Panasonic is Deepening its Compatibility with DJI’s LiDAR Focusing System

Photography Gear


Panasonic has revealed that it is deepening the compatibility of its Lumix cameras with DJI’s LiDAR focusing unit that pairs with the RS 3 Pro gimbal along with expanding its direct integration with features in the RS2, RSC 2, and RS 3.

The announcement, which was exclusively shared in China and the only information previously available was be found in small screenshots on Weibo, is broken into two parts. First, Panasonic is extending the number of cameras that work with direct integration of Active Track when used in tandem with a DJI RS2, RSC 2, and RS 3. Normally, cameras require the DJI Ronin Image Transmitter and its RavenEye technology to allow live camera view and Active Track. Many of Panasonic’s cameras can work natively with the gimbals without RavenEye, and that is being extended to the S5 II and S5 IIX now, allowing both cameras to gain access to the feature set just by being plugged into the gimbals.

With this, the cameras that support Active Track without needing additional hardware are the S1, S1R, S1H, S5, S5 II, S5 IIX, and BS1H. On the Micro Four Thirds side, the GH6, GH5 II, G9, and GH5S also work.

DJI RavenEye

Second, Panasonic is furthering the compatibility with DJI’s LiDAR focusing unit. The current use case of the LiDAR unit allows geared, manual focus cinema lenses to autofocus using a motor and follow focus system that is controlled via a RS 4 Pro gimbal.

However, with this expanded partnership between the two companies, Lumix shooters can bypass the need for the motor and follow focus parts to use the LiDAR module. The gimbal and the LiDAR module can instead interface directly with Panasonic’s camera software to give LiDAR focusing to the lenses.

In a conversation with the company, Panasonic explains to PetaPixel that the system, when active, would take over for the depth-from-defocus (DfD) or hybrid phase detect system depending on the camera. it would bypass it and pull focusing information from the LiDAR module instead, which then sends focusing information to the lens autofocus motors.

LiDAR has distinct advantages over phase detection and DfD focusing on a small number of use cases, namely in extremely low-light situations. Phase detection weakens in ultra-low light, and many cameras disable phase detection and move to contrast-based in those situations as a result. It is here that LiDAR is superior but with some tradeoffs.

For one, many filmmakers describe LiDAR focusing as “twitchy” in how it drives lenses as it searches for a focus point. Additionally, the range of LiDAR is relatively weak: indoors filmmakers can expect about 15 meters of range, while outdoors that falls to an even more limiting seven meters. Additionally, LiDAR requires an external power solution and module in order to work, further complicating the situation.

As a result, this functionality is only going to benefit a very small number of filmmakers, but since it was possible to do, Panasonic decided to just allow for it and expand the shooting capabilities of its cameras with filmmakers that happen to use the DJI RS 3 Pro gimbal. Even if the choice isn’t going to be the best for many shooters, it is at least a choice they can make.

If DJI were to publish the firmware update to its gimbals that would enable it, this feature would work immediately with the S1H, BS1H, S5 II, and S5 IIX without any changes from Panasonic. Panasonic intends to launch an update later this year that would bring the capability to some of its Micro Four Thirds cameras, although the exact timing and models that would support the upgrade have yet to be determined.

Image credits: DJI

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