Everybody is doing it, doing it ...

Started Mar 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Tom Caldwell
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Everybody is doing it, doing it ...
Mar 5, 2013

Focus peaking, that is.  Actually more not doing it than it might seem.

I posted this recently -but in a middle of a dying thread - I think it important enough to have a thread of it's own:

"Focus Peaking" has become a cause celebre for me - there seems to be a few versions around but everyone talks about focus peaking as if it were a homogenous routine and all are equivalent as if this was a new physical camera component. But there are several methods and they are not equally effective. I presume that the routine used on the K-01 was "a lend" from Ricoh technology and would be similar to mode1 with up to 8x sceeen magnification. Set and changed by an easy access menu to toggle between normal and the selected 2x, 4x, or 8x.

Mode1 I classify as a highlighted edge shimmer style. In Ricoh's implementation it seems scaled to screen magnification and remains useful throughout each magnification range - there is no colour or thickness configurations available.

Mode2 I classify as enhanced grey scale outlines - again they are useful at all magnifications. This is a "unique to Ricoh" type solution. I find that in low contrast situations reducing the EV can assist focus by increasing the contrast effect - especially when magnified.

Pentax Q - I think this is a straight up version of Ricoh Mode1 but the lcd has much lower pixel count and it is only really effective on normal screen and 2x magnification. It does go to 4x magnification and you can get used to this and this helps only as a guesstimate of focus point. I presume that this is one reason why other cameras including the much lauded X-E1 don't have focus peaking (and only have 3x maximum screen magnification). As an aside I find it hard how such a poor (by current standards) lcd manages to get a "Gold Award" apparently 460mp on a 2.8" lcd is as adequate as last year's sensor in another camera, not a worry. Considering that one of the highly regarded features of the X-E1 is to mount and use manual focus lenses. Lucky that it has a good built in evf. Those tickled pink by it are no doubt using the auto-focus Fuji oem prime lenses via the evf.

Sony focus peaking. Seems to be similar to Ricoh Mode1 without the edge-shimmer. The Sony edge outline seems fixed not scaled - or imperfectly scaled on magnification. Sony allow three thicknesses to be used. Also colours can be selected - white, red or yellow. If you use medium outline you can find that on normal screen the focused areas are fairly thick blotched lines hiding the subject areas natural outlines but on screen-magnification the in-focus detail is harder to detect, even when coloured red so as to stand out. Therefore with screeen magnified a thicker outline might be desirable but in normal view selecting the thinner outlines seem more precise. Only two fixed seqentially selected magnified views are available 4.8x and 9.6x. These are quite adequate in practice. Even with disappeared focus peaking edges the Sony screen is so good that magnified focusing by eye is quite easy - but by then focus peaking assist no longer exists.

Fuji are introducing yet another type of focus peaking - I am not familiar with it.

Ricoh and Sony pioneered focus peaking, Ricoh seems to have the more advanced implementation. However whilst Ricoh does get mentions that it has focus peaking and that Ricoh users like it there seems to be a reviewer consensus that by just using the words that all uninitiated will accept that this is an evolved system and that all focus peakings are the same and that soon enough their favourite brand will have one very similar.

Therefore Ricoh might not be getting the attention it deserves for their well implemented system whilst many feel happy to have shots in Ricoh's direction at better sensors elesewhere, etc, etc. Ricoh has had at least 960mp lcd screens for some time now in it's mainline products. Contrast that Fuji's new wonderchild runs to just 460mp and this is considered "ok" in a review. Surely any review of a Ricoh module with a "mere A12" sensor would receive considerable castigation and downgrading for that simple fact? And yet the X-E1 is popping eyes and the lcd with a "mere 3x" magnification and no focus peaking is being overlooked in the rush to crown the new king.

A better understanding and analysis of all current focus peaking types is necessary. Right at the moment I think that Ricoh might win in any line up.

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Tom Caldwell

Fujifilm X-E1 Pentax K-01
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