If as you suggest DSLR autofocus is an accident waiting to happen what entry level camcorder would you point to as an autofocus champ that also has a good image stabilizing system, performs well in low light and doesn't cost two arms as well as a leg?
Opinions are going to fly on this, especially when anyone talks about autofocusing motion content.
Most people think it's heresy, but really most of that comes down to how bad most autofocus is on cameras that have anything larger than 1/3" chip.
We just finished a series of projects we had to shoot fast to slow. Kind of documentary style for advertising, some dialog, some mos wild, some real scenes, some crafted. Yea I know, that's a mouthful.
Anyway, I looked at every camera imaginable to compliment our main cameras which are RED 1's and Scarlets. I bought and/or tried Nikons, Canon's then settled on the GH3 Panasonic.
Now, I'm not going to say that the autofocus is perfect . . . it's not, but I shot 90% of all the GH3 footage at 2.8 or more open (depending on lens) and if you use care and thought the autofocus is really good.
The key is setting the camera up after blocking the shot. The GH3's have various ways to autofocus, continuous or single, face detect, single point, size moveable focus size and different forms of tracking.
The few times we hunted or missed focus was just pure operator error, or not the right setting, never from the actual camera function, but once again, there is no one size fits all setting.
If your handholding, or tracking with a dolly, or in our case I use a wheelchair when possible and you have a subject going one way, your going the other, which I think is one of the hardest scenes to hit focus on, even for experienced focus techs, if I set the camera right, it would hit focus time after time.
The only glitch is on slow moving subjects, like a kind of moving side to side walk/talk, but those are easy scenes to manually focus.
Sorry to go on about this, but I've tested and used about every motion camera I could afford and went with the RED's because at the time they produced the most robust file of any digital motion camera under $50,000, but honestly the gh3's shoot way about their weight.
I'm not saying the GH3's produce a 13 stop range or go much past 1000 iso without some noise in the shadows, but quality wise in 2k they very much get close to the REDs. Almost crazy when you think the bodies sell for $1,200.
Now the GH3's do have a dslr form factor which doesn't make for the easiest motion camera and they only have on sound channel for input, (which is fine for scratch, or for single interviews quite good if coming from a good sound tech and mixer) and they're small and for most motion subjects I would disregards the lens stabilization because sometimes you get a strange skewing of the image.
Also they will jello cam on horisontal whip pans, but other than that, s__t, they're damn good.
One key is to plan your look and coloration. You can't insert logs (as far as I know) but with some tuning in the menu, careful selection of white balance you get a file that grades very, very well and the sharpness is very good.
The new Pana 2.8 zooms could be faster, but they don't breath near like Canon still lenses and they have a very pretty and soft roll off from highlights to midtones, midtones to shadow while holding great sharpness.
p.s. Just a note, but we had one shot with the gh3 that I did on a whim, a subject getting out of a car and walking towards camera. I never thought I'd use it in the edit and didn't add any fill light. The subject, actually the whole image was at least 2 1/2 stops under. It was one of those overcast days where the light source was behind the subject and the sky had very little detail even underexposed.
Anyway, turns out I needed it to fit the voiceover so I threw it in the edit, knowing it would never grade, but tonight in secondary grading, I twisted the curves, opened it up the color was good the detail good, even the backlit sky held some detail. I was floored and even ran it full screen to make sure I wasn't fibbing to myself. These are very good little cameras.