I had never, ever noticed any issue with shutter shock personally. This goes for my experience with the GX8, the OMD EM5 years back that many claimed to have had issues, and any other camera I’ve owned and shot with. This isn’t to say that my cameras didn’t suffer from this issue, I’m just saying that I’ve never noticed it. That may be that I’ve not been a huge pixel peeper (except when doing these types of tests for these articles) or perhaps I’ve just been easily able to excuse any softness for whatever reason.
That said, I have received a few emails over the last couple months asking specifically about the shutter shock issue with the GX8 and so I thought it might be handy to run a test to satisfy my own curiosity, and better equip myself when attempting to answer these types of inquiries. C’mon in to see the results…
For those who don’t know, or don’t own a camera that suffers from shutter shock, it is a phenomenon where the physical, mechanical shutter’s vibration can affect the sharpness of the finished image slightly, and in certain isolated cases, more egregiously. It can be easy to ignore if on the slight side if not really looking at a magnified image, so you may have an issue and just not know it. The GX8’s issue has been stated by users that it occurs most often in exposures with shutter speeds between 1/80th of a second and 1/320th of a second, and often gets cited as most common with the 14-140mm Lumix zoom lens from my research. I don’t have that lens, so I shot a series with the Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron lens which for the life of me, I could not see any difference between the physical and electronic shutter. I then used the Olympus 75mm lens thinking that Panasonic may have been able to mask this issue by way of Lumix bodies communicating with certain Lumix lenses. The test below is from this series of shots.
I’ve set the GX8 on the tripod set to the 2 second self timer, and using the Olympus m.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 lens, set to f/4, I adjusted my exposures by way of shutter speed and ISO using the mechanical shutter at each shutter speed setting (1/3 stops) and equally adjusted ISO in third stops, then replicated the same exposures after engaging the silent, electronic shutter which eliminates the mechanical shutter mechanism. The first run used the in body image stabilization (IBIS) in the GX8. While I’ve seen conflicting reports on whether or not the IBIS actually compensated for this shutter shock issue, I decided to run the exact same set of exposures with the IBIS turned off to see if there were any definitive results with my camera.
All shots were taken and converted as RAW files, in Aperture 3.4 and cropped into at a magnification of 200% to really peep the crap out of some pixels. See below, and click to see full size:
I’m not seeing a huge difference, and in fact I’m seeing so very little that I’d even go so far to say that it is almost imperceptible. I think that the physical shutter has produced shots that are perhaps ever so slightly softened by this shutter vibration, but nothing in any way that I’d consider a defect. Just to see what we’re really looking at here, the crop is showing printed numbers that measure a massive 3/32″ (roughly 2.4mm) in height. The total area in the 200% crops above, physically measures 1.375″ wide (35mm) by 1″ high (25.4mm) for reference.
Perhaps it is mostly tied to specific lenses, or perhaps there are shutter assemblies for a particular production run that are faulty, but I cannot see anything I’d consider shutter shock with my GX8, so I’d at least say that if there is in fact an issue, it is isolated, and not universal to all GX8 cameras.
Based on a couple of comments (Thanks Andrew and Rich for the suggestion) I’ve tried another run, but instead of being on the tripod (which may potentially add a dampening effect), I’ve placed the GX8 on a flat table, set the same 2 second timer, and using the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 lens (at 14mm) with the IBIS off, I ran back through the same range from 1/80 second to 1/320th second with both the mechanical shutter and the electronic shutter. Instead of going through and spending another hour and a half cropping, formatting and building a new chart, I simply zoomed to 200% to give us enough magnification at the point of focus, placed the mechanical shutter on the left, and the electronic shutter on the right and captured Screen shots. You can see each larger if you so desire by clicking on them.
f/2.8 – iso 1600 – 1/80th second:
f/2.8 – iso 2000 – 1/100th second:
f/2.8 – iso 2500 – 1/125th second:
f/2.8 – iso 3200 – 1/160th second:
f/2.8 – iso 4000 – 1/200th second:
f/2.8 – iso 5000 – 1/250th second:
f/2.8 – iso 6400 – 1/320th second:
So, even by eliminating the tripod, and placing the GX8 on the table, I don’t see any shutter shock with my camera. Again, it may be that my camera isn’t affected by the issue, but I see no ill effect from the mechanical shutter through this range of “suspect” shutter speeds.
Hopefully this helps eliminate any user or testing error on my part 🙂 Regardless of the methods I’ve tried, I’m not seeing any shutter shock on my camera. If I can carve out some time, I may even try to hand hold a series. While I feel that is an incorrect way to test for this type of issue as it adds the human, handshake element into it, it is how we all shoot often times, and would be the only way left for me to test, other than perhaps throwing the camera in the air or something.
Thank you all, and keep up the comments. I’d love to hear more about other’s experiences.
I’d certainly be interested in hearing if others are seeing something different, or experiencing issues with particular lenses. We could try to compile a bit of data and contact Panasonic about it. Power in numbers as it were. Let me know and I’d be happy to reach out to them.
If you do want to check to see if your camera (GX8 or another model) suffers from shutter shock, I’d suggest setting it up on a tripod, although it’s been suggested that a tripod allows for a dampening effect, so maybe try on a tripod, and also on a flat surface, not secured to anything, and do the following:
- Set your camera to Manual with a set aperture, adjusting the shutter speed and ISO (where you’d need to adjust your ISO in equal increments along with your shutter speed to equal out exposure from one shot to the next) as this will also ensure that your focus and depth of field can stay identical between shots.
- Shoot something flat and perpendicular to the camera (again to minimize any focus depth issues).
- Set the camera up on a 2 or 10 second self timer (2 is what I used and allowed for plenty of time).
- Do a series of shots using the mechanical shutter, and then go through the same series of settings with the electronic shutter. Shutter shock should only be apparent when using the mechanical shutter.
- Shoot 1/3 shutter speed stops between 1/80 and 1/320 (where most reports state issues between 1/125 and 1/250 mostly from what I’ve seen). This will be a series of 7 shots total (1/80, 1/100, 1/125, 1/160, 1/200, 1/250, 1/320)
- Have a look at them on a computer, not just on the back of the LCD as the resolution is not nearly high enough to accurately determine critical sharpness at this level.
If you do go to all this trouble, I’d love to hear how it goes. Please drop a comment below so we can try to compile as many tests as we can. Who knows, we may figure this out for Panasonic if we can determine a region, time frame or even serial number run that may be affected.
As it turns out, Adorama is offering up a pretty killer deal on the GX8 + 12-35mm f/2.8 Kit which is $200 off and includes a $500 Adorama gift card, so that’s amazing. Sadly we cannot apply these gift cards to the purchase as far as I understand it, but the next time you have anything to purchase, $500 off is a pretty solid head start.
The kit deal (normally $2395.99) on sale for $2195.99 plus $500 Adorama Gift Card runs through the end of the month and you can see them here:
The GX8 camera body only is on sale for $200 off also, (normally $1197.99), now on sale for $997.99 via the links below.
I’ve also compared the GX8 to the GX7 in an article that lives HERE if you’re interested.
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Happy spring (or Fall to you southern hemisphere folk) and happy shooting,