Updated Firmware: Is Autofocus Improved on the Panasonic GH5?

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Promising to solve the focus hunting with the Panasonic GH5, the camera company has released firmware version 2.3, which also comes with a host of other features and fixes. But, nine months after discovering the issue, has autofocus on the GH5 finally been improved? One filmmaker sought to find out.

ProAVs Carl Yates set up a side by side camera rig with two GH5s (not GH5s mind you), one running the previous firmware (vs. 2.2) an the other running the updated firmware 2.3. His goal was not only to see how the autofocus improvements performed, and if the hunting issues are not a thing of the past. Sadly, while Yates says that the GH5’s new firmware does improve autofocus withe default settings, he also found that setting the camera to 180 degree shutter mode, the camera was fooled just as often as it was before.

Yates found that with Face Detect mode, the Panasonic GH5 did exhibit a noticeable improvement on keeping a subject in focus, and with 225 Pt. AF. focusing mode, the GH5 did grab hold of the subject and keep focus, while the older firmware “simply refused to focus on me at all. It was doing something, but not focusing.” Yates also mentioned that if users set their shutter angle to 179 instead of 180, the camera would stay in focus more with the older firmware.

Yates says that to Panasonic’s credit, the company has worked hard to improve the autofocus capabilities of the GH5 for those who prefer to stay on auto while shooting in motion.  The new firmware got tripped up occasionally, especially with a complicated background, but on the whole, there is a noticeable improvement of autofocus performance.

Yates also expanded its test with shutter speed mode, at 1/50 of a second and the focusing is a lot faster with version 2.3. But the newer firmware also could lose the subject when moving around, but could reacquire the subject pretty quickly. Yates also said that shooters are who using 25fps are going to have a better job keeping their subjects in focus, than setting the camera for 24 fps.

Another test was with custom AF mode, and the Panasonic GH5 tended to lose the subject in the new firmware, so Yates recommends avoiding custom AF when shooting in autofocus and sticking with the default settings.

Yates also mentioned that shooters who rely on the MetaBones Speedbooster and EF lenses, would lose any benefit that the new firmware brings to the party, as the speed booster’s lag simply stalls the autofocus completely.  I’m guessing that MetaBones is going to have to come out with their own firmware update to understand the adjustments better. “I doubt anyone using a speed booster will use autofocus, though,” Yates says.

While Yates does admit that his tests are far from scientific, in real world cinematic conditions, it seems that Panasonic has improved autofocus, but it is by no means ideal. It seems that they still have some work to do, using both the 180 shutter, and custom AF modes, but the Panasonic GH5 will perform far better with the firmware update, than without it. And if you’re using the Metabones Speedbooster and Canon lenses, well, using the 179 degree shutter hack, rather than the new firmware, is probably the best you can hope for. But you’re not likely using autofocus in that configuration anyway.

Hat Tip – DIYP

About James DeRuvo 606 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

1 Comment

  1. Hello, great video, thanks for sharing.

    I have a question I would like to update but I’m not interested in programming the entire camera (GH5) again. So I was wondering: when you change your firmware version do you have to program all your settings again? Or are the stil the way they were? Thanks for your answer. Regards Bart From Holland.

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