Lumix Firmware Fixes Need for Auto Focus Workaround

Posted Jul. 6th, 2018 by Daniel J. Cox

Several weeks ago I wrote about and shot a video showing an issue we’ve all been experiencing with our Lumix cameras when shooting still photos. You can read more about it in the post titled: Lumix Auto Focus Workaround. Below is the oringal video I shot showing the problem. Good news as of the latest firmware update is Lumix Firmware Fixes Need for Auto Focus Workaround.

But I’m happy to announce that the newest firmware for the G9 and GH5 seems to have fixed the issue. The G9 firmware update is Version 1.1.  The GH5 firmware update is Version 2.3. The video below discusses the fix.

Thank you Lumix engineers for making this a priority. for instruction on updating your firmware go to this blog post titled How to Update Firmware on Panasonic Lumix Cameras & Lenses

 

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There are 21 comments on this post…
  1. Alex BushOn Aug. 19th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    I’ve noticed this issue with my GX8 when fitted with an Olympus 75-300 but strangely not wth the kit Panasonic 12-60. Don’t know if others have the same issue? Panasonic no longer appear to be updating firmware for the GX8. I wonder if your contacts could say whether a similar firmware tweak would be appropriate and/or possible?

  2. Alan StankevitzOn Jul. 20th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    With regards to your sample images, I notice that the backgrounds of the BIF are almost at the same distance…not much background blur. I just now tried some tests and found that if the focal plane is not that far from the background, the G9 indeed will grab the foreground subject.

    That is not the case however if the subject is closer…about 1/3 to 1/2 the distance between the photographer and a distance of the background.

    Here’s a link to a couple of samples of the problem. I tested both the house wren on a fence post and a grape jelly feeder hanging from my feeding station. With the wren images, I was able to finally to obtain focus on the wren after a few pumps of the autofocus button. With the grape jelly feeder, it would never obtain focus unless I focused on another close by, larger feeder…then it would find focus:

    The issue appears to be related to the size of the foreground subject and the distance from the background.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 20th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      With regards to the 2, 4, 5 and 6th. images you are correct. But first and third images the background is very far off in the background. Especially the first image. Not sure what to tell you other than the fact it might be the lens since there were shot with the new Leica 50-200mm and a 1.4X teleconverter.

  3. Alan StankevitzOn Jul. 20th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Nothing has ever been dropped and both camera and lens work fine. The problem is always related to the G9 staying stuck on background focus and no matter how many times I try to autofocus on foreground subjects that are about 1/10th of the entire FOV or less, it stays stuck on the background. It does not need to be a bird-in-flight. If the foreground subject is large, such as 1/5th of the FOV it will focus on the foreground subject.

    I have worked with many other camera systems and have been a bird photographer for over 20 years. DSLR’s and the new Sony bodies do not exhibit this behavior. It appears that even though you select a single autofocus point, the actual point size area is much bigger and doesn’t recognize small, foreground subjects.

    Maybe the latest firmware update did not fix this issue with the 100-400 lens?

    Do you have a 100-400 lens to attempt to duplicate this issue with the latest firmware updates to the G9 and 100-400?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 20th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Alan, I will try some tests with my 100-400mm. I’ve not been shooting it at all since I got the new Leica 200mm with the 2X teleconverter and the new Leica 50-200mm with the 1.4X teleconverter.

  4. Alan StankevitzOn Jul. 17th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    I’m using the Panasonic Lumix 100-400 lens with the G9. Firmware of the G9 is at Ver. 1.1. Firmware of the lens is Ver. 1.2.

    I typically use the “1-Area” setting with the focus point reduced to a small focus point and the focus area is in the center. I have however, tried all focus settings. I have also tried all of the custom AF Custom Settings 1-4. It doesn’t matter, the problem still occurs in which if I am back-focused it struggles focusing on foreground subjects unless they fill about 1/3rd of the FOV.

    Interestingly, when using the autofocus tracking mode the camera will draw a box around the out-of-focus foreground subject, but the camera never refocuses on the foreground subject. This leads me to believe that the camera is sensing there is a foreground subject, but never attempts to focus on it. Strange.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 19th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Hi Alan,

      I’ve been shooting the G9 with the new 50-200mm extensively this past week, many subjects being birds in flight. I have to say that with the new firmware update I’m getting quite excited at the positive results I’m getting. I’ve included some images in this post. I tried to replicate the kinds of things, neutral background, neural colored bird as you described with your peregrine photos. By the way they are beautiful.

      I’m starting to wonder if there might be something else going on with your G9. Is there any chance the G9 or the lens you’re using have been dropped or damaged in any way? Just curious since I’m not seeing the issues you are. I would also like to see samples of the wren in your backyard. Would that be possible?

      Thanks for your patience. I’m hopeful we can sort this out for you. Sample images below that I shot just today in Brazil.

      100% crop, no sharpening

      100% crop, no sharpening

      100% crop, no sharpening

      100% crop, no sharpening

      100% crop, no sharpening

      100% crop, no sharpening

  5. Alan StankevitzOn Jul. 16th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Hi Dan,

    Recently I was on top of a bluff near the Mississippi River here in SE MN and I was photographing peregrine falcons flying beneath my vantage point. I was pointing my camera/lens downward and attempting to photograph them in-flight with the terrain in the background. I was using the center focus point and pumping the focus button hoping the G9 would focus on the foreground falcon. It was very frustrating. I eventually switched to manual focus and was able to get some shots in focus. I kept those images and would be more than willing to share my results with Panasonic engineers.

    With that stated, I can duplicate the same problem right in my backyard and it does not require a BIF. Currently I have a family of house wrens that have a nest on the side of my workshop. About 30′ way from the nest is a metal fence post that the wrens frequently perch on with live prey. Beyond the fence post by about 50′ is a forested area. The problem also occurs with this configuration. Quite often I have to point the camera/lens down at the base of the fence post in order for the G9 to focus on the foreground post. Once it close-focuses on the base of the post, I can then move the camera up to the top of the fence post with the wren in focus. I then can shoot away w/o it refocusing on the background. The problem occurs when the initial focus point (before I press the focus button) is focused on the background. It tends to lock there and won’t attempt to close-focus unless the subject fills most of the frame.

    I’m not sure if this matters, but I do use back-button focus.

    I am certainly more than willing to work on this with you and/or Panasonic engineers to remedy this. I also have an Olympus 300 on the way to compare the two lenses with the G9.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 16th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Alan, two questions. What lens are you using? And… what AF Pattern.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 16th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Alan, two questions. What lens are you using? And… what AF Pattern.

  6. Alan StankevitzOn Jul. 16th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Even with the latest firmware update, the G9 has trouble focusing on foreground subjects and instead stays locked on the background. This makes it nearly impossible to photograph BIF’s with backgrounds other than smooth sky.

    (Coming from a Canon system with the 600mm system, I find this disheartening.)

    I really, really, really would like to move away from a bunch of heavy gear, but I have yet to be convinced of a mirrorless system that gets me there. Sony’s mirrorless full-frame system is probably the best option, but their lenses aren’t much smaller and lighter weight than the big boys.

    Panasonic has been evolving closer to what I consider an acceptable system for bird photography (I have had many of their bodies), but their autofocus for BIF is just not there yet. (Is it because of contrast detect autofocus?)

    The Olympus E-M1 II with their 300mm + 1.4x TC might be a better option, but I also use these cameras for video and really like the G9 for video, especially 60fps 4k.

    I have yet to find an ideal mirrorless camera system for bird photography/videography. (Although it’s getting closer.)

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 16th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Alan, I’m seeing a huge difference in the G9’s ability to focus on a subject in the foreground. However, I’ve not tried it yet with birds in flight. It sounds like you have? Do you have any photos you can share here on the Blog to show me what you’re still experiencing. I would love to get samples to the engineers at Panasonic. Let me know.

  7. Louis BerkOn Jul. 12th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    A bit off-topic but one nice addition is the ability to step through and view each frame in burst mode which was not possible before.

  8. Chris WitzgallOn Jul. 11th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Daniel,

    I am a long time Lumix user, starting with the GH3, then GX8, and now G9. I thought I had read somewhere that on the GH5, Panasonic finally removed the limitation on using a multiple shot drive mode when shooting flash. It was this way (not possible) with my GH3 and GX8. Nothing has changed with the G9. I would think this would be of interest to the nature shooing community shooting flash. I use it when shooting weddings, and it is a reason I still shoot my Sony a99ii alongside the GX8, as it does this all day.

    If you have not seen the issue, just attach a flash, ensure you are using a mechanical shutter, and then switch to a drive mode other than single shot.

  9. Vivian TeagueOn Jul. 10th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Thanks Dan, I’ve been having this problem. Hope I can figure out how to update my camera!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 10th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Vivian, I forgot to add a link to a past blog post detailing how to do the Firmware update to Panasonic cameras and lenses. You can find that here http://naturalexposures.com/update-firmware-panasonic-lumix/. Let know if you have issues. I’ll do what I can to help you out.

  10. Jason palmerOn Jul. 10th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Me to but more in group af cluster but also single af 100-400 AND 12-60

  11. William BunnOn Jul. 10th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Yes I updated to Ver 1.1

  12. William BunnOn Jul. 10th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    I agree my 100-400 is still having difficulty focusing on small birds in busy backgrounds. Even when I spot focus on the bid’s eye.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 10th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      William, have you updated to the newest firmware for the G9?

  13. douglas l smithOn Jul. 6th, 2018 (5 months ago)

    Dan if you get the time try it with the 100-400 and see if you have any focusing problems . I am still having it grab the background instead of the subject– but it may not be doing it as frequently as before.

    Thanks for your update!

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