Massively Improved Autofocus Performance for GH5s, GH5 and G9 with New Firmware

October 23rd, 2018

Panasonic issued new firmware updates for its popular GH5, GH5s and G9 cameras today. The updates are supposed to fix some minor issues in the current firmware and improve the autofocus performance on all three cameras, which have been criticized for their AF performance being somewhat behind on the competition. Panasonic has been eagerly pushing firmware updates to the cameras since their release, this marking the sixth version of the GH5’s firmware. Here’s what you need to know.

Upon the release of the GH5 and later the GH5s its continuous autofocus performance in video was met with less than enthusiastic reactions by many shooters – see our own video test of the GH5s autofocus capabilities by clicking here. This was probably due to Panasonic’s claims prior to release that the camera’s performance in that sector was massively improved. What followed was something of a divide, with some of the camera’s users claiming the autofocus was just lacking (after all it does use contrast detection, while most cameras considered to have good autofocus in video mode use phase detection) and others saying it was mostly misunderstood, yet completely workable if used in the right way. The G9 mostly seemed to share the exact same issues, having the same autofocusing system as the GH5 and GH5s.

The workarounds mostly consisted of focus area or point selection instead of using the full focus area and/or just letting the camera track a subject. The problem observed by shooters was a common one in a contrast based AF system, namely back focusing and hunting while tracking a subject. Now Panasonic claims to have improved just that problem in this firmware update. Both the detection of the actual subject in frame, as well as the automatic focus area selection (to keep it on the subject) seem to have been improved by further tweaking the algorithms. This should also prevent the dreaded backfocusing issues.

Side-by-side AF test of GH5s with Firmware 1.1 and 1.2

We already tested the new firmware release and decided to put two GH5s bodies with the exact same lens and settings, but two different firmware versions 1.1 and 1.2 next to each other, testing the performance.

We are not exaggerating when we say that we were mightily impressed with the results. Somehow Panasonic managed to make the autofocus really significantly better, even though we are working with a contrast-based system here. It accurately recognized Nino’s face many times during the test while the old version completely failed. It’s noteworthy that the AF mode with the 225 AF points is the one we used for the test and that’s what’s so massively improved.

Huge improved AF performance on our side-by-side test with the new firmware on the GH5s.

We shot an interview with Panasonic at Photokina recently where we talked about the firmware update as well as their lens announcemend. You can read all about it here and watch the video below.

There were also some bugs in the current firmware addressed by this update. Here’s an overview:

Updates to the GH5 (firmware 2.4)

  • Improvement of tracking performance and minimizing of backfocusing in continuous AF mode with 225 AF points
  • Fix of a One-Push-AE bug in Creative M mode, when SS/Gain-Operation is set to Angle/ISO
  • Fix of bug that sometimes caused timecode to be reset upon battery change
  • Fix of a bug that caused showing all footage, instead of just the intended frame in 6k/4k Photo mode

Updates to the GH5S (firmware 1.2):

  • Improvement of tracking performance and minimizing of backfocusing in continuous AF mode with 225 AF points
  • Fix of a bug that caused the camera to not react appropriately to brightness changes under fluorescent light
  • Fix of a One-Push-AE bug in Creative M mode, when SS/Gain-Operation is set to Angle/ISO
  • Improvement of image quality when using V-Log for VFR recording in Creative Mode
  • Improvement of image quality when using the Intelligent Dynamic Range Control feature

Updates to the G9 (firmware 1.2):

  • Improvement of tracking performance and minimizing of backfocusing in continuous AF mode with 225 AF points
  • Fix of a bug that caused the camera to not react appropriately to brightness changes under fluorescent light

The updates are available now and can be downloaded here:

Are you happy with this update, in case you are a GH5 / GH5s or G9 owner? Will you test the improvement? Or do you want to share the results of your test with us? Let us know in the comments!

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 Christopher Sanderson
Christopher Sanderson
MemberOctober 23rd, 2018

Agreed. A ‘massive’ improvement in AF is certainly not hyperbole! I have a new camera with this fw 2.4 update. Chris Sanderson

 Allan Templeton
Allan Templeton
MemberOctober 26th, 2018

Is your camera a GH5 OR GH5S?

Unai
Unai
GuestOctober 23rd, 2018

It’s just me or the skin tones are a little bit different. Was the test done with the same WB?

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

Hi Unai.
Yes, both cameras were set to AWB. (And you are right, there is a slight difference between the color tone in the images).

Thank you.
Johnnie

Unai
Unai
GuestOctober 24th, 2018

So it is nothing to do with the firmware update? Since they were set to AWB they might be done a slight difererent WB?

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

Indeed, nothing to do with the FW update.

Johny
Johny
GuestOctober 23rd, 2018

Hertz? 24? 50? 59,94?

Nino Leitner
AdminOctober 23rd, 2018

You mean frames per second? 25p.

Andrew Alvarez
Andrew Alvarez
GuestOctober 23rd, 2018

I think he wants to know what system frequency your camera was running at because the GH5 can run at both NTSC and CINEMA

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

In that case, we shot on PAL settings.

Thanks.

Richard
Richard
GuestOctober 23rd, 2018

Quick Question. Is there any concern in updating the camera firmware and in someway alter the communication between a Lens adapter, for instance the auto focus communication of the adapter.

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

Hi Richard.
Sorry, we had no chance to test this as we were using M4/3 lenses. Personally, I don’t it should affect the communication.

Thank you.

Eugenia L
MemberOctober 23rd, 2018

From the tests I’ve seen online today, I noticed that the GH5 improvements are minimal, but the GH5s’ improvements are much bigger — as this video shows? The two cameras aren’t the same (different sensor, electronics inside), so it could potentially have more CPU power to do the job better than the GH5 can?

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

Hi Eugenia L.
Can be. Unfortunately we had the time to test the GH5s only so we can’t really comment about the GH5 performance after the update.

Thanks

Aaron
Aaron
GuestOctober 24th, 2018

This is all very well – but the VFR quality is still AWFUL above 62FPS ON THE GH5S. There is terrible horizontal noise in ALL MODES (but most obviously in V-LOG) and this update has done nothing to improve it. Very sad. This isn’t an issue on the GH5.

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

Hi Aaron.
We promise to deliver your concern to the right people at Panasonic.

Thank you

NYC Michael
NYC Michael
GuestOctober 24th, 2018

Thanks for the post and the video. Love to see this! Would you be able to share what other autofocus settings you were using on the camera for this test, aside from the 225 AF points?

Thank you!

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

Hi NYC Michael
The cameras we’ve conducted the test with are no longer at the office. If there is a specific setting you are referring to, let us know. Maybe we can retrieve the information somehow.

Thank you

 James Webb
James Webb
MemberOctober 24th, 2018

From my very simple and quick tests on a GH5, the AF improvement seems to be primarily with using Face Detection on 255 AF Points. I didn’t see a discernible improvement in any other mode. Here’s another focus test by Richard Wong https://youtu.be/ZZ84zQeXzk8

NYC Michael
NYC Michael
GuestOctober 24th, 2018

Thanks Johnnie and James. Johnnie — I was curious about the very thing James mentions — Was Face Detection used? Also did you set any of the AF custom settings (e.g. AF speed, AF sensitivity)?

James — Did you test it yourself without Face Detection and were you finding it lagging? Also, I’m curious if you set the AF custom settings.

Thanks guys!

Duke Sweden
Duke Sweden
GuestOctober 24th, 2018

Did they fix the VFR image quality problem above 60p? Someone said it’s still bad.I’m getting my GH5s on Thursday so I can’t test it myself yet.

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 24th, 2018

Hi Duke.
Improving the VFR image quality above 60p was not part of this FW update.

Thanks

Duke Sweden
Duke Sweden
GuestOctober 31st, 2018

But it says right in the article, and on Panasonic’s page about this update:
“Improvement of image quality when using V-Log for VFR recording in Creative Mode”

Jaakko
Jaakko
GuestOctober 26th, 2018

First impression of my GH5 with the FW update: it really works well. At first I did not notice any difference but you need to remember to put the 225 points on, lol. Then all started working like a clock. Huge improvement! Thanks for the test and article!

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminOctober 26th, 2018

Thank you Jaakko for sharing the information. Indeed it is a 225 points update.

Johnnie

Noolz Reloz
Noolz Reloz
GuestNovember 1st, 2018

How we can use It with https://mrecorder.com/ on Android, and can teach how to improve skill in this application?

 Doug Cummings
Doug Cummings
MemberNovember 14th, 2018

Do either the GH5 or 5s autofocus during slow motion recording (i.e. not 60fps but at HD120fps or 180fps)? The Sony A9 and 6500 do at 120fps
Thanks

Slavik Boyechko
Slavik Boyechko
GuestOctober 28th, 2018

Pretty big improvement. Though, not having used the GH5 before, this also showcases how bad the AF was before the firmware update.

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