera yet to tell if it’s really a characteristic – but it’s interesting to note nonetheless.

The 12-32mm optically stabilized pancake lens is compact in collapsed mode, and focuses briskly. I also especially like that it’s 2mm wider than the Olympus pancake equivalent 14-42mm, as the wider angle makes for more possibilities than a slightly longer focal length (32mm vs 42mm). The lens is reasonably sharp in the center but somewhat softer at the edges – so one has to stop the aperture down somewhat if sharpness at the edges is important. I don’t reckon that the overall image quality can’t match that of the 12-40mm f2.8, but the latter is also a much larger and also costly lens.

With the 25mm and at f1.4. Peter was ill for a couple of days last week, but is now recovering though not before also spreading his germs to Mommy and Daddy too. The out of camera center in this image was a little soft.

With the 12-32mm and at f5.6, with flash trigger. Had much better results in the center for this.

I am hungry for oranges, and also tired – so I must multitask (12-32mm, f5.6)

With the 25mm @ f1.4.

12-40mm and at f2.8; Minton’s Tranquil World from our balcony at 8:30PM-ish. This was a handheld shot at 1.3s, ISO 200 and simply would not had been possible to achieve this level of sharpness without sensor stabilization.

Few more notes too on my ongoing experience with the GX85.

The camera offers a Pinpoint AF feature which enlarges the AF box for precise focusing, and you can customize the time the magnification box appears. I don’t use it a lot when taking quick shots of the kids, but it’s a useful feature for more methodical shooting.

Hannah is fascinated with the camera’s facial recognition. Up to six persons can be registered with three facial images each. You can even include each person’s birthdate, and the camera will then calculate the person’s age as an optional info item that can be added in a JPG image text stamp.

Setting up and starting WIFI remote control is easy and quicker than on the Olympus E-M1. On the latter, it’s a two-step process: enabling WIFI, and starting the connection itself. On the GX85, it’s a one-step process. On the other hand, I still haven’t been able to get the other WIFI functions to work: including transfer to PC and Lumix Club.

Filenames in the GX85 defaults to P103**** and there’s apparently not possible to customize it within the camera. Editing filenames is a standard feature in Olympus’ cameras, and even more important as I routinely use all three m4/3 cameras – the E-M1, E-M5 and E-PL6 – and editing the filename prefix allows me to distinguish quickly images that are taken by one of the three. Since this is the only Panasonic m4/3 camera I’m using now, it’s not a major deficit – but still.

In all, the GX85 is a solid camera. It suits most of my needs and fits my shooting style quite neatly. And for the bargain price I got it at, I reckon this is a serious contender for serious enthusiasts wanting to get into the m4/3s system.

We’ve had our new Yamaha U30BL piano for a few months now, and its usage hasn’t been quite what I initially thought it to be. Specifically, Ling barely touches it, while I have been on it more than I initially thought I would! I’ve been buying and acquiring sheet music from several modern day pianists-performers that I enjoy listening to, including Jim Brickman, David Lanz and David Foster, and practising them too. Hannah is also on the piano about 4-5 times a week for about half an hour each time – and myself slightly less but each time it’s an hour and a half to run through the 35 or so pieces I’m trying to master.

Incidentally, there’s an interesting debate among professional musicians regarding the use of digital devices to display sheet music. The advantages of using tablets like the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 are obvious: convenience, ability to hold a large amount of sheet music, and effective use of technology. The concerns largely lie around the fact that digital devices can fail (e.g. crash) or someone accidentally knocks them over if they’re being propped up on a music stand – both of which would be deadly to an ongoing performance.

The printed song books I’ve bought are typically larger than A4 print, but page turning is tough – since many of the modern day pieces are spread over 5+ pages. So, the 2+ year old Surface Pro 3 has been re-purposed as my preferred digital score display device. This digital display is likewise a challenge too though for different reasons. Swiping right to left to turn pages is much easier than trying to turn a paper edge, but still inelegant. On several occasions, Microsoft’s PDF reader mistook a quick finger swipe to mean pinch-zoom instead of a page turn – which resulted in a thumbnail version of all pages in the PDF i.e. immediately unusable for continued playing. Each time, I’d have to stop playing to reset the tablet display.

There had to be a better, e.g. hands-free, way of turning pages on a tablet. So, after some Googling, I found a small number of companies who make devices that do exactly just that. They seem to be primarily designed for use by professional musicians, and work on the same and maybe even obvious premise: controller device connects to the tablet via wlreless connectivity (e.g. Bluetooth) + musician uses their feet to tap pages front and back.

Evidently and from Internet research, the relatively better known company who manufactures a range of these devices is AirTurn. My needs weren’t particularly complex – I basically just need foot pedals to move pages forward and backward, and it needs to compatible with Windows and iPads. So, their cheapest model – the PED – would suffice. Unfortunately, I could not find the model on sale in Singapore. Amazon listed the device at USD69 but wanted a further princely sum of USD50 to have it delivered here. Ouch.

But after another week of scouting for International music equipment resellers who carry the device and offer options for shipping to Singapore and not cost the price of a return air-ticket, I finally found a UK-based store who was charging a nominal fee for shipping. Total damage was GBP59 + GBP4 for shipping. Total cost savings of about USD54 compared to Amazon’s price – not chump change for sure!

The item took two weeks to arrive, and here’s what it looks like:

The controller box was shipped in a parcel and also further protected by bubble-wrap, though the box itself does not contain foam padding to further protect the controller inside. So, if you want your device boxes to arrive shrink-wrapped with zero dents, you might be disappointed here.

The box contains a printed manual and the AirTurn PED controller itself. The controller exterior is metallic and feels cool to the touch.

Side profile of the controller. It’s sloped from one end to the other.

The reverse side of the controller has anti-skid padding, so no chance of it sliding on the floor. The device doesn’t look like it was entirely machine-made though. I reckon the anti-skid material was hand-glued. Note too: “Manufactured in USA” – a rarity since most of everything is Made in China these days!

The box comes with a small colored printed manual, with the online version available here too. The device offers connects to a variety of devices: including Windows, iOS and Android devices. The manual took a bit of figuring out though – I didn’t find the setup instructions particularly intuitive. But once I sorted it out, the Surface Pro 3 readily identified the device via Bluetooth for pairing, automatically downloaded the device driver for it, and thereafter connected without further hitches. The controller also supports different key associations for each foot press: e.g.up/down, left/right, page up/page down. So, the last step was to configure which of these key associations I need the controller to drive. Since I was using Microsoft’s built-in PDF reader, the correct mode was left/right.

The one down side of the PED: you can only pair the controller to one tablet at any one time. I occasionally use the iPad Air 2 for score displays too, so this is a bit of a dummer.

And that’s it. The device so far is still taking some use to. I have to use my toes to feel for the device and where I should be tapping on, since my eyes are on the song sheet when playing the piano, not on my feet!

I reckon in a few years time when Hannah turns 10, we can do a series of CNY Family pictures to see how the kids have grown every year! As is tradition, here are our family photos on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

 

Temporary break from the series of GX85 posts and to write about something still related to photography – accessories!

I’ve done a couple of posts on accessories for the m4/3 cameras, with the last one more than a year ago. So, it’s time for an early 2017 edition again, and concentrating on wrist straps this time.

Wrist Straps

Cameras are fragile things, and if you’re using an interchangeable lens camera, they are also not exactly always light either. Sling straps are great when you’re shooting on the move but I tend not to keep them on the camera when I’m taking pictures of our kids at home. That’s where wrist straps become real important, and all the cameras I own routinely will have one permanently attached to the camera lug:

Not the new GX85 (extreme left) though, since I was waiting for a new strap to arrive. My four m4/3 cameras (excepting the E-PL2 which is still sitting in the dry cabinet) like ducks in a row: the GX85, E-PL6, E-M1 and E-M5.

I’ve tried several brands of wrist straps now, including the:

Herringbone Leather Handgrip – which is great for heavy DSLRs but too large for smaller m4/3 cameras;

Gordy Camera Straps – which are fine but I have one which is tripod-mount: bad idea as it causes all sorts of balance challenges with my cameras;

Andy Camera Straps – similar to Gordy’s but at a lower price point, and I bought several of the lug-mounted ones over the years. While their web site is still live, I’m not sure if he’s still in business. An email request to custom-make a new strap some months ago went unanswered.

Leather straps are comfortable to use, and there’s little chance of them breaking. In fact, I reckon the metal split ring is likely to give way first in a stress test! Years of use have also made the leather straps supple and soft, but the edges have also started fraying a little. And the straps have a tendency to curl up and get in front of the lens if you don’t have them already coiled around your wrist when fishing the camera out for a quick picture. I’ve missed a couple of potentially great shots with the kids as I had to shoo the strap out of the frame!

So, after some scouting around, I found a UK-based maker of camera straps that uses weaved Parachute Cord. They’re priced lower than Andy/Gordy camera leather straps, and at SGD18 to SGD20 each including postage to Singapore. The web site offers some customization too; different braid colors and wristband size. I ordered one Classic Duo type strap, liked it, and ordered two more. Pictures:

Three Camera Duo straps. Woodland Camo/Burgundy attached to the E-M1, Black/Marine Blue, and Red/Olive at the bottom of the picture. The latter two just arrived too.

Wrist loop at the woven eyelet for the Woodland Camo/Burgundy.

Intricately woven Black/Marine Blue. Makes for fun pictures using my macro lens too!

Each strap comes with a rubber bumper and a metal split ring that you connect to the camera lug. The bumper protects the split ring from damaging the camera side. It seems a pretty standard inclusion for straps that connect to camera lugs.

The Woodland Camo/Burgundy with 20cm wristband. It’s just slightly large for my wrist, so persons with smaller hands might want to opt for the 18cm wristband. Unlike leather straps, paracord straps are also easier to secure around your wrist. In the former case, you’d need to adjust the strap’s rubber O-ring – which you can only do with a spare hand. For Cordweaver straps, all you need to do is to pull your wrist away from the camera body for the strap to loop tightly around your wrist.

Like the Jorby sling strap, these wrist straps can also loop around a long lens barrel for easy storage and packing into a camera bag. So – quite happy with these purchases. Hopefully these straps are washable too.:)

Previous posts on my first impressions of the GX85 here and here.

In-camera battery charging – hooray – but no external charger supplied in the package – hissss boo!!! The advantage of in-camera charging is real – you don’t have to bring dedicated cables and chargers when traveling with the camera, and any old USB charger and battery pack will do the trick to top-up battery power when you’re on the move. On the other hand, that the GX85 package doesn’t include an external battery charger feels real cheapskate of Panasonic. Moreover, switching on the camera seems to suspend charging. You can use the GX85 as a camera or a charger at any one time, but not both. That limits the usefulness of having multiple batteries, so I’ve had to order from eBay a cheapo third party battery charger.

Like the E-PL6, the GX85 isn’t weather-sealed. But the rubber flap that covers its mini-HDMI and micro USB charger ports is neatly flushed with the camera edge, and closes tightly without any gaps. You’d need a finger nail to pry it loose though, so I’m a uncertain how this flap will fare against constant use in time to come.

The mini-HDMI port and micro USB charging port on the camera’s lower right corner.

The battery compartment sits together with the SD card slot.

The GX85’s built-in pop-up flash is released by a dedicated spring button, and is useful – somewhat. Certainly not as a direct head-on flash, but it can be tilted to 90 degree angle for bounce flash. The flash’s pretty weak GN 4.2 at ISO100 limits this utility even then, and it’s hard to tilt the flash up with one finger while keeping another finger on the same hand on the shutter release button. I reckon most people will just go for a discrete and more powerful flash gun altogether, but at least its inclusion is better than not having it at all.

Alongside two of four FN buttons, the back plate cursor buttons as pre-set offer quick ways to configure some of the most important settings, including WB, ISO and drive modes. They’re clicky-enough and aren’t mushy in feeling – which is good. But they are also quite small, and don’t offer a lot of button travel. I reckon the E-M1 sets the gold standard here among my m4/3s – good travel and satisfying to press (minutiae alert!). The remaining two FN buttons sit near the top-plate, and are also configurable.

I’m less enamored by the front and real dials. They can be set to control different functions and offer somewhat more resistance than the E-M5’s and absent altogether from the E-PL6. But they’re still a little too easy to turn. Personal preference and so on here of course. That said, rotating these two dials don’t do a thing when the camera is powered off, so there’s no concerns with accidental changes to various settings.

Two of four configurable function buttons sitting near the top-plate.

Lots of cursor buttons on the back.

Olympus pretty complex and heavily nested menus for m4/3 its bodies have long since borne the brunt of criticism and jokes, though I honestly have never had problems with it. The menu layout is fairly consistent among its camera lines, and once I’ve configured the Olympus E-M1/E-M5/E-PL6 to preference, I didn’t find myself having to get back into the same menus very much anymore. The Panasonic menu is slightly more intuitive and more pleasing to look at aesthetic-wise. Helps too that there’s an embedded guide to explain each feature as you scroll through it, and that little help facility has its own distinct display area – unlike Olympus menus where the help shows up as a pop-up that obscures other menu items. That said, the Panasonic menus seem to use a less deep directory structure that’s perhaps just one level deep. i.e. there are eight pages of submenus already from the top-level REC(ord) menu. So, lots of scrolling around is necessary to find the option you want.

Panasonic’s implementation of Auto-ISO is also not quite like Olympus’. Specifically, you can set an upper ISO limit in the GX85 but not a minimal shutter speed for the camera not to fall below where possible. This is a clunker of course for shooters who’re used to Olympus cameras’ ability to set a slowest shutter speed limit, after which the camera starts bumping up the ISO. Noise is easier to correct than focusing problems from camera shake or subject motion. The workaround in the GX85 is to either adjust ISO maximum levels, or set a specific ISO altogether for specific shots. Not at all elegant though.

The Asian edition of the camera seems doesn’t seem to offer 4K 30p but 4K 25p – ugh. The recorded 4K video output looks great from a newbie videographer’s perspective, though at 100mbps, resultant file sizes are huge. I reckon I’ll be doing a lot of 4K video recording with the GX85, and then re-encode the video to lower bitrates to reduce the file footprints.

Disappointingly, no Adobe Camera RAW support in version 9.5. This means either a conversion of the RAW files to DNG or having to upgrade to a newer edition of Photoshop Elements newer than the version 14 I’ve got.

The Panasonic 12-32mm pancake lens isn’t too bad. It’s taking decent enough general purpose pictures so far, and will probably come to its own in video work.. The GX85 supports Dual IS when mounted with it – useful when I’ve had too much morning coffee and my hands aren’t steady LOL.

The 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 pancake lens. Not too shabby.

That sums up the first impressions of the camera. Pictures to follow in posts in the next couple of weeks!

Part 1 of my comments of the Panasonic GX85 here. The GX85 has some similarities to the E-PL8, but since I don’t have one such unit, a comparison against the 3.5 year old E-PL6 will have to suffice. So, about the GX85. This is a long post, so it’ll have to be split into a couple of parts.

Quite a bit heavier, deeper and larger than the E-PL6. The overall size will matter, since the camera is barely pocketable and only in a large jacket pocket. It’s also offered in three colors: black with a silver top, brown, and fully black. The brown unit would have looked lovely with the 17mm f1.8, but every other m4/3 lens I’ve got is black. So, it was the black unit.  It feels dense and well-built, and the weight seems nicely distributed around its entirety.

Doubt if there’s a more lovely-looking combo than a silver-colored E-PL6 with the 17mm f1.8. The GX85, all things on balance, isn’t that bad looking though.

Size-wise, the GX85 is clearly larger than the old E-PL6 it’s replacing. Weight-wise heavier too at 426 vs 325g.

GX85 with the 12-32mm pancake lens.

A minimalist look when viewed from the front, and its top-panel is relatively free of dials, buttons and knobs. This is a personal preference of course, but I like dials, buttons and knobs! If there’s any one thing that almost made me buy the Pen-F instead, it would be that. There’s also a leather-type grip on the camera’s right, but it’s not sufficiently deep for you to get a good handhold if you’re mounting large lenses. A wrist strap of some type is necessary (might do a post on that at some point too).

Very fast start-up and AF. The GX85 is good to go as soon as you flick the power-on lever (though if you’ve got the 12-32mm pancake lens mounted, you might need to extended out from collapsed mode first too). AF and confident. There’s also a nifty feature to adjust to varying levels the size of the focusing box. A similar feature is also found on the Olympus cameras, but it isn’t nearly as graduated as it’s here on the Panasonic.

One of the most annoying things I felt on the E-PL6 was its plasticky and finnicky mode dial. It was too easily turned, and very often, I’d find myself in M(anual) or S(hutter priority) mode when fishing the camera out of the bag. The GX85’s mode dial doesn’t feel metallic either, and it’s somewhat stiffer than the E-PL6. That it’s slightly recessed from the edge of the camera helps, but unlike the E-M1, the absence of a mode lock button means that it’s still possible for accidental changes of recording mode.

The GX85 powers-on quickly. Mixed feelings about the command dial though.

Most people won’t bother about shutter sounds as long as it’s not too loud. Odd as this might sound, I like the GX85’s shutter release sound! It’s reasonably soft, and offers a reassuring double ‘thud’ when triggering a release. If I had to rate my most recent cameras in minutiae like this from love to hate it, it’d be the GX85, X70, E-M1, E-M5, and the relatively loud and annoying ka-plak coming out of the E-PL6. And for fully silent shooting in quiet and stealthy environments (e.g. churches, weddings), the GX85 has an electronic shutter.

Fixed-position electronic view finder. Unlike the E-Ms’, the viewfinder doesn’t use a separate eye-cup – which is well and good. The E-M5’s eye-cup is especially fiddly and comes loose easily. Two such have already been damaged from wear and tear, necessitating a costly replacement each time. As for the view inside the EVF itself, responses have been decidedly mixed. Many Internet gadget reviewers have remarked that the quality of the 2.76M dot effective field-sequential-typed EVF might had been alright some years back, but against today’s modern cameras, its quality is a step-down. Its most serious issues include possibly visible color tearing. And also that the eye needs to be perfectly lined up against it, otherwise you might see ghosting in selected elements, especially aperture and shutter speed text information. I’d put the EVF on the GX85 below that of the almost 5 year old E-M5 now. Oh – It’s still usable, just not anywhere near what you’d get with older cameras coming off Olympus.

The GX85’s touch-screen monitor isn’t fully articulating, which will make wefies with the kids tough, unless I go with a wide-angle lens and get lucky blindly composing a wefie that doesn’t ungraciously snip off one of our foreheads in the frame! The monitor is flushed with the camera’s back – nice! – and its hinge also feels extremely sturdy – distinctly more so than the E-PL6 – and decent size. The touch-screen itself is useful in configuring the camera and choosing spot AF.

On the other hand and unlike Olympus, the screen seems to have low nose-rejection (!) if Touch-AF has been enabled. I’ve had my focusing AF accidentally changed a couple of times now when my nose contacts the screen! Its got so bad that I’ve since configured one of the FN buttons to quickly disable the touch-screen, and turn it on only when I need to choose an AF spot.

Viewfinder’s in a fixed position, with the diopter adjustment dial beside it (can’t see from this picture though).

More handling notes in the next post!