Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?

Started 3 months ago | Questions
davidevans1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,753
Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

I've never used or owned a pure manual focus lens for the Sony E system but am seriously thinking of getting a Voigtlander 50mm F/2 Apo Lanthar E mount.

I do have a Sony FE 90mm macro lens and use that in manual mode sometimes and have it set that it magnifies an area and also focus peaking so that in focus areas shade red.

Are there other options though that suit other situations? What do people recommend please for:

  1. Landscape (is it focus peaking only without magnifying an area, if this is possible?)?
  2. Street (possibly it's to preset aperture and focus and take shots in an 'in focus zone')?
  3. Portrait (is there a way to have the eye 'boxed' when manual focus has got focus on an eye?)?

And what's the best solution for accessing them? I already use Memories 1, 2 and 3 from the mode dial, but have never used the Memories M1, M2, M3 or M4 saved on a card.

Or am I going to miss AF too much now?!  As background I am old enough to have owned a film camera before autofocus was a possibility!

Thanks for any advice.

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David

 davidevans1's gear list:davidevans1's gear list
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Sony a7R IV Voigtlander 65mm F2 Macro APO-Lanthar
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A-Marc
A-Marc Contributing Member • Posts: 571
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

davidevans1 wrote:

I've never used or owned a pure manual focus lens for the Sony E system but am seriously thinking of getting a Voigtlander 50mm F/2 Apo Lanthar E mount.

I do have a Sony FE 90mm macro lens and use that in manual mode sometimes and have it set that it magnifies an area and also focus peaking so that in focus areas shade red.

Are there other options though that suit other situations? What do people recommend please for:

  1. Landscape (is it focus peaking only without magnifying an area, if this is possible?)?
  2. Street (possibly it's to preset aperture and focus and take shots in an 'in focus zone')?
  3. Portrait (is there a way to have the eye 'boxed' when manual focus has got focus on an eye?)?

And what's the best solution for accessing them? I already use Memories 1, 2 and 3 from the mode dial, but have never used the Memories M1, M2, M3 or M4 saved on a card.

Or am I going to miss AF too much now?! As background I am old enough to have owned a film camera before autofocus was a possibility!

Thanks for any advice.

i use magnify set the push on the joy stick, so i use my last joint of my thumb to press the joy stick. when focus area is set to flexible spot, the magnification will be where your af box is. its pretty easy to nail focus precisely where you want it and get the picture.

you will also notice some sort of "shimmer" in the EVF, where the focus plane is, it is subtile to see, but works better for me than the peaking option.

i ve never used the CV50/2Apo, but i own the CV65. the lanthar lenses are amazing and the pictures they produce are breathtaking in rendering and sharpness.

to me full manual lens and no af is great because it slows your photography down and connects you deeper with the camera.

enjoy your new lens;)

 A-Marc's gear list:A-Marc's gear list
Sony a7R II Sony a7R IV Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 +3 more
jan pawlak Contributing Member • Posts: 650
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
2

Pictures from the A7R4/3 matrix are very demanding for determining maximum sharpness. Focus peaking has too little precision for this purpose, but is well suited to determine the GO range

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AlephNull Senior Member • Posts: 1,991
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

davidevans1 wrote:

I've never used or owned a pure manual focus lens for the Sony E system but am seriously thinking of getting a Voigtlander 50mm F/2 Apo Lanthar E mount.

I do have a Sony FE 90mm macro lens and use that in manual mode sometimes and have it set that it magnifies an area and also focus peaking so that in focus areas shade red.

Are there other options though that suit other situations? What do people recommend please for:

  1. Landscape (is it focus peaking only without magnifying an area, if this is possible?)?
  2. Street (possibly it's to preset aperture and focus and take shots in an 'in focus zone')?
  3. Portrait (is there a way to have the eye 'boxed' when manual focus has got focus on an eye?)?

And what's the best solution for accessing them? I already use Memories 1, 2 and 3 from the mode dial, but have never used the Memories M1, M2, M3 or M4 saved on a card.

Or am I going to miss AF too much now?! As background I am old enough to have owned a film camera before autofocus was a possibility!

Thanks for any advice.

I use this lens on the A7R4, and when you nail the focus, the results are superb. This lens is very sharp, and the bokeh is attractive.

Note that it's pure manual focus, but not an entirely manual lens. It communicates with the camera, reporting focus distance and aperture, so the lens works in Aperture priority mode, and IBIS works. It also means that it will zoom as you move the focus ring.

Despite those who describe focus peaking as inaccurate, I find it a useful adjunct to help get the focus right.

If you use zoomed focus with focus peaking to get focus on your key point, then let go of the shutter button, then half press again, you can see the focus peaking results for the whole frame, because it won't zoom in again until you move the focus ring again. You can also turn off zoom on focus if you want (I don't).

I cannot tell if you will miss AF too much, but I discovered that I did not.

 AlephNull's gear list:AlephNull's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a7R IV Sony a9 II Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Sony FE 100mm F2.8 GM +4 more
OP davidevans1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,753
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?

AlephNull wrote:
I use this lens on the A7R4, and when you nail the focus, the results are superb. This lens is very sharp, and the bokeh is attractive.

Note that it's pure manual focus, but not an entirely manual lens. It communicates with the camera, reporting focus distance and aperture, so the lens works in Aperture priority mode, and IBIS works. It also means that it will zoom as you move the focus ring.

Despite those who describe focus peaking as inaccurate, I find it a useful adjunct to help get the focus right.

If you use zoomed focus with focus peaking to get focus on your key point, then let go of the shutter button, then half press again, you can see the focus peaking results for the whole frame, because it won't zoom in again until you move the focus ring again. You can also turn off zoom on focus if you want (I don't).

I cannot tell if you will miss AF too much, but I discovered that I did not.

Thank you. Can I ask what your approximate focus hit rate is? Do you find you have quite a few shots where focus is off?

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David

 davidevans1's gear list:davidevans1's gear list
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Lan Senior Member • Posts: 1,957
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
2

I use the same technique for both landscape and macro. If I'm shooting in manual focus, I always magnify the image as much as possible and then adjust focus accordingly.

Focus peaking doesn't work for me, it seems to show far more in focus than is actually critically sharp; particularly if you're shooting macro; even after you've adjusted the settings to be as sensitive as possible.

Magnar W
Magnar W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,887
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
4

Lan wrote:

I use the same technique for both landscape and macro. If I'm shooting in manual focus, I always magnify the image as much as possible and then adjust focus accordingly.

As a user of manual focus primes all the time, I fully agree! Loupe view at max magnification for static subjects, from macro to long telephoto lenses, and everything in between!

Focus peaking doesn't work for me, it seems to show far more in focus than is actually critically sharp; particularly if you're shooting macro; even after you've adjusted the settings to be as sensitive as possible.

If you want to use focus peaking, you also need to learn to read the depth of the pattern. This method will never be as precise as loupe view, though.

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AlephNull Senior Member • Posts: 1,991
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?

davidevans1 wrote:

AlephNull wrote:
I use this lens on the A7R4, and when you nail the focus, the results are superb. This lens is very sharp, and the bokeh is attractive.

Note that it's pure manual focus, but not an entirely manual lens. It communicates with the camera, reporting focus distance and aperture, so the lens works in Aperture priority mode, and IBIS works. It also means that it will zoom as you move the focus ring.

Despite those who describe focus peaking as inaccurate, I find it a useful adjunct to help get the focus right.

If you use zoomed focus with focus peaking to get focus on your key point, then let go of the shutter button, then half press again, you can see the focus peaking results for the whole frame, because it won't zoom in again until you move the focus ring again. You can also turn off zoom on focus if you want (I don't).

I cannot tell if you will miss AF too much, but I discovered that I did not.

Thank you. Can I ask what your approximate focus hit rate is? Do you find you have quite a few shots where focus is off?

It depends how impatient I am, and how steady my shutter finger is
I have never managed to get in the habit of using back-button focus - shutter half-press is too ingrained - but if I press a little too hard, or don't wait until I'm certain of focus, then I get a bad shot. Not the camera's fault.

When I'm calm and methodical, my hit rate is high. Doesn't work so great when I try to shoot moving targets, though. Still learning / perfecting the technique.

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tonybelding Contributing Member • Posts: 975
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

I am still using an original A7 here, but I assume not much has changed with newer bodies.

Focus peaking is useful in some situations.  You need to get the sensitivity setting right, and then learn to read it, which takes some practice.  It's not for fine focusing.  You need magnification for that.

With adapted lenses — and no electronics — I have the C1 button programmed to activate magnification.  It takes two presses to get into magnification.  That’s one press to call up the focus box, then move the box using the D-pad, then a second press to magnify.  However, in practice I would only bother to move the box when I am on a tripod.

With my Voigtländer Nokton 40mm F1.2, which does have electronic communication, it works sort of backwards.  It magnifies automatically when I turn the focus ring unless I hold down the C1 button.  Then the magnification box appears (and I can release C1, don’t have to keep holding it down), but it never actually magnifies.  I can then rely on focus peaking while looking at the whole scene.

If I were to switch auto-magnification off, then everything would work more like it does with the adapted lenses.  However, I do like to use magnification most of the time, so leaving it switched on is a bit more convenient.

As for hit rate…  It’s all on me.  If I have time and am paying attention, I nail the shot.  If I’m in a hurry (as with moving subjects), or if my concentration wanders, sometimes I flub a shot.  As frustrating as that can be, I prefer it over my experience with autofocus cameras (all of them, not just the A7) which seem to flub focus randomly, and I don’t find out until later when I’m reviewing the images.

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John Borrelli
John Borrelli Contributing Member • Posts: 826
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

I would agree with what A-Marc and others have said. I use magnification with my Voigtlander 50mm Apo- Lanthar and A7Rii. I should say I am probably the least technically sophisticated photographer on this forum but here is my process for landscape photography. I use a tripod and lately I use the lcd screen and turn off the viewfinder. You can choose different screen looks by hitting the display button, I choose the least busy. I use something to cover the screen if needed. I focus at maximum aperture, that’s important to remember. When focusing there is a focus box that appears, the great thing is that you can move the box to anywhere in the scene using one of four paddles, so you don’t have to focus dead center and you don’t have to move the camera once you have found the best composition, this feature just comes on so you don’t need to go through menus to find it. Obviously, after focusing you adjust aperture, I forget to do this and have found out how good the lens is at maximum aperture. I often do this whole process before the light is best, this gives me a moment to take the picture and then review the image under magnification. This process sounds cumbersome. But after some experience it becomes very intuitive and the most accurate process I have ever used, others please correct anything I have posted incorrectly. All the best, John

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John Borrelli

Peter Foiles
Peter Foiles Senior Member • Posts: 1,906
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

Magnar W wrote:

Lan wrote:

I use the same technique for both landscape and macro. If I'm shooting in manual focus, I always magnify the image as much as possible and then adjust focus accordingly.

As a user of manual focus primes all the time, I fully agree! Loupe view at max magnification for static subjects, from macro to long telephoto lenses, and everything in between!

Focus peaking doesn't work for me, it seems to show far more in focus than is actually critically sharp; particularly if you're shooting macro; even after you've adjusted the settings to be as sensitive as possible.

If you want to use focus peaking, you also need to learn to read the depth of the pattern. This method will never be as precise as loupe view, though.

Which is why I think the best is to use both peaking and magnification.

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Dan_168 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,423
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

davidevans1 wrote:

I've never used or owned a pure manual focus lens for the Sony E system but am seriously thinking of getting a Voigtlander 50mm F/2 Apo Lanthar E mount.

And what's the best solution for accessing them? I already use Memories 1, 2 and 3 from the mode dial, but have never used the Memories M1, M2, M3 or M4 saved on a card.

I mainly use manual focus lenses on my Sony, and magnification is what I use, i found Focus Peaking is really annoying and not accurate enough, so I don't use that. Magnification alone give me great result all the time.

Dave_Good Contributing Member • Posts: 789
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

I don't have the 50/2 but shoot with the 65/2 and find focusing quite easy now even with the A7ii and it's lower resolution EVF. Things that make a difference are picture profile settings (contrast, sharpness) and locking down (taping) the diopter wheel after adjusting to your eye. My thumb rests over the C3 button so that is set to magnification. It won't take you ling with a little practice, that's a beauty of a lens, enjoy!

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Magnar W
Magnar W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,887
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

Peter Foiles wrote:

Magnar W wrote:

Lan wrote:

I use the same technique for both landscape and macro. If I'm shooting in manual focus, I always magnify the image as much as possible and then adjust focus accordingly.

As a user of manual focus primes all the time, I fully agree! Loupe view at max magnification for static subjects, from macro to long telephoto lenses, and everything in between!

Focus peaking doesn't work for me, it seems to show far more in focus than is actually critically sharp; particularly if you're shooting macro; even after you've adjusted the settings to be as sensitive as possible.

If you want to use focus peaking, you also need to learn to read the depth of the pattern. This method will never be as precise as loupe view, though.

Which is why I think the best is to use both peaking and magnification.

With my A7 this was a good strategy. With newer models I don't feel a need for Peaking, the colored contrast pattern is just a bit irritating.

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Qqphot Regular Member • Posts: 101
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

A-Marc wrote:

i use magnify set the push on the joy stick, so i use my last joint of my thumb to press the joy stick. when focus area is set to flexible spot, the magnification will be where your af box is. its pretty easy to nail focus precisely where you want it and get the picture.

I like this idea, but if you set the joystick to turn on magnification, what do you do to re-center the spot when not magnified? (which I think is the default action)

I keep "C1" set to control focus magnification but I can see the benefit of using the joystick button.

FuzzyKeys Regular Member • Posts: 245
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
1

Some things I do...

Max out sharpness in the JPEG settings.

When shooting wide open, use focus peaking set to the lowest setting. Peaking doesn’t work as well when stopped down.

Always use magnify.

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Sony a7 III Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Sony FE 85mm F1.8 Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 III +2 more
A-Marc
A-Marc Contributing Member • Posts: 571
Re: Manual focusing with A7Riv - best methods?
2

Qqphot wrote:

A-Marc wrote:

i use magnify set the push on the joy stick, so i use my last joint of my thumb to press the joy stick. when focus area is set to flexible spot, the magnification will be where your af box is. its pretty easy to nail focus precisely where you want it and get the picture.

I like this idea, but if you set the joystick to turn on magnification, what do you do to re-center the spot when not magnified? (which I think is the default action)

I keep "C1" set to control focus magnification but I can see the benefit of using the joystick button.

bring back af are to center is set to middle of control wheel.

i need magnify way more than reset to center, i can control magnify and placement without moving my thumb to a different location.

it gets even more handy when you activate touch pad function, cant remember if touchpad does work in magnified MF(edit: it does), but in AF it does work pretty good to get the focus box into the direction you want it, than finetune with joystick, magnify with joystick push, get focus nailed, shoot. Job done.

if i am done with the scene, i reset focus area with center control wheel.

AF/MF toggle on/off is set to C3, so my right hand is always in touch with focus options/area and shutter.

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