After I wrote the piece last Saturday about the Panasonic G3 being a pretty nice camera I felt that I'd pulled off a neat and inoffensive task. I'd written about a camera that seemed to have passed under many people's radars, offered it as a lower cost alternative tool for people who are craving the new (and on the face of it, very good camera) Olympus OM-D5 and had done so without writing anything that might cause umbrage in any quarter. Several hours later the wise and infallible ones from a (redacted web site) forum descended upon it like community-college-technical-school-graduate-soccer-hooligans and tore it to shreds. Most misread the article. But their basic objections centered around the idea that whatever aspects of the new, Olympus camera I found to be unimportant for myself were (obvious to all) the very things that the universe at large was waiting for with bated breath. Never before had a camera been as weatherproof as they thought the OMD might be. Never before had a camera focused as quickly, stabilized images as nimbly, etc. etc. To compare it to the lowly Panasonic G3 was surely an act as heinous as comparing Scarlett Johansson to Roseanne Barr. (At the time of my review no one outside Olympus had handled or shot with a finished OMD product....).
Another expert quickly weighed in to tell the crowd that the G3 was my first micro four thirds camera. That I had just discovered the system and my depth of knowledge about the systems was pathetic. On par with a vegan's knowledge about grilling Ribeye steaks. That led another intellectual knuckle-dragger to disparage my review as a bald attempt to garner attention to my wildly profitable blog site. (My words, not his.) Presumably, though I hadn't posted any links at (redacto site), I had somehow contrived to insert directional information to my misguided review of the G3 which, not doubt, immediately drove thousands of people to click through the link that wasn't on my blog in order to snap up the unending and limitless inventory of G3's and enrich me like a retiring congressman. And I must admit that I'm dictating all of this to my hot, supermodel assistant who is writing it down on a gold plated iPad while we are driven about, sneering at the Nikon and Canon users, in my new Bentley. The Bentley I acquired at the expense of tens of thousands of duped new Panasonic G3 buyers.
The thought of all those legions of snookered buyers sitting in their quiet living rooms, drowning in their tears after having spent the last of their children's college funds on what can only be considered a train wreck of a camera (the G3) while I laugh it all off and wipe small spots of caviar off the corners of my mouth with a napkin made from supermodel lingerie is almost too much to bear. I've taken several hundred thousand dollars from my Panasonic link proceeds from recommending the G3 to unprotected buyers, to start a reading comprehension program for forum "experts". More details about that to come....
Had I been wrong? Was the G3 donkey spit compared to the resplendent proficiency of the new master of all cameras, the princely Olympus OMD? Had my greed for links blinded me to my moral and ethical responsibility to participate more aggressively in the group worship of the new? Were my admittedly flawed powers of camera observation falling apart faster than a counterfeit Rolex wristwatch? I decided to spend a day with the woefully incompetent G3 and better understand my own short comings as a writer, a reviewer......dare I say it? Even as a photographer. So I slapped one lens on the front (a non-image stabilized lens!!!!!! God protect me from myself !!!!) and slinked out the door to further damage my reputation.
I looked for subject matter that would effectively resonate for the denizens/hoodlums of the m4:3 forum at (redacto site) but I don't own a cat so the "homage to whiskers" was not fulfilled. I was using a normal focal length lens so the whole idea of "birding" was a non-starter. No "charming" toddlers at hand, either. With sad resignation and with full cognizance of my remuneration for writing this firmly in mind I just went for my usual walk downtown. Nothing special and certainly not the kind of exhaustive testing I should have done to reveal all the things real photographers desperately need to see in order to evaluate a new (or insanely old ) camera: ISO performance at 25,000, Low ISO banding, High ISO banding, white "disks", red "dots", and, of course, noise, noise, noise at 300 percent. I'm sorry I wasn't able to accomplish any of these critical tests.
After reading about a successful transplant operation in Turkey I was, for a moment, tempted to have my normal hands transplanted with monster fat American hands so I could report accurately on just how horrible the haptics of the hapless camera are for more amply configured but the doctors, curiously, told me that such operations were done on a "need only" basis. Did I tell them how badly people needed to know about the possible shortcomings of a $600 camera? Apparently not in a convincing enough tone..... Apparently if you are the average seven foot tall, 500 pound American you will have trouble using the buttons on the camera or even holding it comfortably. In fact, in areas where my column of last saturday had the deepest penetration the hospitals are filling up with critical "hand cramping" cases from use of these obviously "too small" cameras.
In the self portrait above you can clearly see that I dwarf the camera and that it is un-holdable. Pity the people that I mislead into this kind of agony.... They were unable to get any other information anywhere else. In the shoulder bag, the strap of which you can see in the image above, I have a series of magnifying glasses with which to actually operate the camera. They are used in conjunction with miniaturized tools to poke the buttons. According the the experts in those previously named forums the camera shatters the laws of physics by being, at the same time, too large and too small..... It will fit in really tight jeans pockets for some but not even in the back of a Cadillac Escalade for others. Such is the nature of our elastic camera universe...
As I put the camer(G3) through its stumbling paces I found that the colors were way off. Yes, white was white, etc. but not the white the camera cognoscenti crave. The G3 yielded a white that was YYYxYYYxYYY with none of the hue-ish insouciance of the more gifted cameras. And certainly I was not seeing the famous Olympus Jpeg colors anywhere in my Panasonic raw files. I stopped to drink the hot chocolate given to me by a reviewers outreach program. I am still amazed at one thing.... You know how people say even a clock is right twice a day (they are obviously not on 24 hour digital time....)???? Well, miraculously the G3 was able to focus right on the chocolate swirl. A lucky accident at best...
While admittedly the camera (G3) is not weatherproof like it's Olympus Overlord I wondered if it was coffeeproof. It is not. But that's a whole other story. My take away? Never accept a challenge to dunk your camera and lens into a pot of boiling coffee. Even if the camera fits. Even if you might win a $5 bet.
After sustaining my resolve with coffee and hot chocolate and raspberry jelly filled donuts I continued the testing quest and immediately found that the G3 color controls were incapable of rendering this sunset in strictly neutral fashion, with a bald sky and perfectly white balanced building. It was ONLY capable of capturing the scene exactly as I saw it. What a sad commentary.
During the course of the day I also went to see my son run the 3200 meter event at an invitational track meet. Of course, I'd read all the "feedback" on (Redacto Site) by this time so I only tried a few shots of the kid running. By just a lucky accident the camera was able to lock on and follow focus Ben as he ran by but I chalk it up to divine intervention rather than any innate capabilities of the camera. Pray more and perhaps your shots with inferior cameras will turn out better as well....
After his run I was ready to tackle another testing task with the forlorn and frustrating camera and prove, once and for all that this misguided sensor technology coupled with a lack of in body IS would make any image that crawled out of this camera so unsharp and unusable that it would kill the operator/owner from sheer embarrassment. So I had a few more cups of coffee and went into an interior location to carelessly handhold the camera and see for myself just how horrifying the results would be... (Here it might be important to explain that NO images done before the year 1992, with the introduction of IS technology, had ever been rendered sharply. It was only with IS coupled with IT users that cameras were finally able to rightfully claim even rudimentary sharpness.....). Sadly, my fears were confirmed. I'm not even sure you could tell the image above was of a human eye without massive captioning.
And, as a side issue, you can see that nothing in the background can ever be rendered out of focus with this whole pathetic genre of "cameras." But of course the G3 is most egregious in this regard.
As dusk fell the camera would become most exposed for the poseur it really is. Low light would render it unusable. Dead weight. Nothing but a noise generator, like the white noise generators sold to help people sleep. The camera is, of course, not handholdable so there is no detail in the red fabric of the chair which is lit by a single MR-16 ceiling spot over head. (But you knew that because you read that the dynamic range was so limited...).
Incapable of shooting a scene in a coffee shop.
The Primitive Focus incapable of sorting out the focus on the bubbles in the cappuccino.
And of course look at the color. It's all over the map. Damn tungsten lighting....
This guy had it right. Why had I thrown away a king's ransom on the G3 when I could have gathered in as much happiness as I could handle with an iPhone camera?
Saddened by my realization of the limitations of the G3 I stumbled outside and contemplated giving back the huge bribe Panasonic had not offered me to tout their "defective offerings" I wiped a tear from my eye and shot this post dusk image of the Frost Tower. But by this point of the day I was already inured to the utter failings of this camera and could, like Ansel Adams, pre-visualize my image's failure...
I realize my folly now. I got anxious. I jumped the gun. I should have waited. I shouldn't have had the hubris to think that my eye, my experience and my technical knowledge would be mitigating factor in the photographic capability of a camera. All inferior cameras seem like boat anchors lashed to your ankles, pulling you down, down, down away from the critical oxygen of creative prowess. Only a mighty, new and weatherproof camera can produce true art. With or without the willing complicity of its owner.
What was I thinking? That G3 is already nearly one year old. Far past the "creative capability" use by date.
Posted by Kirk, Photographer/Writer at 11:23