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Adventures in Tinkering

Panasonic GF1 Fix

I ended up winning a auction on ebay for a water damaged Panasonic Lumix GF1. Not only do I already own one, but the GF1 is one of my personal favorite cameras. I decided to take a risk and buy this "AS-IS" camera because I sold my fixed lens point & shoot back up camera, and I figured the water damaged GF1 could be a relatively simple fix. I have fixed several water damaged items with a heat gun, and I feel I can do the same here. If I can get the camera to work, I could use it as a backup camera or a camera for the family. But either way, It will be quite useful.

What surprised me the most was that they sold the camera and the 20mm f1.7 lens in the same auction. They did not actually test the lens to see if it worked appropriately on any other micro four thirds camera, but they said the lens moved in and out as if it was focusing instead. I can understand if you don't have any other micro four thirds cameras to test it with, but I don't understand why they could not find anyone else to test the lens for them, or go to a camera store to test the lens out on a u4/3 camera. They could have easily sold the lens alone for $280. This is of course why I was interested in this auction. I won a $300 camera + ~$300 lens for about $240. I'd say thats a deal.

The first thing I did when I got this camera was to test the lens. I took the lens off the camera body and put it onto my working GF1. Sure enough, it focused and easily took a picture. I was very happy about that. I did notice that the lens did have a few very minor surface scuff marks on the outer element of the lens, but it seemed like no big deal at all. The image quality was essentially the same as on my current GF1 and 20mm lens.

Once I found out the lens worked, I focused on getting the camera to work properly. I did not immediately take the camera apart, because I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what didn't work. I tested the camera and tried to get through as many menus as I could to see if I can get the camera to work properly when I hit the shutter button. Regardless of what I did, the camera still persisted to display "please turn camera off and then on again."

Just for the sake of trying, I attached a legacy manual focus lens to my GF1 to see If I could get the camera working in manual mode. I used a 50mm f2.0 SMC Pentax lens with a u4/3 to Pentax K adapter.

To no avail, the camera continued to give me errors. However, this time the error message changed from "please turn camera off and then on again" to "please check that the lens is correctly attached." You just have to love the humor of Panasonic's engineers.

I did notice that this did not happen on video mode. I could press the shutter button on video mode or the dedicated video button and there was no error that came up. I checked the SD card later and I noticed that the video files were recorded correctly on the SD card and contained no errors. The video quality looked exactly the same as if they were took with my working GF1.

What is even more strange is that when the camera displayed the error message it still continued to take the picture. I noticed this when I looked through the SD card for video. The camera actually output jpegs. However, these jpegs were not in focus and quite over exposed. No, I did not have the flash open while taking the photo. What I still don't understand is how the camera took the picture without using the shutter. I did not hear the shutter at all when I hit the shutter button - not once. I second guessed myself: did it only go partially down? I even tried taking a picture without the lens on to see if the shutter moved. I noticed nothing. One of the most obvious characteristics of the GF1 is it's loud shutter. When you take a picture, you'll know it. You don't need any fake picture taking sounds to prove it either.