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Panasonic GX7 zone focusing question (street photography)

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by norman, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. norman

    norman New to Mu-43

    9
    Jan 22, 2014
    Corby, Northants, England
    Norman Shearer
    Might seem crazy wanting to zone focus with this camera but I mostly shoot blind so cannot know if the AF locks onto the right subject. Besides, there is no quicker focus than instant!

    Anyway, I'm real curious to find out what options I have regarding zone focusing. Am I right in thinking that I can set up the custom menus (C1, C2 etc) for different focal distances? if I can do that then I can switch between zone focus and AF without having to set the zone focus distance again. Assuming this is possible, what happens when I switch lenses? Will the custom menu still focus the new lens to the same distance?

    I've not got the camera yet, it's en-route via courier. I'll be using the 14mm and 20mm pancakes. I expect I'll maybe only need one close-up zone for the 14mm, further out the dof should be substantial anyway. For the 20mm I'd probably need to store about 2 or 3 zones?

    On the subject of AF - is there any tricks users employ to ensure the EVF is on prior to raising the camera to your eye? Also how quickly can you move the AF using the screen whilst looking through the EVF (pinpoint AF)?

    Battery life. Can I set the camera up so that the LCD is off but briefly comes to life when I change a setting or for showing a preview of a shot I've just taken? I don't want the camera in a sleeping state though because that would adversely affect shutter activation time (well it does in my Pentax K01 at least). Is there an option to beep when battery is low and if so can you enable this sound and silence all other sounds?

    Norman
     
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Hi Norman - it's nice to see you over here at MU-43...

    The problem with m43 for zone focus is that there's nothing like an electronic distance scale in any of the cameras and with the purely "by-wire" manual focussing of most of the lenses, you can't really remember a particular focus distance or setting.

    There are workarounds, like focussing on a point at a known distance and then locking focus with the AEL button or similar...

    BUT...

    if you really want to have an awesome zone focus experience with m43, you're best bet is to either use an old manual focus lens (if you can find one that's wide enough after the crop factor) or to use one of the now three Olympus lenses that have a manual focus ring that can be pulled back to expose a distance scale and to put the lens into a mode that approximates an actual mechanical focussing setup. The two primes with this setup currently are the 12mm f2.0 and the 17mm f1.8 and the new 12-40 zoom has the same thing. With these lenses you simply pull the manual focus ring back to both enter manual focus mode and to have the focus set to the same distance you used the last time you had the ring pulled back.

    When m43 was my primary street setup I used the 12mm like this almost exclusively. I've since used the 17mm for it some as well and I have the 12-40 but have yet to try it for street shooting. I've since moved on from m43 for street work for a couple of reasons unrelated to focus, but with these particular lenses, the zone focus setup with this gear was as nice as with anything I've ever used.

    I'm probably not the best source to answer your other questions about battery life and moving the AF point on the screen while you look through the EVF. You can set the EVF up to either come on automatically when it senses your face near it or you can just leave it on all the time.

    Have fun,

    -Ray
     
  3. norman

    norman New to Mu-43

    9
    Jan 22, 2014
    Corby, Northants, England
    Norman Shearer
    Hi Ray,

    Must be my memory playing up, I thought Panasonic's stored distance info in the custom settings. Maybe I'm thinking of the LX series.

    I hadn't considered the AFL button so thanks Ray that is probably my best bet until I can afford any/all of those lenses you mentioned. I doubt I'll be getting any more lenses anytime soon unfortunately.

    Good to know you can keep the EVF on. That seems a decent enough workaround for the switching delay. Thanks again Ray, you're a star!
     
  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Oh yeah, right - the LX5 and LX7 both have a distance scale and you can have the camera remember your last manual focus setting upon startup. I'd sort of forgotten about that. And several other cameras have similar features, but not m43. Not even a simple distance scale to be found except on the barrels of those few Olympus lenses.

    But there are workarounds - you'll do fine, like you always find a way to do with street shooting...

    -Ray
     
  5. mcentral

    mcentral Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Oct 13, 2013
    I don't know about the GX7, and I'm not a general Panny expert either, but I do have a GX1 and love it. It's pretty simple to move the pinpoint AF spot while using the EVF, so I assume it's just as easy with the GX7. With the GX1 you can simply press the dedicated focus button (left arrow) to bring up the focus mode menu, then a press of the down arrow activates the 4 way controller which you can use to change the focus point. So two button button presses.
     
  6. norman

    norman New to Mu-43

    9
    Jan 22, 2014
    Corby, Northants, England
    Norman Shearer
    Sounds good. I was tempted by the GX1 myself, even after getting an E-PL5 - I prefer the Panasonic UI and I'm slowly coming round to the view that ease of use is more important than minor differences in sensor performance. I think with small cams good ergonomics are essential. The Ricoh grd and Panasonic LX series to me were well designed cams where accidental button presses rarely occured and the layout was both comfortable and logical. My E-PL5 was not quite there in this regard. It's good to be back in the Panasonic camp. :smile:
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    That's pretty standard on most cameras. The GX7 takes another major step towards user friendliness. You can hold your eye to the EVF, which mostly leaves the LCD exposed for right-eye shooters, and then you can literally drag your finger around on the LCD to move the focus point, which can easily be seen and followed in the EVF. It's actually incredibly easy and intuitive. I've been doing focus and recompose (and zone focus) for about 45 years now, so I'm pretty set in my ways and don't use this feature much, but it's a great use of the touch screen if you like to move the AF point around the frame. Way easier than using the four way controller for it...

    -Ray
     
  8. mcentral

    mcentral Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Oct 13, 2013
    Oh right! I've read about that feature, and it does sound really handy. Somehow I missed the "using the screen" part of the original question. But no matter, the GX1 model still holds as an example of good UI even without that feature. I'd go for a GX7 myself but now that I have the Oly VF4 for my EPL5, my next upgrade might be the EP5. But I'm not in that much of a rush - when I look through my library, some of my favorites are taken with my GF1
     
  9. norman

    norman New to Mu-43

    9
    Jan 22, 2014
    Corby, Northants, England
    Norman Shearer
    I have the VF-4 also and thought I'd go the E-P5 route but opted instead to sell my E-PL5 and VF-4 and a few other bits to finance the GX7. However the 5 axis ibis was the only real draw for me over the GX7 and I instead was attracted by the silent mode and better wi-fi implimentation. Also the GX7 is better value for money which is also a strong consideration for me. I hadn't really planned to get another camera so soon, now preferring to be a generation or so behind but the GX7 is not really hitting my wallet so I thought sod it! I'm buying a grey import and it comes with the version 2 20mm pancake (for £100 extra). I already have the 20mm version one so will sell one of them to help offset the cost of the body..

    Regarding the VF-4. I wasn't particularly knocked out by its performance to be honest. For what it cost I was expecting it to transform the E-PL5 but I seldom used it. It made using legacy glass a bit easier to focus but the balance was still unweildy on such a small body. The EVF in the GX7 seems to divide opinion so I'm curious to find out how it compares to the VF-4.
     
  10. SimonL

    SimonL Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Apr 15, 2009
    NW England
    I have a GX7 on the way and I plan to see if it has been set up internally like my GF-1 was.......

    In aperture priority and AF, select your aperture for the depth of field you want. With the GF-1 I used to set to F/4. This would give a theoretical hyper-focal distance of 3.28 metres with a depth of field from 1.6m to approx 35m.
    Switch to manual focus
    Switch the camera off
    Switch the camera on
    The camera automatically sets itself up to the f/4 hyperfocal distance allowing you to shoot 'Street' with a zone focus from about 5ft to 100ft.

    Lets hope the GX7 performs the same way.............
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Duncan

    Duncan Mu-43 Regular

    110
    Oct 31, 2013
    Another lens you might consider for zone focusing is the Oly 15mm f8 bodycap lens. The lens has a small lever for focusing, but at f8 and 30mm equivalent focal length, if you push the lever just slightly away from the infinity setting, virtually everything from a few feet to infinity is in focus. The lens doesn't have the highest IQ, but it's inexpensive and might be fine for most street shooting.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. kadamnation

    kadamnation Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Feb 13, 2013
    Boston, MA
    How can you do this? I haven't been able to find the setting to keep the viewfinder on all the time -- even web I disable the GX7's rear screen, the EVF switches off every time I take it away from my face. Great for battery, I'm sure, but not so good for the delay when I bring it back to my eye. If there's a way to get it to behave like the GX1 did with the LVF2, I'd be ecstatic :)

    As for lenses, I'll vouch for the BCL15: cheap, but wide hyper focal depth of field. I particularly enjoyed using mine on a trip to NYC, where it yielded some very satisfying shots of buildings in addition to folks on the street:


    image-2917037777.

    Also, while I admit I prefer a much longer focal length for street photography than most, I've enjoyed both my OM-mount 28mm/f3.5 and 50mm/f1.8 for street shooting. I feel like the distance scale wasn't quite accurate after being adapted (I'm very curious to know how well the 17mm's works, if any of you have experience with it), but the manual aperture and focus meant no risk of losing my settings if I switched the camera off to save power.
     
  13. Marcarn

    Marcarn New to Mu-43

    1
    Dec 1, 2012
    Tumwater, Washington USA
    Mark M Matthies
    Did you find if this method works with the GX7 ?

    Thanks.

     
  14. Palmguy

    Palmguy Mu-43 Regular

    60
    Mar 3, 2013
    Orlando, FL
    With the GX7, you can take it one step further and set up the 4 way controller to directly move the focus point (i.e. without pressing a dedicated focus button first, Direct Focus Area). I've set mine up this way as that is the most common change for me to make and it is the most intuitive for me, as I'm used to using my Nikon and Canon DSLRs in that manner. All the functions that are mapped to the 4 way by default have been reassigned to the other available function buttons or are present in the Q menu. Very easy.