BIF with Panasonic 100-300ii on GH5

zanydroid

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Feb 13, 2019
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I rented a 100-300ii this week to use while hiking with my family over the holiday weekend. Really want to see what the 100-300 can do, vs the full frame lenses that I've used previously (Sigma 100-400, 150-600, on A7riii, Canon M50, and Canon 77d).

After trying this setup out for a few hours, I think I can figure out how to shoot a bird on ground/stick (i.e. use small single focus area and BBF, hopefully unlearn my Sony muscle memory of using AF-C all the time).

However, I am really at a loss as to how to acquire birds in flight. All the other systems I've shot with recently can lock on in a more predictable way, and group or area focus works pretty well (especially on the 150-600, which has a better focus system); I was able to figure out how to lock on after about 10 min of tweaking. However, I spent about an hour trying to acquire focus in similar scenarios with the GH5 + 100-300, and I only locked on a handful of times at 300mm. It seems to slowly rack focus across a wide range, with the focus being so far off that everything is a blur. The phase detect bodies never got this far off, and tended to always at least have a blob where the bird is (and even with something as low performance as 100-400+A7, usually pick the right direction to rack focus). I'm not sure how much tweaking things like area size would help if I can't see anything! Also, no option to use focus range limiter or mechanical prefocus on the 100-300...

Interestingly, the 100-300+GH5 seemed better than 100-400+Canon body on easier subjects.

I did some quick scan over the G80/G9 BIF threads, and it looked like most folks were using the PL 50-200 or PL 100-400. Do I have unrealistic expectations from the 100-300? I'm also eyeing the PL 50-200+TC20 as a "one stop" cheaper/smaller alternative to a 100-400GM +TC14
 

wjiang

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Can't speak to the GH5, but the 100-300 II on the E-M1 (which does have rudimentary central non-cross-type PDAF) was not good for BIF. The behaviour is exactly as you described, with the camera racking across a huge range and failing miserably most of the time.

I have recently upgraded to the E-M1 Mk II, however, and the lens feels totally different on the new body (especially with the latest firmware 3.0 upgrade to C-AF). The full-coverage cross-type PDAF, much improved C-AF algorithms, centre-priority AF target area modes, and software focus limiter make a huge difference. I've yet to get much experience with the new camera, however, and am still suffering from slightly OOF shots (never total AF misses though). Need more experimentation to figure out what's going on.

I get the impression that DFD still isn't anywhere near as good as PDAF for challenging action...
 

Andrewmap

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Did you have Tracking AF set up? I don't own a GH5 but do have a GH3 and with continuous AF and tracking there is usually a box in the viewfinder that changes colour when focus and subject is acquired and will follow said subject. I don't do a lot of BIF but do shoot airshows - granted the subject is a bit bigger.

Also found this:
Simple Guide to the Panasonic GH5 Focus modes | Camera Jabber

Hope it helps.

Martin
 

speedy

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I get the impression that DFD still isn't anywhere near as good as PDAF for challenging action...
Nah, as far as I can see, the only thing DFD is not as good at, is picking out tiny subjects & sticking on them, against busy backgrounds. I'm mightily impressed with it for subjects that you can get a few AF points on.
 

panamike

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I get the impression that DFD still isn't anywhere near as good as PDAF for challenging action...
You are right with that, i have had the EM1MK11 and now have the G9, the DFD gives the best contrast based AF but not up to PDAF for fast moving smaller targets, i am now using the G9 in the same situation after the same subjects with the same lens as i did with the Olympus and its no contest.
Yes i can still get results but they are not as consistent with the Panasonic, yes i have tried the focus adjustment options and come to the conclusion its a desperate attempt by panasonic to stick with contrast.

Not going to get into any debates with anyone about this, as far as ime concerned thats the way it is.
 

speedy

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Ha ha ha. If you based your opinion on whether a particular camera/system lived or died based on photography forums, what would be available for purchase would be very different to reality :)
The main source of complaints regarding DFD seem to come from one particular group. Birders. Even then, feedback from users of both DFD and PD seem mixed, and inconsistent. Some seem to think the difference is slight, others, huge.
The only way to really know what works for you, is to try it. In your own two hands. Personally, as mentioned above, I'm mightily impressed with DFD, for what, and how I like to shoot.
 

zanydroid

Mu-43 Regular
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Feb 13, 2019
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61
> How good is this lens?

Keep in mind that the AF performance is a function of both the body and the lens. This 100-300 + GH5 feels like it beats the entry level Sigma on A7 and Canon bodies for larger things on the ground, within 20m, which is pretty cool. I'm not sure yet whether this lens+body combo gets slower/more lost at longer focal lengths (it certainly racks focus really slowly while it's confused; can't tell whether this is from motor speed or the body requesting a slower traversal).

> Tracking AF - I have been trying that on people and animals. It works OK and I think I understand the shortcomings now (e.g., compared to Sony lock-on AF, Panasonic does not try to do clever object re-detection if object comes out and back into frame).

> The only way to really know what works for you, is to try it

Totally agree, this is why I rent so many bodies and lenses. Haven't yet found the Goldilocks zone for birding...

> DFD vs PDAF

(A) Self-calibration of CDAF is great! You can get better results as long as things lock on. Vs DSLRs which will lie. Hybrid PDAF self-calibrates as well on final focus.
(B) Hybrid PDAF will probably always be able to gather better quality distance data per sample than DFD. To improve, not sure how much more Panasonic can do other than increase sensor readout speed.
(C) Hybrid PDAF can probably get higher quality hints about foreground/background separation.
(D) This leads to AF-C on DFD behaving inconsistently with top tier hybrid PDAF like Sony. With DFD, you still have to know when to toggle to AF-S. With even non-supported adapted lenses on Sony, the AF-C is very sticky for slow moving subjects (i.e. portrait situations).

All of those conspire to make modern PDAF video AF better than what we get on DFD. Personally, I think DFD is fine for how I shoot video, b/c I try to repeat shots as much as possible, have realistic expectations, and am willing to live with this for the superior image quality on GH5.

(C) is where the birders get tripped up (potentially also object tracking, it's just plain better on A7iii/A9 and D500 than Panasonic).
(D) can potentially reduce your hit rate if you pick incorrectly; with the superior AF-C systems shooting is a little more fun, and there's one less variable to worry about.
 

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