This blog is a user's perspective on the Micro Four Thirds camera system. Read more ...

Lens Buyer's Guide. Panasonic GH4 review.

My lens reviews: Olympus 9mm f/8 fisheye, Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6, Leica 25mm f/1.4, Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8, Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8, Sigma 30mm f/2.8, Sigma 19mm f/2.8, Lumix X PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6, Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Panasonic Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6, Panasonic Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro, Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6, Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake, Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake, Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8, Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6, Panasonic Lumix G 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, Lumix G 7-14mm f/4, Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye, Tokina 300mm f/6.3 mirror reflex tele, Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye lens
The blog contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thursday 30 December 2010

AF speed, GH1 vs GH2

I have previously checked the AF speed of the Panasonic GH1, and the Panasonic GH2. However, the tests were done at different times, and with different setup, lightning, etc. Also, the GH1 firmware has been updated in the mean time. So I decided to check both cameras again, under exactly the same conditions.

Again, I set a LEGO figure in the centre of the image frame, and found the time from pressing the shutter release button to the camera taking the image. I turned on the camera just before testing the autofocus, which means that the focus is near infinity when first pressing the shutter release button.

I did the test under two different conditions. The first was in dim light, with a black background: There is artificial lights, and rather dim at around EV5. The distance from the camera to the LEGO figure was about 0.6m.

The second was with daylight coming in through the windows, and white background. The lightning was about EV9.

Here are a couple of examples:

Panasonic GH1, Lumix 20mm, dim lights, black background

Panasonic GH2, Lumix 20mm, dim lights, black background

Panasonic GH1, Lumix 14-140mm @ 140mm, daylight, white background

Panasonic GH2, Lumix 14-140mm @ 140mm, daylight, white background

And these are the timings I found:

LensGH1, dimGH2, dimGH1, daylightGH2, daylight
Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake0.43 seconds0.43 seconds0.37 seconds0.20 seconds
Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake0.57 seconds0.53 seconds0.53 seconds0.40 seconds
Leica Lumix DG 45mm f/2.8 macro1.07 seconds0.93 seconds0.73 seconds0.43 seconds
Lumix G 14-42 @ 14mm0.43 seconds0.33 seconds0.30 seconds0.20 seconds
Lumix G 14-42 @ 42mm0.47 seconds0.40 seconds0.37 seconds0.20 seconds
Lumix G HD 14-140 @ 14mm0.40 seconds0.33 seconds0.27 seconds0.17 seconds
Lumix G HD 14-140 @ 50mm0.53 seconds0.57 seconds0.40 seconds0.23 seconds
Lumix G HD 14-140 @ 140mm0.70 seconds0.53 seconds0.50 seconds0.33 seconds

What we see here, is that the timings are remarkably similar in the tests done with dim lights. The GH2 has a small advantage to the GH1, especially with the fast focusing zoom lenses. But in this test condition, there is little to gain by using the GH2.

On the other hand, when testing the cameras with more light available, the difference is larger. The GH2 really excels in this test condition.

My previous test gave a larger difference between the two cameras. However, the GH1 firmware has been upgraded several times since that test, and so has the lens firmware. It seems that the GH1, with the up to date firmware, is still very capable.

As for the accuracy of the focus, it is very good with both the GH1 and GH2. Both cameras use CDAF (contrast detection autofocus). This means that the image sensor checks the actual image for focus before the camera takes the picture.

In contrast to SLR cameras, which use PDAF (phase detection autofocus). This means that there are separate AF sensors behind the mirror, which check the focus in some spots in the frame. These sensors must be calibrated to the image sensor, a process which is costly and complicated. Users of SLR cameras often worry that the camera/lens combination is back-focusing or front-focusing, i.e., that the AF sensors are noe correctly calibrated. This is something that users of Micro Four Thirds don't need to worry about.

Modern DSLRs can also use CDAF, which is generally refered to as "live view". However, this focus mode is often quite slow on DSRLs, since few lenses are optimized for CDAF. All native Micro Four Thirds lenses, and some Four Thirds lenses, are optimized for CDAF.


  1. Thx for quantifying the difference between the different lenses. I now know what to expect if I eventually get some of the PanLeica 45.

    In my own unscientific experience, the GH2 beats the pants off my Pentax K20d in low light. Against the Pentax K-x, it's much closer. But it's comforting to know that the GH2 is up to all but the most challenging AF situations.

    I'm sharing my experiences with the GH2 on my blog - What Blog is This?. Thought I'd share and help knit together the GH2 community!

  2. Would you advise upgrading an older GH1 to the newest firmware than hacking it and getting better movie footage?

  3. Chris.
    The latest firmware for GH1 (1.34) is not publicly available. That is the reason why is has not been hacked yet. So any firmware upgrade that you can find will still be hackable. This excludes firmware upgraded by Panasonic service, as they are the only ones that have the 1.34.

    Tod Yampel