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The Panasonic "PDAF" rant
  • So finally Panasonic caved in and the long rumours about phase AF turned out to be true. As I recall there was strong rumours about the GH6 getting phase AF as well from several sources, one person living in Japan in particular. Which only partially was true. No PDAF for GH6 after basically SIX years of developement, but PDAF was indeed running in the dark corners of Panasonic skunk works.

    Alas, the GH6 released without PDAF and I quite frankly refused to get another Death from Defocus top model. And upgraded from the GH4 to the GH5M2 - which was a rather nice upgrade for sure after being financially challenged for the Panasonic IBIS days. A feature which also was long overdue on the Panasonic feature sheet at the time BTW.

    As a long standing Lumix G / GH user today is "the day after" the glorious and extravagant full frame PDAF five day press junket release initiated in Japan in early december. And being under wraps until CES 2023 besides the usual leaks - intentional or not - to bring up the hype. And a nice press junket it seem be with a couple of dozen influencers (also previous DFD naysayers like iphonedo) which seems to carry home a new S5M2 camera and 6-7 lens selection as swag. Some have claimed that hardware will be returned, I'm not sure that's true. Here in Norway it's a financial burden to receive so much free stuff as a influencer / youtuber as you have to pay income tax on the retail value. I'll leave the junket and possible free stuff. After all envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

    As a long standing Lumix G user whit no current plan to switch to the 35 mm sensor size the S5M2 launch was of course all about Panasonic implementing PDAF in a camera. Personally I don't find Lumix S to be the prefered «full frame» system of choise if such a investement should be made. Or perhaps divestment from Lumix G. The Lumix S lens range is rather limited to standard zooms at different price points. As well as five «videocentric» primes for the DOF crowd. There are currently no serious tele lenses, specialities like fisheye or ultra wide angle lenses in the lens map. Alas I find that the S5M2 or the whole Lumix S system for that matter is is basically the FF system for the causual kit zoom shooter.

    Things may improve in the future, but heck for my personal needs I have wanted the glorious Sony G-master 12-24 mm f2.8 ever since it was released. If going FF.

    Alas back to the junket and CES release. There does not seem to be any wording released on future cameras with PDAF. Not even a basic roadmap saying that PDAF will be in all new cameras from now on. Might be self explanary, but heck is a rather interesting thing for the crowd which does not crave for Pansonics new budget friendly «slow sensor» influencer FF piece.

    Only the «micro four nerds» influencer @emilymaylowrey seems to have given the issue the proper exposure, stating that Panasonic engineers present at the junket in Japan declined to comment on the issue.

    I really hope Panasonic is able to get a new premium Lumix G camera with PDAF out ASAP. A GH6M2. In the next six months. Or maybe Panasonic wants us all over to the glorious Lumix S line. I'm not taking the bait. Please give us long standing Lumix G users the real stuff. Preferably at CP+.

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  • As I recall there was strong rumours about the GH6 getting phase AF as well from several sources, one person living in Japan in particular. Which only partially was true. No PDAF for GH6 after basically SIX years of developement, but PDAF was indeed running in the dark corners of Panasonic skunk works.

    Maaaaaaaaaaaybe the GH6 is only a firmware update away from PDAF? Or perhaps there will be "a modest upgrade" GH6mk2 that just "merely" adds PDAF?

  • When I think about it the "open gate" concept is better on a 4:3 sensor. Or better a square sensor like the 8:7 aspect ratio in the GoPro Hero 11 action cam. Make the GH6M2 with square open gate and PDAF. :-p

  • The GH6 already has open gate

  • @IronFilm - I know. And open gate makes more sense on a sensor with a squared aspect ratio.

    BTW: DP review drodles around the Panasonic PDAF future.

    I think there is a rather universal feeling that GH6 should have been implemented with PDAF.

  • I think PDAF requires differnt sensor, not only firmware upgrades.

    And it might happen this sensor is full frame.

  • @mitkoo

    The rationale here was that the GH6 sensor might have (so far) unused PDAF points. I believe that the GH6 is the only recent camera by Panasonic not using a Sony sensor. Thus there was hope that Panasonics partner had developed this new sensor with PDAF points as well.

    The Lumix S series S5M2 on the other hand seems to use a Sony sensor with PDAF as before.

    I guess this is the age old conspiracy theory that Panasonic was not able to secure PDAF sensors from Sony due to some sort of disagreement. While Panasonic claims they have not used PDAF sensors beacuse these points can degrade the image quality.

    Soon we will see if any future GHx series camera uses a Sony sensor or not. Currently the official listing from Sony does not list any sensor above 20 MP.

  • @Ironfilm I know it's like it never happened.

  • That guy in Japan, who is I.. notice I never followed up on that video, after the release. Had no intention of getting into a .. "Well, actually, it's really still coming, but Panasonic.. blah blah blah, insert your hate mail here" thing. Never wanted to be part of the hype machine, just heard some information from someone in the loop.

    My color grading has gotten better ;)

  • @mee

    I'll give you that Panasonic indeed was cocking with PDAF in their skunk works department.

    Unfortunately not ready for the GH6.

    The only thing which matters now is how fast it will progress into the Lumix G / GHx series.

  • It's hard to imagine any GH series being released from here on out without PDAF. The rest of the G series, is another story.. time will tell.

  • @mee

    I'm hoping for some PDAF news at CP+, but being only two weeks away without any rumours about new stuff it doesn't look like anything will over shadow the S5M2 marketing. Which is a shame. Maybe we will get a developement announcement for an autumn release. :-p

  • Yeah, I am not sure if I will have time to go this year, but someone told me the local rep wants to talk to me. Guessing he just wants to show me the S52, but who knows. BTW, in regards to whether Panasonic wants everyone over to full frame, it's something I have considered, but dismissed, based on 2 facts, 1) There are no true entry level full frames, and 2) The G9 is by far the most popular Panasonic professional camera in Japan. I am primarily talking nature and birding, but I know quite a few professionals that have regular galleries and calendars who use that camera as their bread and butter. I would go to far to say I see more G9's than Canon bodies most days, and they sometimes outnumber Nikon bodies which are despite sale numbers, outnumber Canons by quite a bit. Japan's motto of "if it isn't broke, don't fix it". The G9 is far too successful locally to ditch that line, even if Panasonic stepped away from the GH line (still very unlikely imho). If I was wagering on a CP+ surprise announcement it would be a G10 or equiv will be announced at CP+.. and I would be damn tempted by that camera.. except I imagine the price will likely be stupid high on release. If Panasonic really wanted to impress me, they would release an ultra fast long prime for the Micro four thirds system. Like a 300mm f2 with a built in 1.4xtc. Size be damned they could sell it for basically whatever they want, cause anyone that's been using a G9 for birding with the means and ability to lift it, would jump on that lens. They could utilize fresnel optics, to make it lighter, brighter, and not too ridiculous in size.

  • @mee

    Panasonic ditched that 200mm f2.8 as well as the tele converters (which also works on that 50-200 mm).

    As I picked up this 200 mm last december it looked like it was from the initial production run back in 2017/18.

    So such lenses might not be a hot seller for the system.

  • yeah, I am definitely not expecting that type of lens. Just saying, it would be great to see Panasonic step into the light and surprise people with something unexpected and bit magical. F2 is where that little sensor starts to breathe and hold its own against aps-c. It's never quite set right with me that early on there were these fast micro four thirds lenses from panasonic and talk about how light the system can be.. but they never just once pulled out a truly fast tele lens for the system in nearly 1.5 decades! F2 is actually my compromise. If Aps-C can do a 200mm F2.. how about the 300mm f1.8 for micro four thirds. Something like a sexy coffee can, declicked just because it's again not expected. I know I dream crazy dreams.. but fun crazy dreams sell..