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Focus peaking or viewfinder or both?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by CharlieL, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. CharlieL

    CharlieL Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 2, 2014
    Burkburnett Tx USA
    I have a question for those of you that have both focus peaking and a viewfinder and use manual lens. Do you find, the focus peaking or a view finder more helpful for manual focusing.

    I currently own an epm1, epl1 and a vf2 viewfinder. I am thinking about upgrading to a camera with a newer 16mp sensor and built in viewfinder. I like to play around with vintage lenses. I am trying to figure out where to put focus peaking and a view finder on my list of things that I want in a new camera.

    I would appreciate your feedback on focus peaking as compared to using a magnified view in the viewfinder.
  2. gpburdell

    gpburdell Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2014
    They're really two different sorts of things. Sort of like asking do you prefer a fork or a spoon. A viewfinder is great for brightly lit shooting environments as you avoid trying to read a sunlit screen. Also helpful in being steady as a camera pressed to your face is a bit more stable than one held out in front of you. I don't find it does anything for manual focus though. Same view as on the rear display. Focus peaking is just plain useful with manual focus lenses regardless of display or viewfinder. (E-M10 with adapter and old OM lenses)

    Best is to have both features IMHO. If you can only have one, then it's up to which is more important to your style of photography. If it's manual mode, then go for focus peaking over viewfinder.

    By the way, if you're considering an E-M10 you'll be hard pressed to beat the refurb with kit lens available right now for $544 plus tax using the SUMMER15 coupon code. See http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/outlet/e-m10-black-body-14-42-iir-black-reconditioned.html
    • Like Like x 3
  3. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 20, 2010
    It just depends on your shooting style, subjects, and aptitude/eyes.

    To me, a nice big viewfinder (like VF-4) is the best for manual focusing, without focus peaking or magnification (unless shooting still subjects.) Focus peaking is great at getting you close to proper focus, but can also throw you off with false positive.

    I think my ideal system would be a large high-resolution viewfinder, with a small magnified box that only magnifies a portion of the image. This way you can see the rest of the image for composition. Something like the Fuji XTi, or maybe the Panasonic GX7 is good at this.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. show

    show Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 25, 2014
    I use focus peaking quite a bit with the LCD screen and especially when I use legacy lenses on my EM10, I find that I point and shoot a lot and don't use the viewfinder much unless I am trying to really get something sharp.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. randyspan

    randyspan Mu-43 Veteran

    May 24, 2014
    New Hampshire, USA
    Randy Spann
    I find peaking too imprecise for my likeing. I always use 'magnify' on manual lenses. ...slow work!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Viewfinder is sufficient for me if it is the VF-2 or VF-4, sometime magnified.
    Worse viewfinders (Fuji X-E1, most Sonys) I need magnification plus peaking.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    I've never had the luxury of focus peaking, but I find a viewfinder pretty much essential.
    My budget full spectrum GF2 came without a viewfinder & I found I had to splash out & get one.

    IMO the add on model is nowhere near as good as the built in ones, its prone to catching on things & sliding out far enough to loose contact.

    I agree with the previous posts that they're not comparable, for manual focus I'd love the option of peaking,wen I end up getting a new camera it may well have peaking, but it's just one of a whole host of features I want, and have yet to find any camera with all of them let alone one I can afford!
    • Like Like x 1
  8. nardoleo

    nardoleo Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 2, 2013
    i use the placebo "peaking" with my EM5 and using frame through its viewfinder when shooting with legacy lenses.
    But i find its easy to use the voigtlander m43 manual focus lenses with just magnification using live view.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. G3user

    G3user Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 26, 2013
    I can't imagine being able to keep steady enough if I had to focus a stiffish manual lens when holding a camera away from my body when using the rear screen. I need the camera up against my face for extra stability! (I have a G3, so no focus peaking, and sometimes use an adapted Konica Hexanon 40mm.)
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    G3 doesn't need peaking, it has a viewfinder rather good for manual focus, in my opinion.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I'm not 100% sure I understand what the OP is asking. If it is a VF. Vs. Focus peaking, they're not mutually exclusive, and having both is best. If the OP is asking for a comparison of magnification vs focus peaking while using a VF, I would say choosing one or even both is a matter of what you are comfortable with. I find magnification disconcerting, but that's because I haven't used it enough to get used to it.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014

    Why would you not want all your photos sharp? Well for artistic purpose I can see doing soft focus at times.
  13. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    I have a G3, and agree with Ulfric that the EVF is great for MF. I also now have an E-PM2. I have found manual focus on that a bit of a struggle. Partly because as a frequent contact lens wearer, I now (effects of ageing...) can't focus close up without reading specs, so I can't focus well enough on the E-PM2 rear LCD screen to nail MF.

    Which is why I'm thinking of getting an EVF for it! I don't think I'd be that interested in focus peaking, but then again I've never used it.

    • Like Like x 1
  14. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    Oh, and I don't really want to have to add "reading glasses" to the ever-lengthening list of camera gear I always have to carry around...!
    • Like Like x 1
  15. magkelly

    magkelly Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 11, 2012
    EVF I think is better for me. So far I don't think I'm really getting all that much out of using focus peaking. It's okay.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. CharlieL

    CharlieL Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 2, 2014
    Burkburnett Tx USA
    You are not the only one, I am in the same boat.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    The diopter adjustment in the E-M10 EVF works great - I never have to use my readers.
    Focus peaking is really handy for manual focussing; think of it as a substitute for the old microprism or split image focussing aids.
    • Like Like x 2
  18. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Bruce Foreman
    On the latest Olympus and Panasonic cameras you have both EVF and focus peaking (which you can shut off in the menu if you want. I have the Lumix GH4 and GX7 and although I always thought I'd prefer magnification over focus peaking I find I use and like both.

    I used the VF2 on an E-PL1 and then on an E-P3 and found it large, bright, sharp, and indispensable. Same for an LVF2 on the Lumix GX1. I'm also in that group that has to use reading glasses to see the LCD well.
    • Like Like x 2
  19. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    I use manual focus lenses more than autofocus, and agree with what some of the others have said here. The EVF is a necessity, I can't imagine trying to obtain accurate focus on a little rear LCD, in bright sun, at (depending on your eyes) some distance from your eye. I don't bother with focus peaking at all, it just isn't accurate enough. I have an E-M1, and the EVF is so good that I can focus without any aid, if I'm in a hurry, but I prefer to use magnify when I have a few seconds. I have magnify set to one of my front buttons where it's available at my fingertips. It's not at all unlike using a medium format camera and waist level viewfinder with a pop up magnifier, it works very well.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. emmef2

    emmef2 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 1, 2012
    I have the VF-4 and I dont find peaking (the Oly implementation at least) accurate enough to give reliable focus
    • Like Like x 1
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