Philip Bloom: Can you TRUST the FUJI X-T4 video AUTOFOCUS? – Commentary

“This isn’t a review of the excellent Fujifilm X-T4 but a detailed look at whether the improved autofocus abilities over the X-T3 get close to the superb AF of the Sony and Canon mirrorless cameras.”

fujifilm_x-t4_20_1024px
Fujifilm X-T4 with Fujifilm VG-XT4 Vertical Battery grip and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens. The battery grip is essential if you need a headphone port for monitoring audio while shooting. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Commentary

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The “best camera ever made” according to Philip Bloom. ALPA XO Exoskeleton aka cage for Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format camera with ALPA Switar 140mm cinema prime lens. Image courtesy of ALPA.

I came across this video by Philip Bloom while researching recently-released Super 35 video-capable cameras.

Autofocus capabilities of current affordable Super 35 hybrid cameras are a constant subject of discussion online, with different manufacturers achieving various degrees of success with it.

Theoretically all makers of such cameras should be able to achieve near-parity in autofocusing given time and R&D dollars, but there is a question of when and whether all current makers will stay in business until they do.

Having grown up as a photographer and videographer during the analog era before autofocusing cameras and lenses even existed, I have always seen autofocus as something of a luxury and fall back on manual focus and back-button focusing anyway.

Philip Bloom has an obsession with autofocus in video and speaks about it well and in detail.

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More substantial grip and better hardware design. Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 battery grip and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional zoom lens. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Meanwhile I believe it is a good idea to keep an eye on developments in affordable manual-focus Super 35 prime and zoom lenses that are native to Fujifilm X-mount or that can be adapted.

Keep an eye also on the coming Fujifilm X-H2 professional hybrid camera, successor to the under-rated X-H1, though its arrival may be some time off.

I found the X-H1 much easier to use handheld all day long than the X-T3 and its more hand-friendly design ranks alongside the X-Pro2 for ease of use and of carrying.

As for autofocus on Fujifilm cameras, perhaps the X-H2 may see it come to fruition and match if not beat that in Sony and Canon’s mirrorless cameras, along with new and redesigned Fujinon prime and zoom lenses made for video as much as stills photography.

We can only live in hope.

A “phenomenal” manual focus lens and adapter combo for Fujifilm video

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DPReview: CP+ 2019 Panasonic interview: ‘We’re proud of our cameraness’

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews/0078977575/cp-2019-panasonic-interview-we-re-proud-of-our-cameraness

“The CP+ 2019 trade show in Yokohama, Japan, gave us the chance to speak to most of the major camera makers. Panasonic put forward an extensive team to discuss the company’s move into the full-frame market….

… it’s clear that Panasonic wants its S1 and S1R to appeal specifically to professional stills photographers. When it comes to video, the company’s plans seem less well-developed. For now, at least, it seems that Panasonic sees the GH series as its main video/stills camera platform.”

Commentary

panasonic_leica_10-25mm_f1.7_zoom_00314329_1920px_80pc
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 wide angle zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. This is the very first zoom lens by any maker that provides the most necessary focal lengths for documentary photography and video, and it doubtless will feel right at home on a Lumix GH5, GH5S, G9 and the coming GH6 as well as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

If by “cameraness” Panasonic means that one can pick up a Lumix S1 or S1R, feel at ease with it and start shooting good photographs or movie footage right away, then I agree with the company’s use of that word.

Here is an event where I tried out the S1 and here is the other event where I tried out an S1R, both times shooting decent photographs almost immediately after the most cursory inspection of the cameras’ controls.

Of course, that ease of use is based partly on my years-long familiarity with Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds Lumix cameras and partly on Panasonic’s even longer history of constantly improving its cameras and lenses all by itself and in collaboration with Leica Camera AG.

Cameras and lenses by both companies share DNA and it was inevitable, in retrospect, that their long partnership would deepen into the L-Mount Alliance, pleasantly drawing lens maker Sigma in to the equation along with its wide range of top-class prime and zoom lenses for cinematography and photography.

When Panasonic staff members asked me for my first impressions of the S1 and S1R at a couple of touch-and-try events in Sydney earlier this year, my first thought was that both would be very usable cameras if I were still working in magazine editorial portrait and documentary photography where 35mm sensors are king.

That is no mean achievement for the first version of any new product range, and I look forward to seeing how Panasonic’s current S-Series cameras and their successors develop.

If I need to get back into 35mm sensor photography and video, I know where to go.

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DxOMark: Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R sensor review

https://www.dxomark.com/panasonic-lumix-s1r-sensor-review/

Panasonic has chosen a new high-resolution 47.3MP CMOS sensor for the Lumix DC-S1R—one that challenges the class-leading sensors in the Sony A7R III and the Nikon Z 7. Intriguingly, it combines attributes of both of its rivals (with some nuances) and achieves near-identical performance results overall.

With its combination of high pixel count, low noise, and exceptional color sensitivity, the Lumix DC-S1R is likely to appeal to the most demanding studio photographers….

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4.0 zoom lens.

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David Thorpe: Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and G9 Digital Double Act

“The S1 and the G9 Panasonics are a truly unique digital double act. How do the Full Frame S1 and Micro Four Thirds G9 stand up against one another? Is bigger better? Or is nimbler nicer?”

Commentary

Top video reviewer David Thorpe always cuts to the heart of the matter when it comes to mirrorless digital cameras and lenses, a trait no doubt formed by decades in the trenches as a Fleet Street photographer.

In this video review comparing Panasonic’s Lumix DC-G9 Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera with the recently-released Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor mirrorless camera, Mr Thorpe opts to continue daily carrying his G9 but appreciates the differences and similarities in both.

Links

  • David ThorpeJohnny and Max – review
  • David Thorpe – Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and G9 Digital Double Act – video
  • ePHOTOzine – Panasonic Lumix S1 Full-Frame Camera Review By David Thorpe – video with gallery of sample photographs

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Panasonic: Lumix AF Guidebook [PDF guidebooks for Lumix S1/S1R and GH5/GH5S/G9 cameras on getting the best out of autofocus]

https://www.panasonic.com/global/consumer/lumix/technologies/af.html

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 with Panasonic DMW-BGS1 Vertical Battery Grip and  Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lens.

LUMIX uses advanced technology to achieve high-speed, high-precision auto focusing. This guidebook allows you to utilize this auto focusing effectively at a higher level….

The LUMIX features an AF Custom Setting function that lets you finely adjust the directivity of the AF in response to the subject and situation. Here, we present the recommended settings and hints when making the setting….

External levers, buttons, and a Joystick Controller enable intuitive operation while using the finder. Users who are familiar with touch operation can seamlessly change the size of the AF area and shoot the subject by simply pressing the shutter of the touch monitor. Here we present more convenient auto focus settings designed for maximum operating ease….

Introducing original Panasonic technology for achieving high-speed, high-precision auto focusing….

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Lumix G9 Pro, Lumix GH5 and Lumix GH5S at Pa`nasonic Japan’s website. Where is the professional successor to the pro flagship rangefinder-stye GX8?

Commentary

With a number of pundits asking whether Panasonic has got it right yet with the company’s unique approach to autofocusing, it is timely to look deeper into the autofocus capabilities of Panasonic’s new S-Series 35mm sensor Lumix cameras and its established Micro Four Thirds sensor-equipped Lumix GH5, GH5S and G9 cameras.

It is reasonable to assume that Panasonic is currently working on its M43 cameras’ successors, and I would love to see the company produce a GH6 that combines the best of all three of them for stills photography and video, with the very best autofocusing that technology can offer.

Although I would love it if all manufacturers made lenses equally adept for use with manual focusing and autofocusing, equipped with the hard stops and manual clutch focus that have proven so effective on some Fujifilm X-mount and Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses, the fact is that autofocus will always play a part in using almost all lenses made nowadays.

Even back button focus in manual mode relies on good autofocusing capabilities on the cameras on which it features, so their autofocus needs to be the best possible.

If autofocus on Panasonic’s current camera generation remains lacking then best to study how it can be tailored to obtain result close to what you need rather than waiting for DSLR-quality autofocus in a future generation.

I was impressed by the Human Body Detection and Face/Eye Detection features of the Lumix S1 and S1R when I briefly tried them out at two public events in Sydney, so I hope that Panasonic will continue to improve the cameras’ autofocus via firmware updates, and radically improve autofocus in it coming generations to the point where it matches if not surpasses that of the best current DSLRs.

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R cameras, lenses and accessoriesB&H

PhotoJoseph: LUMIX S1 & S1R Battery Grip BGS1

“The LUMIX S Series S1 and S1R have an optional battery grip, the BGS1. This is a tour and explanation of how to use it and what it can do!…”

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 with Panasonic DMW-BGS1 Vertical Battery Grip and Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lens.

Panasonic accessories for Panasonic Lumix S-Series cameras

Commentary

Panasonic’s accessories for its new S-Series 35mm sensor cameras received little attention during the two public launch events I attended earlier this year, yet they and especially the DMW-BGS1 Vertical Battery Grip displayed the same carefully attention to detail and keen listening to professional users’ lengthy lists of features requests as the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R cameras themselves.

Since buying into Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system with the Lumix with the Lumix DMC-GH4 some years ago, I have considered vertical battery grips essential items to be bought with any new camera, if the manufacturer has thought to provide one, and this applies to the DMW-BGS1 Vertical Battery Grip as well as several other S-Series accessories.

I am especially impressed by the fact that Panasonic has included the Panasonic DMW-EC6 Eyecup in the list of accessories for the S1 and S1R.

I have had to rely on third-party rubber eyecups made by JJC and Guerrilla for Fujifilm X and Panasonic G cameras, except for my Lumix GX8 where an optional long eyecup was made available by Panasonic, due to wearing eyeglasses and needing to block out laser beam sunlight or harsh indoor lighting.

Both these accessories will come in handy when using both cameras for video, portrait and documentary photography.

I had a chance to try out the vertical battery grip on a Lumix S1R with 50mm f/1.4 lens and it made the camera much easier to use when shooting vertical/portrait orientation with the camera’s very welcome 3:4 aspect ratio, perfectly matched to the average single magazine page.

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R cameras, lenses and accessoriesB&H

DPReview: Open letter to Panasonic: Innovations in manual focus could make Lumix S a winner for cinematographers

https://www.dpreview.com/opinion/3202272540/open-letter-to-panasonic-long-overdue-innovations-in-manual-focus

“Jack Lam is a cinematographer based in Beijing and Hong Kong. His body of work includes TV commercials, seasonal TV drama series and theatrical feature films. His commercial clients include Cathay Pacific, Lenovo, Airbnb, Alibaba, and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. He also works with DJI as a design consultant for their cinema products….

… As a working cinematographer, I am super excited by Panasonic’s announcement of the Lumix S mirrorless camera system. The Panasonic GH5 is so well-designed, it has become a reliable workhorse for many video shooters. I have no doubt a full-frame version of it will be amazing, and everything I read about the S1/S1R confirms that.

However, Lumix S has the potential to become much greater that what we see in this product launch. With this brand new camera system, Panasonic has a unique opportunity to create the perfect small camera system for professional cinematographers. But doing so requires Panasonic to address a long-standing problem that is overlooked by all other camera makers, as well as some rethinking of conventional ideas on camera design.

This missing feature – one that can become a potential killer feature for Panasonic – is good manual focus control for video….

… I want MF control that is simple, accurate, reliable, repeatable, predictable, measurable and ergonomically sound. It should also be wireless-capable and highly integrated as part of the camera (so that we can keep the camera small and don’t need to add six other accessories just to pull focus). Do you know of any small (DSLR/mirrorless) camera in the market that fulfills all of the above requirements? I have found none.”

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor mirrorless camera with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS standard zoom lens.

Commentary

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

Please note that Jack Lam’s open letter was written late 2018 before the official launch of the Panasonic S1 and S1R cameras and lenses, before detailed specifications were released.

The elephant in the room of mirrorless and DSLR hybrid cameras is manual focusing, and it is pleasing that Mr Lam has addressed it in depth.

The autofocus capabilities of modern mirrorless cameras have been steadily improving for use in stills photography, but I often find myself flipping over into manual focus whenever starting off with autofocus when shooting video, no matter how much innovation has gone into each camera’s video autofocus functions.

The problem of manual focusing limitations in cameras is further compounded by the manual focusing and focus pulling limitations of the lenses that are made for them, with their reliance on non-linear focusing control rings or lack of focusing rings altogether.

Whenever possible I invest in lenses that have manual clutch focus mechanisms and hard stops at each end of the focussing scale, but these lenses can be far and few between in any camera system.

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Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens with manual clutch focus, equivalent to 21mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Lenses manually focused via control rings are more common, whether the option of switching from non-linear to linear operation is offered in cameras’ firmware or not.

Given a choice, I will always select a manual clutch focus lens over autofocus-only or control ring-only lenses, but then there is another factor, the all-too-common lack of an aperture ring.

The ideal lens for me has both, with a switch for clickless and clicked operation of the aperture ring being the best option for riding exposure in variable light.

I write about this stuff as often as I can but I am nobody and no camera manufacturer pays attention to what I have to say.

It may be a different matter for Jack Lam.

I hope that Panasonic is not the only camera and lens maker that may read Mr Lam’s open letter.

I want Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm and Olympus to read it and act positively upon it too.

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Olympus O-MD E-M1X camera with fully-articulated LCD monitor. I relish having fully-articulated monitors on my Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras and use them constantly for photography and video. I am not so enamoured of the two-way, three-way and non-articulating monitors that have been appearing on recent cameras by other manufacturers including Fujifilm, Sony and now Panasonic in its S Series cameras. Full articulation, please, camera makers. 

Manual focus and focus-pulling for video with mirrorless hybrid camera should not have to suck.

I am beyond tired of it sucking on the cameras that I try out and consider for purchase.

I am tired of having to mention it all the time in my articles in the hopes of things changing for the better.

I am sure that my contacts at the camera and lens companies are tired of me and reportedly many others asking them to lift their game.

Mr Lam makes a number of other excellent suggestions on page two of his article as published by DPReview, or you may wish to read it at source, at Mr Lam’s The Right Lens web log below.

For good measure, here is his list of other necessary features, all of which I agree with:

Other Good-to-have Features

While we are at it, here are some good-to-have features that I’d like to see in the Lumix-S system. But they are not nearly as important as a good focus control system.

– GH5-style Flip-out Screen. It is already so good. Don’t change it.

– High-bright Screen. Make it viewable under sunlight. I know it eats battery and heats up quick. But it really is super useful outdoor.

– Internal ND

– 4K 10-bit Log 60fps

– Build-in Video Transmitter or make it an add-on module that is highly integrated with the camera. Monitoring thru WiFi isn’t reliable enough. (I know I am getting greedy…)

– Sturdy, Positive-locking Lens Mount. For the time when we do use a cinema lens. (Just like the mount upgrade option on the Canon C300 MK2)

– Ergonomics. For the video-centric pro model, please, don’t make it too large, otherwise the whole talk about small cameras getting good focus control becomes moot. At least give us one video-centric model with DSLR-like form factor. And please, for god’s sake, don’t make it shaped like the Canon C100 / C300. They have the worst ergonomics.

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Panasonic Releases ‘Lumix GH5 | GH5S | G9 AF Guidebook’ on How to Get the Best Out of Autofocusing the Latest Panasonic Lumix Cameras

Using autofocus on Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5, DC-GH5S and DC-G9 Micro Four Thirds mirrorless hybrid cameras whether shooting stills or video has been a hot topic of debate online for quite some time. 

Panasonic chose to buck the trend began by other camera makers who adopted PDAF aka ‘Phase Detection Autofocus’, instead basing the autofocus system in the Lumix DMC-GH4 onwards upon DFD aka ‘Depth from Defocus’. 

Panasonic’s recent announcement of its Lumix S1 and Lumix S1R 35mm digital cameras mentioned the phrase ‘Deep Learning Technology’, and now the company has shared more information about that as well as how to get the best out of autofocusing its latest cameras with ‘Lumix GH5 | GH5S | G9 AF Guidebook’, an essential downloadable PDF guide book on the subject.

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Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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Jix Saw: GH5 Autofocus is WORKING!!

“… Were Finally getting a bit of nice weather here so i decided to clean up the back Garden. Oh ya and do a autofocus test. Wouldnt you know it, The luck of the Irish got it working. Spread The Word High and Low….

Auto Focus settings in order as you find on the gh5 menu.

AFS/AFF

  1. set AF/AE Lock to AF-On
  2. Quick AF. Turn On
  3. Eye Sensor Af. On
  4. Pinpoint AF Time. Set To Short
  5. Af Assist Lamp. Turn On
  6. Focus Release Priority. Set both options to Focus.
  7. AF+MF. Turn On
  8. Continuous Af turn on
  9. Custom AF turn off

Used Custom Multi press Save and Select under neath it
press C1 keep the + in the middle with No focus points set otherwise it will hunt.”

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS lens, Røde VideoMic Pro with Rycote Lyre Shockmount, Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist Strap, Peak Design CL-2 Clutch Camera Handstrap, Seercam Cube GH5 cage and Breakthrough Photography 62mm X4 Brass UV Filter.

Commentary

I default to manual focus when shooting video but always like to explore autofocus evert so often in case technology has advanced to the point where autofocus is good enough for some situations.

There being no better time like the present I just searched YouTube for how-to videos on how to best set up the GH5 for autofocus and this was the first to appear, along with a number of other such videos in the ‘Up next’ column at right of the page.

Jix Saw’s explanation as quoted above is not the clearest I have ever read but it will do as a starting point for my own explorations of autofocus on the GH5, and I will add my own refinements to this page in due course.

I note that the GH5’s firmware has been updated several times since Mr Saw  published his video in late April, 2017, so the GH5’s menu layout may be different in the latest version of the firmware.

I will try out these settings as soon as I can get back out into the field, combined with the HLG aka hybrid log gamma profile customized according to Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One for the Panasonic Lumix GH5, and explore other possibilities indicated in the ‘Up next’ list.

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
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  • Røde VideoMic Pro with Rycote Lyre ShockmountB&H – now superseded by the Røde VideoMic Pro Plus On-Camera Shotgun Microphone – B&H
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