I don't know anything, okay? So please don't bust my chops if I have this wrong.
But it seems to me that the Panasonic GX8 (announced on June 16th, 2015, reviewed here on TOP by me on June 10th, 2016) might very well have a severe public relations problem, and we might be seeing some of the consequences of that.
A number of testers found and documented the so-called "shutter shock" issue, which showed that the camera's mechanical shutter was causing unwanted vibration at 1/125th and adjacent shutter speeds. (Other testers, notably Tyson Robichaud, did not find any problem.) The problem was avoided by switching to the electronic shutter, but then that has issues too in certain shooting situations, causing "rolling shutter" with fast-moving subjects. So it's not feasible to simply switch to electronic shutter and forget about it.
It's a pretty easy issue to work around, especially since so much is known about it. Panasonic made it even easier by specifically designing a firmware-update fix for it.
So has the shutter-shock scare caused demand for the GX8 to tank? See what you think: not only has the camera (only a little more than 15 months old now) had "Instant Savings" of $200 applied to it more or less continuously, but now B&H is giving away a free $500 lens with the "body only." That smacks of a stock-dump to me.
The freebie lens is the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12–60mm ƒ/3.5–5.6 ASPH. POWER O.I.S.
Amazon has this lens for $400, not $500, although Amazon isn't giving it away with the body.
Even so, that's effectively $600–700 off on a premium $1,200 camera that's not yet old enough to be replaced.
So here's my educated guess: the GX8 might be "surreptitiously" on closeout, possibly because Panasonic is going to pull the same move Nikon did when it updated the troubled D600/D800 with the fixed D610/D810, and release an updated variant of the GX8 with a modified name and an engineered fix to get rid of the pesky shutter-shock problem for good.
As I said, I don't know that. I'm just speculating.
If it's true, though, then this does create an opportunity. If you don't want the offered lens, you can probably sell it on eBay—there are 18 being offered there now, for prices of $300 and up, most around the $330–$350 range.
That means you can effectively get a brand new GX8 for ~$650. Or even less. Which is pretty cheap for a brand new GX8.
Now, granted, if I'm right, you could wait for the fixed model for $350–$550 more. Or you can wait for the Olympus E-M1 Mark II which will have the same sensor as the GX8, and pay probably somewhere in the $1,200–$1,300 range. Or you can just get the existing GX8 and just deal with the shutter-shock work-around. Which I really don't think is very hard to do.
That is, if you detect the problem with yours at all.
Why do I care?
I care because I took to the GX8. I liked it a whole lot. Ergonomically it's one of the nicest digital cameras I've ever used. Loved the viewfinder, which is slightly but noticeably better than the Fuji X-T1's even without the nifty tilting feature (also a big fan of that). And now that I've got the Epson P600 fired up, I can say I am impressed with the GX8's sensor. DxO says it's the best Micro 4/3 sensor yet and I believe it. You know that trick where you can make a small print that's essentially a section of a much larger print of the file you're looking at? I did that with several of my GX8 test shots—I made 8x10 "sections" of a 13.5x18" print and a 54x72" print—and I'm impressed.
I've probably gassed on way too long here. The point is just that you can get a possibly slightly wounded version of a very nice up-to-date Micro 4/3 camera for an excellent price right now.
I'm going to be watching to see what happens and how this all unfolds in the near future. Interesting, to say the least.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Michael Perini: "I suspect that you are correct. But you can't fault potential buyer for saying, with all the nice cameras out there, why buy one that many folks have had a problem with—even at a discount. The Internet is a place where molehills get made into mountains, but why risk pictures even if it is just a mole hill? I liked the GX8 too, but crossed it off the list when I read about the issue. Because it also struck me as an issue that should have been caught."
Kenneth Tanaka: "I don't know, or worry, about this either Mike. Offhand, though, I would wonder if the GX85 might not have stolen the GX8's show. I've been using one all summer (after selling out of Micro 4/3 gear last year) and it's absolutely superb for general photography, especially as a travel camera. I have zero interest in the GX8 and did not take a shine to its predecessor, the GX7, when I owned one."
Ron Zack: "Shutter shock is not a design defect unique to the GX8; it can be found in almost all mirrorless cameras. Even the original Olympus E-P1/2 had it. But its severity seems to be related to the lens you mount on it for some odd reason. No doubt, normal or telephoto lenses might magnify the effect over wide angle lenses, for all the obvious reasons. My current Olympus E-P5 had really bad shutter shock, until Olympus came out with their own firmware fix, and it was never an issue again.
"So I would heartily recommend getting a GX8 for all those who are interested in one, and apply the firmware fix if it has not already been done at the factory. These small bodied Micro 4/3 cameras are a lot of fun, and Panasonic's iterations, though not as popular as those from Olympus, are really better thought out in a lot of ways, especially in regards to menus and ergonomics."
Adam Maas: " You may have liked the ergonomics but most GX7 users did not and were quite vocal about it. The GX8 earned a rep as an ergonomically-challenged body with good guts overall, the two biggest challenges being the location of the AE-lock control (a serious reach compared to the ideal location on the GX7) and the overly chunky grip, which improved handling with large lenses at the cost of handling with the small lenses that worked so well on the GX7. The GX8 was trying to be too many things. It's too big to be a proper replacement for the GX7 as a RF-style street shooting camera, but never got the DSLR-style handling of the G series for large-lens use. And it didn't sell as well as it could because of that."
Urs Willi: "I bought a GX8 with the 12–60mm some months ago after having read the TOP review. I never noticed any shutter shock problem (installing the last firmware version first probably helped). I must acknowledge that Mike didn't say anything about this camera that I could not subscribe to after having been using it for a while now. (Is this English? Sorry, not my mother tongue....) I can recommend the GX8 to anyone who is looking for an excellent compromise between comfort and performance—and, what's more, it is a pleasure to work with."