Zone focusing on a GF2

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by ianjmatt, May 21, 2012.

  1. ianjmatt

    ianjmatt New to Mu-43

    Have a GF2, mainly bought for street photography. I would like to override the auto focus and set it for a particular zone instead.

    Any thoughts on how to do this?

  2. hanzo

    hanzo Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 22, 2010
    Real Name:
    No can do.. the focusing is by wire, not mechanical.
    Unless you use old legacy lenses.
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Three options. First thing to know is you CAN over-ride AF and set any lens for a particular zone. But its not always easy.

    Option 1: Very good but expensive. Get the Olympus 12mm lens (24mm EFL). It has a really well done "snap" focus ring that essentially snaps forward and leaves the lens in the same configuration as any other m43 lens - AF by default but you can set the camera to manual focus and focus entirely by wire. BUT, where this lens earns its street shooting money is you snap the same ring back to automatically disable the auto focus AND it exposes a distance scale AND it changes the feel of the ring from a by-wire to a more manual feeling lens. This is not the best way to go for critical manual focus because the action can be a little jumpy as it changes the focus, but for zone focus its just wonderful. Its got markings at 2 feet, one meter, 5 feet, and 3 meters and you shouldn't need more than that for zone focus. It has an infinity mark and there's been some question of how accurate it is for infinity focus, but I find mine is spot on as long as I set it TO infinity - you can turn it past infinity and things get a little squirrely, but I've found the marked distances to be dead on with my copy. The only downsides of this lens are that its pretty expensive ($700-800 US) and its a wider field of view than some people like for street shooting. I'd love to have a lens like this at an effective 28mm, but I can get very comfortable shooting at 24. For some, though, this is too wide.

    Option 2 - get a legacy lens which can only be manually focussed and us it for zone focus. The upside here is it works well and can be pretty inexpensive (depending on the lens and focal distance). The downside is it can be tough to find a lens that's wide enough once you take the crop factor into account, particularly if you want to keep it inexpensive (there are a TON of cheap 50mm lenses out there, but they're a portrait length on m43, not a street length). There's a new 17mm manual lens out from I think Voigtlander (not sure on this) that should work great if you like a 35mm focal length, but its crazy expensive, way more than the Olympus 12mm. I think its about $1200-$1300. Its probably also relatively large. But if you can find the right lens at the right price, there's not much downside to this approach.

    Option 3 - use a normal, by wire, m43 lens, disconnect the focus from the shutter button (assign focus to an AFL/AEL button) and use that to focus to the appropriate distance and then don't change the focus until you want to change the zone. As long as you can set your camera up so the shutter button doesn't re-focus on a half-press, this can work. Its a bit of a pain in the butt because you have to approximate to some extent what your actual focal distance is, but if you're using something between 3-7 feet, you can probably figure out where to hold the camera relative to your height and focus on the ground just in front of your feet. There's no indication in the camera as to what distance you're focussed on, so if you miss the ground and, say, hit your knee, things can be off, but its not too difficult. Its a highly inelegant solution, but it works - I did it that way before there were better options for m43 (although I also avoided m43 for street shooting too). The advantage is you can use ANY native m43 lens this way. Its a kludge, plain and simple, but it can work...

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  4. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:
    Great summary Ray. Appreciate it.
  5. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    Canon fd 28-55 fd zoomer for Ray's option 2 might be a decent choice. Not a big lens either. I have one, but it's in rough shape (ebay special gone wrong) probably would be a great choice. Can't really tell ya though.. lol.
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Sounds like a nice lens, but at the widest end, thats a 56mm focal length equivalent on m43 which MIGHT be at the high end of a reasonable focal length for some people. Cartier Bresson shot with a 50mm and there are plenty of people who still do, but an awful lot of street shooters go with 35 or 28 or even a bit wider. Of course there are those who shoot street with a portrait or even longer telephoto lenses, but you're probably not using zone focus for that type of shooting. But, yeah, there are options...

  7. ianjmatt

    ianjmatt New to Mu-43

    Thanks for the advice. I'll try and figure out option 3 (confused me so far!) to use with my 14mm f2.5 and my (hoped for) planned purchase of the 20mm f1.7.

    Perhaps it's back to film and the Trip for now :)
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Its not that tough. You must have some kind of AFL/AEL button on the GF2, or at least a button you can configure for that. Olympus has about a zillion options for this and the GF1 and GH2 have 'em too (although they're a bit less straightforward to set up in my recollection, but I think Pany may have changed this in later models???). I can't imagine the GF2 doesn't have something similar. If so, just set it up so you can focus with the button and only have the camera re-figure exposure when you press the shutter button. On the off chance, there's NO way to do this, you can still make it work by just turning it to manual focus and manually focus on the right distance and then just be careful not to turn the focus ring while you're working. This is even more of a kludge, but will still work...

  9. ianjmatt

    ianjmatt New to Mu-43

    Hi Ray. Thanks so much for the help. Well I have been searching around and I can find no menu option nor reference in the manual to either auto-focus or auto-exposure lock.

    Oh well.