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Best body for manual focusing?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Zobeid Zuma, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. Zobeid Zuma

    Zobeid Zuma Mu-43 Regular

    39
    May 13, 2013
    My E-M5 is unwell and may be retiring soon, and I'm pondering what body might replace it. One of my gripes about the E-M5 is that it provides very poor assistance for manual focusing, especially with adapted lenses -- or those new Samyangs without any electronics. Basically I set up my F1 button to magnify. . . but it's push F1 twice, then focus, then push OK to get back to normal. That's kind of a pain in the neck. And there's no focus peaking on the E-M5 either. So. . . What would be the best body for me, if I want to use my adapted Pentax lenses or some of those Samyangs? Is there a way I can go to make this more convenient?
     
  2. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    764
    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Not really any way to make it more convenient I'm afraid, at least from the standpoint of having the camera automatically do some of the turning on of focus assists for you. Olympus does have an automatic modes for magnify and focus peaking when it senses you are manually focusing a lens, but this only works with "digital" lenses that are communicating to the body which is how the body knows you are turning the focus ring. With purely manual focus lenses you do not have any electronics so no communication to the body. So you have to turn on things like Magnification and Focus Peaking manually as you describe.

    As you mentioned, with magnification (at least my experience with the E-M1 mirrors yours; perhaps newer models have changed?) you push the button which turns on the mode but doesn't put you in magnification yet. The idea is you can now move the box around to the area you want to magnify first. If you are anything like me, I never move the box. I simply want to go right into magnification. So they could have made a mode for us simpletons to have the button immediately turn on 7x or 10x or whatever magnification and then press again to turn it off. Another annoying thing is to get out of magnify mode you also have to press and hold the button before it will turn off.

    Anyway, back to your questions. I have no idea about what Panasonic is up to these days so maybe a Panny Fan Boy can come along and educate us. But with the Oly models your best bet might be simply looking for the model which has the largest EVF magnification (not the magnify mode mentioned above, but the normal "how large is the image in the EVF compare to actual").

    For example, the E-M1 has a viewfinder magnification of up to 1.48x where as the E-M5 is only 1.15x. The E-M5 Mark II looks like it may be using the E-M1's viewfinder, so 1.48x.

    So if you are a heavy adapter lens user, the viewfinder specs of any camera you might consider may be a much more important spec section for you to pay attention.
     
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  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I can speak as a former E-M5 user, current E-M1 and GM5 user.

    There are two aspects:
    1) MF without aids.
    2) MF with aids.

    For 1), you need a very good EVF in both resolution and magnification. E-M1 and E-M5 II are much better than the E-M5 in this respect. For general MF (e.g. f/2.8 portrait) I don't need to use a focus aid on the E-M1.

    For 2), Panasonics generally do it better. The peaking is always on if you want with a manual lens (and available in video) and magnify toggle brings up a convenient PIP display so you can still maintain your overall framing easily. For macro work though peaking doesn't cut it, I always use magnify mapped to a function key.
     
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  4. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    On my GX7, I can leave focus peaking enabled so that it starts automatically whenever I switch to MF or use a non AF lens. While that is set, I can also easily call up the magnification box with a single button press and dismiss it with the same. Another major bonus is that when you power on the camera with a manual lens, it immediately prompts you for the focal length so that IBIS can be set properly. You can also save favorite focal lengths for quick selection at this menu. The one downside is that even thought it asks you for the focal length, it doesn't make it through to the EXIF, so that's a bummer.

    I would presume the GX8 has all that, plus a much bigger and nicer EVF, so that gets my vote. Or the G7 if you don't need IBIS, or the GX85 if you want your manual lenses stabilized in video, too.
     
  5. magicaxeman

    magicaxeman Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Feb 27, 2016
    Essex UK
    Ian
    The pen F is easy to use, I have mine set up so its just push one button and it enlarges with focus peaking.
    Works very well with M mount lenses.
     
  6. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi @Zobeid Zuma@Zobeid Zuma

    I'd like to add to this point:
    I've found that there is something "granular" about the Panasonic displays that makes it seem clearer to me when my focus is "bang on" ... I started with this on earlier cameras (like just digital handycams) and found that the "hardness" of the pixels in the display really helped. As a result I found myself hardly needing the focus assist (magnification) most of the time. I'd just focus through it and bring it back to "where it was".

    Just practice and it builds confidence.
     
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  7. MaK543

    MaK543 Mu-43 Regular

    139
    May 1, 2012
    MD USA
    I liked my GX7 for manual focus. I'd assume current generation Panasonic bodies get only better. My EM5ii's focus peaking implementation appears user unfriendly. :frown: Ideally, I would like to have option of full time peaking, even during auto focus, because my vision is simply not that good. Panasonic's PIP is a very helpful feature as well, better than pure magnify.
     
  8. mannukiddo

    mannukiddo Mu-43 Veteran

    217
    Jul 28, 2013
    India
    I would say MF without aids is tough on all modern cameras. Cameras no longer come with a split screen for focus assist and the new VFs even on pro bodies like Nikons and Canons are jokes compared to what I have on my old Yashica FX-3 2000. Anyway a EVF is way way better to use for MF than any OVF IMO. Peaking is one such feature that I find very very useful for MF assist and I prefer Panasonic's implementation way better than the Olympus one especially for enabling peaking. I speak from my experience on GX-7 and EM-5 II.
     
  9. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Knowing how good the GX7 is - so, so much better than the E-M10 and E-M1 that I compared it against - I would say that the GX8 is likely the best body on the market for manual focusing, simply because of the bigger, better (biggest, bestest?) EVF.

    Panasonic's touch magnification and excellent focus peaking implementation are simply unbeatable. Much better than Olympus, and even better than Sony.

    The GX85 has the added advantage of stabilizing the viewfinder with the IBIS the way Olympus bodies do, so it may be even better in practice despite the smaller EVF.
     
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  10. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Hasse
    A Fuji :)



    Go to 2:35 or there abouts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
  11. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    That doesn't seem to have anything over Panasonic.
     
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  12. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee

    772
    May 3, 2013
    California
    IMO, peaking is not precise enough for photography. I use magnification for manual focus, and magnification is most usable with stabilization in live view. Any of the Olympus 3- and 5-axis cameras are good for it. I do prefer focusing on E-P5 + VF4 and EM5ii vs. the EM10 because of the improved finder resolution.

    The new GX85 may also be a good option, but I haven't used it. From what I understand, its IBIS works in live view, unlike the IBIS in other Panasonic bodies.

    For video, if you need to adjust focus while recording, peaking is the way to go. And I don't think Olympus bodies support peaking while recording, while Panasonic bodies do.
     
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  13. MaK543

    MaK543 Mu-43 Regular

    139
    May 1, 2012
    MD USA
    I had tried Fuji's split image focus for about a week using x70. IMO It's nothing but a gimmick.
     
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  14. rmcnelly

    rmcnelly Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 21, 2015
    Portsmouth, VA
    After using several manual focus lenses on my GX8 I have found focus peaking to be an unreliable indication of good focus. The EVF is good enough (without focus peaking enabled) on the GX8 to determine sharp focus, and the magnified view will always do the job if needed.


    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
     
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  15. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I originally with the E-M10 for the IBIS and focus peaking. It didn't take long for me to move to magnify instead of the peaking. It just seemed to work better. Maybe with a better implementation of peaking I would feel different.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  16. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hmm even with Panasonic's better peaking, it's just not good enough for critical focus with shallow DoF, especially macro.
     
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  17. Zobeid Zuma

    Zobeid Zuma Mu-43 Regular

    39
    May 13, 2013
    I think it would be most convenient if I could hold down the button, focus, and then release it. But I guess the guys at Olympus are much more clever than me?

    I'm beginning to think maybe I'm better off simply getting a dedicated camera for this purpose, like a cheap Pentax DSLR with a split-prism focusing screen.
     
  18. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    It's easy enough to double press the button to go straight to magnify. Then once you have your focus, press the shutter button halfway to get out of it, or completely to take the shot.

    You may have to set up in the menus for the shutter to remove magnify. I have used it that way for so long, I can't remember.
     
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  19. Zobeid Zuma

    Zobeid Zuma Mu-43 Regular

    39
    May 13, 2013
    I dove into the menus and couldn't find anything related to that. Which doesn't mean it isn't in there somewhere, of course. You know what the menus are like. :coco:

    I did reassign magnify to Fn2, which is easier to reach. Learning that I can hold it down for a second to get out of that helps too. And the result is, uh. . . Not too bad, I guess. I still yearn for something better, tho.
     
  20. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    When I got into digital ILCs, I started using MF lenses with a GX1 which only has a touch-LCD and no focus peaking. I honestly found it easier to use the touch-magnify than other MF implementations (like my Samsung NX210 or new Pentax K-S2) that don't have a touchscreen. Magnify is no doubt the best way to nail critical focus, and unless you have a touchscreen, I find that magnify ends up being a straight-jacket on your composition. You won't move the box around because it's a whole bunch of clunky button presses to do it, and so the object you focus on will only be the one in the center of the image. I just find I end up being preoccupied with using my camera rather than having fun and creating compelling compositions and enjoying the tactility of the old lenses. Focus peaking lets you focus on the big picture, but has a lower keeper rate than magnify because it's just not precise enough. Being able to change intensity and colour helps a lot with focus peaking, too.

    Re: the DSLR with the split-prism focusing screen, that is definitely not an easier option. I can nail focus faster and more reliably using the exact same lenses on my GX1 or GX7 than on my old-school Minolta SLR or Pentax Spotmatic II, both which have split-prism viewfinders that are roughly twice as big of any FF DSLR, let alone a APS-C DSLR, which is like a peephole by comparison. It's certainly doable, it's just not super fun. With the DSLR you do get focus-confirmation of sorts with the PDAF autofocus sensor, but PDAF is not very accurate at apertures larger than f2.8, and even at f1.7 you can easily produce several different focus placements that will give you the focus-confirm beep while racking the focus dial, so it's really just another indicator of approximately correct focus, like focus peaking. You also need to make sure that your AF sensor is microadjusted correctly at that point, which is a whole other kettle of fish.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016