Bundled with the 2.0 version of their firmware, the Post-Focus feature, demonstrated back this summer, lets you accomplish exactly what it’s name says; change your image’s focus point after having taken the photo. While this works similarly to what Lytro is doing, it achieves it by shooting a burst of photo at 30fps and 4K resolution. Then, using the touchscreen on the back of the camera, you can select any focus point, save different versions of the same composition and use focus peaking while being zoomed in to determine to best location for an ultra-precise focus point. This new feature is available on the Lumix DMC-GX8 the DMC-G7 and the DMC-FZ330 and is available since yesterday.
From Digital Photography Review’s website, here’s Panasonic’s press release:
Panasonic Frees Photographer’s Creativity with New 'Post Focus' Technology
LUMIX DMC-GX8, DMC-G7 and DMC-FZ330 enable any area of a photograph to be in-focus after shooting
Panasonic is encouraging photographers to shoot first and focus later with a new technological function called ‘Post Focus’. After taking a picture, the function enables photographers to select whichever part of the image they want to be in-focus with an easy one touch operation. Developed with Panasonic’s existing 4K Photo technology, Post Focus not only prevents out-of-focus misshots but also offers greater creative freedom, and is now available via a firmware update for the LUMIX DMC-GX8, DMC-G7 and DMC-FZ330.
Post Focus has been made possible by combining the high-speed, high-precision DFD (Depth from Defocus) auto focus technology and Panasonic’s 4K technology, made possible by the Venus Engine. Burst images in 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) are shot at 30 fps while detecting up to 49 areas of a frame for focus points at different depths of field.
Operation of the Post Focus function is straightforward and easy. Turn on post focus, compose and take your picture. Then, while reviewing the images simply touch the area you want the focus to be and a new image with the selected focus area will be produced as a separate photo.
In addition, this function can be used for creative purposes in different types of photography such as portrait, landscape and especially macro, where the optimal control is needed. Focus peaking, 5x magnified zoom and other fine adjustment settings can be used for even greater focus control. Several different impressions can be taken out of one picture by changing the focus and defocus within the image to select the desired subject. This assures that the photographer can select the best shot instead of out-of- focus misshots.
The Post Focus firmware update will be available at 01:00 GMT on 25th November, 2015 on the LUMIX Global site (http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/) for the LUMIX DMC-GX8, DMC-G7 and DMC-FZ330.
Here are two videos of it in action:
Now, if this feature gets to evolve a bit, it will be especially useful and will let product photographers like myself focus on the creative aspect of the shot rather than on making sure it’s all in focus. Plus, the results are hopefully going to be smoother because it's entirely computerized and doesn’t introduce the sloppiness of a human. Picture this, you set your shot the way you like it, trigger the camera, let it doing its thing and be left with tens of focus-stacking ready images. The camera could even stitch the files internally, but I’m fairly positive on the fact that I’d like to keep the files and combine them myself on a dedicated software running on a resourceful machine. As it is today, I would not use Panasonic’s new feature. First, I’d have to switch camera system, which I would not enjoy doing at all. Also, the best camera of the three, the DMC-GX8, only has a Micro Four-Third sensor, which will not resolve the best deal of details. Probably the biggest deal breaker for me is the fact that the files are limited in resolution to 4K. I get why Panasonic chose to go with such a resolution and 30fps, I really do, but I can’t help other than wanting to use the full potential of the sensor. I wouldn’t mind having the camera take a minute or even more the record all of the shots, but let me take advantage of all of those megapixels I have. Another point is the fact that you are limited to using continuous lighting since no studio strobe will be able to keep up with the rate of shooting the camera will sustain, hence why it would take more than a minute to complete all of the images. Finally, the output file are JPEGs and, again, that makes me feel like I am missing on the chance to use the full potential and every bit of sharpness that the sensor-lens combo has to offer. The feature will keep improving and, perhaps, camera like the a7R or a7R II will offer a variant of such utility directly targeted at product and still life photographers (and landscape shooters too!).
It’s certainly a step in the right direction for Panasonic and the photography industry in general. The only use I would make out of this feature today is shooting e-commerce images where you need to do several tens of them a day and sheer sharpness and details retention isn’t as important since you won’t be blowing them up onto ads or billboards. Anyways, let us know your thoughts and feelings for this new and exciting feature in the comments below!