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  • Jack B. Siegel

GFX 100 Overheats

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Once a 9-Hole Golf Course: Lakeshore East (Between the Chicago River and Millennium Park)

This past Saturday was brutal in Chicago and much of the rest of the United States. I regularly photograph Chicago’s architecture, trying to move farther afield of the downtown area known at the Loop. On Saturday, however, I decided to stay close to mass transit, which meant I headed to Millennium and Grant Parks—two connected parks that line the lakefront and are strong draws for tourists and residents alike. It is just east of the Loop.

It was at least 95(F)/36(C) out, with the air hanging heavy. I checked on a construction site that I have been photographing, and then walked south to Millennium Park, stopping to photograph along the way. When I finally arrived at the Crown Fountain—a gathering place for hundreds of people on hot days because children can play in the water—the light was perfect. I raised the GFX 100, framed the shot, and released the shutter. I received a strange message, “Turn off the camera, and turn it back on.” I tried that several times, and I kept receiving the same message. I took the batteries out, reloaded them, and tried again. Same message. I tried a second set of batteries. Same message.

I figured it must be the heat. At this point, I had taken 97 photographs in single-shot mode over a 90-minute period. No video. I figured I was done for the day.

Given that I was also overheated, I decided to stop for ice tea. Starbucks really had the air conditioning cranked up. After I sat down, I decided to try the camera again. When I took it out of my camera bag, I could feel the heat flowing from the surfaces. I tried shooting an image. Same message. So I read for about 40 minutes so that I could cool off. I then tried the camera again. It had also been resting in air-conditioned comfort. It worked fine, as it did all day yesterday.

I have since checked the manual. It indicates that the camera can be operated from 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius) to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius). I had checked the outside temperature using the weather app on phone, which is based on area reports rather than an actual location reading. The weather forecast had put the heat index above 100, so maybe it was hotter than 95 degrees. I do note that the manual devotes considerable time to overheated batteries, as well as battery storage. Possibly the batteries were the issue rather than the camera.

The Image: The above photograph was made about a half hour before the incident. It is six photographs stitched together. I was hand-holding the camera—too hot to lug a tripod around. One feature I did find useful: the electronic level with horizon, pitch, and roll levels. To get the pitch and roll aspect, you must assign the level to a button. When I called Fuji about this, they informed me that there was no way to invoke the three-dimensional aspect of the level (the pitch and roll) without assigning the level to a button. I will be submitting a firmware update request to change that, largely because it is not obvious that there is a three dimensional aspect to the level. As I moved the camera for each successive shot, I pressed the level button to re-level the camera. This seems to produce better panoramas with less of the image being cropped. Note: I also tried making this image holding the camera in portrait (vertical position). There were 11 images in that series. I chose not to use the resulting image because I found that some parts of the foliage were blurred when the images were stitched even though other parts at equal distances were crisp. In both cases, I had set the camera for manual focus mode, so that the camera would not refocus for each image in the series.

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