Brian's Photo Blog — Article 188
<< PreviousNext >>Blog Index
A Tale of Three G5 Cameras
Monday 29 October 2012   —   Category: Equipment
A week or so ago I wrote that, in my preparations for a five-day snowmobile photography outing to Yellowstone this coming February, it seemed wise to follow the advice of the organizers and bring a second camera body with me. I can imagine that taking camera equipment on snowmobiles all day, for multiple days, in Yellowstone’s extreme freezing temperatures could be hard on that equipment. After spending so much time, effort and expense to participate in this outing, it would be a pity to miss out just because I didn’t have a backup camera.

The Micro Four Thirds (µ4/3) system was developed jointly by Olympus and Panasonic, with the first camera released in late 2008. These are still the only two manufacturers of µ4/3 cameras, although in the lens department a few other companies have joined in. After investigating the range of µ4/3 cameras, and carefully pondering their features, I had narrowed it down to a few choices.

Because I absolutely want a built-in viewfinder, and the only Olympus µ4/3 camera with one is the OM-D E-M5, which I already own, I turned my attention to the handful of Panasonic cameras with electronic viewfinders. After comparing the features on the various models, I settled on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5. (In this picture, you can see the Olympus E-M5 on the right, and the Panasonic G5 on the left.) Even though these two cameras have some significant differences, they also have a whole lot in common. Well, that was the easy part — it was when I tried to buy one that things started to get interesting!

When Panasonic announced the G5 in a July 2012 press release, it was stated that the camera body would be available in black, white and silver. Because I had already opted for the silver body on my Olympus camera, I thought it would be nice to go for silver on the G5 too — it looked more special than plain black, and would make a nice match for my E-M5. However, after much searching, I soon discovered that there didn’t seem to be a silver model available.

On the Panasonic µ4/3 Web page, numerous cameras listed there have color options, but the G5 is offered only in black. It’s the same story at B&H Photo. At other online-shopping Web sites, the silver model is listed, but hard to find, and often described as no longer available or discontinued: There was only ONE place in the USA that seemed to have it: 42nd St. Photo. On their Web site, they state that all the products they sell are brand new, and include a USA warranty. Hoping that they might have a secret supply unknown to the above-mentioned retailers, I decided to give them a try.

The day after I placed my order, I received a telephone call from them. Because the silver model seems to be nonexistent, I thought they were going to tell me that they didn’t have it after all. But no, all they wanted to know was whether I wanted UPS to require a signature at the door or not. It seemed kind of strange that they would call just for that, until the guy on the phone started trying to sell me camera batteries and memory cards and other accessories. At that point their unwanted and unnecessary phone call made total sense — from their point of view!

Eventually, my order arrived last Thursday, and when I opened the box, what did I see? A BLACK G5 camera instead of the SILVER one I had ordered! I kinda had a feeling that was going to happen! So I e-mailed them, saying that I wanted the silver model, and that I needed a return shipping label for the black one. Soon I received a phone call from them. The guy on the phone said that their warehouse had made a mistake, and they didn’t have the silver model after all, and he tried to talk me into keeping the black one!

They could have easily contacted me once they “realized” they didn’t have the silver model, BEFORE they went ahead and sent me the black one without my OK. Instead they tried to manipulate me. Well, it was looking like I would probably have to settle for the black model, but I sure wasn’t going to give 42nd St. Photo my business — not after the games they were playing with me. I would MUCH rather buy the camera from Amazon, or some other reputable dealer!

Now, it’s been four days since they told me that they don’t have the silver G5, and that they did't know if or when they would ever have it, but it is STILL for sale on their Web site, which says it’s in stock! They guys are either incompetent, dishonest, or both! I think they knew BEFORE I ordered that they didn’t have the silver model. They for sure know now, because they told me so. So why are they still trying to sell it to unsuspecting customers? You've been warned!

The only other place in the entire WORLD that I could find selling the silver G5 was a Hong Kong vendor on eBay. As you can see on the item listing page, in the title it’s described as a SILVER G5, and there is no product photo, but in the item description further down the page, it is referred to four times as BLACK. So I e-mailed them, and they replied that the description was wrong, and that it really was SILVER. Their listing also stated they they had ten such cameras in stock.

Even though it seemed somewhat risky to order from them, I decided to take a chance and trust their 99.4% positive feedback score based upon more than 34,000 ratings. So the very same day, last Thursday, I ordered the silver G5 from this Hong Kong vendor via eBay. Later that evening I got an e-mail from them saying that they checked with their warehouse, and they didn’t actually have the silver model after all! Now, doesn’t that sound familiar?! I just couldn’t believe it! But then again, I had a feeling it was coming. The silver G5 just does not exist! At least they had the integrity to contact me BEFORE they sent me the wrong item, unlike 42nd St. Photo.

They suggested that I take the black or white model instead. I told them no thanks, and asked that they cancel my order and refund my payment. As of today, four days later, their listing on eBay STILL shows that they have ten silver G5s in stock. I don’t know what kind of game they’re trying to play! You've been warned!

Third time’s a charm? Late in the evening of the SAME day, last Thursday, I placed my THIRD order for a G5 camera — this time the black G5 from Amazon, my all-time favorite retailer. Because I’m a Prime member, I spent a bit extra for one-day shipping — after all the delays I had experienced with my previous two attempts, I was ready and eager to get my hands on this camera!

The black G5 was all set to arrive on Saturday, but by the end of Friday it still had not been marked as shipped. Hmmm ... that was strange, but not unheard of. On Saturday morning, I received a nasty surprise: an e-mail from Amazon saying that there had been some sort of glitch, and I would not be receiving the camera on Saturday after all, even though I had paid extra for one-day shipping, which they would refund. GOSH! What’s the deal with me trying to buy a G5! Is there some sort of heavenly or hellish conspiracy against it?!

As I write this it’s Monday morning. I had ordered the camera late Thursday, paid extra for one-day shipping so I could get it on Saturday, and now, FOUR days later, it’s out for delivery on a UPS truck, and I’m awaiting its arrival later today. WHEW! All this for a spare camera for a February outing! I never could have imagined that I would be going through so much for such a simple purchase! I have to say that Amazon’s dropping the ball did diminish some of the “third-time” charm.

It seems like there is still a chance the silver G5 might come out later this year, or early next year — perhaps I was in too much of a hurry and ordered too soon. But with the Christmas shopping rush coming soon, I didn’t want to take any chances that this camera might go out of stock. In addition, I didn’t want to buy it at the last minute, and then not know how to use it! I need to have some time with it, so I can become familiar with how it works, in case I do need to use it at Yellowstone.

And anyway, the color of the camera body does not really matter — it’s what’s on the inside that counts. As Hans Solo famously said about his ship, the Millennium Falcon, “she may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts!” In the end, as long as my black G5 takes good photos and is a useful camera, what difference does it make what it looks like on the outside? However, I might still regret, just a little bit, not being able to have a silver one!

Well, the UPS truck just brought me the G5 camera, even as I’m finishing up this article. Better late than never! Thus we reach the mostly-happy conclusion of my Tale Of Three G5 Cameras. Once I get a chance to do some actual shooting with this camera, I will report back my first impressions.
UPDATE: Once the black G5 arrived back at 42nd St. Photo, I e-mailed them to remind them to give me a full refund. Later that day I received yet another telephone call from them, saying that they had the silver G5 in stock and did I want them to send it to me?! Yet a week before they had told me on the phone that they had no idea if or when they would ever have a silver one! Gosh! Was this for real or not? I explained that I had already purchased a black one elsewhere, then he said OK, they would refund the money. It showed up on my credit card a few days later.

So far, I’m liking my Olympus E-M5 much better than the G5, therefore in the end I think I’m glad I got the black one. I had imagined that these two cameras would be more equal, so that having them both in silver would be nice. For my tastes, a black G5 suits its somewhat lower status. I think the E-M5 is a better-built and more sophisticated camera, and well worth the extra $300 — even though the G5 does have some nice points of its own. As I mentioned above, I will write more about the G5 once I have had more of a chance to use it.

Finally, this article was accurate at the time it was written, but since things change rapidly in the camera world, it may very well be outdated soon. I still think it is possible a silver G5 will become available — and 42nd St. Photo may very well have it at this very moment — but I would wait until a major retailer like Amazon, B&H or Adorama carries it, and avoid the lesser-known shops, as my experiences described above demonstrates.
SECOND UPDATE: After only a month with the G5, I've decided to sell it! Find out all the details in My Short-Lived Fling With the Panasonic G5.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 188
<< PreviousNext >>Blog Index
Reader Comments
On November 11, 2012, Sandor wrote:
Here it is:

I am absolutely sure Hans will take a SILVER G5 body out of a kit to sell you your beloved G5.
You may refer to me.
On November 11, 2012, Murena wrote:
Thank you Brian,
I'm planning to buy a Silver G5 in january but I'm worried about the colour.
It will be my first m43 (I'm not very able to use manual functions, now I have FZ100... :-(
All the reviews seem good and I'm anxious to know what do you think about it.
Thanks, bye bye.
paolo, milan, italy
On November 13, 2012, Murena wrote:
Thank you Sandor,
I'll give your name to Hans when I'll buy it on January, very kind !
(but you can advise Hans I'm gonna buy a Silver body only! :-)
See you guys
On January 30, 2013, Murena wrote:
Hi Sandor,
Hans has been very kind and I could bought the silver body G5.
Thanks again!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 188
<< PreviousNext >>Blog Index