In this Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 review, Ian Burley tests the company's fifth-generation mirrorless, 16-million-pixel CSC, which has an articulated capacitive touchscreen, OLED EVF, Wi-Fi and NFC, plus improved low-light autofocus
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 review: Autofocus
There is no shortage of AF options in the Lumix DMC-G6, ranging from a single focus point to an automatic multiple point program, and it is possible to make the AF system track a point on a moving subject. Face detection is an underrated option that can help enormously when photographing people moving around in a group, for example. When using a single focus point, its size is variable. Using a tiny focus point is useful when trying to lock on to fine details like branches in the boughs of a tree or bush, and for macro photography.
The current range of micro four thirds cameras from both Panasonic and Olympus mated to the latest micro four thirds lenses are unparalleled when it comes to single-action autofocus performance. Panasonic says its cameras and lenses can outgun the best DSLRs when snapping an image into focus. Thanks to low-mass focus lens design and optimisation for quiet focus motors, as well as advanced contrast-detection autofocus algorithms and very fast sampling rates, focus can be expected to snap into place, and the G6 is no exception.
Where micro four thirds can’t match DSLRs and their range-finding phase-detection AF systems is in continuous AF with action photography. There have been improvements and the G6 does fairly well at continuously focusing when a subject is approaching the camera at a steady rate, but when things are less predictable – such as when trying to follow a bird in flight – the focus system generally doesn’t cope so well.
One area that Panasonic has definitely improved is low-light AF performance, which has been achieved simply by slowing the focus system down. The logic is similar to slowing the shutter in low light: contrast sampling is slowed so that the data being analysed is more reliable, and although focusing in low light is more leisurely, there is less hunting and failure to lock focus.
Continuous autofocus in video recording mode is excellent, even in moderately low light. Focus transitions are deliberately slower than in stills mode to avoid the distraction that fast-focus actions would bring, and to avoid hunting.