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GH4 problem - Flash fires in closed position

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by seadragon, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    I bought my GH4 in September 2014 with an August 2014 build date and to be honest, haven't really used it much since buying it (I have a GX7 that I've been using mostly).

    Fast forward to today, I'm at Disney World with the GH4 and have taken about 300 photos so far and really happy with the performance and quality of the camera.

    Then I went to take a shot of the castle at Magic Kingdom and the camera made a loud "clunk" or "pop" type sound.

    I was in Aperture priority mode when it happened. Not realizing what was wrong, I set it to Program mode and took another shot. Same clunk sound and then a smell of burning plastic. I finally realized what had happened. The flash was in the closed position, yet fired on both shots (confirmed in EXIF data).

    I took the battery out of the camera and didn't use it again. Later, it powered it up again and it seems to be working normally, but clearly there is something wrong and I am hesitant to continue using it.

    Thankfully, I also brought along my GX7 so I can continue to take photos. I almost left it at home but am not glad that I didn't.

    I've read various posts about the flash issue on the internet, but haven't yet read of any actually being fixed. Does anyone know what Panasonic does to fix this issue? Do they replace just the flash unit or the logic board or ...?

    I'm not liking the idea of having the camera taken apart as I don't think they can ever be put back together the same as the factory. I had issues with my GH3 that required 2 trips to the repair shop because they had not assembled the monitor hinge correctly after the first repair and the cover fell off.

    I'm quite disappointed now that my GH4 needs to go in for repair and has barely been used.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  2. Paul80

    Paul80 Mu-43 Veteran

    254
    Jul 6, 2014
    That is why we have the Warrantee, for those thankfully rare occasions when something does go wrong.

    Send it back to Panasonic for repair.

    Paul
     
  3. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    Problem is I can't reproduce the issue and seems to be intermittent. The camera is working correctly at the moment. Repair shop may not see the problem and send back as "nothing wrong".
     
  4. Wasabi Bob

    Wasabi Bob Mu-43 Top Veteran

    https://www.mu-43.com/threads/60463/
    Seadragon, check this out if you are in the US.

    "2. When posting about any problem with Panasonic gear, please enable (check) "Receive Email from Other Members" in your General Settings so that a Panasonic representative can contact you and provide help.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Paul80

    Paul80 Mu-43 Veteran

    254
    Jul 6, 2014
    It matters not that its intermitent, they may be able to test it under a grater load than you can and force the fault to show itself. They may be aware of the problem and know how to fix it. I have seen this fault reported before on photo forums so I doubt its something new to Panasonic.

    If you don't get the fault registered you can bet it will go bang big time the day after the warrantee expires. (Thats the Law with intermitent faults) do nothing and you will regret it.

    Send it back, what have you got to lose.

    Paul
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    Thanks for your reply Wasabi Bob. I live in Canada but hopefully that won't make a huge difference. I tried clicking the link for General Settings but it says page not found.
     
  7. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    Thanks, Paul. I will contact Panasonic once I get home and see about sending it in. You're right, I have nothing to lose and hopefully they already know about this problem and know how to fix it. Thanks again for your advice, I appreciate it.
     
  8. Wasabi Bob

    Wasabi Bob Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Seadragon - two comments
    What firmware version is in your camera? I read in another forum that one of the last updates fixed this problem for another person.
    Panasonic in Canada should have authorized service centers. Contact one and see what they say. If you don't ask, you don't get!
     
  9. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    I am running the latest firmware (2.1). I'm actually thinking that this very well could be a software glitch. I opened and closed the flash several times while observing the flash status indicator. It seems to be working fine at the moment. It could also be a hardware issue with the microswitch that determines the open/closed status of the flash.

    I'm still on vacation with it and have decided to use the camera again today. I'd like to see if there is any particular pattern to the issue. I will be keeping a close eye on the flash indicator before taking each shot. I also went into the settings and changed the flash to Manual and set the power to 1/128. If the flash does fire, it will be at it's weakest setting. I'm thinking that I could also put the camera into e-shutter mode and theoretically, the flash will never fire.

    Once I get back home, I will call the Panasonic repair centre and see if they've dealt with this particular issue yet.
     
  10. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    I've been using the camera again today, checking the flash icon status before taking each photo. It's been working fine today and the flash did not fire once.

    Since this problem could perhaps go unnoticed if it only occurs intermittently or even just once, you can check your GH4 to see if the flash has fired in the closed position. Here is what I believe is the burnt plastic and evidence of the flash firing while closed.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
  11. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    Well, here's my update for anyone interested. I'm having really bad luck with my GH4. I'll try to make a long story short...

    Took GH4 into the Panasonic Authorized Service Center and explained the issue with the flash firing while closed and showed the burn mark.

    Tech looked it up on his system and noted that Panasonic has issued a service bulletin regarding this very issue. It states that it is caused by a "software bug" and instructs to upgrade the firmware to version 2.1 or higher.

    Problem is I already had 2.1 on the camera when the flash malfunctioned. Right away, I'm not confident that this is really the fix.

    The service bulletin also instructs to install a "flash plate" which is basically a stick on piece of black metal that covers up the burn mark inside the flash housing. Tech installed it and I suspect it is purely cosmetic so that the camera looks "new" again without having to replace the flash housing. Or, they expect it might happen again but at least it will fire against metal instead of plastic?

    Technician also upgraded the firmware version from 2.1 to 2.2 while I was there.

    When I got home with the camera, I popped my 12-35 lens on it (I brought the GH4 in body only as I expected to have to leave it there). Everything looked good until I took a shot. As soon as the shutter activates, a message on the screen comes up "Please turn the camera off and then on again.". Of course, the only option at this point is to turn off the camera and turn on again.

    It does this for every single shot. Power the camera on, take a shot and boom... error. It was working fine before the firmware update. Then I set it to electronic shutter and that seems to work fine. Only mechanical shutter causes the error message. I also took the lens off the camera and watched the shutter as it fires and it appears to be working fine mechanically.

    So, I took it back to the service center and the tech downgraded the firmware back to 2.1. Tested again and the same error occurs.

    I left the camera there and am waiting to hear what they find out. Tech said it might be logic board issue or the shutter has suddenly gone bad which would be VERY strange cooincidence.

    I just want a reliable camera that works. My GH3 and GH4 have been disappointing in this regard.

    We'll see what happens, but I'm not happy at all right now.
     
  12. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    Its disappointing to hear about your issues with your GH4, because its a fantastic camera (I love mine, as well as my GH3).

    Is this only happening to you when shooting in P mode?
     
  13. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    Thanks. Yeah, I do think they are great cameras and I especially like my GH4. I just seem to be having bad luck. There was a theory floating around the net that the flash issue only happens in P mode, but mine was in Aperture priority when it occurred.

    Regarding the "Please turn camera off and on again" error problem, it happens in any mode.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2015
  14. seadragon

    seadragon Mu-43 Regular

    52
    Jan 3, 2013
    I checked with the service centre today and the main circuit board is being replaced in the camera. I hope this fixes it for good.