Sunday, 19 April 2009

Update on my experience with my Panasonic Lumix G1 – three months on

It is about three months since I posted the last review of my experience with my Panasonic Lumix G1 with its two lenses – the 14-45mm and 45-200mm zooms. This posting is an update on how I feel three months on from the initial enthusiasm of buying and trying a new camera to the reality of which camera do I choose to use every day?

It is quite simple really – three months on I still like the G1 very much. I find that it is the camera I pick up to take for a walk, to wander into the garden to take a photo of a flower or to take a photo for a blog posting, or simply want to take out on the off chance that a photo opportunity might arise – in short it has become my every day “go to” camera. The twin lens set up covers most needs and its compact lightness makes if an easy companion.

What have I learned about it in the last three months?

Using the live view screen

I have been surprised how easily I have moved from religiously using the view finder to frame every photo to mostly using the liveview screen on the back of the camera. I find that I now usually use it in preference to the electronic viewfinder (evf); not because the evf is no good, but because I am developing a new way of working with the G1.

I find myself holding the camera above my head and on the ground to seek out new angles; taking the articulated screen for granted. I also use the camera to look around corners – for instance rather than unplugging my computer monitor and dragging it away from the wall to read its serial number I simply stuck the G1 behind it with the ISO turned up to 1,000 and used the articulated screen to search out the label and photograph it. It is much quicker…

In many circumstances I find that the eyepiece sensor is too sensitive when using the camera in tight spaces (such as the use above) so I have turned off the sensor (via Custom Menu 1) and use the dedicated button to switch between the evf and LCD screen as needed.


The more I use the camera the more I like the handling. Direct access to ISO settings with a dedicated button and the “My Menu” feature all speed up my most commonly used features.

I have occasionally had to resort to the manual to work out how to do something – for instance how to scroll through pictures on the camera’s LCD while keeping the enlargement I wanted (done via the press button in the hand grip) to check focus.

Camera strap

I have found myself using a conventional neck strap to carry the camera about – I normally use Op-Tech quick release straps on my cameras, but they are too big and bulky for the G1, so for the time being the best strap I have been able to find is the one that came with my Canon G9. This, of course, does not have a quick release option so I have bought some small 10mm quick release clips to try, but have not yet got around to making up a strap with them.

Spare battery

I have learnt that I can live without a spare battery until someone comes up with a much cheaper generic version that Panasonic’s ridiculously over priced OEM version. 300+ images per charge is enough for me.

Tripod mount

On my cameras I use various Arca type quick release components and all my DSLRs have either Kirk or Really Right Stuff L brackets on them. Kirk do not make a G1 plate yet and RRS make a small bi-directional plate for the G1. Since importing direct from the US to the UK is now so expensive (a combination of low exchange rate, high import taxes, duties and fees that can double the price of a small component like this) that I have stopped doing it, so I tried out a generic Wimberley P-5 camera plate. This worked fine until I wanted to change the battery, at which point I realised that the plate partially covers the battery compartment door. I have now resorted to using a basic small universal Kirk camera plate that comes with their BH-3 ball heads. This is just small enough not to foul the battery compartment door.

Image quality

Image quality is excellent, but I still find it a bit lacking in contrast compared with my Canon 40D, mainly in low light. On the other hand I find I am taking photos in light that I would not normally bother to carry the heavier DSLR kit around in, so it may just be a perception problem – in any case I am finding that more and more of the images that make it into my photo portfolio are taken with the G1. The photo below was taken on a visit to a local pottery after a rain shower – I would not normally have taken a camera with me, but I took the G1 and this photo really grew on me…

I continue to only use RAW capture and I pretty much do all my image processing through Lightroom 2 and I am very happy with the results, with the occasional help from Photoshop.

I routinely use ISO ratings up to 1,250 and, Yes, I would prefer there to be less noise, but to be honest in the days of film I would not have taken most of the photos at all and the only reason I normally need the higher ISO setting is because I am using it in low light situations where I would not normally have a camera on me in the past. So it is not really an issue for me – it just shows me how much the G1 is allowing me to take photos outside of my usual range.

I hate dealing with dust on image sensors – so far this has not been an issue with the G1. I change the lenses over regularly, but carefully in as dust free environment as I can find, and so far I have not seen a dust spot on any images I have looked at. Panasonic’s (thank you Olympus I presume) dust reduction system clearly works.

So dust has not been an issue I am happy to report.


I am very happy with the G1 – it encourages me to take more photos and the people who see them like the results and that is all that I can really ask of a camera.

I look forward to trying out new lenses as the come along.

Update on keeping my Epson 4800 printer clog free

I have not written anything for about my clogging battle with my Epson 4800 inkjet printer for several months because there has not been much to report, but after a pretty clog free period since Christmas 2008 I thought it was time to give an update…

Essentially I turned my printer off for a couple of months through November and December 2008, but as the New Year approached I wanted to print again. I did not expect it to work straight away as the reason for turning it off in early November was that nozzle clogs had appeared after a period of not running Harvey Head Cleaner regularly due to pressure of work etc.

Sure enough several colours were missing and I ran through the gamut of clog recovery techniques, but was not getting too far quickly enough so I took a deep breath and ran a Power Clean cycle – the first time I ever have as I have always been advised to avoid them if at all possible. I then immediately ran a second Power Clean cycle quite by accident – I meant to tell it to run a nozzle check and hit the wrong button on the printer’s control panel…I desperately tried to stop it by turning off the printer, rebooting the computer etc but nothing deterred it; it just simply carried on from where it had got to in its cycle. I was not at all happy as the two cycles used 308ml of ink between them…

When I did eventually run a nozzle check all was OK except that the maintenance tank now needed changing (which I did using the technique I posted earlier – [here]) and the Light Magenta (LM) was completely missing. I ran a couple of prints and still it was missing, but the cartridge was nearly empty so I put in afresh one, ran a single cleaning cycle and all was perfect – not a single line missing in any of the nozzle check patterns.

Since then all has pretty much been sweetness and light!

Since the New year I have been religiously following my clog free method of printing a nozzle check once a day using Harvey Head Cleaner; print a full spectrum print either via Autoprint or a real photo at least every third day; all the while keeping the printer sealed in a all encompassing cover with a damp sponge inside the paper tray to keep the humidity inside the printer above 40% - for most of this year it has hovered around the 45% mark. Full details of my anti clogging regime can be found – [here].

I have had a single bout of colour channel loss – this was the Photo Black (PK) channel. Essentially running daily auto nozzle checks I had not noticed that there had been a paper jam and nothing had printed for a few days; this combined with the sponge drying out leading to lower humidity caused the problem. The paper had not fed because the tray holding the sponge had slipped down into the paper tray impeding the paper loading mechanism – to stop that happening again I put in a blob of Blu Tack (
which is easily removable if need be) into the compartment to stop the tray sliding down.

A couple of weeks later PK disappeared again and this time the printer monitor was indicating that PK was running low, so I changed it. It immediately came back and there has been no problem again.

During all this time the printer was taking it upon itself to run its “auto something or other” cycle every week or so – each time using up about 9.5ml of ink; all to no purpose as far as I can see – see [here] for my previous observations and frustrations on this bit of the 4800’s story.


The power cleaning cycle seems to have cleared out the system admirably. This followed by my anti-clogging regime has kept the system working fine except when the regimen went wrong and when a cartridge had nearly run out. Which does rather reinforce my observations over the last couple of years that the most likely colour to give a problem is the one with the lowest ink levels in its cartridge – making me think that there is still something about ink levels and cartridge pressure to sort out…