Sunday, July 10, 2016

GX85 – SD card in backwards and wonderful bounce flash …

A couple of observations …

SD Card

The SD card in pretty much all the Panasonics went in facing away from you with the camera in hand. That is, the label faces forward in the same direction as the lens. I have never seen this be different and I just confirmed it with the G6 and G7 just to be sure.

But the GX85 goes in facing in the same direction as the rear of the camera, which means you see it as you hold the camera upside down to insert the card. This seems like an unnecessary and gratuitous change, and confirms the silo / stovepipe development and design teams at Panasonic. Or maybe it was a brain fart that stuck. Minor, but silly.

Bounce Flash

I always liked the GF3 and GX1 bounce flashes. These things were mounted on some sort of spider legs that allowed them to tilt quite dramatically backwards. If you went too far, the flash would not fire, but if you held it just right, the flash would fire to the ceiling and you could get a pretty nice result. I even made a video showing how it worked on the GX1:

The production values are pretty low with that video, but the content is spot on.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the tweaks on the GX85 to this feature. The folding flash mount works similarly, but seems somehow sturdier and seems to have fewer fold points, although that may be an illusion. But what is really great is that you can fold it back all the way and gently pin it to the upright location and it will fire up at a slightly forward angle.

This makes it pretty easy to shoot bounce flash and the results are excellent. A warning though … the flash is tiny, so you should raise ISO pretty quickly, especially if you are not right on top of your subject. The extra distance will really weaken the flash.

On the other hand, the GX85 sensor is superb and lifting the result a stop or two results in a perfectly usable image once processed in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Here are a couple of images to clarify the value of shooting bounce flash with the built in. They are pictures of our Degu resting on his platform and there are cage bars in the way. A worst case scenario.

Straight On

The issues are obvious … red eye is prominent (although not all that red on this animal’s retina), shadows are harsh, light is very flat looking. All in all, yuck.

Since the cage top is open with bars, the light from a bounce should be able to get through and light the animal fairly evenly.


These were shot moments apart. Need I elaborate on how much better this looks? You can shoot legit animal portraits with bounce flash from a built in, assuming that you are not bothered too much by higher ISOs. I regularly shoot 3200 on these sensors and that does not bother me at all. You can, of course, limit ISO to 800 and use a fast lens. These two images self-selected to 1600 ISO, which would make sense for bounced flash in a dark room.

So if you have the GX85, consider adding this to your arsenal of tricks when out and about without an external flash.