Auto Focus Shoot Out With Lumix GH4, Fuji, Sony and Olympus

Posted May. 26th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

Auto focus shoot out with Lumix GH4, Fuji, Sony and Olympus. The boys from The Camera Store TV are at it again and doing another great review of several different cameras. As Chris Nichols points out, all the camera manufacturers are beating their chests with grandiose claims suggesting each of their newly released cameras are THE one to beat in auto focus capabilities.

The Camera Store TV puts the Lumix GH4, Olympus OM-D E-M1, Fuji XT-1, and Sony A6000 to the test. The Nikon D4S is the one they are all being compared to and none were able to beat it in all situations regarding autofocus. However, Chris Nichols does say at the end of the video that the Lumix GH4 is so close it’s a virtual tossup in the area of nearly instant, point to point AF. That’s an amazing claim, especially as he points out, the major difference in their prices.

One other thing to watch for in this video that Chris makes no reference to is the size of all the different systems. Notice how small the GH4 and Olympus cameras are with an equivalent 70-200mm F/2.8 lens. Fuji ‘s lens is a monster and isn’t anywhere close to the speed of an F/2.8. Sony’s lens is nearly as large as the Nikon with a 70-200mm F/2.8. The  size difference between all the cameras and lenses compared to the GH4 and Olympus are staggering. Finally, you have the Nikon D4 with the 70-200mm F/2.8 which was still the best but not by far. It’s a different world out there and the mirrorless cameras have only just started to make things interesting. You can see more of what the GH4 is capable orby reviewing the my own Speeding Pooch Tests.

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There are 6 comments on this post…
  1. RobertOn Feb. 3rd, 2015

    Impressive site and blog !! I stumbled here Googling GH4 for BIFs, after scanning this blog I see mirrorless is close. I should know they’re close owning an A6000 but it is resigned to a Swarovsky digiscope. So why am I looking at the GH4? Well it did win in its class in the Camera Store competition and it doesn’t look like Sony is ever going to give up a 300mm prime and evidently Ollympus is on the verge! Yet I’ve discovered the apparently stunning 40-150 via the cheetah/GH4 epistle and man is that enticing!
    My problem is that I like the Panasonic better than the Olympus, having an everyday carry FZ1000 is a big influence…..yet I like the Oly lenses better. A conundrum.
    What would help me to know at this point is what hindrances there might be using the Oly 40-150 2.8 on the GH4….adapter needed? I couldn’t tell from the pics here. Can I use the Oly 1.4 TC ?
    later this week I’ll be toting a 7Dii with a 400DOii for several days but know I can’t do that forever! Thanks for any clues and advice.
    P.s. thanks to this blog my FZ1000 is now set up for back button focus just like my 5Diii 6D 70D 7Dii etc woohoo.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 4th, 2015

      Robert, Thanks for the nice comment regarding our site and Blog. Happy you found and were inspired by the Cheetah Chase shot with the Panasonic Lumix GH4 and Olympus 14-150mm F/2.8.  I’m just getting out of Kenya and back in to better internet reception so I apologize for the delayed response. I agree with everything you’ve surmised about Olympus. First, they are without a doubt leading the charge in development of truly professional lenses. The 40-150mm I used on the Cheetah chase is just one example and it is a stunning accomplishment. You are also right about Olympus getting ready to release a 300mm F/4 as well. The Olympus 40-150mm fits the Lumix cameras with no adapters needed and the cheetah chase images are proof it works extremely well with the Panasoinc cameras. As I mentioned in the post above, the only downside is the lack of IS but quite frankly I’ve not lost more than a handful of images due to slow shutter speeds without IS. With the GH4’s ability to shoot at 1250-2000 ISO and the 40-150mm’s F/2.8 maximum aperture, I’m able to shoot at shutter speeds that negate the advantages of IS. Would I like to have IS? Absolutely, but it’s not been nearly the problem I was wringing my hands about but decided to try anyway. Olympus also makes a 1.4X teleconverter that is virtually perfect when attached to the 40-150mm. When I say “virtually perfect” I mean I can see no discernible difference when I’m shooting with it or without it and I review my images on my MacBook Pro Retina at 100%. I suppose if I would get out a microscope I may be proven wrong but for all intents and purposes, it is hard to believe how good the 40-150mm & 1.4X combination is. Regarding your comment of liking the GH4 better than the Olympus cameras. You have good reasons to feel this way. I’ve tried getting familiar with the Olympus EM-1 two different times and have always come away extremely frustrated at how much effort it takes to set the camera up and then REMEMBER what button does this, what lever does that, etc. The Lumix GH4 is light years more advanced in ease of use and simplicity yet very customizable if you choose. It’s also much faster and accurate in predictive AF. It has superb ergonomics, simple menu system and virtually everything touch screen accessible. Compare that to Olympus’ lack of marked, dedicated buttons such as +/- EV, WB and ISO as well as a menu system that is a nightmare and you have two very different systems. Olympus has chosen to give the photographer complete customization that requires lots of memorization and the need to constantly carry a manual. Yes, I know, Olympus fans who read this will say I’m nuts but I challenge anybody to visit your local camera store, hold both cameras and look for the three most important items, +/- EV, WB and ISO that we’re all now changing as often as shutter speed and aperture. Time yourself on how long it takes to find these important tools for each camera. You will see what I mean. Obviously, as you can tell from above, I’m very impressed with the GH4 but I have to admit, without this new lens from Olympus I wouldn’t be nearly as excited. But that’s the benefit of the entire MFT category of cameras. When one company pulls ahead with lenses, we still have cameras they fit. When the other company pulls ahead with bodies, we don’t have to rebuy an entire inventory of lenses. The is the beauty of more than one company supporting a particular format/system. It really is hard to believe how positive that is for the consumer. Finally, in your “Questions For Dan” post, you wanted to know what the difference was between Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds systems. To be honest I’m not completely sure. I do know that Four Thirds came first and Micro Four Thirds second. Olympus was originally designing Four Thirds systems that had the traditional mirror box, the same as we currently see in the traditional Nikon/Canon DSLR’s. I believe the Micro part of name comes from the reduction in size of lenses and camera bodies due to the removal of the mirror box which has been replaced by the electronic viewfinder (EVF). If anyone else out there knows more, I would love to have you add your input.

  2. Kent JakuszOn Jun. 8th, 2014

    I just got a GH4 after using the Canon beasts for years. I love it but… find the owner’s manual vague and incomplete.
    This article and the “Speeding Pouch Test” expound on the fast auto focus capabilities of the GH4. Note the focus screen will not be active between shots if burst mode is set to H. It will only work in M or L.
    Your settings as quoted in the Speeding Pouch,” Auto Preview to OFF in the menu system. Next I set the cameras AF Mode to 1-Area by way of the Q-Menu button on the right upper side of the back of the camera. Finally, I moved the AF switch to AFC”.
    There is not a setting titled “Auto Preview.” Am I correct in assuming that you mean Constant Preview in the Custom menu 5/9?
    I recently found your blog. Great work thanks for sharing.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 8th, 2014

      Kent, yes, you are correct. The correct name is Constant Preview. Sorry about the confusion. Also, can’t remember if I mentioned the fact I had the camera’s burst mode in Medium. Thanks for stopping by and adding your voice.

  3. Portrait of Ray Hirsch

    Ray HirschOn May. 27th, 2014

    Very interesting comparison, but I believe that they handicapped the Oly E-M1 by not selecting the correct auto focus mode. AFC on the Oly is AFF on the Pany. They should have selected CAF+TR on the Oly which is the same as AFC on the Pany, thus making the Oly think that the motion was random rather than predictable. Also, they did not use Oly’s fastest focusing lens, the 50-200mm f2.8 (100-400 equiv.) that has been shown to equal the best “sports” lenses made by Nikon and Canon. The Oly was the only camera that did not use native glass. Also, they did not address how they handled the stabilization mis-match between the Oly and the Pany. I suspect they turned the 5 axis in camera stabilization off rather than turn the OIS on the lens off.
    I have been experimenting with the E-M1 and the 50-200mm Oly f2.8 and find that it focuses and tracks better than my Canon 5DIII w/70-200 f2.8, and pretty much matches my Nikon D600 w/70-200 f2.8. I believe that this combo would have come in much closer to the D4s and GH4. The way the test came out it is inconceivable that the Sony A6000 could have beat the E-M1 if it was setup properly, and this out come really was the clincher that something was very wrong with the test set-up when it came to the E-M1.

    Just some thoughts…

    Ray

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 27th, 2014

      Ray, very interesting. How much would it take to rent that Olympus 50-200mm from you? Just kidding although the rental idea is a good one. Might check to see if Lensrentals.com has one to try. I would love to see for myself if I could get the same results with the GH4 that you’re seeing with your Olympus.

      Regarding your info on the AFF on the Panasoinc, I’ve not found AFF to be the best setting for Predictive AF. As I understand the AFF, it’s the same as Nikon’s whereby the camera is in what is considered a combination of Single and Continues AF. Supposedly, if the subject starts to move, the camera is in theory supposed to see this and switch itself in to Predictive AF Continues. I’ve never trusted this setting on my Nikons and feel the same about the Panasonic. For continues fast action I always use the AFC on both my Panasonic’s and Nikon cameras. Maybe I’m missing something on the Panasoinc but I’ve always found on the Nikons that by the time the camera figured out the subject was moving, like a flying bird, the bird was gone.

      Really appreciate you adding your voice on this. Either way, the mirrorless cameras are catching up fast

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