Focus Peaking with MF Lenses.... DSLR & Mirrorless.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mike_halliwell, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. I took my AF dead 500mm f4 AFS lens on my D850 for a walk around the local nature reserve over the weekend.

    Using Focus Peaking on the backscreen was doable for things like ducks in the middle of a lake where it was easy to 'see' the focal plane move to and fro with slight focus ring rotation. Stationary small birds in bushes were OK for similar reasons. I decided to have RED as my 'in focus' indicator colour.

    However, I then tried (for fun) my Sigma 60-600mm f6.3 set to MF. Sure the indicators were there but there seemed to be far fewer red bits.... and some twigs and things never went red at-all.

    So, what decision/info does the camera make to highlight certain bits? High micro-contrast areas?

    Is it aperture related, ie does the mechanism need lots of light?

    I had a look in the manual (I know crazy or what?) and the bit about Focus Peaking LEVELs says..

    The options in the Peaking level menu are 3 (high sensitivity), 2 (standard), 1 (low sensitivity), and Off; the higher the setting, the greater the depth shown as being in focus.

    I'm obviously reading it wrong but that sounds kinda backwards. I take it Low Sensitivity is the most precise?

    Does this work the same way in a mirrorless EVF?

    The ergonomics of using focus peaking on the back screen of the D850 is very far from comfortable.... and I'm tempted by the new MK ii versions for this very use, and video.

    Has anyone got both the D850 and Z6/7ii? and can do a quick evaluative test. There are a few review type things available on-line but I trust the members here not to be biased...:)

    Late Edit. Why didn't/doesn't the D500 have Focus Peaking?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
  2. high-contrast edges. After all, in the D850 it can rely only on contrast-detection AF. Not sure if phase-detection comes into play on a Z7/Z7II.
    Indeed. The lower the sensitivity setting, the higher the contrast has to be to be detected. Which is why you see less items "peaking". Increase the sensitivity setting, and almost everything is now "sharp" and hence "peaking".
    Most likely. There is also probably quite a difference in the optical performance between a 60-600 zoom and a 500/4 prime.
    As already stated, I am not sure if the on-sensor phase-detection AF is active (or can be chosen to be active) on mirrorless. No such option on the D850, there's only contrast detection (the D780 offers on-sensor phase detection AF).
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  3. Not sure about Nikon, but on Fuji mirrorless, you can choose between focus peaking (contrast detection) and a split image 'rangefinder' (phase detection). The split image gives a monochrome view of horizontal 'stripes', alternating left and right, from, I presume, the phase detection pixels on the sensor.

    I find peaking works well overall, split image works best with long(er), fast(er) lenses.
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  4. You can strap a Hoodman magnifier on the camera, which makes using the LCD screen easier to use in lieu of an EVF (e.g., DSLR in Live View mode).

    Peaking emphasizes edges depensing on contrast. I don't care much for peaking, because it isn't very precise and seems to be asymmetrical (best focus is off peak). Focus magnification is much more accurate, and unenhanced focusing works pretty well if you're in a hurry. I have found a HD monitor connected by HDMI works exceptionally well for static situations like copying and tabletop photography.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  5. Spot on! It's a really nice-to-use feature...:cool:

    I have a Hoodman clone and yes indeed, it does work, and keeps something of the ergonomics of a conventional VF...:)

    However, trying to keep all that lot (500mm No AF & No VR) remotely stable for keeping on target whilst twiddling the focus ring is an issue...:eek:

    I'm hoping the IBIS of a Z6/Z7 ii will help? Anyone tried it?....;)
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  6. If you want to hand-hold a camera, especially with a heavy long-focus lens, there's no substitute for the stability holding it firmly against your head. The strap-on magnifier works best if the camera is on a tripod, as close to eye level as practical. It doesn't work very well with the camera on a gimbal (i.e., for video), and the LCD is useless in daylight. I use a Ninja V 5" monitor, mounted on a handle extension to keep mass on the gimbal to a minimum. The Ninja is bright enough to use in daylight with an attached hood. The resolution is 1920x1080 pixels, not "dots" as specified for most camera LCDs.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  7. If you don't need to record, the display-only Atomos Shinobi is the same size and resolution of the Ninja, and is available with HDMI or HDMI/SDI inputs, at half the price of the Ninja.

    Not everybody needs a high resolution remote, but file it away in case the situation arises. I shoot a LOT of video, so these things are part of my everyday kit.

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