Manual Focus and Focus-Shift on Z6/Z7 with Manual Focus Lenses

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GuyDagar Regular Member • Posts: 212
Manual Focus and Focus-Shift on Z6/Z7 with Manual Focus Lenses

I've been asked a few times about manual focus on the Z bodies and my answer is as others have said, it is very easy with focus-peaking. Assigning zoom to a button like the "record" button makes it easy to zoom in and the focus-peaking zebras are easy to see. Another related question I've been asked is how easy is it to do focus-shift with a manual focus lens. Again, it's pretty easy, depending on what you're shooting.

You need to be on a tripod, of course, and you need to have a subject that is not moving, at least not more than microscopically. You are going to be doing manually what the focus-shift feature of the Z6/Z7 (and D850) do automatically—you are going to re-focus from the foremost point of your composition to the farthest point of your composition—that with you want sharp and in focus. On a Z body focus-peaking is automatic when you use a manual focus lens. In the example below I used a 40 year old Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 AI-S lens on a Nikon Z6 (with FTZ adapter of course). It is a further testament to how good the old Nikon glass still is, especially when hand-holding with the benefit of IBIS.

NIKON Z6 + NIKKOR 135mm f/2.8 AI-S – SETTINGS: 135mm - ISO 100 – f/2.8 @ 1/25 - 9 IMAGE STACK

NIKON Z6 + NIKKOR 135mm f/2.8 AI-S – SETTINGS: 135mm - ISO 100 – f/22 @ 2.5 SECS

As you see, you can shoot the same subject stopped down and get, in this case, all of the subject in focus. However, the background is also in focus. Now, maybe you want the background in focus, but if you want the background blurred and the entire subject in focus, the easiest way to do it is to shift focus. In this case I focussed first on the front-most edge of the lens hood and arbitrarily shifted focus little by little until I reached furthest point, the PASM dial on the right top of the camera.

This is perhaps an over-simplified example, just an example, and an easy one at that. Each focus-shift image is taken with the lens wide open. If you stop down 2-3 stops from wide open you will get greater depth of field in each shot, and this will be more pertinent when you are shooting a landscape with greater distance from foreground to infinity and will thus require few shifts. I generally shoot landscapes in focus-shift at f/5.6 or f/8 depending on the lens.

 GuyDagar's gear list:GuyDagar's gear list
Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm F2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm F3.5-4.5G ED VR +11 more
Nikon Z6
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