Panasonic to Add Phase Detection to Future Cameras, Including MFT

Panasonic GH6

Response to the Lumix S5 II has been positive enough that Panasonic has all but confirmed that it will add phase detection autofocus (PDAF) to its future cameras, including Micro Four Thirds (MFT).

In an interview with PhotoTrend that was spotted by Photo Rumors, Panasonic’s Imaging Business Division Director Yosuke Yamane was coy, yet all but confirmed that the company will take the positive response of phase detection autofocus that it added to the S5 II to heart.

“With the adoption of phase detection AF in this new model, we have all the AF technologies. For cameras released in the future, we will adopt the optimal autofocus method each time, while evaluating the target users and customer benefits,” Yamane says.

“We will consider adding phase detection AF to our cameras depending on the model characteristics, not only for full-frame cameras, but also for Micro Four Thirds. And on this last point, I invite you to stay tuned for our next announcements.”

Outside of official product announcements, this language is about as close to a confirmation as can be expected from a spokesperson for a large corporation.

Panasonic S5II

PDAF works by dividing the incoming light into pairs of images and comparing them. This method is extremely fast. When combined with contrast-based systems, which evaluate the intensity difference between adjacent pixels of the sensor, a camera is able to be both fast and accurate with its focusing. However, Panasonic has said that PDAF systems, while powerful, came with an image quality downside in some cases. Most photographers never notice this, but Panasonic claims its dedication to quality prevented it from using PDAF until it came up with a solution to this issue.

When the S5 II was launched, Panasonic said it has solved that problem, and the amount of time it took it to do so was why it took so long to see PDAF in a Lumix camera. Yamane echoed that again in the interview with PhotoTrend.

“We are working on technology development to achieve a high level of performance without compromise in terms of basic camera performance, namely image quality, autofocus, and image stabilization,” he says.

“As a result, we achieved high-precision autofocus with contrast-detection autofocus technology and DFD technology without using PDAF.”

Panasonic GH6 in use

Given that poor autofocus performance was a main reason why photographers avoided Panasonic cameras, an issue that is no longer present with the S5 II, it should come as no surprise that the company intends to continue using the technology in future releases.

Yamane adds that the company’s new group CEO, Yuki Kusumi, is a fan of cameras and that the company has no intention of slowing down its camera development. It’s not clear if the company’s previous announcement that it would “shift” its business to video is still the primary focus.

Image credits: Header photo by Matt Williams for PetaPixel. Others courtesy of Panasonic.