According to a recent interview with select Panasonic executives, the company plans to expand the Lumix camera portfolio rapidly. It will do it with Phase Detection Autofocus as the anchor of the camera design.
According to responses from these executives, the Lumix S5 II adopted the plane phase difference Autofocus (presumably the new Phase Detection AF scheme) and a new Venus processing engine which provided “an evolution in image quality and the enhancement of video functions.”
Shinji Watanabe, Panasonic’s manager of product planning, stated that after hearing negative feedback about the overall size and performance of the Lumix S1/S1R design, the company set to condense the technology and make the camera line more lightweight and usable by a broader range of users.
Watanabe went on to say that the S5II’s on-chip phase detection autofocus is certain to appeal to those who wish to capture content while on the move.
Marketing Manager Noriaki Shiomi echoed this sentiment by adding those video creators in particular have complained that the previous contrast-based autofocus left them feeling constrained creatively by it.
“ There must have been times when you stopped one step at what you originally wanted to express,” Shiomi said.
Shiomi added that the S5 II was also designed to be more affordable, enabling those who are used to shooting with smartphones to transition directly to a full-frame platform that is both easy to shoot and at a reasonable price without making a stopover with micro-four thirds due to cost.
“In the past, I think the trend was to start with an APS-C camera and eventually move to a full-frame camera” Shiomi added, “but now there are affordable full-frame cameras on the market, and full-frame cameras aren’t difficult to shoot.”
The managers also stated that phase detection autofocus is the culmination of the company’s efforts to improve image quality as a top priority.
Working in concert with the new image stabilization technique, users can capture video at a variety of aspect ratios with Active IS increasing the overall camera shake correction ratio.
Watanabe said this image commitment led to the expansion of the S5 II design to include the X variant, which is says is for users who want to shoot higher quality videos. “The expression on the camera is always the creator,” Watanabe said.
Another manager, Takayuki Tochio, stated that the phase detection pixels have been added to the existing S5 image sensor in order to achieve these results. Not only that, but all the hardware was “brushed up” to provide not only a high sensitivity range but also a reduced rolling shutter due to faster processing speeds.
But even then, these executives warn that Phase Detection AF isn’t a magic bullet and that inevitably, some pixel defects will occur since the new autofocus regime is in its first generation. This may have been the reason why Panasonic held onto contrast AF for so long because it was a mature system that provided the best possible image quality for the time.
But now that the company has made the move to Phase Detection AF, there appears to be no turning back, and working hand in hand with the camera’s new processing engine, the pixel defects are minimized as much as possible.
PDAF is an evolution in autofocus design and one that will propel the Lumix platform forward, rather than be limited to just a few higher-end models.
“I believe that the ultimate in AF is to be able to focus on the subject intended by the photographer in full auto without having to think about anything else,” concluded Assitant Development Manager Tomohiro Ogami.
“I think there is still a lot to do for that, and I will continue to develop it. We hope that you will look forward to the future of LUMIX.”
You can read more about the design approach of the new S5 II at the DC Watch website.
[source: DC Watch]
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