Even though the Panasonic GH5 is praised for providing amazingly high-quality 4K footage in a surprisingly small form factor at a relatively low price, (arguably) the biggest weakness of the camera is its autofocus capabilities. Soon after the device was released, many GH5 users reported that its continuous autofocus becomes extremely unreliable once video recording begins. This flaw could be really frustrating especially when you need to rely on the camera to focus on a fast-moving subject.
Eventually, the growing complaints about the camera’s autofocus caught the attention of Panasonic as the company promised to address the issue with a future software update for the product. Two weeks ago, Firmware 2.0 was officially released bringing the addition of a new 400Mbps 10bit 4:2:2 All-Intra codec option in 4K, a new “full height” Anamorphic mode, Hybrid Log Gamma for HDR delivery and much more. But, what about the autofocus functionality?
To determine whether or not the new firmware 2.0 actually solved the autofocus issues, YouTuber Scott McKenna conducted several tests shots using two GH5s – one with the old firmware (V1) and another with the latest firmware update installed on board. In the video below, you can see the results of this comprehensive testing.
The first series of tests had the camera on a tripod while the subject moved around the frame. The second test involved a stationary subject and a camera in motion trying to rack focus from the background to the subject. The last line of testing was mainly a mix of both a moving camera and a moving subject.
All in all, the camera loaded with the new firmware was able to accurately focus on the subject without any adjustment required whatsoever. Face Detection and Tracking modes were much more reliable with the new firmware compared to the older one that previously has been severely struggling with the task to maintain focus on the fly.
Additionally, Scott McKenna recommends utilizing the 1 Area AF Mode and trying out your own custom settings of the autofocus such as AF Mode – 1 Area (Center), AF Speed – +5,AF Sensitivity – +2. These settings should give you the most reliable autofocus performance and produce more consistent results even when shooting wide open.
Although the autofocus has more or less been improved, it’s important to remember that it is still not perfect. With occasional pulsing and jitters when trying to rack focus onto a subject, it may not be a good idea to let go of your focus assistant just yet. Nevertheless, installing the latest Firmware 2.0 is highly recommended, and even though continuous autofocus performance still falls behind the competition, it’s now much more reliable than it used to be.