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Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
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Old February 13th, 2012, 12:07 PM   #1
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New tripod or new lens?

I've shot a couple of (non-wedding) events during the past few months. I've realized that I'm not quite there with my gear yet.
I've been using the 20mm Panny on my GH2 with mixed success. I love the bokeh and the look of the images it produces, but the autofocus is not great, even with the latest firmware update.
This is not a problem most of the time, as I can manual focus on a tripod. However, the tripod I have isn't too good, so I'm gravitating toward using my fluid head monopod. The problem there is that I have trouble keeping the monopod steady while manually focusing.

I'd also like to be able to use my GH2 with my Flycam nano, which is a situation that requires autofocus. The nano works fine with my 14mm and 45mm lenses, but I can't use the 20mm without a lot of focus hunting.

So I have a couple of options:

1. Buy a new tripod head (701HDV) and legs.
2. Sell my 20mm lens and buy the 25mm f1.4 lens.

My questions are, is the 25mm much better than the 20mm as far as AF is concerned?
Also, is a monopod plus a steadicam sufficient for the manned camera during a wedding shoot (the stationary camera will of course be on the tripod).
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Old February 14th, 2012, 02:24 PM   #2
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Re: New tripod or new lens?

Thomas, just to clarify, if you mean the Continuous Auto focus that works like a videocamera's auto focus, you will not see that kind of performance with this camera, at least I haven't learned how to do so. I shoot weddings and I always disable the Continuous Auto Focus in the camera's menu.

On the other hand, if you mean auto focus as in using the shutter button to set focus, it is touch and go with the 20mm but not that bad at all, but it will hunt a bit at times. If you use the focus by setting up a focus area on the touch screen, you can then depress the shutter button to achieve focus on whatever is in that square, which is how I do it most times. The 20mm should work well most times, and is a nice lens for the money. Actually for the money it is VERY nice.

Conversely, the 25mm, particularly in low light, is superior in every way to the 25mm. It focuses nearly instantaneously, and produces very nice images. I find it's color rendition is not as warm as I find the 20mm, and I like it much better. I have both, and I strongly prefer the 25mm.

I also use the tripod head you are talking about, I have three of them. I do not like using the larger 501 and 503 heads, which I also have, with the GH2, they are too big for the camera, IMO. The 701 isn't the same quality and isn't as rugged as the larger heads, but it fits the camera so much better.

If money is tight, it's a tough call, and depends on what is more important. A smooth head that works well with your camera is critical, but so is the lens.

Sadly, only you can choose. My instinct would tell me if you have a tripod/head that isn't optimal, maybe replace it first. The 701 is less than $150, so it wouldn't set you back much anyway.

Learn to use the lens you have a little better, and maybe figure how to set up your camera for a focusing method that works for you first before spending bucks on a new lens. If you buy the 25mm, you'd like it, but I don't want to you to expect more than it can realistically deliver, and then feel like you threw $500 away.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 06:41 PM   #3
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Re: New tripod or new lens?

Thanks for the advice.
I had ruled out continuous AF since it's inadequate no matter what lens I use.
As much as I hate it, I just need to get better at manual focusing. I can get by with setting focus beforehand in most situations, but sometimes I need to pull focus, and that's something for which only dedicated videocameras have good enough autofocus.

I've pretty much decided I will go with the 701HDV, since I can use it with my monopod for the time being until I can afford another set of legs. Maybe I'll also pick up a 3x magnification viewfinder to help with manually focusing.
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Old February 17th, 2012, 06:38 AM   #4
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Re: New tripod or new lens?

The 20mm is not very handy for manual focusing. You should try using auto focus with the focus area set in the upper middle, and you can get perfect focus instantly. You can move focus area around on the screen on the fly and refocus at will using the shutter button, it's much faster and more efficient than using manual, especially with that lens.
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Old February 17th, 2012, 02:59 PM   #5
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Re: New tripod or new lens?

Yeah, I won't be using the manual focus much on the 20mm, just the 45mm.

I do have a bit of a predicament. If I buy the 701HDV head for the 560B, I'll have to keep one hand on the monopod at all times since it's not free standing. My other hand will be panning and tilting the 701HDV head. This leaves no hand to manually focus, which will not work during the ceremony.
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