LUMIX Auto Focus Workaround
Ever since I started shooting the LUMIX system, there’s been a challenging auto focus issue I sometimes experience. To be fair, this is something I’ve also experienced with my Nikons. The key is to understand what is happening and know how to work around it. I’m confident Panasonic is working on a fix, but until that happens I have a workaround that solves the issue. Below is a short video on how I get around it.
The above video describes it best but here’s a short description of the problem. You focus on a subject with any lens, the AF sensor is on Single AF and it’s completely covering the subject. You push the shutter button or Back Button AF to focus, but focus does not happen.
Lumix Auto Focus Workaround
What’s going on? I’m not positive but it has something to do with the AF sensor reading the background rather than the actual subject. It can occur even though the subject is very bright and contrasty and the AF sensor is totally covering the subject. Thankfully, this doesn’t take place very often but I’ve had it happen more than I would like.
Charlotte, the sweet lady in the video above, inspired me to create this post and share my workaround that put her on the right path during our Invitational Photo Tour of New Zealand. I’m hopeful Panasonic can get this issue fixed sooner rather than later. See the video above to better understand the process of the workaround I’m suggesting.
After emailing my contacts at Lumix I was told that sometimes the extreme Bokeh of a nearby background will cause this issue. The reason being that Lumix has given both GH5 and G9 priority for AF speed as well as Closest Subject Priority. And I can say that I’ve not seen this issue nearly as often with the G9. The closest subject sometimes is overridden by the lack of contrast due to it being WAY out of focus.
The Panasonic engineer, Shibuno san, suggested the following and I’m paraphrasing, “Dan’s explanation to his students is right. In this case, in order to change the initial AF point to to get it close to the intended subject, try to focus underneath or beside the subject in advance, so there’s not so much extreme bokeh. Then, move back to the subject, in this case the Rose Hip, which gets the AF much closer to the intended subject so the camera is able to better detect contrast due to “reasonable Bokeh.” Shibuno san finished by stating, “We recognize this issue and we’re continually working to make improvements.
So there you have it, straight from the engineer’s mouth. This kind of contact and honesty is what I so dearly admire about Panasonic. They’re real people who understand and admit that nothing is perfect but they’re working hard to make it as perfect as possible. It’s this kind of honesty and their desire to listen to their users that’s made me a firm believer in this company. This can-do attitude with honesty and integrity is what is going to propel them into being a major player in the business of producing multimedia with revolutionary new equipment. I love these guys and gals.
Thanks to NE Explorer Freddy Kurtz for shooting this video. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but never had the right person to help me when it happened in the field. And thank you Charlotte for allowing me to share your story.
Lumix Ambassador Disclaimer
In the spirit of complete transparency, I want all my readers to know that I am a Lumix Ambassador. That means I get paid a small stipend for writing about a system I absolutely love. That said, I want you all to know there is no amount of money more important than my integrity. Much to the chagrin of my Lumix colleagues, I often point out the bad with the good regarding Lumix technology and their camera gear. My belief is honesty and truthfulness will not just help you, but it also helps a company I greatly admire. To that end, it’s full steam ahead telling it like it really is.
Daniel J. Cox