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Panasonic S1R Eye AF: Hit and Miss at Its Best

Get Panasonic S1R at B&H Photo.

When you get the shot you want and the camera screwed the pooch with incompetent Eye AF, what does it feel like? Like a total waste of time and anger at shots lost.

Below, there are sharp eyebrows, lips and nose, but blurry iris of the eye. How hard can it be with a high-grade 90mm f/2 lens to nail focus on the iris of the eye? Half (at least) of my shots did not nail focus on the iris of the eye and of the other half, half of those succeeded only because of depth of field.

Eye Sensor AF = ON
Shutter AF = ON
AF Mode = Face/Eye/Body/Animal Detect

I watch the focus indicator thing light up in the right area and all looks right when pressing the shutter. Am I missing something and it’s RTFM? I can’t see how.

How could any pro put up with this dogshit Eye AF? Screwing up the wrong job might mean screwing up a reputation which could mean career over. Better use f/8 and pray. Or buy Sony, assuming its Eye AF still works.

f2 @ 1/400 sec, ISO 50; 2019-05-20 17:52:57
Panasonic S1R + Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH RAW: Enhance Details

[low-res image for bot]

NYC pro photographer James K writes:

What’s up doc?

You are a fussy guy. What do you want for around $8000? You want a camera that actually does Eye Auto Focus. Imagine explaining to a beauty client that it “was the cameras fault”. Next photographer please.

Sometimes in life “there are no second chances.” There are at least ten guys around the corner happy to take your place at the table. Somebody has to shake the tree and it seems that job has fallen to you. Thank the Photo Gods. Keep up the good work.

DIGLLOYD: and there is the rest of my life and hers that this shot might never happen again—life is not a dress rehearsal. Personal or professional, most opportunities never come again. I might photograph my daughter today or tomorrow, but it might be months before I do so again—she’s busy and not always cooperative. A camera that f****s it up is on my shit list, at least for that feature.

As to reviewing a lens, having to shoot and reshoot so I can get (at best) 1 in 3 perfectly focused images, and of those, hope and pray that some of the best expressions and poses are included.

What I don’t follow is how camera companies seem to monitor sites like mine—surely they’d like to address such issues, ideally by explaining the voodoo setting that I apparently forgot to turn on in order to make things work well, or by fixing the software algorithms if I am doing everything right. I suppose they just watch Twitter and Facebook and Instagram? I don’t have any contacts at Panasonic, and I’m not about to waste my time on Beginner Tech Support.

Below, a 2nd Eye AF failure. Most of the images in my shoot were ruined in this manner—sharpness on the eyebrows or nose, blurry eye or eyes. How hard can it be to get one eye sharp at this range at 90mm at f/2?!

f2 @ 1/250 sec handheld, ISO 50; 2019-05-20 17:53:17
Panasonic S1R + Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected

[low-res image for bot]
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