Panasonic GH4 - How to use AF? (Stills&Video)

Started Jun 25, 2014 | Discussions thread
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d3xmeister Senior Member • Posts: 2,927
Panasonic GH4 - How to use AF? (Stills&Video)

I had a lot of cameras over the years, and I really mean ,,a lot,, Started pursuing the best hybrid because I hate carrying 2 cameras. The best experience so far was with my RX100, except it doesn't have interchangeable lenses

So naturally I bought the Panasonic GH4 and a few lenses, and after a month of use I'm so disappointed I'm thinking of selling it.

So what's the problem ? I actually love everything about this camera except for one hugely important aspect: Autofocus.

Let's start with stills.

I found no way to quickly select a focus point, and no way to quickly select a focus point but also have face detection when a face is in the frame.

Let me explain: Using the touch screen, AF is sloooooooow, clearly optimized for video. With touch shutter, it's fast but I don't always want to take the picture the moment I focus.  With EVF, the only way to chose the focus point is to keep the direction cursor pressed and stop pressing it when the point is where you want, which I never succeed doing. The other way is to repeatedly press the cursor, but it moves in such small increments that it takes 100 presses to move it to one side, so this doesn't work either.

Using face detection, you have two and a half options.  One is for the camera to find a face and focus on it, and the second is the camera cannot find a face so it will focus anywhere it wants, with no control from you. There is a third option, but doesn't really work. If in face detection, you touch the screen, the camera activates the focus point you touched, but when using EVF is useless, it deactivates every time the camera goes to sleep, and when engaged, the camera won't focus on faces anymore until you de-activate it.

As a side note, this is the worst camera at detecting faces, the RX100 and the OM-D are so much better at detecting faces in the frame. I had the GH4 missing big, clear faces in the frame, for no apparent reason. And when it misses, there is no way to tell it ,,here, focus HERE,,. Also when it misses the face, AWB shifts a lot which I guess is explainable.

Now in video.

AF in 1080p60 is reasonable, I would say definitely usable. In 4k, it is totally unusable.  So for a camera with so many AF settings, you'd think there is a solution. Well, it isn't. The only solution is manual focus.

The big problem here is that in AFS, even though the AF+MF is activated in the menu, the MF part only works when the shutter button is half pressed which is crazy. I wanted to use AFS by touch screen or shutter button, and the continue with MF helped by peaking. That would have been a good solution to escape the constant AF hunting during video. Beats be why they won't let me MF when in AFS. In MF mode, there is no AF at all, it would have been so useful to have a quick AF when in MF mode.

None of the camera I have or use has these problems. The Oly and Sony and Nikon and Canon they all let you chose the focus point, and that is WHILE having face detection ON. And in video is crazy that you cannot combine AF with MF in any way, you either have AF modes that all suck, or fully manual.

I wrote this post because I still hope I'm missing something and there is a magic setting somewhere that will change this behavior.

So how do you guys focus with the GH4 as quick as you do with other cameras ?

I would hate to sell it because video quality is just mindblowing, and this is the first mirorless that can shoot active subjects and it really can replace my DSLR's.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Sony RX100
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