The whole “I’m switching from this brand to that brand” or “I’m done with whatever brand” videos have been done to death, but this one from Kasey at Camera Conspiracies popped up on my feed last night after the announcement of the Panasonic S5 and I have to say, it’s pretty hilarious.
He talks about Panasonic’s strengths (which are now mostly at least matched by the competition) as well as their weaknesses in the way that only Kasey can. The complaints mentioned in the video (the main one being the DFD autofocus) aren’t anything new, either. Panasonic’s flagship GH5 was plagued with autofocus issues and that was released three and a half years ago.
Kasey’s channel is largely for comedic effect, but his complaints are very valid. He references Gerald Undone’s review of the Panasonic S5 that also went live yesterday, and you can see a lot of obvious hunting in the “vlogging” section (7:56) of the review where he specifically tests the autofocus system. Given that the camera is essentially being aimed directly at vloggers and social media content creators, this presents something of a problem.
As a Panasonic video shooter myself, I can relate to and empathise with every single struggle and complaint he mentions over Panasonic’s autofocus system, which is why I often resort to manual focus. I’m not planning to switch from them, because they do the job just fine… mostly. And, well, I only just got them in May. But they sure can be frustrating sometimes.
This is going to be a tough one for Panasonic I think. There was word last year that Panasonic was looking to add ToF sensors in the AF system for their next MFT product lineup, but apparently that hasn’t been incorporated into the S5. And with the Panasonic S5 aimed directly at vloggers, the autofocus is kind of a big deal to potential buyers.
Video autofocus seems to be pretty much the only area where Panasonic is really lacking. Sure, they don’t shoot 8K (yet) and there’s no 4K 120fps (yet), but many of their cameras do offer 10-Bit 4:2:2 4K with great colours and RAW over HDMI (or will do at some point soon with a firmware update). Sure some of those features might require a paid firmware update, but they’re there.
Panasonic’s L mount cameras would probably satisfy 99% of full-frame hybrid mirrorless shooters (I’m not saying people would switch to them, just that they’d be able to stand up to the task)… if the autofocus could give them what they need.