A few days ago I wrote a post about the issues many GH5 users were having with continuous autofocus while recording video. Instead of trying to determine if there is in fact a problem or not, many photographers have simply chosen a "team" as they pick one of two sides; The GH5 is either the most incredible camera created by God himself, or it's total crap.
In the comment section of my last article about this issue, Edward Nixon, who apparently made an account just to comment on my post, wrote:
Isn't it conventional to actually learn and have experience with a camera prior to making pronouncements about its strengths or faults? You received the camera yesterday and you've never used continuous autofocus? I don't have the camera yet but I've spent a week or so with the manual -- novel thought -- and after 25 years in the computer business I know that this is a complicated computer. I'd suggest you get with it for a few weeks and then come back ant tell us about its issues. Respectfully.
Edward was right that I had only had only owned the camera for one day but I wasn't the one making these claims, hundreds of GH5 users around the world were. I wasn't the one who made the test videos either, I was simply reporting on what was going on. Edward's comment was tame compared to other GH5 users around the web. Many Panasonic fans, some who haven't even held the camera yet, seemed to find it offensive that anyone would even point out that there may be an AF issue with the GH5.
Max Yuryev, who did one of the most intensive AF tests I have ever seen, was accused of purposefully making the GH5 look bad. Instead of arguing, Max simply made another video, this time comparing the AF between the GH5 and Sony A6500.
Every single one of Max's tests seemed more than fair to me and I was able to reproduce these tests with my own GH5 and confirm that my cameras AF was acting similarly.
Even still, many YouTuber's could not admit that the AF may have a legitimate issue. "PhotoJoseph" on YouTube started a video with text that read, "So to all of those enjoying high YouTube view counts by slamming the GH5, I say this." His video then proceeds to "prove" that the GH5 has excellent autofocus.
After watching this video very closely on full screen, I'm not convinced that the camera is performing well. Perhaps it's better than Max's camera, but it's hunting for focus even when Joseph remains still, making this feature too unreliable to use, especially for professional video productions. I'm not the only one who feels this way. The top comment on this video reads:
I'm sorry. Love your stuff man but this is plain not good. Anyone who has shot with an A6300/A6500 or dual pixel Canon will know that this is bad. I don't care what setting you have it at...it's not as good as the competition. Plus, in order to have a shot at getting AF on the GH5, you have to test for 30 minutes at all settings while those other cameras just pull it off. It's funny, I watch the people who say "successful AF if you get the settings right" and watch the videos and I still think it sucks compared to the competition. You have to spend 20min testing to get it to the "maybe acceptable" range and that's horrible. The best setting on the GH5 has been worse than any Sony or Canon camera right now. Point to point is awesome but continuous is horrible. I love my GH5 but even the best continuous AF test doesn't come anywhere close to my Sony & Canon cameras. Don't buy this camera for continuous AF. Thankfully, there are about 1,000 other reasons to buy it. Again, really appreciate your videos
After Max watched Joseph's video he created another video offering to fly Joseph to his home town, put him up in a hotel, and film a new video where Joseph can show him how his tests were unfair.
UPDATE: PhotoJoseph has accepted Max's offer and is flying into town to show him how to focus the camera properly... I can't wait.
Today I've been in a video chat with Pierre Lambert, a vlogger out of NYC who is also convinced that the AF in the GH5 is excellent. He showed me his latest vlog and I must say, it was pretty impressive.
Pierre's vlog above was entirely filmed in 4k 60fps in face detection mode. After watching Max's test videos he was convinced that something was wrong with Max's camera.
I then matched my AF settings to Pierre's and while shooting in 4k at 24fps, continuous AF was working about 10% of the time. 90% of the time it wouldn't AF at all, even with major shifts in the scene. When I changed my frame rate up to 60fps, AF did perform much better but at times it would still take over 10 seconds to AF on it's own with with speed and sensitivity set to the max. It was still too unreliable for me use. When Pierre dropped his frame rate to 24 he admitted that AF got considerably worse.
I left my conversation with Pierre asking him to film his next vlog in 24fps to see if the AF would work reliably.
I'm sorry to say that I don't feel any closer to a conclusion at this point. I believe Max's tests were fair and I also feel like my camera performs very similarly. Joesph's camera did perform better but it still wasn't accurate enough to actually use it for anything other than a casual vlog. Pierre, however, was able to get very impressive AF results with his camera, at least while shooting at 60fps.
Like Max, I want anyone who is reading this to know that I would love for the GH5 to be flawless. I'm selling the majority of my Nikon gear to move to the GH5 and it doesn't bring me joy to highlight its flaws. But that doesn't mean that I want to pretend like everything works perfectly. I want to know every aspect of my camera. If there is a problem, I want to know about it and I want to know how to work around it. If you own a GH5, you should want to know that too.
If you feel like this post or any of the videos above are unfair, don't jump to the conclusion that we don't know what we are talking about, or that we are purposefully trying to get clicks. Instead, simply tell us what exactly we are doing wrong and I will be happy to try it on my camera. I honestly hope I am wrong and that the GH5s AF is amazing, I'm just waiting to prove it with my own camera.